It’s difficult to find Canadian history for homeschooling (particularly when living abroad), and when we were asked to review Headphone History: Canada, I thought it could be good for my children, and I was right! Headphone History gives a balanced view of history and even points out that some perspectives are missing in the writing of history. This isn’t the history I received in school – it’s better.
What We Received in the Epic Elementry Bundle
We received two volumes of Headphone History by Rowan Atkinson. Volume 1 consists of four MP3s of approximately one hour of play on each. Volume 2 has seven MP3s of about an hour each. Each volume also has an accompanying downloadable PDF.
The PDFs consist mainly of coloring sheets, matching questions, true/false questions, short answer questions, quizzes, a couple of project ideas and a final exam. There is also a guide for which pages to do during which section of the audios. Another couple of pages provides time stamps for the audios.
What Headphone History Covers
This class covers more than just history within the boundaries of Canada. Moving through time from East to West (roughly along the routes of the European explorers and settlers), it starts back at the time of the Vikings of Norway and how they came to leave their homelands and explore Iceland, Greenland, and ultimately, Canada. Then it moves onto more the more traditional times of Jacques Cartier’s “discovery” of Canada and the misunderstanding that led to the naming of the country. Moving on, you’ll hear about The Hudson’s Bay Company (which still exists today), the American Revolutionary War, Residential schools, the Smallpox epidemic, the history of slavery in Canada, the formation of the RCMP, the Northwest Rebellion, and right on up to The Last Spike.
Headphone History is pretty much an open-and-go class. I simply printed off the sheets that I wanted my children to complete, set up the MP3 to the correct spot and we listened to the lesson.
How We Used Headphone History
This class can be adjusted for different ages and abilities. For younger students, have them listen to the lesson while coloring the corresponding pictures. Some students may simply listen to the lessons while in the car and chat about them. For others, the question sheets can be completed. For older students, they can do all of these things, as well as work on the research assignments.
To answer the questions, it’s likely that the audio will need to be listened to more than once or students may have to look up some of the answers using other resources. Older students may take the opportunity to practice taking lecture notes during their first listen to a lesson, and then go back to complete their lessons and see how many they are able to answer from their memory and class notes.
There are quizzes throughout the classes that cover particular sections. Then there is a final exam that covers the entire class. If students have done well on the assignments and quizzes they should do well with the exam.
We listened to about twenty to thirty minutes of audio per class, with the children taking more time after to complete their assignments as necessary.
What Could Be Improved
The only thing I would change about this class is that I would love to have an answer key provided as the only key I received was for the Volume 1 final exam. Although I did listen to the lessons along with my children, I found that in order to ensure the children had the correct answers I needed to listen again to the recordings or look up the information online.
What We Think of Headphone History
Overall, we all learned more about Canadian history, than in previous classes and I appreciated that the only prep was printing off the PDFs. Rowan Atkinson’s vocal tones were easy on the ears and at an appropriate speed (you can, of course, speed up or slow down using your player.
All of the topics mentioned previously, and more, are explored over the course of approximately thirteen hours of audio (between the two volumes) is a lot of information and there is still plenty of scope for older students to delve deeper into any of the topics that interest them and learn more about Canada’s history.
I found that the content was balanced; giving both the “traditionally held” view of the European explorers, but also not shying away from the darker parts of Canada’s history and giving a voice to the First Nations people, who were certainly overlooked during my primary and secondary school days.
More About Headphone History
This class is good for both Canadian students, as well as those who would like to learn more about European explorers, North America, and how the approach to shaping Canada differed from the United States and how these cultures, although very similar, have some inherent differences.
Connect with Headphone History:
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