Modern History: 1950’s Party

September 2nd, 2015

modern-history:1950s-party

If you are studying modern history, you might want to throw a 1950’s party! You will want to grab some poodle skirts from a local costume shop (or at a yard sale!) Match those pink poodle skirts with white or pink shirts, and you will have a 1950’s look. The men can wear white T-shirts and jeans. They can slick back their hair with jell, while the women can wear a pony tail or two. Ribbons can be wrapped around the pony tails.

If you have a 1950’s diner where you live, you can go out for a hamburger and a malt. Back when I lived in California, I took my dad to the local 1950’s malt shop. Unfortunately Eastern Washington does not have a 1950’s diner, but you could create a similar ambience in your home.

If you want to make your dining room into a malt shop, that can be fun. Back when I was in college, my friends threw a 1950’s-themed murder mystery party, and the entire downstairs was transformed. Use your imagination.

How to Make a 1950’s Jukebox Cake

1950s-jukebox-cake

If you are throwing a 1950’s birthday party, you will want to have a cake. My dad loved the 1950’s, so I made him a jukebox cake for his birthday. I started with a long rectangular pan, and I baked a chocolate cake. I rounded the top part of the cake, and I frosted it with chocolate frosting.

Next I mixed some white vanilla frosting with some food coloring to make yellow, red, and gray frosting. I put each in a ziplock bag and cut off a hole in the corner to place the icing where I wanted it. I make an outer arc of red and an inner arc of yellow. I flattened it out with a table knife.

I made a red rectangle with yellow bars across it for the speaker. Then I used gray frosting for the bottom of the arcs and the bottom part of the jukebox. I cut two Peppermint Patties to place on the top and middle of the cake in the configuration shown in the picture. I used red M&M’s as embellishments.

When we lit the candles, it looked like the jukebox was lit up from the inside!

1950’s Music

You can find plenty of 1950’s music on YouTube, and you can play it in the background of your 1950’s party. One of the most famous songs of the 1950’s was “Rock Around the Clock” by Haley and the Comets. Watch the fun 1950’s dancing and the styles of clothing back then:

Have fun throwing your very own 1950’s party!

LEGO Tanks of World War II

August 31st, 2015

LEGO-tanks-of-WWIIThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

While studying World War II, my kids built some LEGO tanks! They had such a fun time looking at pictures of tanks and trying to get the correct shape. The tops of the tanks swivel, as you can see in the YouTube demonstration below. The green tank has a hatch where soldiers can enter the tank. If you have Robotic LEGOs, you can use the track for the bottom of the tank. If all you have is regular LEGOs, you can make a track like the green tank, using black LEGOs.

We are using All American History, Volume II this year for our American History studies. We also read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom to further understand the Holocaust of World War II.

blitzkrieg-in-lego-wwII

Besides LEGO tanks, you can also make other LEGO scenes from World War II. During the Blitzkrieg in London, the German planes dropped bombs on the city, demolishing the entire city and leaving it in ruins. As you can see in the YouTube video, the airplanes are 3-dimensional, coming out from the scene, dropping their bombs behind them. The white buildings have black smoke rising from them.

lego-atomic-mushroom-cloud

My son decided to make a LEGO atomic mushroom cloud out of white LEGO bricks. Just look at a photo of an atomic explosion, and you will see how to construct the mushroom cloud. There is a larger mushroom top and a smaller mushroom top about half-way down, tapering sort of like stair steps.

lego-concentration-camp

My daughter made a concentration camp out of a LEGO base that was gray. There was a gas chamber in one corner. A LEGO man is beating a couple of Jews, and two more men are shooting two other prisoners.

Here is the video demonstration where I show you our World War II LEGO creations:

Making scenes out of LEGO bricks will help kids to understand World War II while creating from their imaginations. The LEGO tanks were especially fun to make!

Reasons to Fast

August 28th, 2015

reasons-to-fast

We live in a self-indulgent society. We know nothing of self-denial. Christ commands us to lead a life of self-denial. (Matthew 16:24)

Jesus Himself fasted. He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 4:34 NASB) Jesus gave us the example of wanting God’s will above our own stomachs. He never prioritized self-pampering. He never did it. He constantly denied Himself, and He was God!!

If Jesus who was God had to be somehow unblocked through fasting to know God’s will clearly for His life, how much more do we need to fast to gain clarity for our own lives! Do we want to do the will of God? Then why don’t we seek Him wholeheartedly?

If you don’t have a hunger for God, fast. If you are bored reading your Bible, fast. If you feel like you’re not connecting to God during prayer, fast. “Blessed are those who HUNGER and thirst for righteousness, for they WILL be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV

There are some strongholds of the enemy that can ONLY be broken through fasting (Matthew 17:21). This is because there is a demonic component to many strongholds in our lives, and we are not even aware that we are in the grip of the enemy until we fast and have our spiritual eyes opened. Fasting is a way to break the bonds of the enemy in our lives. Fasting will open your eyes; it will humble you and show you your real self.

More reasons why you should fast:

1. When God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers
2. When you have trouble overcoming a specific sin
3. When you feel blind in a situation where action is required
4. When counseling others
5. When you are in the midst of a trial where you have no hope
6. When you want to experience God in a deeper way
7. When you need clear direction and wisdom
8. When you have a broken marriage that only God can heal
9. To seek the heart of God about leading His people
10. When God’s people need to be revived

When you fast, you are humbling yourself before the Lord, which is why God hears you. He delights in people who seek Him with humility. Then our voices will be heard on high. “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:9a)

Every time I have fasted, I have pressed into God with all of my being, and Scripture says that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

We can walk with spiritually open eyes, clarity of vision, nearness to God. Your own will needs to be fully and unconditionally crucified in order for you to be ready to do whatever God has called you to do. And maybe what you’re doing right now (your vocation) is exactly where God wants you, and you will get a special empowering to live it out in a much more powerful way. Or maybe you can’t even begin to conceive of how wonderful your life will be if God changes your desires and then gives you the desires of your heart. I’ve had this happen to me, and I can tell you, it is wonderful!

Here is the audio that further explains why you should fast:

How to Teach the Great Depression

August 26th, 2015

the-great-depression

When we studied the Great Depression, my children realized how fortunate they were to have a family that has a home, employment, and food three times a day. These were some basics that a large amount of people never had during the Great Depression. I remember talking to my grandmother before she passed away. Anyone who lived through the Great Depression was never the same again–they were more frugal and less wasteful with everything.

How to Teach the Great Depression:
Hands-on Ideas

  • Pretend you are a bank teller. Have the children put all their money into the bank. Now have the bank close. They can’t ever have their money back. They’ve lost everything.
  • Make soup and have the children stand in line to get their soup. Serve the soup two hours later than the usual lunch time so the children experience hunger.
  • Have children sleep in a large cardboard box in the living room, using only newspaper as blankets. If it’s winter time, turn off the heater. After an hour of discomfort, have the children describe how people living in Hoovervilles must have felt.
  • Listen to some of FDR’s fireside chats. React as if your life hinges on what he’s saying. Enter into the emotion of that time, the desperation, the inability to know what to do.
  • One of the most popular actresses during the Great Depression was Shirley Temple. Watch one of the movies produced during the Great Depression.
  • Listen to some songs produced during the Great Depression, such as “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.”
  • The Empire State Building was built during this time. Draw a simplified version of the Empire State Building.
  • Construct Mount Rushmore out of a block of white clay, using clay modeling tools.
  • Look at some artwork created during the Great Depression. American Gothic is one famous painting created during this time.

My children also wrote a summary of the Great Depression for their Modern History notebooks. Here is Bryan’s version of the Great Depression. Hopefully you won’t get too depressed as you read it:

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was depressing. Before it people were less depressed because it was the Roaring Twenties. Right up to the Great Depression, the stock market was doing ridiculously well. It was called the Big Bull Market. Sure, the amount of dishonesty from some of the investors was somewhat depressing, the way they gave themselves so much money. But that wasn’t as depressing as the Great Depression.

It all started on Black Thursday when a big bunch of investors tried to sell their stock. But they couldn’t find enough buyers because prices were so high. For some reason, this made everybody panic, and everyone tried to sell their stock. The stock market lost eight billion dollars in one day. In three weeks, they lost thirty billion dollars. Rumors spread that people were so depressed about the amount of money they lost, they committed suicide. Banks went bankrupt, people everywhere were depressed, and nobody seemed so be able to get a job. The places they would have gotten jobs didn’t have to produce as much because everyone was so poor. So they didn’t need to hire more workers.

Even people who had jobs were depressed. They had reduced hours and huge pay cuts. People struggled to feed their families, so they simply abandoned them. People lived in houses made of cardboard, pieces of broken cars, wooden boxes, metal poles, newspapers, and tables. It was even more depressing for farmers because they had mortgage foreclosures. Farmers everywhere lost their homes and loaded all their stuff on cars. They headed west for some reason. Farm prices dropped 60 percent, so farmers wasted their goods to drive up prices. Their farms were also covered with sand from dust storms.

Buildings were usually built with fewer decorations, making them look more streamlined. Houses were usually smaller, and many people lived in apartments. The Golden Gate Bridge was built, as well as the Empire State Building. Board games were popular because they were cheap.

The movie industry was less financially hit because many people were so depressed, they paid a quarter to get away from reality for a while. Herbert Hoover was president during part of the Great Depression, and everyone hated him. They hated him so much that they called bunches of huts with poor people living in them Hoovervilles. The newspapers their children used as blankets were called Hoover blankets. I would have hated being Hoover.

The next president was Franklin D. Roosevelt. People weren’t so depressed about him. He declared a bank holiday, and all banks were closed. Financially sound banks were given money by the government, and the rest were kept closed until they were less depressed. Many never got less depressed.

Franklin D. Roosevelt also established a bunch of agencies. Some of these agencies were: The Agricultural Adjustment Administration, The Works Progress Administration, The National Labor Relations Board, The Tennessee Valley Authority, The National Recovery Administration, and The Civilian Conservation Corps. He also did these things called “fireside chats,” where he talked on the radio to encourage people so that they wouldn’t be so depressed.

1920’s Party

August 24th, 2015

1920s-partyThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

If you are studying the Roaring Twenties, why not throw a 1920’s party! You can dress up in helmet-shaped hats and wear beads with your dress. Have the men wear a black shirt with a white tie to represent a gangster from this time period.

We are using All American History, Volume II this year for our American History studies, and we are going through the different decades of the modern era. To actually feel like you are there, it’s fun to have 1920’s-style decorations. For example, for our centerpiece, we had a glass vase full of beads, with white ostrich feathers sticking out.

1920s-party-decorations

1920’s Party Invitation

For our invitation, I found a picture of a gramophone, and I cut out a silhouette in black card stock paper. I glued that to some purple card stock paper, writing the party information on the inside of the folded card.

1920s-invitation

1920’s Gramophone Cake

The cake was similar. I made a gramophone cake by frosting a chocolate cake with purple frosting. I outlined a gramophone with chocolate frosting, piping it on through a Ziplock bag with a corner cut off.

1920s-gramophone-cake

1920’s Music

We played some 1920’s music in the background of the party to create the ambience. Here is some 1920’s music you can play:

Old Family Photos of the 1920’s

We looked through some old genealogy pictures to find family members who lived during the 1920’s. It brings this time period in history home because this decade wasn’t so long ago after all, if grandma’s mother lived at that time!

genealogy-1920s

1920’s Headband Craft for Kids

We made a 1920’s headband craft. We started with a ribbon that I found in the curtain section of a craft supply store. We used hot glue to add embellishments like feathers, buttons, broaches, or tassels.

1920s-headband-craft-for-kids

Watch this video demonstration to see how I did these fun 1920’s activities:

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