History Lessons: What We Remember (Part 1)

Dear Reader,

My kids don’t know a lot of dates from history. But they know how President McKinley was shot. And what the gist of the Monroe Doctrine was. And about trench warfare in WWI. And the reason they remember these things is not because of some awesome lesson plans I devised on the topic. The reason is that for one reason or another they formed relationships with these pieces of material. I would love to say that it is because of our great 100% Charlotte Mason curriculum in which they narrated the material and it is now forever lodged in their brains. But that’s not true either. The truth is that for some reason they latched on to these particular bits of history and they played them. They acted them out for a time.

Did you know President McKinley was assassinated? Do you know how it went down? My now six-year-old not only knows but spent over a year educating almost every grown-up she met on this issue. An anarchist named Leon (we don’t remember his last name; it was pretty unpronounceable anyway) walked up to the president to shake his hand and then when he was close pulled out a gun and shot him. And my cute little blond, curly-haired daughter who was then no more than 5 went around for months shaking hands with adults and then pretending to pull out a gun and shoot them, with the obligatory bang noise of course. I cans till see their expressions–first a pleasantly surprised expression that this little cute thing wants to shake their hand and then a stunned one when she “shoots” them. And that’s when I would step in and say, “She is pretending you are President McKinley and she is assassinating you.” To which the usual response was either, “Oh, was he assassinated?” or “Oh, is that how he was assassinated?” I suppose we should just be glad we never had the opportunity to meet the president or any other important people while she was in her shooting phase which did last over a year). She no longer shoots everyone she meets but this is one history lesson we won’t quickly forget.

You will think I have particularly violent offspring but the second memorable history lesson also involves shooting. I am not sure to tel you the truth that my children, especially the younger two, remember which war involved trench warfare but the idea itself is one that took hold with them. There was quite a while when they would see anything ditch or trench like and immediately throw themselves in it and, well, start shooting at innocent passersby. A really good ditch will still occasionally inspire them to do this. We have  a park in our town that has a line of little hillocks which is enough to inspire them. My mother’s neighborhood is evene better. It has drainage ditches for rainwater running along all the streets, something we don’t see around here. They are not deep, maybe a foot or a foot and a half, but they serve the purpose.There is one family walk two Christmases ago that I will never forget. It was my mom, me, my kids, my sister, her kids, and her German husband (she went to Germany, met him, married him, and is settled there permanently it seems). My cute little girl (once again; really she’s not that violent in most of life) couldn’t resist the pull of those ditches. She threw herself in one and began taking aim at all of us shouting, “I’m shooting Germans!” And this time, she really was. I am just gad that my poor brother-in-law did not seem to pick up on what she was saying.

My last story also involves the littlest child. But lest this post get too long, I will save it for another one. It doesn’t involve shooting, only crying.

Until next time


5 responses to this post.

  1. […] promised you the story of why we remember the Monroe Doctrine (see part 1).  This story does not involve violence, thankfully. Though there is some […]


  2. […] their imaginations. I find with my own children that they often act out what they have learned, playing at WWI, for instance, and thereby reinforce learning. But even if they do not, there are still many […]


  3. […] ways. I am thinking here os the many things my children have played over the years including the assassination of William McKinley and the trench warfare of WWI. This playing at what they have learned is something Charlotte mentions too. It is wonderful to […]


  4. […] children are naturally imaginative and that they play at what interests them. I have happily seen my own children play at things they have picked up from their history. Indeed, Charlotte says that if they do not do this, we […]


  5. […] have hit upon the right sort of books. (For some stories about what my own kids have remembered see this post and this […]


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