In no country,' wrote Noah Webster, 'is education so general--in no country, have the body of the people such knowledge of the rights of men and the principles of government. This knowledge, joined with a keen sense of liberty and a watchful jealousy, will guard our constitutions.' America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty is a free K-12 Teacher Lesson Plan resource for social studies, U. S. history, U. S. government, political science, economics, geography and speech. It includes three levels: Elementary, Middle School and High School. According to the American Heritage Education Foundation website:
"The resource aims not simply to present historical facts but to provide opportunities for students to explore and understand the factual and philosophical significance and meaning behind events, causes, and effects—the whys—relating to and influencing the early history of the United States."Each resource book includes:
- an introductory essay regarding the curriculum rationale
- lesson plans to specifically consider the American heritage themes
- activities in which students assess and analyze their own identities as Americans.
- lessons about the colonists' experience under monarchy
- the context for the writing of the Declaration of Independence
- the creation of important American symbols, songs, and holidays
- and the character traits modeled by great national leaders and presidents
- concepts within the Declaration of Independence
- the Gettysburg Address, and other important texts
- American symbols
- the ideals for which many fought and sacrificed their lives
- in-depth analysis and understanding of the ideas, intentions, arguments, rights, and meanings addressed in significant texts from the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence to Federalist 47
- the First Amendment
- a government letter on religious expression in public schools
From the rationale:
"It is critical that our nation's history, heritage, advancement and goodness not only be constantly remembered and celebrated, it must be studied and relearned anew by each generation. If this is not accomplished, then our young generation today and future generations will not understand, appreciate and maintain our fundamental national characteristics that it received from the previous generation. . . "
Lots of great info and lesson plans in this resource! Since we are far from American History in our study of World History, I thought I would pull from two available lessons for this review:
1. What is an American? is a lesson for students to develop an understanding of what it means to be an American and what individual responsibility means. The lesson is designed to get students to reflect on what they have learned about America, its history, heritage, ideals, philosophy, etc. American "themes" that we discussed are freedom, unity, progress, and responsibility. We actually have this discussion on a regular basis because of the state of our country today. It is not a sweet land of liberty. Freedom does not ring. Maybe in comparison to other countries, but not in comparison to what we once were. Gonna leave it at that.
2. We also took a look at "The History of Thanksgiving Day" for middle schoolers and elementary students. The purpose of the lesson is for students to learn the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday and why it has been celebrated for nearly 400 years. This lesson began with a reading on the history of thanksgiving.
We learned that nearly half the pilgrims died from disease and starvation during a brutal winter their first year. The following year, they had help from the local indians and had a good harvest. They held a three day feast thanking God for their harvest in the fall of 1621.
Then later after the colonists won their independence from Great Britain, the new Congress of the U.S. asked President George Washington to
"recommend to the people of the United States a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of the Almighty God, especially by affording them the opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
On November 26, 1789, President Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation for a Thanksgiving to be held that year. He proclaimed another Thanksgiving Day to be held in 1795. Then in 1863, during the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national annual holiday to be celebrated the last Thursday in November in "praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in heaven."
I found this information to interesting, and thought provoking at the same time. This is not the place to share my thoughts on what I believe, but I would love to hear our President issue another proclamation that we "humbly implore His protection and favor" once again, as President Washington said in his Thanksgiving proclamation. Our country has done some abominable acts and I fear that we have lost the Almighty's hand of protection on our country. It won't be long now before He stretches out His Hand in wrath against such a nation that turns their face away from Him.
Well, if I was up on my soapbox for a minute there, just know that I could stay up there all day. But, I should probably let you know that some neat worksheets come with the lesson, like a crossword puzzle, activity guide and more! While I am not sure that my beliefs and values will completely line up with the information here, it will make for some interesting discussion.
And did I mention that this is FREE? If your state requires Civics, like mine does, then here is your literal gold mine of civic activities!