America in the 1880s Review

American history is full of fascinating events ranging from the pilgrims’ arrival to the Declaration of Independence, from the Civil War to the first moon landing and beyond. Taking time to pause and study a certain time period or event in depth can be a rewarding endeavor. Marshall Publishing offers a selection of videos that are great resource for such studies.

Unbeknownst to most people, the 1880s was a decade filled with intriguing people and exponential growth and progress. I learned this when, as a member of the SchoolHouse Review Crew, I received a copy of The History of America in the 1880s to watch with my family. The 60 minute DVD is divided into 2 parts – a 30 minute overview of the decade’s highlights and a 30 minute dramatic reproduction of Alexander Graham Bell’s work.

The first half of the DVD covers topics such as immigration, railroad development, expansion, political and industrial leaders, agricultural and educational developments, architecture, literature, entertainment, sports and more. The video uses historical photos and reenactments to reveal how 1880-1890 was an exceptional decade of change and progress in America.

My family and I watched the video together a couple times. We were impressed by the exponential growth and development that took place back then. We learned about events that we had never heard of before such as the Johnstown Flood and Grover Cleveland’s mid-office marriage to the youngest first lady ever. We chuckled when the narrator recalled how rules were increasingly applied to the game of baseball, “The catcher’s glove was allowed, but only sissies used it.” ;-) Ha! Those were the days!

I found The History of America in the 1880s to be an excellent, practical asset to our American history studies. The survey of the decade offers key inspiration for deeper study.

Whether used in a homeschool or in a classroom, the DVD would also make a useful tool for teaching notetaking skills. As a broad overview, the video addresses events in a seemingly random bursts of information – a bit about one president here, some talk of investors and inventors, discussion of agriculture, back to the president, onto railroads, buffalo, Native Americans, outlaws, and into entertainment of the time, music, sports, and so on. Students would watch the video and record the important points as they hear them.

After previewing the video once or twice, and using the study guide provided by Marshall Publishing on the product webpage, Mom/teacher could create a simple open notes quiz that students could take to test their listening and notetaking skills. My 16 year old NerdGirl is taking a number of college courses this semester. She is finding that jumping from one topic to another without warning is a common super power for some professors. Sharp notetaking skills are a must for all college bound students.

The discussion questions on the study guide are super topics for essay responses or research reports, too!

The second half of the DVD includes a video about Alexander Graham Bell. I actually enjoyed this dramatized documentary of his accomplishments even more than the part one overview. The theatrical reenactment was done long ago in black and white, and those who enjoy old movies will enjoy this immensely. Acting skills were so much more convincing and realistic years ago. The production weaves pertinent historical facts into the compelling narrative with great skill.

Marshall Publishing sells The History of America in the 1880s and a host of other fun, educational videos such as documentaries on firetrucks, trains, penguins. When my son was young, he couldn’t get enough of such things. Right now you can order The History of America in the 1880s for $19.95 and receive free first class shipping with coupon code TOS27. Check out the other historical topics as well to round out your American history studies: the history of the railroad, Lincoln at Gettysburg, Lewis and Clark, the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express, George Washington Carver, and the history of the Mississippi River.

The SchoolHouse Crew reviewed a number of Marshall videos. Hop over to the crew page to see what others had to say about them:

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Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product at no cost to me in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine alone.

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