Saturday, March 23, 2013

A is for... American History

You might already know that I love teaching and learning history, and that this year we've been studying American history. I've been blogging about our history studies all along, but here are a few of the highlights so far.

We had a peaceful Boston tea party, complete with a costume for Kennady.

We enjoyed a family field trip to Philadelphia, where we saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.


Not long after we learned about the importance of canals in early America, we took a field trip to the C & O Canal Park.

We learned about the building of the railroad.

We had a 1930s inspired Family Game Night.

After learning about Shirley Temple, Kennady watched a couple of Shirley Temple movies!

Our most recent family theme night was a vintage Route 66 Diner style dinner!
Photo     Photo

We've been learning about the 1950s this week - wonder what we'll come up with next?

Our textbook set is the middle school curriculum package from Notgrass called America the Beautiful. I chose this at least a year ago, because we'd been so happy with the high school curriculum from Notgrass.


We read the textbook together, and Landon and Kennady each have the Lesson Review book, which has comprehension questions for each lesson and for the novels suggested. We haven't read all the novels, but have picked out some along the way. We have chosen not to do the Creative Writing or Bible lessons in the text. There is also a map book and a timeline that we do use. I think some of the map work is too simple for my sixth and eighth grade students, but it doesn't take much time so I like it from that perspective.  I have the Map Trek book from Knowledge Quest, so I often use maps from that in addition. One of the things I like about the text is that it regularly highlights America's National Parks. Whenever we learn about a National Park, the kids also have notebooking pages to go along with those. The text does a great job of telling the story of American history, and when it comes to the politicians, I think it has been very fair in portraying both the good and the not so good aspects of the different administrations and policies, and has given a balanced look at the conflicts and wars in our history. I truly appreciate the biographies of history-makers who were principled and people of integrity, and how the faith of the presidents and other major players is emphasized. Overall though, I think this text would be better for fifth and sixth graders than for eighth graders. Landon hasn't complained, but as I said, I think the map work is too simple. Also, I find that the effort to close each lesson with a Scripture becomes a bit forced in many cases. Although some of our activities have been inspired by the Family Activity Ideas presented in the text, many of the things in the text struck me as being more suitable for younger children than for my middle schoolers. 

Please visit Ben and Me: A is for Alligator to join in and to see what thoughts this week's letter has prompted for other bloggers.
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Charlotte said...

How fun! This makes me so wish I could take my kids to the east coast, but I am on the west coast and it just isn't going to happen. In our co-op we used the Notgrass book, which we all really liked. We just finished modern history and have started back at the beginning with creation. :-)

Great photos! :-)

kewkew said...

That sounds like a great curriculum, though it is a bit in the future for us as my oldest is in Kindergarten. I love the costume by the way.
I went to Philadelphia in 5th grade. Loved it. We live in PA now and I can't wait until the children are older to take them to such places.
Love the idea of the theme dinner too.
So many great ideas for American History!
Just stopping by from Blogging Through the Alphabet! Have a great day. Glad I wasn't the only one to wait until Saturday to link up.

Stacie said...

I love how creative you get to give your kids a hands on experience! This sounds like a great curriculum.

Lindsey Clair said...

What a fun educational experience. How exciting! So creative. Would love to do this with my kids......

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