This is the last couple of years that the girls will be my primary focus on history. In the following years Brother will begin to take interest (although he does follow along with us a LOT in these lessons!) and I will construct it around him as well. Since its basically about my girls the next two years, I thought I would focus on American History, using the American Girls as my supplement. I'm as excited about this as they are! I'm taking American Girls and using their time periods as my focal points, as we go along through American History chronologically. We are not using all the books and we are using a lot more than just American girls, so I thought it would be interesting to share our lesson plans for those who have similar ideas!
The history book that I originally chose was the History of US by Joy Hakim.
I have heard mixed reviews of this series. Some LOVE it, and believe it is the best history series.. easy to read and understand, and not boring. It's also used in conjunction with the Sonlight curriculum, so it seems like a good choice. Some reviews mention that she downplays religion and makes remarks that are offensive. So far, I've been okay with it. I am not using it as the girls reading however, I am using it for my own personal study so that I can teach from it. I will occasionally make Bella a worksheet to go through with one of the lessons, and in the future will be making her some more independent work using the text, but its excellent for my own personal studies. Lets face it, its been a long time since I've had a US History lesson.. I graduated from College 8 years ago (yikes.... ) so.. I'm obviously in need of brushing up. However I LOVE history, its always been my favorite, so I don't mind at all!
It worked great with early history, especially the first book. I went through how the United States came to be, through the first chapters. The girls really enjoyed it and it really breathed light into where people came from, and although it was not a biblically based history lesson, it was easy for them to understand that the people came here from the middle east... they enjoyed learning about the eskimos and the different Indian tribes. It was really neat since our science lesson was focusing on the Ice Age. It tied in together nicely learning about the earths formations and how people gradually discovered America, as well as how all the countries once fit together like a puzzle. Its neat to see them begin to fit the pieces together, and I believe that this will be an awesome way for them to begin to understand the world we live in!
We began our American History lesson with the American Girl named Kaya. Sister certainly LOVED Kaya. She's a spry Indian girl who loves her horse, so that already got Sister's interest!
During our Native American study we only got through the first book in the Kaya series, but Sister was hooked, so she may see Kaya's books again under the tree in a few days ;-) The books are full of history, and we loved it. Brother thought learning about the whipwoman who spanked all the children when one did something bad was too funny. We read Kaya at night before bed, so it seemed more like something enjoyable than learning.
Sister also did a project on the Appaloosa horses. We learned what a big difference horses made in the lives of the native Americans, how they made them able to travel, made hunting easier, and made them able to move longer distances. We also learned about the fact that horses made it easier for others to travel to them, bringing settlers and disease, which was an adverse affect. Naturally, she loved learning about Steps High and his breed, and about horses and how they came to be useful to the Native Americans.
Although they loved Kaya, I believe our favorite book that we read during our Native American study was The Birchbark House, by Louise Erdrich.
I found this book recommended on a home school website, and I'm SO thankful that we did! The book immediately hooked the kiddos because Omakaya's family was a reflection of our own! Omakaya is a spirited 8-year old who loves animals with all her heart. She has an older sister named Angeline, a little brother named Pinch who is closer to her age and a lot like her own Huddy.. then she has a baby brother named Neewo. We absolutely LOVED this book. It was very emotional. At one point in the reading I started crying, so I had to hand the book over to Bella to catch my breath, and it was difficult for her to read as well. We became very attached to this little family, and looked so forward to reading this book each day.
The Birchbark House is a little further down the line in history than Kaya. They are in present day Lake Superior. Kaya's story is largely before the settlers came, whereas they are present in the Birchbark house. The Birchbark house also focuses on some diseases that were brought to the Native Americans by the setters, and how it effected the Native Americans *TEARS!* It is full of Native American language and traditions... it was an excellent reference book and the girls really felt like they were close to this family, and a part of their world.
The Birchbark house does go into spritual practices of Native Americans, and although some home school families feel it best to steer away from this, I think its significant for the kids to learn that not everyone belives the way that they do. I don't believe it will effect them and make them begin to believe in Native American spirits over God... I took other religion classes in college and if anything else it made my beliefs stronger... so if you are one of those who avoid that, I would not recommend this book. If you are okay with it though, this is one of the best books I've ever read, and I'm so glad that I got to share it with my family! Brother loved this book as well, he talks about Omakayas all the time, and Pinch cracked him up.
During our studies, I had each of them choose an Indian Tribe that they could focus on. Sister chose the Nez Perce tribe, which is the tribe that Kaya comes from. Bella chose a local tribe, the Cherokee. They each spent a few days researching each of their tribes so that they could get a close look into their lives. Sister spent a great deal of time researching Appaloosas during this time, because they were significant to the Nez Perce. They listened to chants and dances from the tribes, studied legends that were significant to each tribe, and drew pictures of clothing and homes from this tribe. We checked out several new books from the library for this study.
Our trip to the library turned out to be an awesome experience. We had been before, but mostly just checking out books that they found randomly. This time, we had a mission and the girls began to learn how to use the card catalog system (which is online now of course...) We went on a Wednesday so they had story and craft time, (which Brother enjoyed) so the girls and I checked out the catalog so they could each select books to study their Indian tribes, as well as Indians in general. This will be very helpful in the future when we make our library trips to have two more hands helping me pick out books!
The kids have gone crazy over the Eyewitness book series by David S. Murdoch. So far we've checked out Dogs, Titanic, Music... and the latest is the North American Indian book. Its full of pictures of artifacts, houses, clothing.. lots of great information.
One of Bella's choices was If you lived with the Cherokee, by Connie and Peter Roop. It as a neat illustrated book about everyday life.
Somehow we have this one at our house, lol. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, by Tomie dePoala.
We ended up with a LOT more books, however... the day after we returned from the library with all of our books, actually the moment after I printed out the paper for their final project on Native Americans, I walked outside to go to the laundry room when I heard water running. A pipe had busted. I called my husband who called our maintenance, and both he and the real estate agency we were renting from came to our house. We found out that the home we were renting was actually supposed to be a summer rental, and should not have been lived in during the winter. We found out that most of the pipes had busted due to the winter storm, and that there as no fixing it. So we had to move :( Our lesson was postponed for two weeks as we moved, and several books had to be returned to the library so not to get lost in the move. However, God provided and within two days he not only had a new home for us to move into, but a better one at that. In two weeks we were settled in our new home which we absolutely loved, and beginning again on our chapter.. yet I still don't have the full list of books for you, but perhaps if you are following, you can find some on your own that fit!
I found SEVERAL worksheets and especially Power Point presentations on Native Americans on Teachers Pay Teachers especially for the girls individual lessons. We found one that had the songs by the Indians, the girls really enjoyed that! They were all free as well! Love this website...
Lastly, we studied Christopher Columbus. There's an excellent chapter about him in the Joy Hakim history book! We also found a video on Discovery Education. Just search for him there.
Our Final Project
For our final project, I purchased two of the folders that have the three rings in the middle to hold papers so they could make a final Native American book. This is what they were to include in the book:
Part I: History
1. How did the Indians come to America?
2. Write a short Essay on Columbus, how he came to America, what he was looking for, what he actually found, and why he called the Native American's "Indians".
3. Some Native Americans lived in something called a Longhouse. What was this? Imagine you and your present day family were Indians, and lived in a Longhouse. Who would live there? Make a journal entry to answer these questions.
Part II: Kaya
1. What was the name of Kaya's Indian tribe?
2. What part of North America was Kaya's tribe located?
3. Who were the members of her family?
4. What was a significant part of the story that you remember?
5. Did you enjoy the book? What parts did you enjoy/not enjoy the most?
Part III: The BirchBark House
1. Imagine you are Omakayas. Write a letter to your cousin from another tribe, telling her about your year that you have just experienced. The year that we just read about in the book.
2. For part two, Bella did some worksheets that we printed from teachers pay teachers, so she could have some extra work. One was a compare/contrast worksheet on My Home vs a BirchBark Wigwam. The other was a basic worksheet for a book report. In the future I plan to create my own worksheets for her to do 'extra' work, but with the move, I didn't have time, so I borrowed another! Search for BirchBark House on the website!
Part IV: Your Indian Tribe
(Sister chose Nez Perce, and Bella chose Cherokee)
1. Create an imaginary family from the Indian tribe that you have chosen. Include the following (And drawings of the following)
a. Names of the family members
b. How they dressed
c. What their home looked like
d. Something significant to your tribe that is not shared by others (Bella did the 7 clans of the Cherokee, Sister did Apaloosas. They were probably used by other tribes, but I allowed her to do this because she studied so much on it!)
2. Write a journal entry of "A day in the life.." of a member of your Indian family. Include all of the activities that they did throughout the day.
3. Write an Indian legend from your tribe (Bella chose the Legend of the Two wolves.. one of my favorites)
4. Google images of Native American artwork. Reproduce 3 pieces of Artwork. (This was their favorite part!)
Finally, they presented their projects to me and their Dad. He gave them both As on their projects. They really enjoyed this Lesson and are eagerly anticipating the next! We continue onward to Felicity and the early colonists, and how America became a free land! And what happened to the Indians when that happened, since they feel personally attached to them now. I'm loving this history lesson, and feel free to follow along if you're interested! I'll keep you updated!!
Also, feel free to follow my home school board on Pinterest! http://www.pinterest.com/stacyduncan/homeschool/
I can't imagine home schooling before Pinterest! LOL!