Tag Archives: american history

5 Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day!


Every January, many Americans have a day off to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This holiday allows us to honor the birthday of one of our most famous and influential Civil Rights leaders.

Born in Georgia in 1929, King fought for equality and justice throughout his life. He believed in peaceful protest as a way to bring about social change. Legal racial segregation in the U.S. ended in large part due to his work. With this holiday, we celebrate his life, his work, and take the time to reflect and honor his legacy.

This is also a great time to talk about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. While King was an important leader, there were many people who contributed to the cause including Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and many others. In addition, this is a great time to talk about what those people fought for and the events in our history that made the movement important.

A review of the movement could start with the slave trade and the devastating effects of slavery in the South. Discuss the many heroes in the abolitionist movement including those who helped many escape from the South. The Civil War resulted in freedom for the slaves and Reconstruction provided many opportunities cut short by segregationist policies. The Great Migration saw many flee to opportunities in the North and was the impetus for the Harlem Renaissance and the flowering of African American art and music. Today there continue to be setbacks and struggle within our communities and King’s birthday can be a time to talk about how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.

Finally, while children living abroad are exposed to a wide variety of world history, geography, and language experiences unavailable in the U.S., sometimes our own history is given short shrift. Families can incorporate books, stories, and activities into home life to ensure children know about their own holidays and historical leaders as well as those in the host country.

Here are five ideas for learning about King and celebrating his birthday with the family.

  1. Create a timeline of Civil Rights history after reading books about the topic or watching videos. History.com is a great place to find educational videos.
  2. Celebrate his birthday with a cake and make cards thanking him for his work!
  3. Learn about his “I have a Dream” speech and then make lists of personal and family dreams and goals.
  4. Talk about diversity and equality in the United States and in the country in which you are living. Compare and contrast the history of equality in the U.S. and in other countries.
  5. Give back and honor King’s commitment to service. Volunteer at a local shelter, arrange a neighborhood trash pick-up, or make a donation to a favorite charity.

Our favorite books about King include:

  • For all children, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport, is a Caldecott award winner that tells the story of his life using his original writing.
  • For elementary children, I Have a Dream, by Dr. Martin Luther King and Kadir Nelson, pairs King’s most famous speech with beautiful pictures
  • Middle school children will enjoy Free at Last, by Angela Bull, which is a thorough biography with illustrations.

Martin Luther King, Jr., fought to end racial segregation and inspired, and continues to inspire, many Americans. This holiday is perfect for discussing the Civil Rights Movement and the impact of one of the movement’s most famous leaders.


American-History-in-a-Box coordinates with Twiga Tutors

We are thrilled to be coordinating with fellow EFM business owner Christianna Pangalos of Twiga Tutors (www.twigatutors.com) in the upcoming year to expand our offerings. We have combined forces to provide a history box and tutoring package for all K – 8 students at post. U.S. certified teachers will guide your child as they learn about American history through the books, games, and activity book included in the American-History-Box. Each package includes the history box plus three months of email and online sessions designed to motivate and encourage your child’s learning.

When you order your tutoring and history box package, we connect you with your tutor and coordinate a schedule that works for everyone. Each package will include a mid-box review and a final test. After taking the exam, a final session will explore areas for improvement or additional exploration.

We are so excited to coordinate with a fellow EFM committed to education, interested in history, and working to improve the expat experience for all children. Together we hope to improve your experience and expand on the opportunities your child has while living and learning abroad.

For more information, you can email Leah at afterschoolplans@gmail.com or Christianna at christianna@twigatutors.com. You can also request an invoice from either of us or pay through paypal here: https://afterschoolplans.com/american-history-in-a-box-for-expats/

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New: Add a tutoring package through Twiga Tutors to your American History in a Box! Each course will include nine email check-ins and three Skype sessions with a certified American teacher over a three month period. Your teacher will review the activities with your child, answer any questions they might have, and encourage learning and excitement about the topics in the box.

Click here to order: Any history box plus a 3 month tutoring package: $749 screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-9-18-25-pm

To order multiple boxes or tutoring packages click here and request an invoice.



American History Videos to Complement your American-History-in-a-Box!

Our American History boxes include books, games, puzzles, and activities to learn the major concepts in our history. We recommend starting each topic with a quick video to learn background information before reading the books included in the box. We love the videos found on http://www.havefunwithhistory.com/HistorySubjects/index.html because they are short, engaging, and full of great information.

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Another great option is to listen to the free Khan Academy lectures on each time period. You can find them here: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/history-survey/us-history-survey/v/us-history-overview-1-jamestown-to-the-civil-war

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Including a variety of resources when learning history helps kids to internalize the major concepts and ideas in our history. We recommend watching a short video for each topic, then read the books in your box, and finally complete the activities in the workbook. We encourage families to talk about the topics and to try to:

  1. Put the concept in the context of the time period. What else was happening in the U.S. at that time?
  2. Put the concept in the context of today. How do we look back on that person, event, or idea? How do we think about it now?
  3. Put the concept in the context of the country in which you are currently living (if possible). What was going on in your host country during this time period?

For additional materials or resources, write to us at http://www.afterschoolplans.com.

Resources to use with your “American History in a Box”

Short Movies about History

U.S. History: Crash Course https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s These short videos that take you through the major time periods in American History. This is a great way to start any history lesson. Let your child watch the video for background, then read the book in your box on that topic. Finally, complete the activity for that time period in your activity book.

Watch Know Learn http://www.watchknowlearn.org/Category.aspx?CategoryID=116 You will find a variety of short videos about every topic in American history. After reading about a concept, explore this site for more information!

Video Series

This is America, Charlie Brown http://www.amazon.com/This-America-Charlie-Brown-Complete/dp/B00I462XSY/ref=sr_1_6?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1460333366&sr=1-6&keywords=american+history+video&refinements=p_n_theme_browse-bin%3A2650365011 This series covers most major events in our history and is great fun to watch!

 Liberty’s Kids http://www.amazon.com/Libertys-Kids-Complete-Walter-Cronkite/dp/B00CMDPTTA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460302092&sr=8-1&keywords=libertys+kids This video does a great job of teaching children about Colonial America. Then, visit www.libertyskids.com for games and activities to reinforce that learning!

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? http://www.amazon.com/Where-World-Carmen-Sandiego-Classic/dp/B00002SANG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460302171&sr=8-1&keywords=where+in+the+world+is+carmen+sandiego This fun video series helps children learn about geography and major sights around the world. Use the atlas in your history box to pinpoint where she is!

Primary Documents https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/PrimDocsHome.html  The Library of Congress shares many important documents in our history. Explore their website and check out their book lists for adults and children!

American History Music                                                                                                                  Songs for Teaching http://www.songsforteaching.com/store/learning-american-history-by-song-pr-58495.html You will find many wonderful songs from all time periods in history with this website. After learning about a time period, check out some of the songs that were being sung, played, or composed!

Schoolhouse Rock http://www.amazon.com/Schoolhouse-Rock-Special-Anniversary-Edition/dp/B00005JKTY/ref=pd_bxgy_74_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=1Z7RXYHW95K1HAAVSV9W Many parents will remember these catchy songs including “This is a Bill,” and “Mother Necessity!”

American History Crafts                                                                                                                         A Book in Time: http://www.abookintime.com/crafts/projectsmainamerica.html Search for crafts by time period. After completing your activity for the time period you are studying, see if you can find a fun craft to do with your family!

American History Through Music

Like most human beings, my kids love to listen to music. I enjoy watching them zone out and sing, sway, and feel music with every ounce of their being. They love to learn songs, to sing, and to dance. They see music as a treat, a joy, and an integral part of life. Many teachers use this love of music to inspire kids, and history teachers are no exception. If you are talking about American History at home, do it with a few songs that kids are sure to love. These are a few of our suggestions although you can find many more fine options with a quick Internet search. Search for these songs on YouTube. Please preview the songs before sharing them with your children. Some, especially the songs about war, are only appropriate for older kids.

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General Learning

The 50 States and Capitals Song, Tim Pacific

The 43 Presidents Song, Tim Pacific

America the Beautiful

Proud to be an American

The Star Spangled Banner

The Declaration of Independence, Learning by Song

In the Constitution, Learning by Song

Government, Jim Thompson

Exploration and Discovery

Age of Exploration, Learning by Song

Christopher Columbus, Kathleen Wiley


The First Thanksgiving, Learning by Song

When I First Came to This Land

Native Americans

Sacajawea, Kathleen Wiley

Squanto, Kathleen Wiley


Free at Last, Linda Brown and Dr. Thomas Moore

Freedom Riders Got to Ride, Vitamin L

Civil War

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Band

Westward Expansion

Echo Canyon (Building the Railroads)

World War I

Over There, Billy Murray

When This Lousy War is Over

The Roaring Twenties
Louis Armstrong

Duke Ellington

Ella Fitzgerald

Civil Rights

Rise Up, Martin Luther King Day, Jack Hartmann

Rosa Parks, Andy Glockenspiel

World War II

Sing, Sing, Sing, Benny Goodman

The White Cliffs of Dover

Cold War

Masters of War, Bob Dylan

Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself), Oingo Boingo

Should I order an American-History-in-a-Box set?

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 8.19.28 AMIs an American-History-in-a-Box set for me?

If you have children in grades K – 8 who do not currently learn American History in school, then this box is for you! Currently, in the U.S., children learn American History at every grade level and take high-stakes tests in the subject starting in Grade 3. Testing is cumulative, so if you plan to return to the U.S. it is a good idea to make sure your child is familiar with the major concepts required by your state. For more information, go to your state education site for a list of standards and the testing schedule.

Do I qualify for reimbursement?

If you are a State Department family currently living at post, you may qualify for reimbursement. International corporations also usually reimburse for these classes. Children abroad can receive additional funding for classes or materials that are usually provided in the U.S. as part of the regular curriculum but are not included at your current school. If you do not have grammar, computer, or U.S. History classes, for example, you can be reimbursed for materials or classes that cover that need.

The FMO at post decides if there is funding and if you qualify. Most people do qualify if they have supplemental funding available ($4,100 per child per year) however, if you have used it all up then you have to wait until next year. For more information, contact your FMO or the Office of Allowances at AllowancesO@state.gov. You can also read information about supplemental allowances here: http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c21944.htm.

When can I order a box?

You can order a box at any time. But, if you hope to be reimbursed, you need to order before the end of the school year. Contact us at afterschoolplans@gmail.com for the Reimbursement Approval Form. You can give that to your FMO to figure out if you qualify for supplemental funds.

Order your box here: https://afterschoolplans.com/american-history-in-a-box-for-expats/

Is there a way to assess if my children learn the material in the box?

Absolutely! After your child finishes the workbook, we will send an assessment to be completed. After you send it back to us, we will give you a mastery-learning sheet that suggests additional materials and resources for deeper learning.

How did you choose the books and games for the box?

We chose books that are fun, interesting, and compelling for each age group. Some books are more challenging and might require parental assistance. Some are very easy for the age group but include information that make them valuable or are so beautifully written or illustrated that we couldn’t resist them. We tried to make sure that the books were accessible for a variety of learners and a variety of interests. We also worked to make sure they specifically address American History standards and review the major concepts. Our main goal is to make sure kids read, learn, and enjoy the books.

What are the grade levels for each box?

We have grouped the grade levels so we have kits for Kindergarten and first grade, second and third grade, fourth and fifth grade, and a box specifically for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. If you child is a sports fanatic, we have a box that looks at American History from the point of view of sports. Each book covers a sporting event or sportsman through the lens of history.

What will they learn with American-History-in-a-Box?

In our boxes, children will learn the major concepts, read about some of the important people in our history, and review some of the most significant events. The boxes provide an overview and a scaffold for future learning.

Is the box the same as a U.S. History course in the U.S.?

No, the box does not cover all of the material that a child would learn during a full year in a U.S. history course. The box provides an overview and an introduction to the major events, people, and concepts.

How do I order a Box?

Simply go to www.afterschoolplans.com and click on the “American History in a Box.” If you would like to order more than one box at a time, email us at afterschoolplans@gmail.com and we will send you an invoice.

Do you have any other resources for Expat Kids?

Of course we do! We have an American History Coloring Book that is great for all ages. It covers the major concepts, people, and events in American History.

We also haveKids on the Move, A Relocation Workbook” for kids in transition. Your child will love the activities, coloring pages, and places for saving pictures and memories. The first section helps your child collect memories of your current home, the second section helps with processing the move, and the third section helps your child get excited about their new home.

Finally, if you are new to embassy life or just want to review all those acronyms, our Embassy Kids Coloring Book has over 40 pages that explain who works at an embassy, what you might find there, and what those offices actually do all day!

Questions? Email us at afterschoolplans@gmail.com.

Travel and History, Part II

IMG_2955It is spring break and your family is exploring Boston, Massachusetts, and learning all about the American Revolution, a few of our founding fathers, and to top it all off you visit Plimouth Plantation and go to view the big rock in Plymouth Harbor. How can you make sure your kids internalize what they learn, have fun processing the information, and have something they can share with friends and family at home? Here is a list of our favorite ideas!

  1. Keep a photo journal. Give your child a camera and ask them to take pictures about the historical sites they visit. Print out all the pictures at the end of your trip and make a photo album. Work with your child to label the pictures and add relevant dates and time periods. Alternatively, create the photo album on Shutterfly.com or Snapfish.com. Use online sources to find out more information about each historical site and add it to your comments.
  2. Keep a daily journal as if you are living in a different time period. We always love to have our children write a daily journal during vacations. Of course, it doesn’t always happen, but we do have good intentions. A fun twist is to have your child write their journal entry from the point of view of the time period they are learning about. So, if you visit Plimouth Plantation, have your child write about what they learned as if they actually lived there during that time period!
  3. Complete a timeline with the people you learn about, the places you visit, and the pictures you take. After your trip, select a series of pictures taken from historical sites. Figure out when that site was important and label it with the date. Then, create a timeline using butcher paper, a string and index cards, or a paper taped into a timeline. First, add basic dates from American History to the timeline. It might be fun to also add important dates from your family history if you know them! Then, post pictures and information about each picture from your vacation on the timeline.
  4. Start a collage scrapbook using brochures, postcards, and fliers from your visits. To make a collage scrapbook, simply keep every piece of paper you can find from your visits to historical sites! Then, create either one large collage or a series of collages by cutting out pictures, comments, and dates.
  5. Write a history web page or Facebook page and share it with friends and family. Include information that you have learned, pictures from your visits, key information to know, and then write quizzes or tests for each post you write! Perhaps you can offer simple prizes for anyone who gets 100% on your quizzes?

How do you record your child’s learning during vacations?