Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Study: Out of the Dust Week 1

Encouraging the reading of great books has become a personal mission since I became a mom.  I was not an enthusiastic reader as a child or young adult.  I can't exactly pinpoint why I didn't like to read, I just didn't.  I knew I should like it, but I never developed a love for the written word until I had children. Our kids only know me as a reader.  They have a hard time even imagining that I didn't like to read.  I'm grateful they've only known me as a lover of books.

As I reflect back on my childhood, to be completely honest, other than cookbooks and craft books, I rarely remember reading.  Is that sad or what?  I remember doing book reports or term papers, and even summer reading programs, but I wasn't excited about the reading.  In fact, I have to make a shocking confession...  for the term papers and book reports, I rarely read the books.  This news completely surprises our kids, but it's the truth.  Yikes!  I wonder how in the world I managed to write about something I knew nothing about?  This is very sad.

I do have a few favorites my parents read to me over and over and over again.  The bindings are falling apart and these books were loved.

Some of my favorites from childhood.  I shared these books with my class.  Hop on Pop was signed on the inside cover, "To my little girl, Kimmy- From Daddy Feb '69" 
I guess the good news is although I didn't read assigned material or great fiction, I did read those recipes and have become a great cook because of my love for cookbooks.  There is always a silver lining.

Today, as I read books like, Anne of Green Gables, Tom Sawyer, The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie or Roald Dahl aloud to our kids I am transported to other times and places hanging on the edge of my seat wondering, "What will happen next?"  After our reading time, our kids beg, "One more chapter, please!"  I really do love that!  I want them begging for more great literature.

It is my heart's desire that our kids develop a LOVE for reading that I failed to embrace as a child. Therefore, I read to our littles daily and encourage reading through book clubs.

This year, I'm teaching two Book/Unit Study Classes at a local homeschool network.  One class is focused on picture books for grades 1-4 and the other class is for students grades 4-8.

In the older class, our first book study is on Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.  I follow study guides by Progeny Press.  I've done a number of their studies and appreciate the critical thinking, comprehensive analysis, and in-depth study they offer, all with a Christian perspective.  I'm going to share what we're doing in class as a resource if you're interested in doing a book study at home or with a group.

Out of the Dust: Week 1

Prior to first class meeting, assign the following as pre-class activities:

To better understand the time period of this book have five students research and give a brief description of the following pre-reading activities.  Each child only needs to find out information on their specific assigned activity (these activities are found in the Progeny Press Study Guide).

1.)  The Great Depression. What was the Great Depression? What years did the U.S. experience the Great Depression? What major economic event contributed to the Great Depression? Do you know anyone who lived through the Great Depression? If so, ask them how their family survived the Depression, how they lived, what they ate, what they wore. Did the Great Depression affect him/her throughout the remainder of his/her life? Be prepared to share what you find.

2.)  Who was Franklin Delano Roosevelt? What was The New Deal?

3.)  What was the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC)? What was the purpose of the CCC?

4.)  What is the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA)?

5.)  During the Great Depression, many families lost their entire savings. Research the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Be prepared to explain to the class (group) what the FDIC is. After doing your research, do you think banks could fail in the same way today?

Discuss student findings during the first class meeting.

Introduction to the book:

Author:  Introduce students to Karen Hesse.  A great interview is found at  Highlight portions of the interview pertaining to Out of the Dust.

History:  Give description of the Dust Bowl for students to better understand the time period.  I read The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan in preparation for the class.  This book is well-written, descriptive and engaging.  It was hard to put down.  Reading it made me realize how strong and determined the people of that era were. 
The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since. Timothy Egan’s critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic chapter of American history from the shadows in a tour de force of historical reportage. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones. Brilliantly capturing the terrifying drama of catastrophe, Egan does equal justice to the human characters who become his heroes, “the stoic, long-suffering men and women whose lives he opens up with urgency and respect” (New York Times).

Geography: Identify states on U.S. map most hard hit by The Dust Bowl. Give students map of the United States .  Have them locate Oklahoma's panhandle.  Locate Cimmaron County.  Cimmaron County is the only county in the United States which borders four states.  Take a look at Cimmaron County's population numbers. Note highest population and year, and current population.  Discuss the peak and why population has dwindled.

Assign first section of book- Winter 1934.  Students will need to finish assigned pages prior to the next class meeting.

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