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American Colonies/American Revolution DVD The American Constitution: Bundle of Compromises DVD The Civil War: American Against American DVD Review by Courtney Larson

Howard Egger-Bovet
Find the Fun Productions
165 France Street
Sonoma, California 95476

American Colonies/American Revolution, The American Constitution: Bundle of Compromises, and The Civil War: American Against American are three DVDs that teach early American history through skits and songs. The DVDs may be purchased individually or as a set. There are supplementary activities on the website, including a couple of games, and study guides for each DVD. The study guides include questions and activities to help the students recall what they've learned.

These DVDs were created by Howard Egger-Bovet, a teacher for over 15 years, and they are designed for use in the classroom. He recommends that you first introduce the topic, then show the corresponding DVD segments, and finally, follow up with more in-depth teaching on the topic. He does not want these DVDs just popped into the DVD player for a passive learning experience by the child. Instead, he sees them as a media tool to help further discussion and interaction between the teacher and the child.

American Colonies/American Revolution has three parts: "Virginia Colony 1606-1660," "13 Colonies 1660-1770", and "Rebel British Soldier's Life 1770-1781." Each part is around 20 minutes long.

The American Constitution: Bundle of Compromises has four parts: the first begins with a music video about laws and then covers "Feudalism/Magna Carta," "Great Awakening," and "American Revolution Aftermath"; the second part covers the "Articles of Confederation" and "Pre-Convention of 1787"; the third covers the "Federal Convention 1787 (Constitutional Convention)," "Virginia Plan," "Local vs. National Government," and "Small States Threaten Convention"; the fourth part covers "Great Compromises," "Committees, Treason, and Faith," "Who Shall Ratify the Constitution?", "A National Bill of Rights?", and "State Ratification." These parts run anywhere from 33 to 43 minutes, and there is an additional 9 minutes of bonus scenes on this DVD.

The Civil War: American Against American includes three parts: "Southern Life 1850s," "1st Battle of Manassas 1860-1861," and "Emancipation Proclamation 1861-1865." The parts on this DVD vary from 36 to 42 minutes in length.

The format of American Colonies/American Revolution and The Civil War: American Against American are quite similar. Howard Egger-Bovet is on stage alone in both of these videos, and he alternates between speaking on the topic and singing about the topic (while in period costumes). Sometimes he uses shadow puppetry to teach the topic. My sons (ages 10, 9, 7, 5, and 4) did not enjoy these DVDs at all. They found it difficult to follow the transitions between the speaking and the singing, and the shadow puppetry did not engage them, either. After watching a few segments, they couldn't tell me what they were supposed to be learning, and they also asked me to turn them off.

The American Constitution: Bundle of Compromises changes format. It is not filmed on stage, and there are shorter segments using different actors, along with animation, to illustrate what is being taught. This DVD also has students answering questions, and there is more humor used in this production. The style of this DVD is much easier to follow. My oldest son asked me to turn it back on so he could watch parts again, and even my youngest son sat down to watch.

I cannot recommend American Colonies/American Revolution and The Civil War: American Against American. I would recommend The American Constitution: Bundle of Compromises if it weren't for the price tag. These DVDs are currently priced at $55 each, and I just don't think they are worth the money.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009