Recently, YWAM Publishing offered the Review Crew several choices from their Heroes of History series of books. Because my children were getting ready for a Geography Fair where they would be making a presentation on Missouri, we chose to review Heroes of History- George Washington Carver.
George Washington Carver is a fascinating man. The son of a slave, adopted by a white family, a man with a strong work ethic and a thirst for knowledge he was an influence in how farmers plant crops and inspired inventors by his own commitment to finding uses for whatever was on hand.
We read a chapter each day and then used the chapter questions as a basis for our discussion. We read about this scientists determination to learn and gain useful knowledge. He worked to earn the money necessary and overcame the obstacles presented by the color of his skin.
After leaving the midwest and moving to Alabama to work with Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute, he saw a pattern in the farming practices that kept the poor sharecroppers poor and tending farmland that was producing less and less. Having grown up on a farm in the midwest, this caught my children’s attention. We learned more about crop rotation and the chemistry of soils. We learned about making wise choices and how important it can be to learn new habits rather than sticking the old way of doing things, especially when it isn’t working!
There is a fantastic Study Guide available to help you turn this historical biography into unit study, or just to help you dig deeper into knowing the person of Dr. Carver or what life was like for a man who was raised in post-Civil War America.
The Study Guide was very helpful as my children researched famous people from Missouri. George Washington Carver was born a slave, was a baby when his mother ran away with him, she and baby George were captured by ‘Bushwackers.’ The infant was abandoned and his mother never heard from again. George and his older brother were raised by a couple in Diamond, MO. We enjoyed reading his connection to Missouri but that’s just the beginning of his story!
See the red circle in the photo above? The kids printed a photo of G. W. Carver, listed his name with date of birth and death and used a piece of yarn to show where he was raised. This visual aid helped my kids ‘see’ where he lived. They were able to put many things into context such as what the landscape and small towns may have looked like, since they have traveled in that area when on vacation.
Now, back to the study guide! For our studies leading up to this review, I think I appreciated the Social Studies section most. It provide 5 different sections that gave us help on how to use the material and ideas that helped enhance our study. The sections were: places, terms and vocabulary, geographical characteristics, timeline and conceptual questions. We traced Washington’s travels from Missouri to Kansas, then Iowa to Alabama. We built up our vocabulary with terms on the topic of slavery, horticulture, government, etc.
Visiting the life of this slave-turned-scientist, my children have been challenged to take a look at their own work ethic, their own faith and belief system. They have been inspired to think outside the box for solutions to problems they encounter and to use what they have available to them.
George Washington Carver became known as “The Peanut Man” as well as “The Wizard of Tuskegee” because of his extensive research using the legume and because of his uncanny knack for taking seemingly useless items and turning them into something useful. He was determined to find a crop(s) that farmers could plant successfully and for a purpose. He was able to not only propagate the peanut plant successfully but he invented hundreds, if not thousands of products using the plant and all it’s components. Same thing with sweet potatoes. Did you know peanut butter and peanut oil are not the only products made from peanuts? Did you know you could make washing starch, baking flour and many other helpful household items from these plants?
These quotes from with the pages of George Washington Carver: from Slave to Scientist will give you an idea of the amazing person he was and why he is a man worth studying:
“…most colleges taught botany by discussing different topics as if they had no relationship to each other. George…believed that everything in nature was interconnected in some way…he tried to show these links between things.”
“Save just five cents a day,” he would say, “and in a year you will have eighteen dollars and twenty-five cents. Land out here sells for five dollars an acre, so in a year you will have enough money to buy three acres and have three dollars and twenty-five cents left over to buy seed.”
“George was not one to be discouraged about race relations. For every white person who hated someone because of his or her skin there was another who could look past the color and see the whole human being. George looked for that kind of white person to work with.”
We have enjoyed reading through this book together and I am looking forward to two new titles coming in May: Benjamin Rush (from Heroes in History) and John Newton (from Christian Heroes.) We always learn a bit about history (and often other subjects like science) but we also receive excellent lessons in what it takes to build good character and why it’s important to live out our faith.
We have found reading biographies of those who actually lived life during a certain era or event to be one of the best ways to study history. YWAM Publishing offers quality biographies of the most influential people in history in their Heroes of History Series, their Christian Heroes: Then & Now Series, and so much more! Our family enjoyed reading about Corrie Ten Boom last year. Her story made a huge impact on our family and we’ve been able to share that with many others since reading.
Learn more about this and other biographies from my Homeschool Review Crew Mates – just click on the image below!