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Learning American History Through Unit Studies and the American Girl Book Series

When the American Girl dolls first came on the scene, the girls were all historically based, and the books that accompanied them were not only cute stories about the girls themselves but a great overview of the historical time period that the girl was from. Over the years, the American Girl dolls have moved away from the original history-themed dolls, and there are many more modern girls in the series now. But the historical dolls and their accompanying books still offer a great way for girls- and boys as well- to learn about various periods in American history.

Although the dolls didn’t come on the scene until I was in high school, I was a doll lover and soon had several. My favorite was Molly. Not only does she look at little like me with brown hair and glasses, but I’ve also always had an interest in the World War 2 time period- Molly’s time in history. When I learned about the Girls of American History unit study curriculum based on the original American Girl books, I was very interested to have a look at the Molly unit study. I’ve also been covering American history with my younger girls- 10 and 11 year olds- this year, and we happen to be close to the World War 2 time period. I knew they would enjoy a unit study based on the American Girl books.

american girls review

About the Girls of American History Curriculum Series

The Girls of American History series is a series of unit studies based on the historical American Girl book series. There are thirteen units, covering the dolls from Kaya, a Nez Perce Native American girl all the way through Julie, who grows up in 1974. (And yes, I’m a little disturbed by the fact that a historical dolls line has a figure from the year after I was born!) The units in the curriculum series are numbered in the order of the American Girl doll releases, I believe, and not necessarily in historical order. From what we saw in the Molly series, the units are self-contained. So if you were doing a year of American history, you could choose to use the units in historical order.

Each of the units has six weeks of unit study activities. This is because the American girl book series has six books for each girl. So the unit study is set up to read one book each of the six weeks of the study. The unit study activities are multi-sensory, giving children with different learning styles the opportunity to do activities that best suit them.

The site’s Home page has information about how the unit study works and some flexible ideas about how to use the curriculum. It isn’t meant to be an all inclusive unit study curriculum, but you can adapt it to use in the way that best fits with your family and your need. The author emphasizes that, although the curriculum is based on the American Girls series, boys can enjoy it as well. There are some boy characters in the books we’ve read. But I don’t believe my son would enjoy them because they are based off of dolls and feature primarily girls. He has watched a few of the American Girl movies, but I’ve never been able to interest him in the books.

Upon purchase of a Girls of American History unit study, you’ll receive an email with your file and a password that allows access to the resources page on the site. The unit studies each have a list of required resources and suggested resources. The unit study file contains a suggested six week schedule for using the books and includes some ideas for crafts, field trips and cooking activities.

About the Molly-World War 2 Unit

We received the Molly unit study, and I began looking at how I would use this with my girls. The six week suggested schedule referenced crafts and other resources listed on the site. I logged into the password protected resources page for the Molly unit to see what resources we would use to do the suggested activities.

Within the craft resources section, there were a few broken links. There is a note from the author that says she can be contacted about any broken links, so I can notify her. With the working links, there are some fun crafts that we can make when those are suggested on the schedule- planting a garden like Molly’s victory garden, making a model airplane, and ways to recycle and compost. Some of the links- such as the model airplane- are for kits that need to be purchased.

girls of american history resources

After the crafts resource section, there is a section of suggested books. In addition to the basic series of six books which you’ll definitely need for the unit study, there are a host of suggested books, including the Molly’s Craft Book and Molly’s Cook Book, drawing books that have lessons for drawing from historical time periods, an American Girls mystery series based on Molly, and a variety of other books based in the time period. The author notes that some of these books are now out of print. There are links to purchase all of them- new or used- from Amazon or other sites.

girls of american history books

Included in the resource section is also a compilation of field trip ideas that will coordinate with the Molly books. There were a few links that allow you to search for trips closer to your area and then a few links to specific sites and museums throughout the US.

The resource also contains links to purchase all of the Molly books, including the mystery series, the mini Molly doll and book set, other Molly-themed books, and the Molly movies.

At the end of the resource page, you can find a few lapbooking resources. The six week unit study plan suggests time for working on a lapbook on some of the days. At the bottom of the resource page is a link to a free Homeschool Share lapbook, basic lap booking information, and an Amazon link to purchase the Knowledge Box Molly lapbook.

What I Think

If you have girls who are fans of the American Girl dolls, this could be a great way to get them interested in history. Reading through the basic set of six books and doing some of the extension ideas suggested would be a good supplement to an American history study. Kids who love hands-on crafts and cooking and field trips will especially enjoy some of these ideas.

You could probably take the time to hunt up most of these links and resources on your own, but there is often value in having things laid out and easily referenced. It saves me time and keeps me from jumping on the computer to look for “one little idea” and emerging two hours later having found that one idea, pinned forty crockpot recipes, checked Facebook for thirty minutes, and posted ten pictures to Instagram. Now I have those ideas laid out for me, and I can pick out an idea quickly as we read through the books.

I was a little disappointed at the fact that most of the resource links were links to something I would have to pay for. There were a few working craft links, the field trip links, and the Homeschool Share lapbook. But it seemed as if the rest were all things I would have to pay extra to use. Some of the Molly books could probably be requested through the library. I know our library doesn’t have even all of the basic American Girl books, but I may be able to request some of these through interlibrary loan.

All in all, if you have an American Girl doll fan, you may want to look at these unit studies as you’re covering American history. It’s a quick way to find some suggested ideas and resources for using the American Girl books as you move through history.

You can find the Girls of American History unit studies here. The site also has some samples, so you can get a better idea of what the digital download will include.

 

Girls of American History Giveaway

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Leah (15 Posts)

Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. Her days are filled with being a mom, homemaker, and teacher. In her (very rare) free time, she enjoys blogging, reading, and reviewing books and curricula. These days she’s learning the joys of being a mom of teens. You can read about her family and homeschooling life at As We Walk Along the Road.


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The Crossmaker Ultimate Gift Set Giveaway from See the Light

Easter falls on March 27th this year and our friends at See the Light want to help you celebrate with art in your homeschool lessons. They are generously offering a giveaway of The Crossmaker Ultimate Gift Set to one of our readers!

The Crossmaker Ultimate Gift Set from See the Light art giveaway at hsbapost.com

About The Crossmaker Ultimate Gift Set

The Crossmaker ULTIMATE GIFT SET Includes:

The Crossmaker DVD (150 mins), the CD of Music from the DVD The Crossmaker, featuring 11 tracks plus 2 bonus audio stories. You not only get the complete story of “The Crossmaker”, but also the story of “Jesus Loves The Children”.

Also included in The Crossmaker ULTIMATE GIFT SET is a pocket Size – 6 inch See the Light Black Light (batteries included), eXtreme Colored Pencils, and Fluorescent Chalk.

With this set you not only enjoy drawing the pictures with the “POP” of the black light, but you’ll also enjoy the wonderful music from “The Crossmaker” CD and be able to listen to the Radio Theater Bible stories whether in your home or on the road!

150 minutes of Easter Content! Spanish Language Tracks Included!

The Easter Story – The Crossmaker (16 minutes)

Dominic, the son of a carpenter, finds himself drawn into the unforgettable trial of the man called Jesus. Share in this amazing adventure that takes Dominic from Christ’s crucifixion to a place of redemption, and a face-to-face meeting with the risen Christ. See The Light chalk artist Gloria Kohlmann draws her stunning interpretation of the Easter story.

Art Lessons –

GLORY! See The Light artist Heidi Shorts teaches the art of Creative Lettering (28 minutes)

He is Not Here! He is Risen! See the Light Master Art Teacher Pat Knepley leads budding young artists in a step-by step drawing lesson using chalk pastels. Plus, create your own black light reveal! (32 minutes)

Three Crosses on a Hill See the Light’s Jim Pence gives a water color tutorial as young artists discover The Joy of Art. (25 minutes)

Bonus Features!

– Revel in original contemporary music performed by “Breathing Room” recording artists Jan Roper and Kevin Dukes while watching Gloria Kohlmann draw her remarkable art expression of the Easter story.

– Watch and Hear the Plan of Salvation, clearly and creatively presented as you have never seen it. (7 minutes)

– Hear See The Light chalk artist Gloria Kohlmann’s commentary as you watch the Easter scene being created.

– Meet the See The Light team.

The Crossmaker Ultimate Gift Set Giveaway

Enter in the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win! U.S. and Canada only, please.

 
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Sara (141 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.


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Learn Multiplication Facts with Times Tales

 

One of the best advantages of homeschooling is the freedom to choose which resources work best for our children on an individual basis. The ability to tailor their education to their learning style creates a recipe for success and encourages the eagerness to learn. Even in subjects we don’t particularly like, such as math.

I recently had the opportunity to review Times Tales from Trigger Memory Systems. It’s a math video designed to help kids memorize the upper multiplication tables.

Memorize multiplication facts with Times Tales DVD and printables. hsbapost.com

Learn Multiplication Facts with Times Tales

I had been researching Times Tales because I thought it would be a good fit for my 8-year-old daughter, who happens to be on the autism spectrum. She learns well with visual cues and the repetitive nature of multiplication facts lends itself to the style of this video.

For the last decade Times Tales has received hundreds of positive reviews from bloggers, teachers, and parents who have tried their products and found them to be successful for their children, even after other programs that claimed to work had failed. Times Tales is backed by a 30-day money back guarantee as well.

How It Works

We received the digital download of Times Tales for the purpose of our review. It was a simple process to download the video (MP4) and printable files (pdf) to my computer.

Times Tales is broken down into two video parts. Part 1 covers upper multiplication facts of 3 and 4, while Part 2 covers upper multiplication facts of 6 to 9. The facts covered are:

3×6,3×7,3×8,3×9,4×6,4×7,4×8,4×9,6×6,6×7,6×8,6×9,
7×7,7×8,7×9,8×8,8×9,9×9

It is recommended that you wait one week in between watching the two parts, using that week to do the printable worksheets and flashcards to reinforce the learning.

Each video part is broken into the following steps:

  1. Meet the Characters
  2. Learn the Stories
  3. Story Quiz
  4. You’re the Storyteller
  5. Practice Flashcards
  6. Flashcards
  7. Written Test

The animations are basic line drawings with little color or motion, but this allows the students to focus on the numbers and facts, rather than distracting cartoons.

The characters of Times Tales are numbers in disguise. The stories use these number characters in combination in order to remember the multiplication facts. If you’d like to see it in action, check out their sample video on YouTube. It’s a great way to get a little bit of extra information on how the videos work and to introduce it to your kids before making a purchase.

All three of my daughters (13, 8, and 6) sat down together to watch the video with me. My oldest already knows her math facts, but she thought the memory triggers used in the stories were clever. My two youngest were quickly picking up facts after watching it just once. They were able to follow along with the video quizzes and accurately retell the stories. When it came to the flashcards with just the numbers rather than the character illustrations, their speed did slow down and they missed one or two of the facts. With repetition, they were able to get the answers 100% by the second and third viewing. They wanted to move right on to Part 2, but I wanted to wait a week as recommended. They were glad to work on the printables, which include flashcards and a crossword puzzle.

After about two weeks, the girls still remember the Times Tales stories and ask to watch the videos again. They have successfully learned the facts, but they have not gained speed with them yet. When we go over the facts, they have to think a minute to remember the story in order to get the correct answer. I am glad to trade speed for accuracy, however. I think speed will increase with time and as long as they remember the stories, they won’t be guessing at the correct answer.

I recommend Times Tales for kids who learn well visually and who are struggling with remembering their times tables. Trying this technique might do the trick and save frustration for everyone!

Connect with Times Tales on Facebook so you can stay in the loop with all the latest news.

 

Disclosure: I received a free digital download of Times Tales for the purpose of review. I was compensated for my time to write the review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Sara (141 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.


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