Providing kids the time and resources to pursue their interests is truly one of the joys of homeschooling. Sure, there is a lot of time spent practicing math facts and spelling words and the like. We read stacks of books and the kids find some more interesting than others. But I just love it when something ignites a spark of true desire to learn all about the topic.
Sometimes, this spark of interest is on a topic I would have never picked or guessed that my kids would get excited about.
A couple weeks ago, knowing that we were getting close to starting a unit on the Civil War, I grabbed You Wouldn’t Want to be in the First Submarine from the library. The boys (Mr E, age 6 and Mr K, age 4) have really enjoyed titles from this series in the past. The You Wouldn’t Want to… series has cartoonish illustrations and the text is written addressed to the reader, as though he or she might really be considering participating in whatever the book is being written about (emphasizing the downsides of these events or time periods, of course!). I think they have the format down to a “T” in terms of what would appeal to young boys reading historical non-fiction.
You Wouldn’t Want to Be in the First Submarine isn’t really about the very first submarine ever invented. Rather, it is about one of the first successful submarines — the Hunley, a confederate submarine that was the first submarine to sink another vessel. Prior to reading this book, I had never even heard of the Hunley. This book gave a pretty good introduction to the history of this sub.
As I expected, the boys enjoyed it quite a bit. I didn’t wait for the official start of our Civil War unit to pull it out — they wanted to read it as soon as they saw me grab it at the library. But then what did surprise me was that Miss M (age 8.5) read it soon after I brought it home from the library as well. She was fascinated by it! I guess I just didn’t peg early submarines as a topic that my doll-and-horse-loving 3rd grader would jump on. (Though maybe early transportation history is her thing — she did request a unit on the history of aviation last year!)
All three kids said they wanted to get more books about the Hunley. I said, “ok” and promptly forgot about it. I honestly wasn’t sure this was a topic that we would find much about! Then this past Sunday we took a trip downtown to the “big library” as the kids like to call it. 🙂 While browsing for other books for our Civil War unit, I discovered they had several books about the Hunley!
I brought them home, and submarine mania ensued. 😉 Miss M has read several of the books already, and asked if we could look up the answers on the internet to several questions we had. Where is the Hunley now? (Answer: In a museum in South Carolina.) Can we read a list of all the artifacts found on the Hunley? (No, I haven’t found one single list yet of all the artifacts.) Do they know yet exactly why it sank? (No, they have theories but still no concrete answers.) The boys wanted coloring pages of early submarines (That was surprisingly hard to find!).
This morning we enjoyed browsing a lot of pictures of the museum where the Hunley is kept. The kids asked if we could go there…I had to say, “Sorry, not this year!” It’s about a 24 hour drive to South Carolina from here and our vacation this summer takes us in the opposite direction. It was hard to cut off the submarine research, but I did eventually have to keep our school day moving along.
I’m still just a bit amazed at how one book from a prolific series of history titles could be so inspiring to an unexpected audience!
I’m linking up to Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!