In September we began a study of Canadian History. Over the years we have worked our way through Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, the Middle Ages, and last year the Renaissance and Reformation. We decided it was time to learn about the land we are living in. I knew very little about Canada’s history having only lived here seven years myself. Whenever I heard the phrase “the Plains of Abraham” or saw a reference to “the War of 1812” I knew they were significant but I couldn’t tell you why. That is changing as the weeks go by.
We have joined with another family and meet once a week to learn about the people, places, practices and events that have shaped and impacted Canada. As an outline we are using two books by Donna Ward: Courage and Conquest and Canada’s Natives Long Ago. Courage and Conquest provides us with a week by week order and an extensive reading list, both fiction and nonfiction titles. I intend to go into a little more detail later about our methods and program, highlighting resources that have been helpful and the activites that have worked well.
Last week we did not meet for our usual lesson as all the children were participating in a History Fair. We joined with four other families and spent the afternoon listening to fourteen children talking about their particular area of research. I was very impressed with the quality and variety of projects presented. Secret Secretaries was an intriguing topic about one girl’s great grandmother who had been a decoder during World War 2. The New England Planters introduced us to a group of people who moved into Nova Scotia to take over the farms left by the expelled Acadians. They are a group we had not read about in our history studies as they are rarely mentioned. We learnt about the Air cadets, the McIntosh apple, Tim Horton, Terry Fox, L. M. Montgomery, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, as well as aspects of the fur trade and pioneer life.
As we have been working through our history studies, the children have completed some small research projects on famous Canadians and the changing lifestyle of those who came and settled here. We decided to use some of that research as the basis for the History Fair projects. A11 wanted to delve a little deeper into the battle on the Plains of Abraham and investigate General Wolfe and his British soldiers in more detail. B7 followed the process of turning a forested lot of land into a productive farm and explained nine steps the farmers went through from the clearing of the land to the eating of the produce. His display board was covered with pictures he had drawn of the processes, tools and methods used by the farmers of the early 1800s. L13 started out researching early education in Ontario or Upper Canada as it was initially called. She soon discovered that her topic was huge and narrowed it down to a study of Egerton Ryerson a Methodist Circuit rider who became a influential advocate of public education.
Three judges joined us for the afternoon and using a rubric provided by the Historica Fair organisers they gave everyone feedback on their projects and chose four people to advance to the Ottawa Historica Fair on April 9th at the War Museum. L13 was one of those chosen so she will spend the day at the fair, present her project to judges once more, participate in a couple of history workshops and peruse the other projects on display.