Sunday, February 21, 2021

Homeschool History Spotlight: The Great Depression Unit Study

As we travel through MasterBooks American History 3, we have come to the time period of The Great Depression. If you have been following me for a while on here or Instagram, then you know I like to add use the textbook as a starting point and add a bunch of activities and books. Here's a look at our study of the Great Depression.
To summarize this time period for the children I wrote a little ballad:

Great Depression Ballad
I'm just an Okie
Heading West 'cuz I'm brokie
The stocks went bust
My fields turned to dust
I'm looking for a job
Need to feed my hungry mob
Six kids and a wife
Life's so full of strife

I assigned the older children to make up a tune to the ballad on their musical instrument (and/or they could write their own lyrics summarizing the time period if they wanted)

After reading the corresponding chapters in American History 3, we read What Was the Great Depression. I love the "What Was" books because they are such fast reads and really keep the children engaged.

We then read Chapter 22 on the Stock Market Crash from Great Events in American History. I love how this book shows God at work throughout American History. It shared James Cash Penney's story of loss and his journey back to believing and eventually his success with J.C. Penney Department Stores. 
Some questions for discussion and/or writing prompts:
1. How did the era of the Roaring 20s and the idea of instant gratification through consumption fuel the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression?
2. How does panic make a bad situation worse?
3. What lessons can be learned about buying things on "easy credit" from the Great Depression?
4. Would it be more challenging to face poverty during the Great Depression or today? Why?
5. Should we be concerned with poverty and unemployment today? Why?
6. What role should the government play in poverty and unemployment? Why?

In A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt, Margo never thought the falling dominos of the Great Depression would reach her small town of Johnstown, PA, but one day she comes home to find a "Sheriff Sale" sign on her door. Bravely, she writes a letter to Mrs. Roosevelt asking for help.
One of the lines in the book says, "'Margo, do you ever think about what you would take if you had to leave your room? What if the sheriff posted a sign on your front door and forced you to leave? What would you take?'"

I had our children answer this question and pack a bag and head out to the woods where they made their "hobo" camp. I commended them for some of their choices (like their musical instruments and bibles), but their lack of footwear made me go hmmmm?...

PBS has an extensive gallery of photos and videos on the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  After looking at the Photo Gallery and other photographs taken by Dorothea Lange, the children each printed some of the photos and wrote a fictional back story about the person in one of the photos.  

They were asked to answer these questions in their story:
1. What was their life like before the Great Depression.
2. How did the Dust Bowl affect their life?
3. Did they have to move as a result of the Great Depression or Dust Bowl? Why?
4. Where were they living now? What was their life like at the time of the photo?

The girls listened on Audible to the complete book collection of Kit, an American Girl during the Great Depression.

 Bud, Not Buddy is recommended for ages 10-12, I decided to assign this book as an independent reading book for our 6th grader. Set during the Great Depression, it tells the tale of a boy that hits the road to find his father that he has never known. A great book to help explore the theme of survival and hope during the Great Depression.

I chose Esperanza Rising as a family read aloud to explore the themes of family, hope, and survival during the Great Depression. The book touches on the Mexican Revolution and the struggles in the labor farms in California. We used this book as a opportunity to build on our Spanish vocabulary book.

We also made rag dolls and talked about some of the simple pleasures of life.

Did you know that Monopoly was popularized during the great depression? We read up on the history of the game. For discussion: How could this game give people hope? Why do you think it gained popularity so quickly during the Great Depression.

We made a "Great Depression Cake" using this delicious recipe from The Spruce Eats. Despite not having eggs, milk, or butter, it was quite tasty!

Discussion: What are some ways you could save money or stretch what you have?

We'd love to hear how your family studied the Great Depression. Please leave a comment or tag us on Instagram if you enjoyed any of these activities. 

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