Silverdale Press LLC was founded by Joshua and Jill Hummer. They are homeschool advocates with four young children of their own. “Their aim is to provide high quality educational resources to homeschooling families. Silverdale Press LLC is headquartered in Winchester, Virginia. It seeks to cultivate knowledge and sharpen skills, preparing students for a lifetime of learning and citizenship.”
The White House Holidays Unit Studies takes us through the history behind key U.S. holidays celebrated in our country. They were written to help parents teach their students ages 5-18 about the rich history of these holidays. The celebration of these holidays “binds us together as a nation, instill in us a sense of patriotism, unity, and togetherness”. Children of all ages will benefit from learning holiday history. Not only does it provide a way for the younger ones to “mark the seasons of the calendar and the progress of time”, but it also makes for “deeper learning, understanding, and developing a greater sense of meaning in history” for the older ones.
Silverdale Press LLC has taken the work out of parents having to come up with their own holiday lesson plans, activities, and resources. The White House Holidays Unit Studies are easy for parents to use so they can help their students discover how “many of our holidays and traditions are tied to different American presidents”. These come “complete with lesson plans, teacher scripts, primary source material, and answer keys”. The price for these individual unit studies varies from $20-$30. There are a total of 6 unit studies available. All are downloadable PDFs with a lesson and activity options for K-6th, and 7th-12th grades. Some parts can even be done as a whole family. There are anywhere from 3-5 lessons in these units. The holidays included are:
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Valentine's Day
- Labor Day
- Veterans Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. – This unit study is 5 lessons. There are timelines to understand the chronology of MLK Jr. life and work, map points for plotting the important places MLK Jr. life and work took him, key terms, and video links. You will learn about his early life as a child all the way through the parts that presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson played in his work to get equal justice laws for African Americans.
Did you know MLK Jr.’s father was known as Daddy King? Daddy King provided well for his family, saved, budgeted his money, and never lived beyond his means. Because of this MLK Jr. did not have to quit school to get a job to help support his family like so many other young black children did.
Thanksgiving – This unit study has 5 lessons. It covers the first Thanksgiving, The Roots of a National Holiday, The Presidential Turkey Pardon, and there are even some recipes to try.
Did you know the annual presidential turkey pardon made its debut in 1863 with president Abraham Lincoln? To keep the presidential Thanksgiving tradition going in the 1870s Horace Vose from Rhode Island (known as the “Poultry King”) started sending turkeys to the White House each year until his death in 1913. So what we see up to this point during Thanksgiving at the White House has been going on for a long time through history.
Christmas – This unit study has 4 lessons with 6 activities per lesson (a total of 24 activities). “Each of the lessons covers a historical White House Christmas theme and a special feature of White House Christmases”. There are various subject areas like history, government, art, literature, music, ect. Students will learn about things like Jacqueline Kennedy’s role in establishing White House Christmas themes and The Nutcracker Suite, Betty Ford and Handmade Folk Art, Barbara Bush and the Story Book theme Christmas, as well as Michelle Obama- Simple Gifts and Military Families.
Did you know that in 1974 when President Ford came to office, first lady Betty Ford tried to show Americans how to be thrifty? Economic times were stagnate with inflation thrown in the mix in the country during that time. During the holidays she wanted to show people you “didn’t have to spend lots of money to have a festive Christmas”. She sent out special mailers to people who wrote her with all sorts of ideas and tips to accomplish this goal.
Now for the units we worked through. The first week we did the Valentine’s Day unit study. This PDF is 64 pages with 5 lessons. Each lesson is intended to be done one per day leading up to Valentine’s Day. A variety of subjects are covered like history and government, literature, poetry, music, baking, etc. It “is written so that the entire family can learn from them together”. There is even a page to keep track of course credits with a breakdown of how it would count. There is an Introduction and Overview for Teachers to explain the Learning Outcomes, shows a list of any materials needed for activities, and a written lesson plan.
My son’s favorite part of this study was reading Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s love letters to one another. He thought their love story was the sweetest ever. After reading John and Abigail Adams he got a chance to do an activity making paper look old. It involved coffee, crumpled up paper, baking it in the oven at a low temp. and burning the ends with a lighted match (see pic below). We worked on discussion questions for each lesson out loud and learned a lot of neat things about a few president’s love lives :-)
The next week we worked through the Veterans Day unit study. This one is 49 pages with 3 lessons. All the “lessons can be done all in a day, one lesson per day, or one lesson per week leading up to Veterans Day”. There are separate lessons for K-6 and 7-12th grades. We worked on the 7-12th lessons. I liked that estimated times are included for each lesson. This helped me decide how to plan our day of learning to see if we would work only on this unit study for the day or fit it in around our other scheduled plans. We learned all about Armistice Day and how it was changed to Veteran’s Day. My son got to write his own 14 Points after reading through president Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points. We also worked through discussion questions orally. The list at the end with ideas of how to observe Veterans Day will be useful to us in years to come :-)
We wrapped things up the next week with the Labor Day unit study. This one is 53 pages with 3 lessons. Again this one has separate lessons for K-6 and 7-12th grades. Another thing good about these unit studies is that the “primary source documents are included”. You don’t have to have to go searching for library books to read for the lessons. The “materials needed for the activities are kept to a minimum and limited to things you most likely already have in your home”.
Focusing on the 7th-12th grade lessons we learned about the horrible labor conditions in the late 1800s and early 1900s. My son was in such disbelief of hearing how children were made to work for long hours, living in awful conditions, and barely had any education. Eleanor Roosevelt was very active in amending the U.S. Constitution to ban child labor. My son enjoyed getting to hear Ronald Reagan’s Labor Day Speech when he was running for president. He heard the famous line that him and president Trump both use. The fact that he caught on to that let me know he was really paying attention.
I really appreciate getting a chance to use these unit studies. We certainly did “have fun, made memories, and learned history”! Thank you for taking the time to read my review. Some members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers. To read what others thought about it and the White House Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC, click on the banner below to see what my other Crewmates had to say.
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