Monday, June 6, 2016

Famous Figures of the American Revolution {review}

We are preparing for a study of Early American History next year, so you can imagine I was happy to review Famous Figures of the American Revolution.  Part of the Figures in Motion series, these movable figures were created by Cathy Diez-Luckie to help make history more tangible and real to her own children.  There are several books and time periods in the series.  We use a living books approach to history, and it's sometimes hard to find a quiet and engaging activity that also allows the boys to keep their minds focused on the reading.  I especially liked the idea of using this book, because it allows their attention to be on something specifically related to our studies.

Famous Figures of the American Revolution {review}

As part of a Timberdoodle review, I received Famous Figures of the American Revolution, a "gem" sized hole punch and a pack of mini brads.  The only other items you might need are crayons or colored pencils.

Famous Figures of the American Revolution is a consumable book with beautifully designed illustrations that were modeled after authentic sculptures and paintings.  There are 10 people in this set:
Benjamin Franklin
Betsy Ross
Daniel Boone
George Washington
John Adams
Molly Pitcher
Patrick Henry
Paul Revere
Soldier of the Continental Army
Thomas Jefferson

The book comes with two versions of each person.  The full-color version is an accurate depiction (hair color, clothing, etc) of the person.  This would be good for children who don't like to color, or for parents/teachers creating ahead of time for a project.

The black and white version allows children to color it on their own.  They can do it accurately or creatively, bu it lets them take a bit more ownership over it before assembling.  Both versions have the appropriate labels on the back to allow children to put them together.  Pages are perforated for easy removal.

Daniel Boone in color and black and white.
Famous Figures of the American Revolution {review}

The book itself contains a short introduction to each person if you just want a tidbit of background information, and I found it more historically accurate than other sources for children.  For instance, with Betsy Ross, it doesn't come right out and tell you that she made the first flag--instead it says her involvement was made public by her grandson--though I wish it would state that the nature of her involvement is still disputed.  Molly Pitcher does specifically talk about what historians believe, and the author uses words like legends and folk heroes, and I appreciate this because it helps make children aware that historical stories are sometimes exaggerated or embellished.  Of course, it is also up to the parent as to how to present these types of stories.  Additionally, there are several recommended books about the time period and individuals.  Since we are already using a literature-based history curriculum, the book list will be a nice reference if I need supplemental titles.

The beauty of using something like this during read-aloud time is that it's more interactive than a passive coloring sheet, but it's much quieter than my kids digging through LEGO tubs.  I can already see so many uses for these figures too.  For the crafty child, they are simply a good hands-on activity.  They also remind me of paper dolls or puppets, and would be good for narration activities, by allowing children to do puppet shows or acting out historical meetings or events, or allowing the figure to give a little speech.  They would work well on project display boards and in notebooks or as lapbook elements.  I am planning to notebook through our history curriculum, so I plan to use these as we study each individual person during our curriculum and help add a little spark to their notebooks!

Famous Figures of the American Revolution {review}

They are printed on sturdy cardstock, so they should remain very durable during use.   They were fairly easy to put together too, but the author sent the specific gem size hole punch and mini brads for a reason--the holes in the figures are small, and regular brads would make it difficult.  The book is recommended for ages 6-12, and I expect the 6 and under crowd will have trouble working the mini brads.  The cutting can also get detailed too, but there is a gray background around these areas, so children who don't have the fine motor skills for the detailed work can still cut their figure out independently.

Also, I wanted to share that I checked the company website, and the author grants permission to copy her books within families.  With four kids, I do appreciate the author's generosity!  (Licenses are available for co-op or group use.)  If you do copy for a sibling, make sure you use cardstock, and you might want to make sure you copy the back too, because that's where the assembly labels are located.  Just speaking from experience with that label thing!

Just a little note ~ we started with someone that wasn't specifically covered in our history program, so we can still learn about him now, and I'll see if the kids can place him in the right context later.  Plus, we'll still have the others to do when they do arise in our studies, so you'll probably be seeing these appear throughout the year in my history summaries as we work our way through American history!

Famous Figures of the American Revolution {review}

Timberdoodle includes Famous Figures of the American Revolution as part of their Third Grade Curriculum, but they carry other time periods for Famous Figures, if you're studying a different time in history or your kids have a special interest and you want to let them explore on their own.

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  1. This look really cool! My older kids (who are history buffs) would have loved this. I currently have a five year old who is obsessed with I think he'd love these too.

    1. They are really neat. There are different time periods, and the publisher has a dinosaur book too, if that would would interest your 5 year old!