One of my focuses in our homeschool year of 2012 is to gain more understanding of Australian and local history.
Now if I mention that we're studying 'history' Billy will run a mile, but luckily there are ways to do it that he does enjoy. Namely "living history" - tv shows, stories, excursions etc.
We've been watching a brilliant show called My Place. We've seen some of the episodes before but never really sat down and watched them properly. The show is set in the same house / piece of land in Sydney (with the gorgeous fig tree shown above) - it starts in 2008, and each episode goes back 10 years in history. The story always centres around a child (usually around the 8-10 year old age) who lives there at that time.
As well as having a storyline where the child learns a life lesson (eg owning up to your mistakes, overcoming bullying etc), each episode shows the fashions, food, and attitudes of the era. The references to the Greek boy Michealis being called a 'wog' at school, references to the Vietnamese boat people, the Vietnam war, Ramadan, the Aboriginal 'stolen generation' etc. Its led to some wonderful discussions about discrimination, accepting people for who they are and how attitudes have slowly changed to make Australia a more multi-cultural country.
There are characters that follow through the series - for eg the next-door neighbour has remained constant (just gotten older) in the first 5 episodes that we've watched. You trace one character from being the landlord in 2008 - 1988 to the dad in 1978, the young man going off to war in 1968 and the boy growing up in the house in 1958. The weetbix cards that the boy is obsessed with in 1978 are found in the attic and given to the boy in 1998.
Its an incredibly well written show and Billy & I are both loving watching it. Season 1 goes back to 1888 (I think) - Season 2 is about to start showing on TV again, continuing the story from 1878 to the early Aboriginal people.
It's based on a book by Nadia Wheatley so that's next on my list to find.