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Humanities Study of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s...anything out there?

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The upcoming 6th grade boy is fascinated with these decades so I'm looking at putting together a humanities study that will cover each.  I know it's a long shot that there may be something already out there, but perhaps I could pull from different resources so that I'm not starting completely from scratch.  


What I'd like to cover:


Literature and Poetry




Daily Lives



Major Events

Political\Social\Economic trends


I'm not even sure what this would look like on a daily basis  so would love ideas if anyone has done something similar. Not even sure if I would do all 3 decades in one year or spread them out.  I've considered having him keep a journal and timeline in order to make connections between events, ideas, and people, but that really is as far as I've gotten. 





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I taught a clas in a high school called Themes in Comtemporary Literature. We read history of a particular time that was pot what was covered by the history classes (based on the premise, with which I agree, that it's Current Events until 50 years have gone by.


This was 30 years ago so bear with me. We read history of the 50s, I can't remember what book we read but we saw the movie Rebel Without a Cause. Alienation was the theme.


We read To Kill a Mocking bird, saw In the Heat of the Night (Sidney Portier) and read history of the time. That was some of what we did for the Sixties. Theme: The Forty Year Disconnect.


We did something similar for the 70s.


Each unit, the kids did a presentatation. The 59s guys were beatniks, the 79's guys cone heads. We read a lot of poetry for each period as well.


It was a fantastic class.

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Love the resources linked above! :)


A few other resources, not as nice as those, but might be useful:

Usborne History of the Twentieth Century -- 40 major events/movements of the entire 20th century in 2-page spreads; timeline list of major events/people at back of book

DK Millennium Children's History of the 20th Century

The 20th Century Year By Year: Family Guide to the People and Events that Shaped the Last Hundred Years


You might enjoy browsing through Chrysalis Academy's 2013 thread: "OK guys, help me refine a modern era reading list for a 6th grader" on planning a 20th century history/cultural study for her then-to-be-6th grader. While only units 9-12 of her planned 12-unit study cover the last half of the 20th century, there are still loads of ideas for non-fiction, historical fiction, movies, etc.


Below are some resources to sort through to help you decide on key events, people, and culture items to focus on. Hope something here is of help! 


Enjoy your late-20th century Humanities studies!  :) Warmest regards, Lori D.





Are you planning this as a year-long study for next year? A one-semester long study? Or is this to just finish out this year -- so 10-12 weeks?


My suggestion for scheduling is to divide up the 5 decades over the time you have -- so if you have one year, spend 6 weeks per decade; if you have one semester, spend 3 weeks per decade. That gives you an extra unscheduled 6 weeks over the year (or 3 weeks over a semester-long study) for setting aside Social Studies for other studies or illness or other reasons, or for bunny-trailing on a topic of high interest, or for taking extra time on a decade as desired.


first week of a new unit:

- start by spending 1-2 days to go over "overview" materials to get a sense of the decade as a whole

- compare with previous decade to highlight why attitudes might have changed, or why events might have happened, as a reaction to the previous decade(s)


middle weeks of the unit:

- days 1-3 = learn about the events/people of the decade: pick 1-2 events and 1-2 people to study -- read non-fiction/historical fiction, watch documentaries, etc ...

- day 4 = get a feel for the culture of the decade: listen to a variety of music selections of the decade; look at art of the time; watch 2-3 episodes of a popular TV show, or a movie, made in the decade (or choose an evening once a week and do it as a family)

- day 5 = synthesize your research in some way: add to timeline or journal, or work on a hands-on project (make music/art in the style; make a poster capturing the decade events and "feel"; add to a slideshow to present at the end of the unit...)



last week of a unit:

- finish up a "decade project" or journal or timeline or slideshow and present it, or discuss/wrap-up the decade




- Thought Co (historical/cultural events/people) = 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s

- People History (pop culture, fashions, music, sports, toys) = 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s



- Wikipedia: "List of years in [World] Literature" = 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

(World literature; just 3-4 works are listed per year for each year of the decade; however, when you click on an individual year, it will pull up a separate page with quite a few works of note that were published in that year in a wide variety of genres -- non-fiction, poetry, drama, fiction, and children/YA books)



- Wikipedia: "Timeline of Musical Events" = 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

(same as the Wikipedia Literature links, but for music)



Usborne Internet Linked Book of Modern Art -- perfect for gr. 5-8 level for reading and amount of content; covers from the end of the 19th century through 2005; it's helpful to back up and read about the entire 20th century to get why the second half of the century goes in the directions that it does


- Wikipedia: "Contemporary Art"

(brief overview explanation of art movements since 1946; list of art movements by decades, and you can click on each movement for more description and key artists/works)



- Filmsite = 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

(U.S. film history by decade -- changes in filmmaking & movie-watching; plus key actors, directors, movies, genres -- you can see how film trends reflect changes in American culture over the decades)

Edited by Lori D.
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There's a lot of good historical fiction for middle school that takes place during those decades. Off the top of my head...


The Lions of Little Rock



Penny from Heaven

One Crazy Summer

Dead End in Norvelt

Inside Out and Back Again

When You Reach Me

Watsons Go to Birmingham

Kira- Kira


And then, of course, there's a ton of stuff from that time period that's still commonly read today. Between the two, you could really immerse him all year in good middle school literature...


Charlotte's Web

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Wrinkle in Time

A Wizard of Earthsea


Bridge to Terebithia

Tuck Everlasting


And so on...

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You'd probably have to preview this, but I remember catching an episode or two of something called The 70s House. It was put out by MTV and in it some volunteer teens (maybe early twenties) had to live in a house together as if it was the 1970s. No modern tech, no modern tv shows, no modern clothes, no modern music, etc. I think they got extra points for using the slang of the 70s. :).


I remember enjoying the two episodes I watched, but I have no clue if it's appropriate for your student. Looks like all the eps are on youtube if you want to preview it.




If it isn't just a bunch of teenagers gossiping at each other and making out, then it could be a fun supplment to the class: modern day people seeing exactly what it was like to live in the 70s, and being able to compare what it was like against what it's like now. The show is a few years old, but it would still show the stark contrast between then and now. It's been a loooong time since I watched it, so it might be really dumb.


I think I'll go watch a few episodes now and see if it's any good. I hadn't thought about that show in years.

Edited by Garga
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I was just skimming through Chrysalis Academy's  thread: "OK guys, help me refine a modern era reading list for a 6th grader" that I linked above -- I definitely think you'll want to read through it, esp. these posts:


#1 - original poster Rose's brainstorming list for 20th century with a 6th grader

#16 - comments on Rose's brainstorming book list, and substitute ideas

#27 - many additional ideas for books and movies to add to Rose's list

#34 - Rose's revised plan, with activities, discussion points, or "output" ideas

#38 - 20th century timeline by decade with inventions and more upbeat events/people

#48 - what Rose actually ended up going with

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Prufrock has a series with a title for each decade from 1950s-2000s that covers a lot of the items you mention. We're going to use them next year so I don't have much feedback yet. I've been slowly ordering like-new used copies of them.





:iagree: I've poured thru the couple we have and it looks good for what the OP is going for but we haven't started used them yet. 

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My parents had these growing up:


This Fabulous Century  (from Time Life) Here is one for 1950-1960: https://www.amazon.com/This-Fabulous-Century-1950-1960-VI/dp/B0013B010O/ref=pd_cp_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0013B010O&pd_rd_r=CAMZTMJW18B8G8XGERE4&pd_rd_w=SUSms&pd_rd_wg=YLpTu&psc=1&refRID=CAMZTMJW18B8G8XGERE4


It might be this is what the pp was remembering.  They seem to be relatively cheap on Amazon used. My guess is you might find them at garage sales, etc. too.  =)


The whole 8 volumes are $48 on Amazon, or cheaper on Ebay. It looks like if you get all eight it goes from 1870 to 1970.




Edited by cintinative
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