I know, it's still mid-January, but as YOU know, in the Foreign Service life, you gotta plan early.
No worries, I got ya covered and you're gonna knock this Valentine's Day outta the park!
Imagine this-- It's the second week of February and your child's International school sends a last minute notice announcing that "Yes! Valentine's are allowed to be exchanged this year." You smile smugly to yourself because you're on it this year for the first time in, well, that doesn't matter, does it?
I've created EIGHT amazing All-American-U.S.-History-themed Valentine's Day cards for you to download and *print. I even have the links where you can order the corresponding goodies that go with. OH YEAH, prepare to win Valentine's day. At least with the kid-crowd. (You're on your own with what you plan for your spouse!)
I won't lie, to pull this off you should get started right away. As in NOW!
1. Start by >>CLICKING HERE<< to download the Valentine's cards.
2. Place your order from Amazon prints
> Choose "Prints" or "Standard Prints"
> Upload the Valentine Cards
> Select the images that you want and click the "Add to Project" button.
> Determine how many cards you'll need & then choose the 8x10 option. (I like a matte finish, but you really can't go wrong with glossy either.)
> Click "Add to Cart"
> If you order NOW, as I suggested, then you'll qualify for free shipping.
Arrow pencil toppers & pencils (Not throwin' away my shot)
Swedish Fish (fish in the Delaware)
Heart straws (trickle down...)
Frosted Flakes, because they're GREAT!
Immigration is an issue that is top of mind right now in the U.S., but it's not a new issue. The United States of America is a nation of immigrants and unless you are Native American, you probably have immigrant roots. Exciting!
Our students learn about immigration throughout their lessons. For example, when they are introduced to events such as the California Gold Rush (which drew immigrants from Asia and Europe), or when they learn about Ellis Island and the millions of immigrants who came to our country from all over the world. Lessons touch on reasons why people emigrate (war, famine, etc.) and the rights and responsibilities of America's citizens.
Immigration has always been a part of our country's history and it's always been a controversial topic.
Here are some books that will assist you in creating conversation starters with your kiddos. I suggest reading them together and then asking "How is your life similar or different to the child in this book?"
TIP: Click this link to put all the books in your Amazon cart, then delete the ones you don't want.
* I'm a proud affiliate of Amazon. If you use this link, I may earn a small commission.
Foreign service students have the wonderful opportunity to gain new perspectives and insights—specifically in regards to history, civics, and government—while living abroad. They’re gifted a chance to experience and explore different countries and cultures all over the world.
However, it’s important to give them context for where they came from—and studying U.S. history can help them in so many ways. While international schools can provide excellent education options for children, they typically do not cover U.S. history in a way that will leave them with a sufficient understanding of how our nation was formed and everything that has happened in the nearly 250 years since.
Learning U.S. history is so much more than just memorizing dates, facts, and characters. Here are 10 ways studying U.S. history actually helps your student in the long run.
1. Shows them what sets America apart from other countries
U.S. history provides a solid foundation for understanding what indeed makes the United States so special. America was founded by rebels, and has developed into an economic and military powerhouse. More than that, it’s become a beacon of freedom for so many people all over the world. Learning about how the nation got its start and how it came to be what it is today can only be discovered through the lens of a U.S. history class.
2. Gives your child a sense of where they came from
Some kids have only known life abroad and they have little knowledge or connection to life in the U.S. Learning American history can help kids understand where they come from and provide them with a sense of identity. It’ll help them appreciate the sacrifices and struggles of their ancestors and even help them develop a sense of patriotism and pride in their country. An international or local education may give them a greater sense of the history of the world—which is important as well—but U.S. history shows your student where they fit into it all.
3. Helps them appreciate their surroundings while abroad
The United States is a melting pot of cultures. As children learn more about how the nation came to be—and the diverse cultures and people who made it so—they’ll cultivate an appreciation for whatever country they currently call home. Living abroad while studying U.S. history is a unique opportunity for children to connect to the subject on a completely different level.
4. Strengthens qualities like compassion and empathy
Chances are, living in a foreign country has already opened your child’s eyes to different cultures. They see how different the world is and how unique each person they meet can be—history classes just broaden that awareness. Discovering the hardships and sacrifices other people endured—even just within the context of U.S. history—can help children develop compassion, tolerance, and empathy in new ways.
5. Helps them learn from past mistakes
There’s a well-known quote by author and philosopher George Santayana that reads, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is important for students to know how our country got to the point it’s at today. When they learn about the some of the atrocities committed throughout history, they can use the empathy they’re developing to look for ways to avoid situations like that from occurring again. U.S. history teaches them that the American government is nimble and malleable enough so that as they continue to learn from the mistakes of the past, they have the power to shape the future and make it better.
6. Helps them understand how cultures evolve
The U.S., although still a relatively young nation, has seen many eras and ages. History classes show students how society and culture change and evolve over time and how much one generation can affect the next.
7. Keeps them up-to-date on school standards back home
Enrolling your child in U.S. history classes while they’re abroad means they won’t miss a beat when it comes to keeping up with their classmates back home. Typically, the education systems abroad focus on world history, and while this is a solid foundation, American schools still concentrate on U.S.-centric history. A supplemental course that covers U.S. history, keeps students up-to-date with the history standards back in the U.S., so when it comes time to move back, they’ll be caught up and on track without any issues.
8. Sets them up for college
While it may seem a little early to be thinking about sending your first grader (or even your eighth grader) off to college, it’s something that will likely happen before you know it. With a U.S. history course, especially one taught in an online format, your student is learning skills that they’ll be able to take with them once they enroll in a university. Colleges are offering more and more online courses, so when it comes time for your student to begin taking classes in this format, it won’t feel foreign to them and they’ll already be ahead of their peers. Taking additional, supplemental classes, like those we offer at U.S. History Abroad, also prepares them for a more strenuous workload and gives them the time management and independent learning skills needed to succeed in higher education.
9. Helps them develop critical thinking skills
Reading and analyzing historical documents teaches children to become careful readers. What rights do the First Amendment really give U.S. citizens? How important is propaganda when it comes to war? Learning U.S. history gives students a chance to become skeptical of biases and independent thinkers.
10. Put things into perspective
History is still happening. Studying history shows students that society is not dormant; it’s constantly changing and can be influenced by so many factors. It helps them to question and understand why things change, who propels those changes, and what comes from those changes. Learning about U.S. history, while keeping up with current events, can put today’s world and happenings into perspective.
Ultimately, the value of learning U.S. history—no matter where you are in the world—is immeasurable. Start perusing the many different courses we offer and sign up for our newsletter to be alerted when registration for the new school year opens!
Many people have heard of the Wright brothers and know they are credited with inventing and successfully flying the world’s first airplane! It’s an incredible piece of American history that has shaped the way the entire world travels.
On Dec. 17 we recognize their achievements and celebrate the anniversary of Orville and Wilbur’s first flight in 1903. Their story is often a quick blip in history classes and textbooks, we want to take a little bit of time and share how that first powered flight came to be.
The History of the Wright Brothers
Wilbur and Orville Wright were American inventors and are known to be the leading pioneers of aviation as we know it today. On Dec. 17, 1903, they achieved the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight. While this was unbelievable on its own, they outdid their own accomplishment by building and flying the first fully practical airplane just two years later.
Wilber and Orville both showed an interest in mechanics and engineering from an early age. Part of a family of five children, the two grew up as playmates and best friends. Wilbur Wright was born on April 16, 1867, near Millville, Indiana; Orville Wright, was born in 1871.
Their father, Milton Wright was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and his preaching frequently took him on the road. On his returns, he’d often bring the boys small toys. One of these toys—a small model helicopter made of cork, bamboo and paper, and powered by a rubber band—is considered to be the spark that ignited their lifelong love of aeronautics and flying.
Life before flight
When they were younger, the Wright brothers helped their father edit a journal called the Religious Telescope. After a few years, they left the journal to start their own weekly newspaper, the West Side News.
Always inclined towards mechanics, Wilbur and Orville opened their own bike shop in 1892, at the height of the bicycles craze that was sweeping the country. It’s here—fixing bicycles and selling their own designs—where they gained the skills needed to later invent a working airplane.
Working with these different mechanical projects, like bicycles and printing presses, and following the scientific research of German aviator Otto Lilienthal, inspired the brothers to start their own experiments in flight. When Lilienthal died in a glider plane accident in 1896, the made the decision that it was time to develop their own successful design and moved to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, which is known for its strong winds.
Wilbur and Orville began by observing how birds angled their wings for balance and control. Armed with this information, they set out to develop a concept they called “wing warping,” which led to their design for airplane wings. After adding a moveable rudder, which gave them better control, the brothers found the magic formula that gave them flight.
On Dec. 17, 1903 the Wright brothers made the first free flight of a power-driven, heavier-than-air airplane. Wilbur piloted the craft for 59 seconds, at an elevation of 852 feet.
Though they were not the first to build an aircraft, the Wright brothers did invent the three-axis control, which made a fixed-wing powered flight possible. In fact, their first patent—821,393—was not for a “flying machine,” but rather, the aerodynamic controls that manipulated the machine’s surfaces. With this breakthrough, a pilot could steer the plane effectively and maintain equilibrium throughout its flight.
Despite the fact that the Wright brothers found success in the air, there were people throughout the country that preferred to see them grounded. The media and other aviation experts were hesitant to believe the Wilbur and Orville’s claims of flight, and as a result, Wilbur took off to Europe, where he hoped to (and did) find a more receptive audience.
The move proved successful; Wilbur began giving many public flights to journalists, government officials, and society’s elite. In 1909, Orville joined his brother in Europe and the two began selling their airplanes. Shortly after, they returned to the U.S. where they finally found fame and wealth due to their incredible invention.
Make Your Own Airplane at Home
Your child might not have access to all the tools and heavy machinery needed to build their own airplane, but they can still celebrate this monumental anniversary by creating their own paper airplanes! Here’s how to do it.
As you’re making these paper airplanes with your child, share the history of flight with them—you never know, you might just inspire a lifelong love of aeronautics or engineering as well! Don’t forget to share your photos of their creations with us on Facebook!
This is our family's seventh year homeschooling and to be honest, it might be our last... I'll save my thoughts on that for another time, because today I want to share what I LOVE about homeschooling this time of year-- story time by the fireplace, complete with big mugs filled with hot chocolate and WAAAAAAAAY too much whipped cream!!
We've discovered a fun podcast that I think your kids will quickly become obsessed with too!
In The Radio Adventure of Dr. Floyd, we laugh as we listen (in the style of old-time radio) to how Dr. Floyd plans to fend off his nemesis Dr. Steve while learning about history in the process.
Try these EPISODES: "Bulls & Bears!" where Dr. Grant gets a little nervous about news of animals on Wall Street.
Or, "Voice of the Revolution!" where Dr. Steve tries to swipe Patrick Henry's 'Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death' speech.
Looking for Christmas-themed episodes? Listen to: "Twas the Night Before Floyd!" or "How Dr. Steve Stole Christmas!"
You can listen on iTunes or Stitcher.
I'd love to hear how your family connects during the busy holiday season. Board games? Dance parties in the kitchen? Christmas karaoke?
Are you in the holiday spirit yet? Some places are more festive than others-- for example, when we lived in Russia, I was feelin' it by mid-October, but to be honest, it never felt like Christmas during our time in Morocco...
So, if YOUR FAMILY needs a boost, I've made a list of my very favorite things-- books!
Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders will enjoy:
The Jolly Postman
A Christmas Carol
The Night Before Christmas
3rd, 4th, and 5th graders should take a look at:
The Family Under the Bridge
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Last Holiday Concert
Jake & The Gingerbread Wars
6th, 7th, and 8th graders can immerse themselves in
these American Christmas classics:
Gift of the Magi
A Christmas Story
I wouldn't want to leave out High school/Adult readers:
Mr. Dickens and His Carol
Christmas in America
Christmas 1945: The Greatest Celebration in American History
AND if you're looking for a new Christmas movie to add to your family's must-watch list, check out The Man Who Invented Christmas. You're welcome!
If you or your kiddos are bookworms like we are and have already read through this list, shoot me an email and I'll send you more suggestions directly to your inbox!
We are only a week away from opening up registration for the school year. Remember, I’ve been saying that we’re mixing things up for our 5th year in business and here is one of the big changes. As a result from your survey input, we have eliminated the standard box of books the we sent each child for their course and instead have replaced it with a age appropriate suggestions for books, games, and activities and a $150 Amazon gift card.
I love this new model because it eliminates your household from receiving duplicate materials! Or, you can purchase only the digital versions of the books if you like to really save space! You get to pick which items you want or you can even choose something that’s not even on the list. And trust me, $150 will buy a lot of books!
So, seriously, mark your calendar, put a reminder in your phone, sign up to get notified, or whatever you have to do to remember to register on August 29th.
I’m going to give you a sneak peak of the suggested purchases for each course. The lists are too fun not to share! So, click download to view this this gift guide pdf.
We have touched on a lot of topics over the summer. Educational apps, American idioms, U.S. Presidents, All-American movies and audiobooks, Colonial and American Revolutionary history, and U.S. Civics. Do you know what we haven’t looked at? U.S. geography and famous attractions!
I’ve put together a fun game that you can play with your kids. It works like this.
* Use the button below to print out the question and answer cards.
* Each card has ten clues on it listed from hardest to easiest.
* One person will read the card and the others will try to guess the answer before anyone else. BUT, if you guess incorrectly, you are out for that round.
* If you are the first to guess correctly then you get to hold onto that card.
* The person with the most cards at the end, wins!
I am a tourist attraction...
I am on an island...
In the American Civil War, I was a military barracks...
My name means “pelican” in Spanish...
In 1933, I became a federal penitentiary....
I have been the setting for many movies...
My nickname is “The Rock.”...
Al Capone and the Birdman spent some time here...
I was “liberated” twice by a group of Native Americans...
Where am I?
If you guessed Alcatraz before anyone else, then you would win the card!
Simple and fun, right? So go ahead and download your free printable and you can start playing right away!
I can honestly say that I have the BEST job. I get to interact with kids and parents who value the importance of keeping up with American history studies while living overseas.
If you haven’t already, read the blog post where I point to an article about a former Ambassador who talks about how he spent his childhood overseas, but was turned down form the Foreign Service twice because they felt he didn’t know enough about the U.S.
However, we live in age where our kids can keep up with their U.S. History studies with online lessons! I created these courses specifically for Foreign Service kids and have included all of the components required by the Fairfax County Schools standards of learning.
The lessons were designed for students to spend about 30-45 minutes one time a week to complete over the course of a school year. Check out the testimonials page to see what students have to say about the lessons. The say the funniest things and give rave reviews!
Well, I have rave reviews for the amount of effort and enthusiasm that my students put into each lesson. As I’ve said before, these kids are already so busy and involved with their school, community, and extra-curricular programs, but they are still willing to take on the extra responsibility of keeping up with American history! Good job to the all of my students and I also want to give a shout out to the PARENTS who are ensuring that our Foreign Service kids are excelling in this lifestyle.
As you know, I offer a lot of freebies and bonuses to my students, but here’s something for all of you supportive parents-- I want to treat you to a Starbucks coffee today! We, as parents of Third Culture Kids are all in this together. We're all working hard to make sure that our kids turn out “normal” at the end of this adventure. So, to honor you and show my gratitude for your service and commitment to our children, please, if you are in the U.S. (and I’m hoping that the timing of this will mean that many of you are either on R&R or Home Leave in the U.S…) but if you are in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, Australia, or Mexico today, then go get a #CoffeonUSHistoryAbroad!
You’ll find the barcode over in the FS Bidding Tools Facebook Group which is a place for all members of the Foreign Service Community to discuss overseas schools, post morale, EFM employment, and much more. If you haven’t joined, request to do so NOW because this gift expires Thursday night.
Citizens of the United States of America enjoy rights that many people in the world don't share. Of course, Americans also share great responsibilities too. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are built on and support these American values.
Students in Course E learn about what citizenship means, why we have government, what values the citizens of the United States hold, and the duties and responsibilities of United States citizens.
Even though kids of American parents are automatically U.S. citizens, sometimes Foreign Service kids grow up outside of the United States and fail to learn the basics about U.S. government and history. I hope you are helping your child get the resources and instruction in place so they won't feel embarrassed down the road.
Here's a sampling of some typical questions that could be asked on the naturalization test. Can your child pass?