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Ken Burns Civil War DVD series -- Anyone use this?


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ER (ds17) & I are about to embark on a 3-week study of the U.S. Civil War, using the Ken Burns Civil War DVD series. Have any of you used this with your dc? Any tips you could give me? I know there are lesson plans and activity suggestions on the PBS website. Did you use any of these? Were there any that your dc particularly enjoyed or particularly did not enjoy?

 

ER does not enjoy history at all; he is much more of a science & music guy. So any advice you can give me that I can use to make this tolerable, maybe even enjoyable, for him would be greatly appreciated. :)

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We have viewed several of the Ken Burns series including the Civil War one. We all enjoy just watching them and have never used any of the educational materials on the PBS site. I will say that the Civil War series seemed sort of longish and slow in a few parts, but overall it was good. Ds is a history kid, so he could watch anything history and love it.

 

The series we enjoyed the most was the Lewis and Clark one. We've actually watched it three times now, by choice!

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We watched these in addition to our regular stuff. They were slow here and there, but overall I thought they were great. Lots of source material read aloud by actors (Marvin Freeman, etc), interesting tidbits. Verrry long, but very good. I would think watching on DVD would be the best way to make history more enjoyable. Better than reading an old textbook, anyway. What more can one mom do? :)

 

They do offer a civil war ball in Parker, CO, every year for the local homeschoolers. I think they may do some battle reenactments, too. Maybe something like that would be worth looking into.

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They do move a little slowly for people used to live action films. The Burns series is very visual, but is actually a montage of Civil War photos taken by Mathew Brady and others with voice overs by famous actors, writers, etc. The voice overs are actual quotes from historical figures commenting upon the war and various military and political figures of the time. For example, Garrison Keillor is the voice of Walt Whitman throughout Burns' series. Morgan Freeman is the voice of Frederick Douglass. I can't remember the others right off the top of my head. This series is what made Shelby Foote's career. Although he was a novelist with no academic training as an historian, he wrote a three-volume treatise on the Civil War and is best known for that work. In Burns' film, Foote tells a number of anecdotes about the war and the people involved. He's really good.

 

We did not use the PBS study guides or notes. We just watched and talked about what we saw. It was a good experience for all of us.

 

If you like the music from the series, there is a CD of it that is available. The music is true to the period and very good. There was also a book that was published at the time the series was first shown. I have a copy of that book, but I'm not sure it's still in print. You might check your library. The book is extremely readable and contains a lot of the pictures from the video series.

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