Greetings from The Paley Center for Media’s Education Department!

Welcome to the latest installment of “What We’re Watching,” a weekly Paley Education@Home guide. During this unprecedented time, we are continuing to reach out to our community with tips and ideas for consuming media with kids! We know that screen time has increased and so we’re here to help. Each week we are highlighting a different theme that connects to selected programs for younger and older viewers, with related activities and resources.

Consuming media with your kids is a perfect jumping-off point to making media literacy a part of your everyday lives. Familiarizing yourself with the basics is a great first step. In case you missed it, you can view our first edition about media literacy best practices. We also recommend the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Parents Guide—it’s a terrific introduction!

Weekly Zoom Meet-up
Thursdays, 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET
Students Grades 3+ can join us for a weekly Zoom Meet-up, Thursdays from 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET, to chat about the week’s theme and engage in some hands-on learning led by a Paley Educator. Parents and teachers are welcome to join as well!

For connection details, please RSVP to eduny@paleycenter.org.
What We're Watching: Early America

Now that Election Day is behind us, we are turning our focus to the origins of American democracy. It feels like more than ever, Americans are asked to consider what the framers of the Constitution wanted for our nation and how much weight those considerations should actually carry in 2020. It also happens to be the time of year that many students are studying Colonial history and the Revolutionary War. So let’s settle in with a nice cup of hot chocolate and get into our recommendations!

This Week's Recommendations for Younger Viewers

The Who Was? Show “George Washington & Marco Polo” (2018)
Season 1, Episode 9
Recommended for Grades 2+
Available to stream on Netflix

The Who Was? Show has a great concept—what if a sketch comedy show focused on historical figures? This clever approach gets young audiences interested in history by embracing humor, music, and dance. Each episode splits its time highlighting big moments in the lives of two different figures, in this case George Washington and Marco Polo, while also doing some fact-checking along the way! It’s a lot of fun and, hopefully, a bit of inspiration for even more historical research!

Viewing Questions
  • What do you already know about George Washington?
  • What do you find out about George Washington in this episode that you didn’t know before? What do you want to do more research on?
  • Why do you think false or exaggerated stories about historical figures become so well known, sometimes more than the truth?
  • What is the difference between a president and a king? What is the difference between a monarchy and a democracy?
  • What techniques does this episode use to help you understand and enjoy history? Which are the most effective?

Extension Activity

Visit Mount Vernon
It may not be the best time for travel, but luckily George Washinton’s Mount Vernon estate has virtual exhibitions.

Additional Resources

Read




Watch

Animaniacs: “The Presidents Song / Don't Tread On Us / The Flame Returns” (Season 3, Episode 8)
Available to stream on Hulu

Liberty’s Kids
Available to stream on Starz

Listen

This Week's Recommendations for Older Viewers

Hamilton, directed by Thomas Kail (2020)
Recommended by Grades 6+
Available to stream on Disney+

Does Hamilton need an introduction? Since premiering on the stage in 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical has become a smash hit, a critical darling, and a cultural touchstone. When the filmed original cast performance was put on Disney+ earlier this year, it was a great reminder that American history should be constantly re-evaluated and re-contextualized. Young viewers will be entranced by the music and choreography, and hopefully find something in the story to spark their historical curiosity.

Viewing Questions
  • What do you already know about Alexander Hamilton?
  • What do you find out about Alexander Hamilton that you didn’t know before? What do you want to do more research on?
  • How does the music and choreography help you understand the history in a different way than primary (or other secondary) sources?
  • How does the diversity of the cast represent the thesis of the story and production?
  • Why are we so attracted to the biographies of historical figures? How do personal stories help our understanding of history? How do they hurt our understanding of history?
  • How does this story reflect the time it was made?
  • In what other ways would you like to see history re-imagined?

Extension Activity

Library of Congress’s Citizen DJ
Make your own hip hop tracks using the LOC’s public audio collections

Additional Resources

Read



Recommended for Older Teens and Adults

Watch

Hamilton: History Has Its Eyes on You (2020), Available to stream on Disney+

Listen

Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording (2015), Available to stream on Spotify

As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at eduny@paleycenter.org.

Happy viewing,
Rebekah Fisk, Director of Education
Caroline Quigley, Senior Manager of School & Family Programs
Photos—The Who Was? Show: Netflix; Hamilton: Disney+
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