A Homeschool History Unit Study Review of
A Historical Walk Through the Harlem Renaissance by Belinda J. Bullard
Homeschool history using this unit study will never be the same when you get to the 1920's. Ah, the “Roaring Twenties”. This is my favorite time period in American history. I love it for the Harlem Renaissance.
I learned about the Harlem Renaissance throughout my life growing up in an African-American household, but it wasn’t until high school that I became fond of it. I remember going to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NYC daily for a couple of weeks to do research on a paper. As I read more and more, the thrill and emotion of this time period became more salient. I was beginning to understand why this period in African-American history was so important to American history.
Mrs. Bullard also seeks to bring the 1920's alive, but for 3rd to 8th graders. She has done this with her homeschool history Harlem Renaissance unit study called, A Historical Walk Through the Harlem Renaissance. Her chapters focus on Literature, Art, Music, History, Geography and Food. Your students will enjoy the tour!
Mrs. Bullard doesn’t claim this homeschool history unit study is meant to stand alone as a total historical christian curriculum on the subject. What she does claim, however, is that this study will enhance and supplement your history studies through the use of Christian homeschool books. I see it as a side road, if you will, to greater understanding of the importance of this era.
The manual does not seem to be for students to read through themselves. It seems it is best for the facilitator to read and understand the material and apply what they’ve learned to their teaching of the students. There are only 32 pages so it is a quick read, but packed with information. I could see a homeschool history teacher breaking this down, as Mrs. Bullard suggests, into a whole semester’s study or just condensing the material into one lapbook theme. The study comes with a list of resources that can be found at your local library about the Harlem Renaissance specifically as well as other works of the same time period that are not specific to the Harlem Renaissance. Websites that you can access from home are also included.
The homeschool history unit study is literature based. With three chapters devoted to literature activities, you will see Mrs. Bullard is definitely serious about her literature! The chapter entitled, Applying the Lessons of the Harlem Renaissance to the Christian Life, has the user searching out scripture and reasoning from it to find truths that can be applied to their understanding of the Harlem Renaissance. Words of the Wise pulls out great phrases from the literature of the time for students to copy. The chapter about understanding poetry was not written by Mrs. Bullard, but still explains poetry in general and puts much care into bringing the subject alive for the child in a fun way.
The chapter that mentions the food, looks and fun of the time is sure to be a family favorite. The ideas for enjoying this time period as a family are very creative and easy to incorporate. When I first read this chapter and the suggestions I knew we’d have to wait till I went shopping to do it, but after mulling things over in my mind while doing the dishes, I had (or better yet, the Holy Spirit gave me) a brainstorm.
In our family, we own several CD’s of great 1920 artists, so it wasn’t hard for us to enjoy the sounds of the Harlem Renaissance. For others who may not have access to these musical works, Mrs. Bullard’s suggestion of music appreciation is a wonderful alternative. I modified Mrs. Bullard’s instructions and played music by Louis Armstrong while I read his biography to the children. We’d stop every now and again to pay attention to his gravelly voice when he sang. My 3yr. old said he sounded funny. Almost immediately after turning on the music, my 2yr. old said it sounded like Tom and Jerry. I had forgotten some of the Tom and Jerry cartoons had used the music of Louis Armstrong! You can just imagine how much we enjoyed “An Evening In Time”.
For a supplemental historical detour into the Harlem Renaissance, A Historical Walk Through The Harlem Renaissance by Belinda Bullard is a must have to add to your collection. Mrs. Bullard has been diligent and careful to present African-American history in a balanced way. This unit study will fill in any gaps of understanding your students may have experienced with other curriculum about American History. She is careful to give glory where it is due. After all, it is His Story.
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