As many homeschool curriculum outlines were written for American families, Canadian homeschoolers face the challenge of finding affordable and accessible materials to teach subjects like civics and history from a Canadian point of view. A number of texts are available for younger students, but finding engaging materials for older students can be difficult. Free educational resources produced by the federal government are often the solution. In this review we will look at Canada and the Great War 1914 – 1918: A Nation Born, a kit produced by Veteran Affairs Canada in 1998 and currently available on the VAC web site.
Contents of the Kit
The multimedia learning kit consists of two DVDs, the first of which contains the 158-page teacher’s guide, and a number of other resources. The second DVD is devoted to the two videos, each approximately 20 minutes long.
The materials in Canada and the Great War are appropriate for students in the later primary grades, through to the end of high school. The videos are both accessible to young people, and address an audience that has little or no previous knowledge of the First World War.
Homeschooling parents will appreciate the greater detail of materials in the teacher’s guide. These can be used by the educator who needs to brush up on their own war time history, or they can be offered to the student who is doing research for a project. Included are a wide range of materials, from historical backgrounders and commemorative posters, to reproductions of soldiers’ letters and diaries, to art and music of the period.
Videos Hit Home
If you or any of your kids happen to be the sensitive type, keep a box of tissues handy while viewing the two videos in this learning kit! The first video, narrated from the point of view of a high school student writing a research paper on the war, gives a basic introduction to the history of World War I. Most of the video is archive footage, much of it depicting actual conditions of war.
In the second video, a youth delegation accompanies a group of World War I veterans to ceremonies commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This is an extremely powerful montage of footage from official ceremonies and tours the young people took in Europe, as well as interviews with war veterans and reflections of the young people about their experiences. This second video will deepen the appreciation of young people for the sacrifices soldiers made during the war, as well as for the role World War I played in establishing Canada as a truly sovereign nation.
Because the entire kit is on the DVDs, it is fully bilingual. Homeschooling families can opt to watch the videos in either English or French, and can view printable materials in either language as well. This is a wonderful option for families who have opted for a bilingual learning environment, and for those who are looking for creative ways to reinforce second language learning. When listening to the war time music, check both the English and the French resources: each has different musical selections for the homeschooler to listen to.
The Canada and the Great War multimedia learning kit could be used to supplement a course in Canadian studies, history or civics. Its materials can also be used in an English or French language arts program, as part of an art or music class, and of course as part of activities for Remembrance Day. Several dozen suggested learning activities can be found at the end of the teacher’s guide. Reading through them will help the homeschooling parent or student come up with numerous ways to use the learning kit in any one of several subject areas.
To learn more or to obtain your own free copy of Canada and the Great War 1914 – 1918: A Nation Born visit the Learning Resources and Historical Publications page of the Veteran Affairs Canada web site. While our kit arrived within days, delivery may take up to eight weeks. Allow plenty of time when ordering, especially around Remembrance Day when demand may be greater.