Young Indiana Jones and a Picasso Lesson

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This year I had to change things up with Decca. He was not engaged in our history lessons, and it was painfully obvious. He is so different from the twins that it has taken me a while to realize that he finds most history lessons and readings uninteresting and pointless. I want him to enjoy history though, so I knew I needed to take another approach with him.

I was thinking about all of this over the holidays when I went to a friend’s house who also homeschools. She mentioned that she was going to use the Young Indiana Jones curriculum with her daughter next year, and that I might want to look into it for Decca.

I was instantly interested in the idea, and when I got home I began to research. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a whole curriculum put together around The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. It is called Adventures in Learning with Indiana Jones, and it is a wonderful resource for educators. I decided this would be great for Decca, so I bought the DVDs, and we started watching them a few weeks back. It didn’t go quite as I expected at first.

The problem is that the shows (which I had never seen before) had been re-edited in order to present a more educational experience. The drawback to this is that the editing does not always work and is sometimes laughable. For instance the first episode just ends without being resolved. It was very strange until I read that it was only the first half of the original episode, and that it was cut there in the new release. Another strange occurrence is the young boy who plays Indiana Jones ages  and then gets younger in the middle of an episode. For instance in the Paris episode that we recently watched he starts out older, then gets noticeably younger, then gets older again all over the course of a few days.

This made the episodes hard to watch at first, especially for me, but once I researched the shows and understood it was just George Lucas being crazy, the kids and I stopped caring . The shows are fun and interesting, and they do lead to some great learning opportunities.

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In the latest episode we watched young Indiana Jones goes to Paris with his parents and tutor. While there he meets a young Norman Rockwell who introduces Indy to the Paris art scene. With Norman the boys end up getting to know Picasso, Degas, Rousseau, and a host of other artists from this time. Indy also gets a lesson on old art versus new art and different art movements.

It was a wonderful little episode that introduced many different people and topics. In addition to the episodes, the DVDs include documentaries to watch. After watching some of the documentaries (we don’t watch them all) I then have Decca do some reading, watch a BrainPop, and then I try to incorporate a project. This week we studied Picasso more in-depth, and we made our own cubism drawing. The twins reluctantly participated (ahh teenagers), but I was happy with the project, and I believe it was a good learning experience for all.

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I would recommend this curriculum to anyone looking for an alternative history program. It actually covers more than just history, and it is very easy to use. Although I didn’t like it at first, I find myself warming up to it as we watch more episodes. It has Decca’s attention, and for that I am grateful.

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