If your family is planning to hit the road this summer to see the sights and get a taste of American history, check out these educational and fun releases.
Fun Facts of American History. Just the Facts Learning Series. Goldhil Video, 50 minutes. $19.95. (800) 250-8760. This lighthearted family video is divided into sections--"Historic Episodes," "Curious Customs," "Symbol Origins" and "Back to the Drawing Board." It's chock-full of fascinating infobits about the one-day presidency, the 19th century entrepreneur who staged train collisions, the first, but soon-forgotten subway, the proposed state of Franklin, early airmail pilots, offbeat inventions and the origins of movie popcorn, earrings and throwing rice at weddings.
The Great American State Quiz. Just the Facts Learning Series, Goldhil Video. 50 minutes. $19.95. (800) 250-8760. Do you know where in the United States you'll find the shortest day, the largest volcano, the smallest city park (2 feet long)? How about the highest cliffs or the largest buffalo herds? Families can make a game out of the fun information in this quality video, following clues to state identities. The easiest clue--the state capital--comes last, following historical, social and geographical facts, all nicely illustrated by film footage, photographs, paintings and drawings. (Also available: "Our American Landscape," with more state facts and fun, $14.95.)
World Clue Adventure. Let's Climb Higher! Video. 30 minutes. $14.95; activity book, $2.95. (800) 811-5372. This live-action, reading skills video is a deft mix of education, confidence-building and engaging fun, all designed to help ages 5 to 8 read those road signs along the way. A magical, musical guide named Biblio Tech leads two young friends on a reading adventure with the help of a mysterious library map, and the pair find themselves inside a computer in Letter Land, in the pages of a dictionary for a spelling lesson and inside a recycling bin for a syllable fest.
They learn about vowel combinations, the silent "e" and when to double consonants, and they meet African drummer Obo Addy, who uses rhythm to demonstrate syllables.
Geography Songs. Audio Memory. Audiocassette, 72-page workbook, world map: $19.95. 60 minutes. (800) 365-SING. These upbeat, easy-on-the-ear, repetitive songs are a painless way to lock home some names to remember: countries of the former Soviet Union, the British Isles, Scandinavia, the Middle East and other regions and territories around the globe; plus continents, oceans and planets of the solar system. Also available: "States & Capitals Songs," cassette and state map, $9.95.