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The School House Rocks videos are a useful and different way to review some major events and themes covered during a U.S. History course. (It also might be useful to show these just before a final exam or state assessment.) The clips are short and can be covered in a relatively short amount of class time.
Prior to watching, students can complete a viewing sheet to access their prior knowledge. At the end of each segment, have a class discussion on the themes associated with each cartoon. The cartoons also can be show individually during the point of the year that you cover a particular topic.
Prior to watching the Elbow Room video, ask the students to select 4 terms / people and write as much as they know about each: Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, Manifest Destiny, The Gold Rush, railroads, and Westward expansion.
For additional School House Rocks resources click here!
School Tube Link
YouTube Link
Lyrics to Elbow Room :
One thing you will discover
When you get next to one another
Is everybody needs some elbow room, elbow room
It’s nice when you’re kinda cozy, but
Not when you’re tangled nose to nosey, oh
Everybody needs some elbow, needs a little elbow room
That’s how it was in the early days of the U.S.A.
The people kept coming to settle though
The east was the only place there was to go
The president was Thomas Jefferson
He made a deal with Napoleon
How’d you like to sell a mile or two
(Or three, or a hundred, or a thousand?)
And so, in 1803 the Louisiana Territory was sold to us
Without a fuss
And gave us lots of elbow room
Oh, elbow room, elbow room
Got to, got to get us some elbow room
It’s the west or bust
In God we trust
There’s a new land out there
Lewis and Clark volunteered to go
Goodbye, good luck, wear your overcoat!
They prepared for good times and for bad (and for bad)
They hired Sacagawea to be their guide
She led them all across the countryside
Reached the coast
And found the most
Elbow room we’ve ever had
The way was opened up for folks with bravery
There were plenty of fights
To win land rights
But the West was meant to be
It was our Manifest Destiny!
The trappers, traders, and the peddlers
The politicians, and the settlers
They got there by any way they could (any way they could)
The Gold Rush trampled down the wilderness
The railroads spread across from east to west
And soon the West was opened up for – opened up for good
And now we jet from east to west
Goodbye New York, hello L.A.
But it took those early folks to open up the way
Now we’ve got a lot of room to be
Growing from sea to shining sea
Guess that we have got our elbow room (elbow room)
But if there should ever come a time
When we’re crowded up together
I’m sure we’ll find some elbow room . . . up on the moon!
Oh, elbow room, elbow room
Got to, got to get us some elbow room
It’s the moon or bust
In God we trust
There’s a new land up there!
[ These are Elbow Room Lyrics on ]