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Exploring Our Past: Comparing the Lives of Native Peoples (DVD) Review by Christy Sensenig

Mazzarella Media
PO Box 86
Bristol, CT 06011

Exploring Our Past: Comparing the Lives of Native Peoples is the first in a series of 5 DVDs that introduce the many different Native American tribes of North America. The DVD is approximately 20 minutes long and is appropriate for students in grades 3-6. Comparing the Lives of the Native Peoples offers a comparison of tribes within the four main regions in North America. As you watch the video, you will learn how the tribes differed in various aspects: shelter, use of the environment, artistic expressions, and traditions.

The DVD is narrated by Joanne Shenandoah, a Grammy award-winning Native American singer and songwriter. The series uses photography, colorful maps, and realistic reenactments. It can be used in any homeschool environment and would be especially useful for a visual learner. My family and I enjoyed watching the DVD together. The narration is good, and the visuals and dramatizations bring life to the video. The content of the DVD presented in a clear, concise manner, and it meets the requirements for social studies standards on a national level.

Although the DVD has many positive aspects, it is quite expensive for what is included. Each 20-minute DVD or VHS in the series is 39.95. You can also buy the entire 5-part series for 189.95. Unfortunately, I do not believe the amount of content justifies the high price. I would be more receptive of this product if there was more content presented to make the price feasible or if the price was reduced. Overall, the product has good quality, and if you are willing to pay the high price for the small amount of information received, you will be happy with your purchase. On the other hand, if you want to get the best possible value for the amount of money spent, this may not be a good choice for your family.

Product review by Christy Sensenig, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2007