Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: Profiles from History

We found Profiles from History published by Geography Matters through reviews for their Trail Guide to Learning curriculum.  While the Trail Guide to Learning looks interesting and has wonderful reviews, it just isn't going to be for us.  But I found the curriculum so interesting that I kept looking around the Geography Matters website.

We had been studying the Revolutionary War and watching Liberty's Kids, but the DVDs were just about done and were weren't anywhere near finished with the Revolutionary War portion of the history curriculum.  Amber loved studying the time and desperately wanted to learn more about the people themselves.

Profiles from History was a fortuitous find for us.  We have been using Profiles from History, Vol. 2 & Vol. 3.  Both have similar content and format, just different historical figures from throughout American history.  The books themselves are individually chronological, but both cover the same time frame with different people being profiled.

Each book has profiles, or mini-biographies, of American historical figures along with a portrait of the person.  The profiles are about two and a half pages long, and vary in detail. The historical figures are not just the usual ones you would expect from the time periods. All that we have read so far have been informative and had details that aren't part of the usual fare found in history textbooks.

After each profile there is a discussion section to guide critical thinking on topics related to the person studied.  There is usually also a map of where the historical figure lived and a timeline to show where in history the person belongs. The timeline is useful if you are reading the book as a stand-alone text, however since we are studying each person as we come across them in our history curriculum, this isn't as useful for us. Still, it is a nice feature.

There are also various activity ideas and worksheet type pages for each profiled person.  They all appear to have at least a word scramble, word search and crossword puzzle along with more hands on type of ideas.  Since this is just additional biographical information for Amber's regular history curriculum, we don't do a lot of the activities with each profile. Amber does complete the word search and crossword puzzle for each person because she enjoys doing those.

One activity that was recommended and we enjoyed was reading Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride and comparing the poem to the truth of the story.

The books come as a print version or a downloadable PDF file.  We chose the PDF version and read it on our iPad through the GoodReader app.  This is an ideal set-up for us.  We don't waste paper for the activities because Amber can work in the book directly on the iPad.

Amber loves reading the profiles of the historical figures from Profiles from History. It is often the highlight of her academic day.  We have had many great discussions about history and the people after reading from Profiles from History.  It was really a great find and continued Amber's renewed interest in the American Revolution after we ran through the Liberty's Kids.

I only wish the books had some color to them. All the graphics are gray-scale, including the portraits, timelines and maps.  This is not only in the PDF version, but the print version as well.

A quick list of the people profiled in each book are:

Profiles from History, Vol. 2: 
Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Thomas Paine, Nathan Hale, Molly Pitcher, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Dolley Madison, Tecumseh, Daniel Webster, Harriet Tubman, Thomas Jackson, Clara Barton, Joshua Chamberlain, Booker T. Washington, Samuel Clemens, Annie Oakley, John Philip Sousa, Juliette Low, Will Rogers.

Profiles from History, Vol. 3:
Amos Fortune, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton (LOVED this one), Thomas Hopkins Gallaundet, Noah Webster, William McGuffey, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Alvin C. York, Hellen Keller, Irena Sendler, Winston Churchill, Dr. Charles Drew, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Corrie ten Boom, Jackie Robinson.

There is also a Profiles from History, Vol. 1 that we do not yet own.  It has more than just American historical figures and covers a much wider span of time.  We have so enjoyed Volumes 2 and 3 that I will probably purchase it for future use and for the one or two American Revolutionary figures it contains.

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