Gunner’s Run: Bringing World War II history to life

History with Heart of Dakota

Pilot to gunners. Keep your eyes open. We’re almost to target. By now every German fighter in the area knows where to find us.”

These are the opening sentences in one of my favorite living books ever: Gunner’s Run. Gunner’s Run tells the story of Jim Yoder, a fictional waist gunner for an American B-24 Liberator bomber during the Second World War. One day, during a fateful raid on the German shipyard at Kiel, Jim’s plane is struck by flak and he is forced to parachute out.

Upon landing, he is captured by the Germans, but soon manages to escape captivity. Following his successful escape, he quickly realizes that he is alone…and hundreds of miles deep into enemy territory. Undaunted, he sets out on a journey across Western Europe in an effort to reach England. Along the way, he comes into contact with members of the French resistance and learns how to evade detection in occupied Europe. Will he make it out? Will he be recaptured or – even worse – shot as a spy? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Why I love this book

First and foremost, Gunner’s Run is a Charlotte Mason-style living book. Better than most textbooks, it makes the history come to life and stays with you long after you turn the last page. It’s one thing to know the facts regarding the air war and the underground resistance during World War II. It’s entirely another thing (and much more memorable) to vicariously experience it for yourself!

Second, Gunner’s Run is historically-accurate. As both a history major in college and a lifelong World War 2 history buff, one of my pet peeves is to read books where the historical backdrop is portrayed incorrectly. Maybe it’s just me, but reading books that do this is like hearing the proverbial nails on the chalkboard. I have a really hard time enjoying those books! At the same time, I’ve also read countless books where the history is correct, but the books have no life in them. Reading those books is comparable to eating sawdust…something to be “gotten through” rather than enjoyed. Gunner’s Run falls into neither of these pitfalls. It is a book that accurately reflects the time period yet still is insanely-immersive to read.

Content notes

Content-wise, Gunner’s Run is very tasteful. For instance, while swearing and profanity were common enough in World War II bomber crews, the author makes reference to it but tactfully leaves it out of his characters’ dialogue.

With regard to violence, in my opinion the book takes an appropriate balance. Given that it is a story set during one of the most widespread wars in mankind’s history, combat violence is inescapable. Nonetheless, the main character does not relish in it. As a defensive gunner in a bomber aircraft, despite his elation at shooting down a German fighter bent on blasting them from the sky, he is relieved to see the pilot bail out successfully.

Also, while the author doesn’t shy away from mentioning war violence (such as the “bloodstained bodies” that were unloaded from bullet-torn bombers following each mission) he does not glorify the violence by describing it in minute, gory detail. Because of this, even young teenage readers can truly empathize with the hazards the main character faces without danger of becoming unduly traumatized.

Literary quality

Author Rick Barry isn’t afraid to use the correct names for things (Focke-Wulf 190, anyone?) but his penmanship carries readers through – even if they don’t necessarily know all of the period-correct lingo. This is no easy feat, but he pulls it off with flair. His style of writing naturally flows, making it easy to read without sounding choppy or “dumbed-down.” His main character, Jim Yoder, is relatable and genuinely likable. As the story progresses, Jim also grows in maturity. During his time behind enemy lines, Jim is not only portrayed as an Air Force gunner trying to survive his way through World War II, but also as a young man trying to make sense of where God is in all this.

Where in HOD can you find this book?

You can find Gunner’s Run in the Extension Package for Missions to Modern Marvels and the Living Library Packages for US History II.

References:

Barry, Rick. Gunner’s Run. (Bob Jones University Press, 2007).

PS: Want to learn a little more about the B-24 Liberator bomber (and its connection to actor Jimmy Stewart)? Check out this short 3 minute video!

Economics Credit and the Farmer’s Market for a 9th Grader in MTMM

Dear Carrie

How can my student doing MTMM for 9th grade earn Economics credit, and can our Farmer’s Market participation help?

We will be using Heart of Dakota‘s  Missions to Modern Marvels for 9th grade. I am trying to narrow down what to use for Economics to make it credit worthy. Do we need to add the finance resources from U.S. History II? I have seen a mixture of posts on the message board, from adding several extra resources to not adding any and claiming half a credit. Since we will be missing U. S. History II, we would like to do what we can to make this year a full credit. Also, we participate in our local Farmer’s Market. Is there a way to add this in as well for credit in Economics?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help a Student Doing MTMM for 9th Grade to Earn Economics Credit”

Dear “Ms. Please Help a Student Doing MTMM for 9th Grade to Earn Economics Credit,”

Great question!! Now that the U. S. History II guide is written, I can say that the best and easiest way to do Economics is to simply add it as written in the U.S. II guide. You can have your kiddo do the Economics resources already scheduled within MTMM as written and add the Economics portion from US2 each day. Most states and colleges require Economics, so I would go that route rather than the Finance route. However, since the finance course is so great, you could consider adding it your student’s senior year of high school if time allows.

Using the U. S. History II guide along with the Economics Package saves planning time and ups the interest level.

I realize that adding the Economics from USII would require the purchase of the USII guide along with the Economics Package, but the time you will save planning that course along with the interesting way that it is written would be worth it to me. Of course you could go a different route adding any of the things suggested as add-ones earlier (before USII was written), but those options will require more planning and in my opinion are not nearly as engaging.

My son truly enjoyed his U.S. History II Economics course.

My son truly enjoyed the Economics in USII. We had great discussions, and he made so many connections! Not to mention the material was often presented from a Biblical perspective, which to me is golden! What he learned will be so helpful to him throughout his adult life.

I would recommend completing the U.S. History II Finance course eventually.

If you do use the Finance from USII eventually (which I would highly recommend), then that would make the purchase of the USII guide even more useful. It is possible you may also borrow some other subjects from USII as you journey through high school, as there is much to love in the USII guide.

You could claim a full credit in Economics by using the MTMM Economics resources, using USII’s Economics, and participating in the Farmer’s Market.

If you do add the Economics as written from USII, when combined with the Economics resources already scheduled in MTMM and the work with the Farmer’s Market that you mentioned, you could definitely claim a full credit in Economics. The Farmer’s Market would only be one portion of the Economics total credit but when mixed with the other resources would be an invaluable project-style application of what your student is studying.

Blessings,
Carrie

P.S. Click here to read another thread on our message board about beefing up MTMM for high school.

May Library Builder: Save 10% on the Missions to Modern Marvels Basic Set!

Library Builder

Use coupon code MAY-LIBRARY for 10% on this month’s Library Builder book set: The Missions to Modern Marvels Basic Package!

We are excited to continue our  Heart of Dakota Library Builder book set promotion! On the 1st Wednesday of each month we will be promoting one of our book sets with a 10% coupon code. For this month’s special, use coupon code MAY-LIBRARY on our website for the entire month of May to apply the savings to your order. The coupon applies to the Missions to Modern Marvels Basic Package set of books.   To view all of the books in this set, just click here! (Scroll down until you see the “Basic Package” section.)

How is the Basic Package used in Missions to Modern Marvels?

Well, we could tell you, but why reinvent the wheel? Carrie and Julie have already done an excellent job of outlining how these books are used in the Missions to Modern Marvels Introduction, so why don’t we have a quick look at that?

(From the Introduction to Missions to Modern Marvels):

Storytime
Daily storytime sessions are linked to the “Reading about History” box of the plans by historical time period. These books provide the historical backdrop, or a panoramic view of history, while the “Reading about History” readings provide a more factual view.

These scheduled read-alouds are highly recommended, unless you need to economize. Complete listings and book descriptions for these books can be found in the Appendix. These books are sold as a set as a Basic Package, or sold individually, at www.heartofdakota.com.

The “Storytime” box of plans includes bookmark prompts that target higher-level responses. Students select lines to quote and comment upon, use quick sketches to provide visual commentary, ask clarifying and probing questions, make written connections, and share observations, reflections, and musings.

Leading students to think in this manner goes beyond finding one right answer. Rather, students are encouraged to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what they’ve read to reach their own conclusions. Bookmarks must be copied from the Appendix of Missions to Modern Marvels once every 6 units as directed in the guide.

Note: If you are already doing a Storytime package with a different Heart of Dakota program, you may choose to have 7th-8th grade students read the books in this package on their own by following the plans in the “Storytime” box.

Use coupon code MAY-LIBRARY to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code MAY-LIBRARY on our website when you check out! We hope these books will be as treasured to you as they are to us!

Have a great rest of the week!
Heart of Dakota

PS: If you’d like a more in-depth look at what using Missions to Modern Marvels looks like in your home, have a look at this article!

Missions to Modern Marvels: A Seventh or Eighth Grade Program with Optional Extensions

How should I handle the English credit for MTMM for 9th grade?

Pondering Placement

Question: My daughter will do MTMM as a 9th grader. I have it all figured out, except how should I handle the English credit?

I’ve been mapping out my 12 year old’s progression through Heart of Dakota. She’s in Resurrection to Reformation now. I am confident using Missions to Modern Marvels for 9th grade, except for the English credit. My daughter reads on grade level, but she has to work extra hard to do so. Until this year, I have read all her history, science, and a read aloud to her, while she read mainly historical fiction novels to herself with questions. This year she is reading most of history herself, science by herself, and the DITHOR books herself! She has a hard time with step-by-step directions, which we are working on. She has been apathetic in the past, not caring and only doing j.u.s.t. what was required of her. I just wondered what my options for English credit for MTMM for 9th grade might be?  Thanks in advance!

Carrie’s Reply:

It sounds like your daughter is making good gains this year in RTR. Looking ahead to MTMM’s English credit, you have several good options. To earn English credit you would need to combine the Rod and Staff English level your student is doing (English 6 is scheduled in MTMM, but is very advanced so we typically use it for 8th graders), plus the composition scheduled in MTMM (which is Write with the Best II – and is definitely high school worthy), plus the literature you choose to do. If you desired to keep the guides intact coming up, you would do Drawn into the Heart of Reading for your literature portion. You could use either the level 7/8 book pack or choose harder selections of your own. Either would work for grade 9. Together the grammar/composition/literature would equal one English credit for grade 9.

Or, you could borrow the literature from the guide ahead for another option.

If you borrow the literature from the guide ahead, the only potential problem is you may at times need to borrow the full English credit. This would be to keep needed balance. For MTMM, you could either use the writing program as written and borrow just the literature from World Geography, or if the composition and grammar from World Geography seemed a better fit than the composition and grammar in MTMM, then you could borrow those from World Geography too.  The following year you would borrow the literature from World History. Depending on what you did for composition and grammar the previous year, we would then decide whether to also borrow the grammar and composition from World History or use what was scheduled in World Geography.

You will want to consider how much your daughter is used to reading on her own each day when you make this decision.

One thing that will make a difference in how you handle literature will be how well your student does in this area and whether she is used to reading quite a volume on her own each day. There is quite a difference in volume between what is read for Drawn into the Heart of Reading and what is read for literature in the World Geography guide.  There is also a difference in level of difficulty, vocabulary, and in the level of literary analysis. So, you have several good options for literature for high school English credit!  Either will be fine, so just choose the one that fits your daughter best!

Blessings,
Carrie

Follow-Up Response from Poster…

Thanks for helping me think this part through! I had two main reasons for switching to HOD. I fearfully decided to switch after 7 years with another curriculum. One was because my girls became very passive in their learning with our previous curriculum/style and the. The second reason was their relationship with the Lord. At 7-1/2 weeks in, I will say that both of my older daughters are not as passive, and they are engaging with the material more with HOD’s teaching! I was skeptical when seeing people rave about HOD, but now that we’ve dipped our feet in, I have become one that raves. Even if it is silently to myself, I am elated with how this is working for us. In fact, the girls beg me to switch totally over to HOD (which we will next year in Rev to Rev). Surprisingly, it’s not because it’s easier. On the contrary, it is much more challenging than before. It leads me to believe that the reason they want more is because they are interested and engaged. Bravo!!

Indomitable: The Faith and Principles of Theodore Roosevelt

History with Heart of Dakota

Who was Theodore Roosevelt?

“The problem with meeting Roosevelt face to face is that you have to go in hating him an awful lot not to come out liking him even more.” – unknown political opponent of Roosevelt’s (Grant 137)

When it comes to American heroes, few accomplished as much as Theodore Roosevelt did in his lifetime. Over nearly 61 years, Theodore Roosevelt…

…the list of his accomplishments goes on and would be worthy of their own blog post. However, today I am going to focus on what fueled all these exploits: Theodore Roosevelt’s indomitable spirit, his principles, and his faith.

An indomitable spirit

“He was forever defying the odds, defying all reason, defying the very physical realities of life in this poor fallen world.” – biographer George Grant (31)

Theodore Roosevelt never had it easy in life. Although many people think of him as being “fit as a Bull Moose,” (Grant 29) as a young boy, he suffered from severe asthma. “I was a sickly, delicate boy,” he would later recall. “[I] suffered much from asthma, and frequently had to be taken away on trips to find a place where I could breathe.” (Grant 32) Concerned that Theodore might live his whole life an invalid, his father told him, “Theodore, you have the mind but you have not the body. And without the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. You must make your body. It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it.” (Grant 34) Theodore’s response was characteristic: “I’ll make my body. By heaven, I will.” (Grant 35)

Principles of a leader

“Right is right and wrong is wrong. Woe be unto the man who shies away from the battle for justice and righteousness simply because the minions of injustice and unrighteousness are arrayed against him.” – Theodore Roosevelt (Grant 113)

One thing that stands out about Theodore Roosevelt is his unflinching dedication to principles. The circumstances of his life varied wildly – from frontiersman to American President. However, the way he conducted his life never changed. He treated each person with genuine interest, regardless of their race or cultural standing. Also, although he believed in peace, he was willing to fight for worthwhile causes. “I abhor unjust war,” he once commented. “I abhor injustice and bullying by the strong at the expense of the weak, whether among nations or individuals. I abhor violence and bloodshed. But it takes strength to put a stop to abhorrent things.” (Grant 129)

Because of his unwillingness to advocate peace at any price, some critics labeled him a “warmonger.” Nonetheless, although Roosevelt built up America’s military might, his two terms as president were “among the most peaceful and harmonious in all of American history.” (Grant 128)

Christian faith

“Walk humbly; you will do so if you study the life and teachings of the Savior, walking in His steps.” – Theodore Roosevelt (Grant 186)

Unlike some historical figures, there is no doubt as to whether or not Theodore Roosevelt was a Christian. He once said, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” (Grant 167) His own life proved this to be correct. The principles he lived by owed their roots to none other than the Bible. For Theodore, the Bible contained truths that deserved to be lived out, whether he was enacting public policy or capturing boat thieves in the Dakota territories. “Every thinking man…” he argued, “realizes that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally impossible for us to figure ourselves what that life would be if these standards were removed.” (Grant 168)

A legacy worth carrying on

“Before a man can discipline other men, he must demonstrate his ability to discipline himself. Before he may be allowed the command of commission, he must evidence command of character. Look then to the work of his hands. Hear the words of his mouth. By his fruit you shall know him.”  – Theodore Roosevelt (Grant 163)

As I studied to write this blog post, I was struck by how practical Roosevelt’s principles still are today. We all have people who look up to us in some way, shape, or form. From Roosevelt’s dedication to leading by example, we can learn how to better influence those people. We all fear failure sometimes. To us, Roosevelt says, “There is no disgrace in a failure, only in a failure to try.” (Grant 142)

Finally, there are times – especially when raising a family – that we feel insignificant when we consider our personal successes. After a lifetime of personal success, Roosevelt tells us, “No other success in life – not being President, or being wealthy, or going to college, or anything else – comes up to the success of the man and woman who can feel that they have done their duty and that their children and grandchildren rise up to call them blessed.” (Grant 91)

In a day and age when relativism and narcissism rules, we would do well to emulate Roosevelt’s solid faith and selflessness. More importantly, Roosevelt’s example should cause us to look up and see the Savior that he so loved. In the end, just as it was with Roosevelt, so it is with us; in Christ alone can we find the strength to live with indomitable greatness.

Which HOD guides can you find Theodore Roosevelt in?

You can find Theodore Roosevelt in several of Heart of Dakota’s guides! He can be found in Little Hearts for His Glory, Missions to Modern Marvels, and US History II. You can also find a more in-depth study of him in George Grant’s excellent book The Courage and Character of Theodore Roosevelt, which students read in the Boy Living Library package in US History II.

Bibliography

Grant, G. The Courage and Character of Theodore Roosevelt. (Cumberland House Publishing Inc., 2005).

 

PS: Want a closer look at Theodore Roosevelt’s childhood and homeschooling? Have a look at this excellent video playlist by Notgrass History