Last week we began a three week study of Victorian England, but the week before that had been a study of the Texas War for Independence, including the battle of The Alamo in 1836. Because I have several boys, and they were so into the desperation and heroism of the Alamo story, we let the Alamo spill over into our first Victorian England week quite a bit. Which is a somewhat odd mixture I must say!
I went to the library and checked out every book the children's department had on The Alamo. I selected one in particular to be our fifth grader's history book for that week, and left the rest in the family room for everyone to look at during book time. This one captured the imagination of son G: The Alamo, a day that changed America, by Shelley Tanaka. It is the story of the battle as told through the eyes of a young Mexican boy inside the Alamo with his mother when the fighting began. Some of it was historical fiction, but much of it was historical fact, and the pictures were AWESOME!
I read a short book about Davy Crockett to Little Man, and afterward he made a flapbook of Davy Crockett's life. He dictated to me what he remembered from the book we had just read, I wrote down his words, and then he drew accompanying pictures. This is the page about Davy's childhood. The picture on the right shows him atop his horse, whipping some cattle into shape! (when he was just 13 years old he helped herd cattle across several states).
Then we got the idea to make a diorama of The Alamo mission/fort itself, and that idea grew into this:
The perfect size for little Lego Mexicans and Texans! Take a note of the flag ~ at the time of the battle, the flag did not yet bear the symbol of the lone star.
The boys poured over their books to break the battle down into smaller pieces. Who was defending what part of the fort? Who fell first? They designated a lego man to be Davy Crockett, one to be Jim Bowie, and another to be Colonel Travis (who was very likely the first, or among the first, to be killed on that fateful last day of fighting). They carefully set everyone where they were thought to be in real life on that day.
Some revisionist history began happening. Somehow the Texans acquired medieval era weapons. And blood began to spill....
We even had a few beheadings.
Here is Davy Crockett in the middle of the picture, with a pile of dead Mexican bodies nearby (which did happen in real life).
Here is Jim Bowie, fighting from his bed inside the chapel of the fort. He was sick with pneumonia at the time, but bravely fired from his bed until his ammunition ran out, and then fought with his famous knives until he finally succumbed. He was very likely one of the last ones killed.
Our boys have had tons of fun with this, and aside from the medieval revisions they made (which they *know* are revisions!) they also learned details of the battle that I am sure they would not have known otherwise.
We watched the John Wayne movie version of The Alamo, and the three middle boys are all polishing up writing assignments having to do with The Alamo (son C wrote a story about Davy Crockett, son G wrote a biographical essay on Crockett, and son L wrote a report about Jim Bowie).
Son C usually had a dog by his side as he did his history reading!
Next week: Pride and Prejudice, and tea and scones!