The Sinking of the Lusitania

When the RMS Lusitania was sunk off the coast of Ireland in May of 1915, it became the rallying cry that led America to enter the war.  Roughly 2,000 people were on board, including 200 Americans, and 129 children.  As we near the 100 year anniversary, I expect to see a lot of information hitting the internet.  Until then, there is an interesting account of a WW1 propaganda animation done by Windsor McCay over at, which includes the film in it entirety. It’s a very interesting little film.

There’s a neat little Lego video done by Big Jake Studios.

There’s also a movie, the Discovery Channel’s 2007 Sinking of the Lusitania, starring John Hannah.  The full movie is on Youtube, until the copyright gets enforced and it gets pulled down.  I haven’t watched the full movie yet, so parents may want to preview it before showing it.  At this writing, I’m a half hour in, and nothing objectionable yet. Enjoy.

UPDATE:  I watched the film. There is nothing objectionable that I saw. It’s very well done.  Enjoy!

The Start of The Great War (WW1)


  • Nationalism – Strong patriotic feelings for one’s own county.
  • Alliance – Agreement between 2 or more parties to help each other
  • Neutral Country – One that does not take sides in a war.

The Great War, as it was known at the time, got it’s start when a 19 year old Serbian man shot and killed the crown prince of Austria-Hungary.

1914 Europe is a powder keg, any little thing could set them all off.  A long history of fighting and back and forth had led to the formation of alliances. The alliances are pulled into play when the Archduke of Austria-Hungary is assassinated in Bosnia. Nationalism is one of the main causes of the war, as many countries see this as an opportunity to settle old scores.  This is an neat little 6 minute video about the causes of World War 1:

Everyone thought it would be a short war. No one expected it to last as long as it did, and cost nearly as much as it did in both money and manpower.


More Resources:

Because we in the midst of the 100 year anniversary of WW1, there are many resources and new stories being released almost daily.  Mental Floss has an excellent section on WW1 that is being updated almost daily right now.

Netflix has a GREAT 8 part docmentary available for streaming right now.  The Great War Diary is an awesome documentary put out by the BBC.  Word of warning, the 4th chapter, “The Heart’s Desire” is all about love and big pimping during the war.  As this is done by the BBC, there were no qualms about flashing ta-tas and culos all over the place.  As such, the fourth chapter is not suitable for kids in my opinion, and I’d urge parents to watch it ahead of time to determine if it is suitable for your teens.

Of course, Ducksters has a nice piece on the Assassination.

I’m including a link to this one, but the BBC has a really fun Rap Battle. There is some language so parents be warned.  But Origins: Rap Battle – WW1 is overall pretty funny.

There is a History Documentary that goes a bit beyond just the assassination and into the start of the war on youtube.

An of course, again by the BBC, Horrible Histories has a WW1 episode, found on Daily Motion.  Frightful First War is hilarious and good fun, like we’ve all come to expect from the Horrible Histories series.

Horrible Histories – Frightful First World War by VithusanRaguwaran21

World War 1: a really brief overview

Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungry was killed, which ignited a world war on a scale that no one had ever seen before.  There is some neat actually video footage from the era over at  The kids really liked this quick overview of the war:

Of course, we’ll get more in-depth coverage of World War 1 in the coming weeks, but for now, I wanted to post this video where LtVv111 can find it for his blog. Pop on over there and comment if you can, he loves getting comments.  Also, check out P1nky’s blog, and Capt740’s blog if you have the time.

Llama, Llama, Duck! & Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Science for the younger two today was a lesson about Camels, Llamas, Deer, and Caribou. So of course, we had to play the Llama song.  Enjoy.


Then during our discussion of Caribou, we learned that it’s the females that have the antlers! That means Rudolph is a girl! We also learned that Rudolph wouldn’t have needed his shiny nose, because caribou have innate radar that leads them home.  My 9 year old then chimed in with, “But if Rudolph didn’t have his shiny nose, NORAD wouldn’t be able to keep track of him! Even though he’s fake anyway.”

A Nation of Immigrants

Anyone not a Native American is descended from an immigrant! This would be a great time to check out genealogical resources online. is an amazing resource which offers a trial membership, but will require payment eventually if you happen to get hooked – and you just might get hooked. Another good resource is – which is free, but the records are not always linked to the right people, or else there are duplicates of the same person. It can be confusing, but you get what you pay for.  Geni is another free resource, but it depends on crowd-sourcing, which is not always accurate. There are tons of other resources out there, just Google it.

In our family, Dad’s side comes from Mexico. Mom’s side is more divided.  On my father’s side of the family, both sides came from Germany well after WW1, but before the start of WW2.  My mother’s side of the family is half Irish, with ancestors coming over likely during the Great Potato Famine. The other half of Gramma’s family came from the Netherlands back in the 1600’s, settling in New Netherlands as merchants.

Try making your own family tree.  And just for fun, check out this vintage Claymation TV Special from 1986, My Friend Liberty:

Climate & Currents



Read pgs 9-12. Discuss Climate (aka weather) & Currents & their affect on the continents & each other. What factors can affect our climate? Why is it helpful to understand the oceans’ currents?

This is a tough topic to research online, because so much of what is out there buys into the myth of global warming.  (More on that later).  But NASA has a good video here:

Here is a pretty cool experiment to try.  We haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t say if it works as advertised, but it looks easy enough, so let’s give it a shot:

There is a pretty neat website, WeatherWizKids, with a lot of good information about weather and such, however, it does include the global warming myth, so keep that in mind.

As far as global warming –

Climate change itself is already in the process of definitively rebutting climate alarmists who think human use of fossil fuels is causing ultimately catastrophic global warming.  That is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling, global temperatures have already been declining for more than 10 years, and global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more.

That comes from an article from Forbes magazine written in 2012. There is another group that has documented how the locations of the stations NOAA uses to collect temperature data are compromised by things like parking lots & exhaust. They’ve documented their efforts at Surface Stations, and there is more at WattsUpWithThat blog. In fact, WattsUp does a great job debunking the Al Gore/Bill Nye CO2 experiment as well as a plethora of other information debunking global warming.  If you still doubt that Global Warming is a myth – go google “Global Warming Emails” and read up for yourself how the “scientists” in charge of this hoax conspired to push an agenda.

Latitude & Longitude

Read pages 6-8, or watch the videos below.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember which is longitude & which is latitude.  A good way to remember is that longitude is long – north to south as you look at the globe.  Latitude is flat, circling around the globe east to west.

Discussion Questions:

  • Where do Meridians meet?
  • Where do Parallels meet?
  • How can we use Parallels & Meridians to find a location?
  • What continents are on the 300N latitude?
  • What degree latitude is the Equator?
  • What degree is the International Date Line?

Here’s a really great video explaining this topic:

Here’s a cheesy rap about longitude & latitude:

More Resources:


The Continents

I started blogging my younger children’s history lessons as a way to get all those YouTube videos and other resources into one location.  My kids LOVED it! They watched the videos again and again because they had an easy way to find them.  We’ve been working through the Heritage Studies curriculum by Bob Jones University.  We finished book 3, and are now starting book 4.  I usually use the book as a starting point for our lesson.  Enjoy!

Read pages 2-5, then look on the globe, find & name the Continents.

  • Africa
  • Antarctica
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Europe
  • North America
  • South America

Some people consider Europe & Asia to be one continent.  Look at the globe and tell me why you think they might say that?

Check out the fun video below, which explains some of the controversies surrounding what is or is not a continent.


Back to our globe, find the North Pole.  Now find the South Pole.

Explorers can walk to the North Pole even though there is no land there.  How?

Find the following:

  • Equator
  • North Hemisphere
  • South Hemisphere
  • Prime Meridian
  • International Date Line
  • Eastern Hemisphere
  • Western Hemisphere


* If you don’t have a globe, use Google Earth.  I recommend downloading the desktop version so you can turn on the “grid” aka Latitude & Longitude, especially for the next lesson.

Lawmen & Outlaws

james_pinkerton02In the late 1800’s, the West wasn’t as “wild” as the stereotype suggests, but there were plenty of reasons to require some kind of law enforcement.  In most Western towns, that meant a Sheriff, but there was also the U.S. Marshall Service, and the Pinkertons aka the Pinkteron Detective Agency. The Pinkertons had such a good reputation, that the federal government hired them in 1871.  However, primarily due to their conflicts with labor unions, Congress passed the Anti-Pinkerton Act in 1893 to prevent anyone from the agency or any other similar agency from working for the federal Government.

You can read more about Allan Pinkerton & his start in the detective business here.


Jesse James

Lawmen were needed in part because of gangs like the Dalton Brothers or the James-Younger gang.

The James-Younger Gang consisted of brothers Jesse & Frank James and Cole & Jim Younger, as the core of the gang. They lasted much longer than most other gangs, but eventually they all got caught or killed. Biography has a great documentary about Jesse here. (Warning: The “coming up next” at the end during the credits is for a Larry Flynn thing, so maybe turn it off before the credits roll.)

The Dalton Brothers murdered more than stole, as opposed to the James-Younger Gang, who tried not to hurt people whenever possible.  Ironically enough, the two of the most famous gangs of the “wild west” were related!  The Dalton Brothers’ mother was the aunt of Cole & Jim Younger of the James-Younger gang.  The Daltons didn’t start off bad though, they were U.S. Marshals. They turned to a life of crime when they weren’t paid for their work as lawmen.  Their first robbery was in February of 1891.  Their last robbery was Oct5, 1892, in Coffeyville, Kansas.  When they attempted to rob both Coffeyville banks at the same time, the town responded with deadly force.

Enjoy a 1954 episode of Stories of the Century, featuring the Dalton Gang:


More Resources about the Dalton Brothers: