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Alabama Alaska Arizona

January 31st, 2004 · 3 Comments

Dean’s coming to town today. We already had other plans but I wish I could take the girls and go.

Not that three little kids could probably sit quietly during the Town Hall meeting without wiggling or screaming (ha!).

What I want to do though is to educate them about the political process. The younger two probably won’t remember 2004 but Abigail might. I can still remember watching Ford and Carter on the little black and white TV in our family room while my mom cooked dinner. I remember too how I wanted Ford, not that I knew much about either candidate. I just didn’t like change. I didn’t want someone new. I wanted things to stay the same. Ah the political preferences of young children…

Abigail and Michaela have already learned a little from our lives. Ted and I have taken them with us when we vote. The kids come home carrying sample paper ballots and wearing “I Voted” stickers like tatoos. In the past couple weeks our daughters have heard Kerry’s New Hampshire victory speech and Bush’s State of the Union address, played on NPR as I cooked dinner. They danced to Dean. Abigail’s beginning to read headlines and I imagine she’ll begin to pick up bits and pieces on her own soon.

So while they’re already absorbing, I’m trying to intentionally teach them too. With ten months to go, I’m trying to prepare them for Election Night. I figure they’ll have a lot of fun watching the map election results, even a child can see the colored states fill in our country. I’ve heard about an electoral college map: perhaps I’ll order one. Abigail and maybe Michaela could read these colorful numbers.

The girls do like geography. I’ve been considering what young children can learn, those who cannot yet read or write well, and I realized that geography is a good subject for them. They can still recognize shapes and memorize names.

At first I was trying to emphasize countries and continents. Perhaps it is because I feel that my own education was too narrowly focussed on America. We are raising our daughters in a world where connections across continents are instant via the Internet. In our family also we don’t have to go back too far to find relatives who lived in other countries. Our children have an international heritage. And I want my daughters to have a global perspective. I want them to know where they are in the world.

But then I realized that teaching the girls about the 50 states would be very helpful this year for them to understand a bit of the election process. I remembered memorizing the 50 states in elementary school, mumbled in some sort of sing -song alphabetically: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California….

So this week I began getting out the US map more often. And I’m realizing how little I know about my country. Via Michael Hanscom, I created a map (via world66.com) of where I’ve been – the green states reveal the gaps in my travels:

This week we started with Alabama. I realized I don’t know much about Alabama. “Oh Susanna” and civil rights history come to mind.

Next was Alaska. I don’t know much about that state either.
Even Arizona is mostly mystery to me.
I’ve realized I’ve got a lot to learn about this land where I live.

Now the girls are running around the house saying “Alabama Alaska Arizona”

Only 47 more states to go and then they’ll be ready for Election Night…

…time has passed as I’ve been writing this…Still sorry we missed Dean today. (I’ll check Seablogs for reports!.) I read that Kerry will be coming on Wednesday. It’s possible we could go to that one, or to see Kucinich but the week’s already pretty filled. Perhaps later in the year we’ll make it to a rally in Seattle. (Or maybe, as Al Gore did, someone will choose to campaign on the ferries!)

I think the girls would get something out of it. And I think the candidates would get something out of us too. After all, we are a photogenic family (ha!) and I’m sure we’d make a great pose for a politician’s portfolio. Everyone wants to be seen with young children and growing families, soccer mom that I am. And we even have a baby, Elisabeth. She’s quite cute, with spiky hair and round cheeks, like a toddling Qewpie doll. People running for president are fond of babies: they’re great for photo-ops and front-page shots. I’m sure some candidate would love to kiss her.

Then again, that’s a part of the political process I’d rather not have my girls experience….

Tags: homeschool

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patricia Taylor (Katherine's mom) // Feb 1, 2004 at 11:19 am

    Oh, how I enjoy reading about your thoughts, ramblings and surprising surmising, Julie! Yes, the political process is a vivid, fluid trail, and also a bit of a trial, for those on it!
    My husband, David, once gave me a definition of politics while we were hiking in the French Alps on an anniversary trip in Chamonix. I idly asked him for a definition as we walked among the tall pines and rocky paths. He said, “Politics is the universal acceptance of man’s sinful human nature.” An interesting definition! What do you think?

  • 2 Katherine // Feb 1, 2004 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for the great map link, Julie! Sent it (as you can see) to my Mom, as well as my husband and my friend since kindergarten…had fun doing both the U.S. state map and the country map.

  • 3 Mad Times // Feb 2, 2004 at 6:28 pm

    Mostly yankee travels

    World66 has a cute little app that will let you generate a map of all the states you’ve visited. Here’s mine: Too bad we didn’t go dip our toes in Rhode Island back in October. They also have one for…