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January Learning Calendar with DVD Resources

by Diane Flynn Keith
Author of Carschooling

There are historic and important events to commemorate nearly every day of the year. This Learning Calendar will help you note events and people that impact our lives with recommendations for DVDs, CDs, books, and websites to further learning and boost your student's knowledge of the world. All of the DVD, CD, and book recommendations are available through our affiliation with Amazon.com -- just click on the links to make a purchase that allows us to continue to provide this resource for free.

Happy New Year's 2008

Homefires' January Learning Calendar

  1. Betsy Ross, was born in 1752. She was credited in 1870 with sewing the first American Flag in a story told by her grandson (but never proven). Kidsongs: Yankee Doodle Dandy is a DVD that celebrates America's history through song. You'll hop on a Calistoga wagon heading west, do-si-do the night away at a barn dance, and help build the mighty U.S. railroad. Along the way you'll meet famous American heroes like Betsy Ross, Davy Crockett and Abraham Lincoln!

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  2. Kakizome Day is a Japanese celebration of the "first writing" of the New Year. Each family member writes a favorite poem or proverb in calligraphy. Learn more about Japanese culture and history with Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire - a documentary examining the history of Japan from the 16th to 19th centuries that highlights its unique culture of shogun, samurai, geishas, and poets. It's narrated by Richard Chamberlain who starred in the mini-series Shogun.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the fantasy novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was born in 1892. Homefires recommends several film titles based on the books of Tolkien. One of the most popular is the recent film by Director, Peter Jackson, starring Elijah Wood -- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings. The saga centers around an unassuming Hobbit named Frodo Baggins who inherits a Ring that would give a dark and powerful lord the power to enslave the world. This is an epic adventure of good against evil, the power of friendship, and individual courage. A free Learning Guide is available for middle school students and up. Get The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  4. Jacob Grimm, who co-authored Grimm's Fairy Tales, born 1785. Broadway Theatre Archive: Story Theatre is a DVD that depicts the classic tales by the Brothers Grimm in an innovative theatre production that includes: "The Golden Goose," "The Clever Gretel," "The Goose Girl," and "The Bremen Town Musicians." Utilizing gestures, mime, music and the actors' own imaginations, this unique theater piece brings these timeless tales to life.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  5. Nellie Taylor Ross became the first woman governor in the U.S., when she was elected the Governor of Wyoming in 1925. Take a video vacation to Jackson Hole, Wyoming a scenic side-trip presented in Yellowstone: The World's First National Park. Note: A Pop Culture segment includes part of a 1951 film about Smokey the Bear, narrated by legendary cowboy Hopalong Cassidy.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  6. Joan of Arc, who led French forces to defeat the English and see Charles VII crowned king, was born in 1412. She was captured by the English, condemned as a witch, and burned at the stake in 1431. Homefires recommends several films based on the life of this legendary saint and martyr. Titles include: Joan of Arc: The Passion of Joan of Arc; and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  7. Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the U.S., born 1800. Learn more about the life and times of all of the U.S. Presidents with The Presidents and American Experience: The Presidents.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  8. 11th Amendment to U.S. Constitution, modifying the Supreme Court's power, ratified, 1798. Homefires recommends the Standard Deviants' American Government Module 10: Judicial that explores the judicial branch of the American government. Find out how the American justice system is put together, from state courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. They'll give you the inside scoop on how to become Chief Justice, and how a legal case makes it way through the court system.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  9. Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the U.S. was born in 1913. He resigned the Presidency under threat of impeachment in 1974. There are several excellent DVD selections on the life and presidency of Richard Nixon, including the movie, All The President's Men. It depicts the Watergate break-in and resulting scandal, as chronicled by Washington reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) that drove a President from office.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  10. Thomas Paine published Common Sense, 1776, calling for American colonists to seek independence from England. For more insight into the people behind the American Revolution, get the History Channel DVD, Founding Fathers. This DVD depicts the Founding Fathers as human beings, revealing the good and bad qualities of those who risked their reputations, fortunes and lives for the cause of American Independence.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  11. In 1935, Amelia Earhart departed from Honolulu, Hawaii on a solo flight to Oakland, California. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, the first woman to fly alone across the continent, and the first to cross it non-stop. Yet Amelia Earhart's colorful and complex life has been overshadowed by her mysterious disappearance on July 2, 1937. Get the DVD Biography: Amelia Earhart - Queen of the Air. It's a biographical portrait that explores the life of this legendary aviator - her motivations, aspirations, frailties, accomplishments and the remarkable publicity machine that kept her constantly in the limelight. Download a free learning guide.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  12. Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild was born in 1876. Recreate the thrill of the dogsledding depicted in The Call of the Wild with Disney movie, Iron Will. Based on a true-life story, a brave young man is thrust into adulthood as he and his courageous team of sled dogs embark on a grueling and treacherous cross-country marathon facing impossible odds and hardships along the way. Iron Will is high adventure that will thrill and uplift everyone!

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  13. Stephen Foster Memorial Day! This day was approved by Congress in 1951 to honor the composer of American music classics such as: Oh! Susanna!, Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair, and Ashokan Farewell . Beautiful Dreamer (Songs of Stephen Foster). You can download MP3 files of Foster's songs for free at the Stephen Collins Foster website. Then, listen to the songs in the car!

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  14. Benedict Arnold, soldier, patriot, and traitor in the American Revolutionary War born 1741. View the film Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor. This original film from A&E Network Studios tells the true story. After winning important victories for the breakaway colonies, Arnold is driven to resign by an ungrateful Congress. Coaxed back into service by his old friend George Washington, he is soon enmeshed in the divisive politics of Revolutionary Philadelphia. When his love for a loyalist woman leads to scandal--and the Colonial leaders fail to support him--the stage is set for his fateful decision.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  15. Martin Luther King, Jr., born 1929. King was an African-American minister who led massive, peaceful demonstrations leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act ending racial discrimination in the U.S. in 1964. King was assassinated in 1968. View the documentary, Martin Luther King, Jr., that tells the story of his extraordinary life. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most influential leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. He believed in equal treatment of all races. He initiated peaceful protests throughout the South and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1964, he was named Time magazine's Man of the Year and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Learn about his life and how he died for his beliefs.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  16. 18th Amendment to U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages, ratified, 1919. Homefires recommends Mafia: The History of the Mob in America that documents the Prohibition era and it's connection to the origins of ethnic gangs that dominated criminal activities by turning them into family enterprises. Leading historians recall how legendary figures like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano changed the face of crime in America. Get the real story behind the Kennedy connection, and see how the Mob helped to win WWII and piled up huge profits at the same time.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  17. Benjamin Franklin, American inventor, scientist, philosopher, writer, and diplomat, born in 1706. Franklin invented the lightning rod, bifocal glasses, the Franklin stove, and the odometer. He started the first public library in America. He signed the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. Franklin attended school for only 2 years, but received many honorary diplomas for his contributions to humanity. Learn more about the man and his times, by watching The History Channel's Benjamin Franklin - Citizen of the World.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  18. A.A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh, born 1882. There are many films based on this beloved children's classic including the highly rated, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Children of all ages will enjoy a journey through the 100 Acre Wood with that huggable bear for a wonderful time! Includes "Pooh's Heffalump Movie, "Piglet's Big Movie," and "The Tigger Movie."

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  19. Edgar Allan Poe, American poet and short-story writer credited with inventing the "detective story", was born in 1809. Among his works; The House of Usher and Murders in the Rue Morgue. Homefires recommends Edgar Allan Poe: A Light and Enlightening Look, the DVD uses anecdote, analysis, and large doses of humor, to give you new insights in the background, life, and accomplishment of this great master of American literature. Then watch The Tell-Tale Heart, a classic short story, plus A Journey In Verse - a look at Poe's poetry, and the acclaimed audio presentation of Edgar Allan Poe: Stories & Tales.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  20. First basketball game played, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1892. Homefires recommends a family favorite in the Disney movie Air Bud about a golden retriever who can score baskets then check out the newly released sequel, Air Buddies. Or, try Hoosiers -- an uplifting film about an unorthodox high school basketball coach (Gene Hackman) and the town drunk (Dennis Hooper) who join forces to lead their underdog team all the way to the state championship. Don't miss Magic Johnson Presents: The Fundamentals of Basketball the most comprehensive basketball instructional video on the market. Packed with two hours of skills and drills this program will help you become a better ball player.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  21. First atomic submarine, Nautilus, launched, 1954. Celebrate the historical event by watching 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Climb aboard author Jules Verne's fictitious "Nautilus: A sequel to Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas and The Mysterious Island" (after which, the atomic sub was named) and into a strange undersea world of spellbinding adventure! Kirk Douglas stars as a shipwreck survivor taken captive by the mysterious and utterly mad Captain Nemo.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  22. Queen Victoria of England died in 1901. The "Victorian Age" in England refers to the values and customs that became popular during her reign. Charles Dicken's novel, The Life And Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, was an indictment of the injustices of wealth and poverty in Victorian England. Homefires also recommends the Great Queens of England - Queen Victoria. Read The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens online.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  23. John Hancock, whose signature is the largest on the Declaration of Independence, was born 1737. (Note: The actual date of Hancock's birthday is disputed. Historians have reported it as both January 23rd and January 12th.) Hancock deliberately made his signature large -- so the King of England could read it. The story behind the founding of the U.S. is delightfully depicted in the DVD 1776 -- a musical celebration of the story of the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  24. Gold discovered in California in 1848 at Sutter's Mill, launching the Gold Rush and a huge migration of gold seekers from the East Coast to the West Coast of the U.S. Homefires recommends the History Channel's Gold! History of Man's Greatest Obsession. From Pizarro's brutal conquest of the Incas to Custer's Last Stand, explore the tragic legacy of man's lust for gold. Catch "gold fever" as you accompany miners to the heyday of The Gold Rush. The journals and letters of the 19th century prospectors reveal what it was like panning for gold in the wilderness. Get an insider's view of the modern gold mining industry. Learn more about the Gold Rush, get the free PBS Teacher's Guide: Suggestions for Active Learning.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  25. Robert Burns, Scottish poet who penned Auld Lang Syne, born in 1759. Visit Scotland from the comfort of your couch and learn some geography and social studies along the way. Homefire recommends Rick Steves' Europe: Ireland & Scotland 2000-2009. Join popular PBS personality Rick Steves on a tour of the British Isles. Discover The Castles of Scotland - the stomping grounds of Robert Burns - and visit Dublin, Ireland and London, England as well.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  26. Douglas MacArthur, famous U.S. military general, born in 1880. Get the A&E DVD Biography - General Douglas MacArthur - The Return of a Legend. General Douglas MacArthur was one of Americas greatest and most complex commanders, a warrior so tough and determined that he helped win World War II with a simple promise: I shall return.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  27. Mozart's Birthday! Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer and musical genius, was born in 1756. Your local library will have CDs of Mozart's music that you can listen to in the car. If you have WiFi you can listen to 5 of Mozart's compositions for free each day at the Classical Archives website, or sample some music at Classical Kids. 1984's Amadeus didn't tell the whole story. For a more complete look at the great composer's all-too-brief life, check out the BBC's Great Composers - Mozart. Putting together interviews with modern scholars and musicians such as Zubin Mehta, Isaac Stern, and readings of Mozart's own letters, this documentary provides a level of insight rarely attained by an hour-long television program. Mozart lovers will be delighted with the comic opera, Mozart - The Magic Flute.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  28. Auguste Piccard, Swiss scientist, inventor and explorer, was born in 1884. Piccard was famous for explorations of the stratosphere in a hot air balloon. Watch the DVD, "Around The World In 80 Days," a family-friendly movie based on Jules Verne's futuristic novel about circumnavigating the globe in a hot air balloon.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  29. William McKinley, 25th President of the U.S., born in 1843. Learn more about the life and times of all of the U.S. Presidents in our DVD collections: The American President and The History Channel Presents The Presidents. From George Washington to George W. Bush, American Experience: The Presidents gathers together vivid snapshots of all 43 Commanders in Chief who have guided America throughout its history.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  30. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the U.S. born 1882. FDR held office longer than any other President from 1933 to 1945. Learn more about FDR and all of the U.S. Presidents with "The American President's DVD Trivia Game." Players read presidential biographies that include historical facts and wacky trivia (i.e., discover which president wore size 14 shoes). Then, listen to clues about each president, as the "mystery" president's picture slowly fills in, one puzzle piece at a time. Using the DVD remote, pick the correct president from four possible answers before the picture completes itself. This is a great, interactive game on DVD for students who are learning about the American Presidents.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

  31. Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, was born in 1919. Homefires recommends, The Jackie Robinson Story. Jackie Robinson had a love for the game of baseball. The Brooklyn Dodgers had their eye on him. If Jackie wanted to make it as the first African-American to play organized baseball, then he would have to face ridicule, slander and harassment; See how one man's courage turned his dream into reality.

    Further the Learning with These Resources:

Do you have young children?

Check out the Preschool Learning Calendar!

Going on a Road Trip?

Carschool on your next trip! If you like this calendar, you'll love the Carschooling Calendar for learning history on the go! You can get it delivered to your email inbox every month by subscribing to the Carschooling Ezine — it's free! Sign up now by clicking here.

More January DVD Selections