The Impressionist painters attempted to capture a moment in time by painting quickly with large brush strokes and dabs of color. While the Impressionists were making an impression in France, another French artist, George Seurat, took the painting style to a new level. In his early career, he became interested in the science of color; how the eye saw color and the brain processed it. Instead of mixing colors on his paint pallet, Seurat put tiny dots of pure color next to one another on the white canvas. His technique allowed the human eye to blend the colors. Seurat used his pointillist style to create 6 large paintings. His most famous work “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.
This pointillism pin art project will give your students an idea of how time consuming it is to “paint” with dots. You can tell them that Seurat’s painting, “Sunday Afternoon…” is about 7 X 10 feet in size. It took him over 2 years to paint it. They will also observe how the dots they use to color their pin will blend to make new colors. It’s a lot like newspaper comics. Take a closer look and you’ll see that they are printed using tiny dots of pure color.
*If you don’t want to attach a safety pin to the back, for safety reasons, you can make a pointillist magnet by gluing a magnet to the back of each student’s pin.
The soldiers of the Revolutionary War carried a gun called a musket. The musket had to be loaded with gunpowder and a lead ball each time it was fired. A musket was not very accurate. It couldn’t hit a target that was further than 100 yards away. When the soldiers came upon enemy soldiers, they would form several rows of long lines. The first row would fire at the enemy. The enemy soldiers, standing in the same formation, would fire back. The survivors would go to the back to reload their muskets while the next row of soldiers took a shot at the enemy. Each soldier carried a powder horn to hold their gunpowder. The powder horn was usually made from the horn of a cow, buffalo, or ox. When soldiers rested at camp, they carved their name, designs, and patriotic sayings into their powder horn.
Your students can create their own paper powder horn. Since the Revolutionary War was a brutal battle that eventually led to America’s independence from British rule, this project will remind students of all of the brave citizens who risked their lives for freedom. We never want to lose our freedoms, because it’s hard to get them back.
When I read history I often think, “This seems similar to what’s happening now.” And when I hear Bob Dylan sing, “The times they are a changin’,” I think, “That’s true, too.” History is a collection of stories — our great accomplishments and terrible mistakes. Our shared history is what connects us. For the past year, I have posted 13 history blogs in historical sequence. They are the 13 time periods that create the journey through time I call, “The Magical History Tour.” It’s a hands-on history program for elementary age students. I truly believe that if you teach history in sequence every year from first grade through fifth grade, your students will know the story of us and will be able to tell that story to the next generation.
Here’s a short story from my own history… I’ve always loved music. My first 45* was the Partridge Family hit, “I Think I Love You.” My brother, sister, and I played it over and over and sang the words at the top of our lungs. Our dad finally had enough and threatened to smash the record and the record player. Dad liked music, but he was into Frank Sinatra and Big Band music. Once, on a long family road trip, he let us pick the radio station. My brother chose a rock station. Dad was trying to pretend he was cool with the music, until an instrumental called “Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winters Group was played. Dad had never heard the new techno sounds. He pulled off the road in a panic because he thought his car was falling apart. We started laughing. Dad was furious. That was the end of rock ’n’ roll in his car.
*A 45 was a small record with one song on each side. Oh, a record was a plastic disc you played on a device called a turntable or record player.
TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE 20TH CENTURY CONTEMPORARY AGE (1950 to present)
#10 Contemporary Art – Abstract art has no recognizable subject. The artists use shape, line, and color to create a feeling for the viewer. Some abstract artists plan out every detail of their painting (Kandinsky) others use the paint and canvas to express their feelings (Pollack). Pop Art was meant to be fun. Its subjects are commercial products and pop icons (Warhol, Lichtenstein).
#9 The Cold War wasn’t a war of soldiers and weapons. It was a competition of technology and also choosing sides in other country’s conflicts. The democracies of the Western World and the communist countries of Eastern Europe competed with one another until the Soviet Union came to an end in1991.
#8 Space Race – In 1955, the U.S. and Soviet Union both announced they were going to launch a satellite into space. By October 1957, the Russians had success with Sputnik I . Four months later, the U.S. launched Explorer I. In April 1961, the Soviets were the first to orbit the Earth with astronaut Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok I. Almost a year later, U.S. astronaut John Glenn orbited the Earth in Friendship I. The U.S was determined to put the first man on the moon, so President Kennedy started the Apollo Moon Program. On July 20, 1969, U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon.
#7 The Korean War (1950 to 1953) was a battle between North and South Korea. The U.S. and the United Nations sided with South Korea and its capitalist government. Russia and China sided with North Korea and its communist government. The war ended when a treaty was signed giving each country independence. And to prevent future war, they created a 2 mile demilitarized zone between the countries where no one would be allowed to fight.
#6 The Vietnam War (1954 to 1975) was a battle between Communist North Vietnam (supported by Russia and China) and South Vietnam (supported by the USA). The Vietnam War was fought in jungles and swamps. It was a bloody battle. Many people in the USA protested sending soldiers to fight because the Communists weren’t a threat to the USA. It was the first war in which the USA was on the side that lost. The soldiers who had served the USA felt abandoned by their country.
#5 Civil Rights Movement – The U.S. Constitution declares equal rights to all citizens. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools are unconstitutional. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader of the African American civil rights movement. In 1963, he organized a peaceful protest, the march on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act which outlawed discrimination.
#4 Counterculture Movements happen when a large group of people have ideas that are opposite of the mainstream. The Beat Generation was a literary movement that influenced the youth of the 50s and 60s. Their written works inspired a social revolution. People began to question authority. The hippie movement of the 60s and 70s started on college campuses across the USA. The hippies criticized middle class values and war. They embraced caring for the earth.
#3 War on Terror – On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked airplanes and crashed them into the Twin Towers in New York City. After the attacks, President George W. Bush declared a worldwide war on terror. The Department of Homeland Security was created to keep the U.S. safe.
#2 The Age of Celebrity – With a television and, later, the internet in almost every home, people became obsessed with the rich and famous. There were people who achieved fame through their talent in music, sports, or acting, but many others were famous for being famous.
#1 Technology – Television, computers, the internet, cell phones, drones, robots, and virtual reality are just a few of the technological advances in the last 60 years. Try to imagine what the future will bring.
I chose the space shuttle craft to represent the Space Age. Click SPACE SHUTTLE CRAFT to get the pattern and instructions for the craft.
The late Middle Ages were the time of castles and kings. Romanesque refers to the art and architecture of this time period. It means “descended from Roman.” Romanesque architecture combines features of ancient Roman and Byzantine styles. These buildings have thick walls, rounded arches, and large towers.
It was during this time that fierce raiders, like the Vikings would sail to distant lands to raid and pillage. I grew up in the Midwest, so learning about the Vikings was a mandatory part of the curriculum. Every year in elementary school we heard stories about Erik the Red and his son Leif Erikson, the sleek and fast Viking longboats, and the colorful designs on their round shields. I don’t remember thinking about them as bad guys or thieves. I thought they were cool, like rock stars. Now I realize, it would be terrifying to see those “rock stars” come into town.
Another thing that really comes to mind from my elementary school days is a stack of National Geographic magazines that someone’s parents donated to our classroom. One of the magazines featured a story about Lady Godiva. The article included a painting of LG, naked on her horse, protesting unfair taxes. It was the most viewed of all the magazines in the stack. No one cared that she was bold and brave, they just wanted to see her exposed butt cheek and the little bit of her bare chest peeking through her long hair.
TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE ROMANESQUE PERIOD
#10 Vikings – In the Old Norse language, the word Viking means “pirate raid.” The Vikings were raiders, but they were also traders. They were excellent boat builders and sailors. Their sea voyages weren’t always about raiding, oftentimes, they sailed to explore new lands.
#9 Crusades – The crusades were a series of holy wars. European Christians tried to take back control of Jerusalem, the Holy Land, from the Muslims.
#8 Fief – A plot of land
#7 Peasants – This group of people included farmers, low level workers, and slaves. 90% of the population was in this group.
#6 Nobles – The nobles were the wealthy citizens: barons, lords, and ladies. They were landowners who served the king.
#5 Knights – The knights were the soldiers of the Middle Ages. Most knights were wealthy nobles. It cost a lot of money for weapons, armor, and a good horse. Each knight was identified by a coat of arms. The coat of arms pattern was painted on the knight’s belongings. All knights followed a Code of Chivalry.
#4 Armor & Weapons – There were many innovations to protect bodies from injuries. In the beginning, knights wore suits of chain mail to cover their bodies. The chain mail was made of chain links looped together to form a cloak that would cover the torso. It weighed about 30 pounds. Unfortunately, a sword could stab through the chain mail, so knights started covering their chests with sheets of metal. Eventually, they began wearing suits of metal. The plate armor was better protection, but it weighed over 60 pounds and made mobility difficult. The weapons of the knights included the lance, sword, mace, and longbow.
#3 Kings and Queens – They ruled the land and the people who lived on it.
#2 Castles were the homes of the kings and nobles. They were built at the center of the fief. A large water-filled ditch (moat) surrounded the castle. The wall around the castle was known as the curtain wall. Guards could stand on the curtain wall and shoot arrows at trespassers. The gatehouse was the large gated entrance on the front of the wall. The large tower was called the keep. It was the last line of defense.
#1 The Feudal System – This was the basic system of government in the Middle Ages. The king couldn’t oversee all the land he owned, so he divided it (and the peasants who lived on it) among wealthy barons who promised to serve the king. The barons divided their fiefs among the lords. The lords were knights with large armies. When called upon, they would serve and protect their king.
To learn more out about the period dubbed, “The Dark Ages,” I consulted Google and found an article on the website “Cracked” that was really interesting. Cracked writes funny myth-buster type articles for mature audiences. Basically, the author states that a 14th century writer thought anything that happened after the fall of Rome was bad. He viewed this period as an age of no progress, so he called it the “Dark Ages.” And that name stuck for a long time.
We tend to think of this as a time of dirty toothless peasants with horrible lives. In reality, the standard of living wasn’t that bad; in comparison to other historical eras. In the Early Middle Ages, new technologies in farming meant slaves were no longer needed to work in the fields. People who had been slaves became free workers.
Much of the wealth was held by the church. The church set up a system of charity that provided food, shelter, and clothing to those in need. The concepts of hospitals and shelters for the poor were invented in the Middle Ages.
Most of us think of the “Dark Ages” as a time when the majority of people were uneducated and couldn’t read or write. That’s true of most eras until recent times. During this time, scholars made huge advances in writing. They invented uppercase letters to begin sentences, punctuation, and spaces between words to make reading and writing easier.
TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES
#10 – GREGORIAN CHANT – This type of singing in unison is also known as plainchant or plainsong. It was the music of the Roman Catholic church. Neumes (the predecessor of musical notes) were invented. (You can listen to the 1990s version of Gregorian Chant as performed by Enigma or the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo.)
#9 – ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS – These book pages have decorated borders and large fancy initial letters. Monks wrote each page of the bible and other books by hand.
#8 – CHRISTIAN RELIGION was frowned upon. Early Christians met secretly in the catacombs of Rome.
#7 – EMPEROR CONSTANTINE – Constantine the Great approved all religions.
#6 – THE WESTERN ROMAN EMPIRE grew large and was constantly under attack.
#5 – THE FALL OF THE WESTERN ROMAN EMPIRE in 476 A.D.
#4 – BYZANTINE EMPIRE – The Eastern Roman Empire grew large and became powerful.
#3 – THE PLAGUE OF JUSTINIAN – Egyptian rats carrying a disease were brought to Constantinople in grain baskets that were loaded onto merchant ships. The disease spread quickly and killed about 40% of the population. It was one of the worst plagues in history.
#2 – LEARNING WAS “KEPT ALIVE” IN MONASTERIES – Monks lived in the monasteries. They knew how to read and write and provided education to boys in the community. Monasteries were inns where travelers could stay. Monasteries fed the poor and took care of the sick.