A Fun Way to Memorize the US Presidents

Renowned educator Charlotte Mason advocated the use of more stories (and less textbooks) in the classroom because children retain meaningful narratives better than dry facts. To help my homeschool students with history, then, I transcribed this fun memorization device from a youtube video in which a clever narrator helps people memorize the US Presidents in order by telling a story!


A Story to Help You Memorize the U.S. Presidents

(It works best if you picture every scene in your mind like a picture!)

Once upon a time, an alien came to earth from another planet. This alien was short and green and his name was Waj (1. George Washington, 2. John Adams, 3. Thomas Jefferson). Waj quickly began acting like an earthling by eating his favorite candy—M&M’s (4. James Madison, 5. James Monroe) and by putting on a very human-like baseball hat with an enormous “A” on the front (6. John Quincy Adams). While walking around looking for earth people, Waj met MICHAEL JACKSON (7. Andrew Jackson) who pulled up in a big VAN (8. Martin VanBuren) with his HAIRY SON in the front seat (9. William Henry Harrison).

The van that they were driving was like a monster truck because it had really big TIRES (10. John Tyler), but one of the tires was POKED (11. James K. Polk) by a sharp object, so they hurried and called a TAILOR (12. Zachary Taylor) to sew it up and to FILL MORE (13. Millard Filmore) air into it. This tailor used a special thread that made the tire so tough that it could never be PIERCED again (14. Franklin Pierce).

Soon everyone was celebrating the fact that the tire had been fixed, with a huge celebration that included fireworks the firing of some very big CANONS (15. James Buchanan). At this celebration, there was also a huge parade led by Abraham LINCOLN (16. Abraham Lincoln). After President Lincoln, Andrew JOHNSON (17.) went marching by, because both of the presidents named  “Johnson” came after presidents who were shot and killed.

After marching in the parade, Lincoln went downtown to apply for a GRANT (18. Ulysses S. Grant) because he wanted to buy some HAY (19. Rutheford B. Hayes) from the farmers. So, with the help of GARFIELD the cat (20. James Garfield), Lincoln went to King ARTHUR’s round table (21. Chester Arthur), and ordered tons of hay to be shipped to CLEVELAND, Ohio (22. Grover Cleveland). Lincoln also sent his HAIRY SON (23. Benjamin Harrison) to go to CLEVELAND (24. Grover Cleveland) and help him get the hay.

Unfortunately, they all messed up the hay order, and Lincoln was so angry with them that he banished them far away to Alaska, to the snowy Mount MCKINLEY (25. William McKinley). While walking up the mountain, the banished hikers saw lots of beautiful TEDDYbear roses (26. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt). At the top of the mountain, they were struck by such an icy DRAFT (27, William Howard Taft) that they all got a shaky case of the WILLIES (28. Woodrow Wilson) and they all started turning to ice and HARDENING (29. Warren Harding) because they were so COOL (30. Calvin Coolidge). To get rid of all the ice, they used a HOOVER vacuum cleaner (31. Herbert Hoover) to blow away all the snow.

Then they all went down the mountain, passing by some more ROSE bushes (32. Franklin D. Roosevelt) but not the teddybear kind. Once they returned to the town from which they had come, they all rejoined the parade, where they saw a figure marching in line that was so tall and stately that they could tell he was a TRUE MAN (33. Harry S. Truman) and this man was easily recognized because he had enormous EYES (34. Dwight D. Eisenhower). Next to this tall man was a tiny man, about the size of a KEN doll (35. John F. Kennedy). After the ken doll came JOHNSON (36. Lyndon Johnson), because both Johnson presidents followed a president who was killed. But this Johnson was different because he had NICKS all over his face (37. Richard Nixon). All of the parade marchers boarded a large FORD truck (38. Gerald Ford) that was pulling a CART (39. James Carter) full of RAGgedy Ann and RAGgedy Andy dolls (40. Ronald Reagan). All of the dolls had been stacked up into the tall shape of a BUSH (41. George H. W. Bush) so tall that nobody could CLIp the limbs (42. William Clinton). But when their truck turned the corner too quickly, the gigantic BUSH (43. George W. Bush) collapsed, and the sound it made was an enormous BAM!! (44. Barack Obama)


My new FAVORITE homeschool site!

I can’t believe I didn’t hear of this fabulous site sooner! Where has it been all my life?

Curriculum Choice Homeschool Review Blog

Real reviews about real homeschool products by homeschool moms who know what they are talking about (and who know how to blog) and who know the sorts of questions we all want to ask about the books and programs we’ve never tried before.

This site is a must-read for homeschool moms!


The Search for Quality School Books

Jennefer at the Smooth Stones Academy blog has recently posted an excellent, informative run-down of the different books they have tried in their homeschool, complete with her notes about what is and is not working. For parents who need advice and guidance before making those school book purchases, this is a must-read! You can read her post here: http://smoothstonesacademy.blogspot.com/2010/03/reflections-on-academic-hits-and-misses.html

For other great book ideas, you can also check out Cellista’s weekly homeschool reports, which chronicle the weekly books read, assignments completed, and activities undertaken in her home school (though I’m biased in recommending this site–Cellista uses the same curriculum that I do!). Here’s a recent report from her blog:


Benefit of Natural Learning #10: Book-Loving Kids!

I discovered yet another benefit of natural, home-based learning last month:

My daughter asked for BOOKS for Christmas!

(I couldn’t get her to keep her eyes open for the camera flash. That’s okay–we’ll save those peepers for reading, I guess, LOL!)

That’s right–while everyone else was rushing to the toy stores, looking for animatronic hamsters or computerized dinosaurs, I was calling up a small, independent publisher in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, requesting their entire series of Native American children’s novels!

It all began when I bought this book for our in-home history studies: Naya Nuki

Naya Nuki is the (partly fictionalized) account of Sacajawea’s actual childhood friend; a girl who–like Sacajawea–was kidnapped and sold into slavery. But unlike Sacajawea (who remained in capitivity long enough to bare her captor’s children and to help guide the Lewis and Clark expedition), little Naya Nuki escaped!

This precious book chronicles the 1,000+ mile journey of Naya Nuki towards her home. After reading Naya Nuki, Prima loved it so much that she begged for another. So I bought Doe Sia (because our library doesn’t have any of these books on their shelves–boo!):

Doe Sia is the true (also partially fictionalized, to help fill in the blanks) story of a Native American girl who helped guide and protect a group of white settlers in their journey across the prairie.

After reading this book, my daughter said “Are there any more books like this?” I visited the publisher’s web site, and sure enough–there’s an entire series!

But our library didn’t have any. Neither did local bookstores. Prima was crushed.

When Christmastime came around, Prima’s constant refrain was, “All I want for Christmas is a set of books like Naya Nuki!” So we contacted Grandview Publishing in Jackson Wyoming, who not only shipped the entire series to our home before Christmas, but who also included a delightful book on CD, and a poster of the artwork from Naya Nuki!

If your children do not yet love history, I encourage you to check out these books, which are very entertaining and educational, and help history come alive in the hearts and minds of young children (whereas history textbooks only fill them with lifeless dates, dry facts, and summarized events).

History or Social Studies?

Did you know that most schools teach Social Studies, instead of history? Here’s why:

“A common assumption found in history curricula seems to be that children can’t comprehend (or be interested in) people and events distant from their own experience. So first-grade history class is renamed Social Studies and begins with what the child knows: first, himself and his family, followed by his community, his state, his country, and only then the rest of the world.

This intensely self-focused pattern of study encourages the student of history to relate everything he studies to himself, to measure the cultures and customs of other people against his own experience. And that’s exactly what the classical education fights against–a self-absorbed, self-referential approach to knowledge. History learned this way makes our needs and wants the center of the human endeavor. This attitude is destructive at any time, but it is especially destructive in the present global civilization.” —Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Trained Mind (p. 108, emphasis in bold is mine).

Here is a copy of Dizzy’s recent history assignment–a report on ancient Crete:

Are public school kids learning about ancient civilizations in the 3rd grade? If not, their parents should consider these fun history learning and activity books:

Here’s a sample learning activity from Volume 2 of this series (middle ages)–

Thanks to the Story of the World series, my children not only enjoy learning about history, but they also do history projects and read history books in their spare time. In fact, our daughter Prima requested a series of history books for Christmas! But more about that after December 25th . . .