Action figures for learning about history? That’s exactly what Figures in Motion has created. Rather than three-dimensional plastic figures, these are two-dimensional cardstock figures with movable parts connected with either small metal (1/8”) brads or eyelets. Perhaps the most fun for children will be cutting out and constructing each figure! This is not a difficult process since it requires cutting, punching holes in the designated spots, and inserting brads. Figures in Motion sells a Punch and Fastener Pack that has the unusual size, long-reach punch and brads; I would recommend this Pack since these are likely not easy to find in your local store. Two versions of each figure are included: one in full color and the other in black-and-white for children who like to prefer to color figures themselves. Figures appear in authentic period costumes and are about 11 to 12 inches tall when finished.
Five books in the historical series are available. Figures in Motion also publishes Dinosaurs on the Move book with ten dinosaurs to construct. The books with historical figures each include brief biographies of each figure along with instructions and suggestions as to how you might use them. Historical figure books and their descriptions follow.
Famous Figures of Ancient Times
Twenty figures have been selected from the hundreds or more that might have been chosen. A few are generic rather than naming a specific person: a Greek Hoplite (citizen warrior) and Hannibal’s Elephant (representative of the thirty-seven elephants Hannibal brought with him for his invasion against the Romans). Other characters range far in distance and time: Narmer, Khufu, Sargon the Great, Hammurabi, Moses, King David, Ashurbanipal, Nebuchadnezzar II, Cyrus the Great, Qin Shi Huangdi, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, Jesus, Constantine, and Augustine. The newest printing of Famous Figures of Ancient Times adds Queen Hatshepsut. Note that a significant number of these characters might also be used for Bible history. Famous Figures of Ancient Times works well as an accompaniment to Story of the World Volume 1 and Mystery of History Volume 1.
Famous Figures of Medieval Times
There are ten figures in the Medieval Times book: Justinian I, Theodora, Charlemagne, Leif Eriksson, William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, Genghis Khan, Francis of Assisi, Marco Polo, and Joan of Arc. Note again that some religious figures are included. This book, as well as the American Revolution book, includes lists of recommended reading. Many recommendations are individual biographies but Famous Figures of Medieval Times also covers characters covered in Mystery of History Volume 2 and Story of the World Volume 2.
Famous Figures of the Renaissance
The ten figures in Famous Figures of the Renaissance are Johannes Gutenberg, Christopher Columbus, Queen Isabella I, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Martin Luther, King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, and Galileo Galilei..
Famous Figures of the American Revolution
Again we have ten figures in Figures of the American Revolution. There is one generic figure, a Soldier of the Continental Army. The other nine characters are Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, Daniel Boone, George Washington, John Adams, Molly Pitcher, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, and Thomas Jefferson.
Famous Figures of the Civil War
This book features figures for Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Frederick Douglass, a confederate soldier, and a union soldier.
These are a great idea and should be a useful hands-on element to add to history studies. One drawback is that the books are relatively expensive for the number of figures per book because they are printed on cardstock in full color. The copyright page prohibits photocopying, but the publisher informed me that "we do grant families (not classrooms or co-ops) the ability to copy figures for any of their children at home, and it may be requested through email, telephone, or snail mail (all the contact information is on the copyright page)." This policy then makes the books practical for families to use.