Good Stuff – All Aboard and More!

Becky Rupp’s Good Stuff Column has been a part of Home Education Magazine for many years. Her excellent finds over the years and those she will be including in the future are resources that can be enjoyed by the young and old alike. We have often used them as starting points for unit studies at our house.

I thought I’d show you just what I mean by looking at one of the earliest Good Stuff columns that HEM shares online, All Aboard! The article was published in 1997, but I was still able to find many of the resources she listed today that I’m sharing below. I hope you see how you could easily do the same.

In this March-April 1997Good Stuff Column she wets our whistle by writing:

Almost everybody loves a train, from small-sized admirers of television’s Thomas the Tank Engine to teen-aged students of American history, who want to know what happened to the much-talked-about Golden Spike that completed the Transcontinental Railroad. (For those who have rosy visions of driving to Promontory Point and extracting it, forget it: it’s in the Smithsonian.) Our kids were first introduced to the appealing train through Watty Piper’s classic The Little Engine That Could (Platt & Munk, 1930), now available in any number of editions, but all starring the determined little pale-blue train who finally (“I think I can; I think I can…”) made it over the mountain with a load of toys. It’s supposed to instill the virtues of courage and persistence in the very small; parents can quote bits of it comfortingly to frustrated five-year-olds, who have thrown a failed project on the floor and are stomping upon it.

So beginning with the Transcontinental Railroad’s Golden Spike and the beloved Little Engine that could, she begins to share resource after resource and I always feel as if I’m in a candy store and don’t know which one to pick first. Let’s look at these she refers to in the first paragraph:

This is America, Charlie Brown,Volume 3: The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad. I found a copy of it at the Railroad Bookstore and was also able to reserve it at my local library, along with Watty Piper’s Little Engine that Could.

Next she reviews the following books, all of which I was able to find at my local library. I’ve also added a few resources that I discovered as well to illustrate what great jumping off points Becky provides:

Then she offers up some games. (Again, some of the prices have gone up, but the resources still look like interesting finds.)

  • Uncle Happy’s Train Game - I couldn’t find this game for sale at Mayfair, Inc. any longer, but
    I did find several new railroad games that you can look at here.
  • The Game of Railroads and Robber Barons (If anyone has a copy of this game, it was going for a mighty high price on Ebay. The link that I share is a free download, but I can’t vouch for the site that offers it.)

In this column Becky goes on to review ElementO, Gumshoe Geography, PBS Home Video/The West, Dino Math Tracks, My Best Math Puzzles. This certainly seems as if it would be more than enough, but she shares more that you can explore at Home Education Magazine Content Archives here.

HEM columnist Rebecca has a Ph.D. in cell biology, has written for many magazines, and has published several books. She lives in Vermont with her husband and three sons.

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