Monday, March 11, 2019

Traveling Back in Time

What would it be like to travel back in time and meet the early presidents and their families? That’s what the fifth graders in George Washington & the Magic Hat and its sequel, John Adams & the Magic Bobblehead, get to do.

Sam and Ava are regular 21st century kids, living across the street from each other in Bethesda, Maryland, dealing with issues a lot of kids face. Sam and his former best friend, Andrew, aren’t speaking to each other any more. Ava, in a newly blended family, can’t stand her stepbrother, J.P.

And then, thanks to a crotchety hat, in Sam’s case, and a talking bobblehead, in Ava’s, they are transported into a completely different time.

Students can focus on the historical figures--George Washington, John and Abigail Adams, and more. What do they know about the Founding Fathers and Mothers? Is there one that they’re particularly interested in and why? What do they think these historical figures would make of today’s world if the time travel were reversed?

And then there are the contemporary issues. How do the students identify with Sam? With Ava? How do the students try to resolve the issues that bother them?

If they had a magic hat or a magic bobblehead, which time period would they like to visit, and why? Is there a particular person they’d like to get to know? 

Any of these questions can prompt a discussion or writing assignment that will get students thinking about history or today’s issues or a combination of both.

Deborah Kalb is a freelance writer and editor. She spent two decades working as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for news organizations including Gannett News Service, Congressional Quarterly, U.S. News & World Report, and The Hill, mostly covering Congress and politics. Her book blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, which she started in 2012, features hundreds of interviews she has conducted with a wide variety of authors. She is the author of the new children’s book The President and Me: John Adams and the Magic Bobblehead (Schiffer, 2018), the second in a series — after The President and Me: George Washington and the Magic Hat (Schiffer, 2016) Visit

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