Friday, January 13, 2012
TOS Crew Review: Learn Our History
Since we are learning about American History this year, I was excited to have a chance to review a DVD from Learn Our History. Providentially, the video we were sent to review is The Birth of a Revolution, which fit in PERFECTLY with our current studies on the American Revolution. We were also given online access to watch 9/11 & the War on Terror.
Learn Our History is a new company, started last year, with the mission of making American history fun through their animated videos. The videos we received were between 20 and 30 min long. When you purchase the videos from their website, or by phone, you will also receive access to streaming online video and other educational resources.
Since The Birth of a Revolution fit nicely into our current history curriculum the girls and I watched it together. Since 9/11 is a topic that I still struggle to explain to my children while they're so young, and we only had online access to that video(which meant clustering around a computer screen), I opted to watch it on my own. While I didn't have any big problems with it, I didn't feel it would provide enough additional information (beyond what we've already talked about as a family) to be worth clustering around the computer screen to watch it.
The videos follow a group of school students as they "time travel" to the various historic events and experience them for themselves.
Things I liked: the videos present as unbiased as possible a view of what happened during the historic events. The children travel to various locations to see what was happening from different points of view and in different locations. My girls enjoyed the video and wished it was longer, or that we had more. That's always a good endorsement LOL.
Things I, personally, wasn't fond of. As is true of many modern books and movies, there is an assumption that sibling rivalry is normal and acceptable. I prefer not to present this as acceptable in our family, so that is generally a "deal breaker" for me unless something has some extremely strong positives to make me overlook it (in which case, I will talk to the girls about the sibling rivalry presented, and how I feel about it). I also found the children in the video to be abit too "stereotyped" for my liking . . . "the brain", "the hick" (complete with overalls), the "valley girl", etc. I haven't seen how having these strong stereotypes add to the storyline in any appreciable way and I don't like encouraging stereotypical thinking.
The company says the videos are good for all ages, and I think, for the most part, that is accurate. Obviously my 2 year old wasn't too thrilled (it wasn't Dora, afterall), but I think we can safely assume that most people would interpret "all ages" to be those in school and on up. My 8 yr olds liked the videos. I can't speak to how older children would react to them.
Whether homeschoolers or not, if you are looking for videos to present some basic American History in short, easy-to-understand, fun, videos, this is a great product (and I believe that's the target, so they're doing well). If, on the other hand, you are a family of history lovers which has instilled that love in your children from a young age, and have children who beg to read "just one more chapter" of biographies, and love visiting national parks and doing junior ranger programs there, these videos probably won't provide a whole lot of new information. But regardless, check out the clips on the website to decide for yourself :)
As I understand it, at this time the videos are available as a "video a month" type subscription. Each video is available for $9.95 + $3.95 shipping. Then each month they make another video available (at the same price) and you have the option to have them send it, or say not. Be sure to check the website for their current offers, there are typically some freebies included with the first order. Currently there are 5 videos available with another 9 ,listed as coming over the next several months. You can see all of the videos listed here.