Category Archives: Free Unit Studies

great books for us history

Planning
to study
US History this year?  


Looking for some great books to make all the people, places, and events come ALIVE ?!?
Here are some of my favorite books for early US History all in one place.    

The lists are compatible with the American Girl History Units, but there are also LOTS of other great history books NOT related to the American Girls …never fear fellows !  
Check back from time to time, I’m always adding to the lists.

As always, it would be AWESOME  if you’re going to purchase any of the books (or anything on Amazon at all) , if you could do it through these links.   T
here is NO extra charge to you whatsoever, and I get a small percentage for any items you purchase which helps me to keep posting all my units for free.  

Also, be sure to follow my American Girl Pages on Pinterest for all kinds of additional printables, recipes, activities, crafts, etc…
(There’s lots of non-AG ideas too !!) 

**I usually pin new fun finds to these boards at least several times a week!

HAPPY PLANNING !!!

civil war great books

 

 

 

* Civil War Reading List

 

 

pioneer unit reading list

 

 

 

*Pioneer America Reading List

 

 

Frontier Unit Study Book List

 

*America’s Southwest
Frontier Reading List  

colonial america unit book list

 

 

 

 *Colonial America
Reading List

 

 

native americans unit reading list

 

 

*Native America    

 

 

 

photo by: Wonderlane


summer school ideas
Can you believe it ?!?   It’s almost the end of May !!

And summer is stirring!
I’m already dreaming of grilling hamburgers and enjoying big slices of
juicy watermelon !


Summertime and the livin’ is easy !

Or at least it should be 🙂
No matter if we are year round homeschoolers or not, after several weeks of vacation from the daily routine, it’s good to have a little plan for the week.
See how little the plan is ?!

COME BACK !!   Don’t run away!  
I promise these FUN ideas won’t take much (if any) real planning, and will only add to the easy, carefree days that we all look forward to.

So here we go… 10 GREAT Ideas for
“Summer School” !

1.  Get Outside !
* Try something new like Geocahing !   You can get started HERE.
* Pick a day and hold a Family Olympics
* 32 Best Backyard Games
* Backyard Treasure Hunt:  Minecraft Style

* Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
   If you love scavenger hunts here’s a great list of some more ideas !
*
50 Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids

(Print this list out…hang it on the fridge…never hear  “I’m Bored!”
this summer !)
* 50 Outdoor Games to DIY This Summer
(Possibly my FAVORITE ideas!  Great for kids of ALL ages !)

2.  Get Wet !  
* Water Obstacle Course  
* 17 Outrageously Fun Water Activities
* 75 Water Activities
* Fun Games to Play with Water 
* Play a game of Water Ball
* Water Gun Painting
* 25 Fun Ice Ideas for the Summer 

3.  Get Creative !
* Write a play and preform it for family & friends !
OR film your own movie
and invite the neighbors for the premier night !

* Try making a family scrapbook together or a simple family tree !
* Build a fairy garden together.
* Try Art Journals and if you need some GREAT ideas to begin, click HERE
* Get crafty with The Crafty Crow !

4. Get Giving !
* Host a Food Drive…Step by step how-to
* Make some Birthday Boxes  or some Blessing Bags
* Share some love with your Neighbors  (new twist on lemonade stand)
* Don’t forget the Elderly… 20 Ideas to Share 
* 100 Acts of Kindness for Kids  (and everyone else !!)
* 20 Unique Ideas for Summer Service Projects  

5.  Get Messy !
* Family Fun Night Messy !
* 20 Messy Outdoor Play Ideas
* Play Fun Foam Twister
* Color Spray T’s
* Get SLIMED !

6. Get Moving !
* DIY American Ninja Warrior Backyard Obstacle Course
* 12 Sports to Play with Pool Noodles  (No pool required)
* 35 Active Things to Do This Summer
* DIY Get Moving Game
* Fun YouTube Dances For Kids to Learn
* 10 Variations to the Game of Catch

7.  Get Away ! 
Whether you’re just kicking around your own town or city, taking a road trip, or jetting across the ocean to spend a week in Tahiti (I can dream!), summer is a time to EXPLORE !

* Free Fun at Local Retail Stores
(We’ve participated in the kids clubs at several of these stores and it has always been LOTS of fun!!  )
Here’s a few ideas:
Apple Kids Summer Programs
Microsoft Free Events for Kids
Lowe’s Build & Grow
Home Depot Weekly Workshops for Kids

* Going on a road trip this summer?  Maybe to one of America’s amazing National Parks ?
* National Parks Junior Ranger Programs  
* Printable Road Trip Games
* And some games for the big kids too ! 

* Funny post to keep you laughing if you’re on a road trip…and some super fun ideas for the kiddos!

* And if you’re lucky enough to be flying to Tahiti or some other wonderful place, check out this fantastic travel blog Word Traveling!  Written with homeschool families in mind, but good for anyone who loves to travel!

8. Get Reading !

* Barnes & Nobles Summer Reading Triathalon 
* Book Notes  (just because I thought this was awesome)
* Expand your reading borders and try the
 2016 Summer Reading Challenge
* Choose and read a book as a family.
Then watch the 
movie …make it a special themed night… you could cook related foods, play music as per the setting, or even dress up as some of the characters !!
* Reading Scavenger Hunt
* Start a Summer Book Club for Kids  

9. Get Cooking !
* Plan a Backyard Camping Trip….complete with COOKING !
* Try cooking a new meal together from a different country…
   HERE and HERE are some ideas to get started
* 10 Summer Snacks for Kids to Make
* Take a CHILL and make some icy snacks !
* Summer Themed Snacks 

10. Get Growing !
* 25 Things You Can Grow From Your Kitchen Scraps  
* Start small and plant an Herb Garden
* Creative Gardens For Kids !
* 10 Unique Gardening Activities for Kids
* Make your own garden markers and watch the beauty grow !

Wishing you all a summer FULL of daisy days !!
I’d love to hear your ideas too !  

Comments are always welcome !

****Christmas School****

Christmas School Fun***
Hello Friends!
It’s been awhile…

Is it already November?
The warmth and joy of the holidays are just beginning to stir in our home.
The Christmas music is playing, the candles are flickering, the first baking has begun.  

I’m sipping some hot, spicy tea and making lists.  
This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  Does that sound odd?
The week before Thanksgiving is kind of the calm before the storm.  
It’s a lovely week to me.   There’s still time to sit and reflect, and make preparations for all the sweet memories yet to be made in the swirl of the next month. 

When my children were small, this was a time I also spent planning what we called Christmas school.   With just a bit of organization, this became their favorite kind of “school”… I was happy and much less stressed about getting it “all” done…. and best of all, “Christmas school” gave us some of the very best memories of our lives.

Like the year we were studying Ancient Egypt just before Thanksgiving.
It was my very first time hosting Thanksgiving at my home.  I had three littles, including a newborn, and a collection of  in-laws and outlaws, and neighbors and friends….and I had pulled it off.

We were all happily eating and chatting and I, mostly zoning out from thankfulness that the turkey was edible, and from sheer exhaustion, was happily oblivious of how long my 4 year old had “excused”  himself from the table.
Just as the thought of it crossed my mind I heard moaning coming from the nearby “powder room”.   But the thought popped in too late.

I’m blaming the tryptophan.

Before I could move,  he came bursting into the dining room stark naked and wrapped up from head to toe with who knows how many rolls of toilet paper.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM…….I’m a mummmmmmmmy !!!!

Thirty people.  Dead silence.
Shocked grandparents didn’t know what to make of the display.
Then a few grabbed their cameras, thank goodness, and this memory lives on and is retold every single year, much to my now 22 year old’s son’s chagrin.

Yes.
We are homeschoolers.
School has a way of integrating into every part of our lives !!

ANYWHO,  onto a much safer theme of American History (sans MUMMIES!)  and onto Christmas school, haha.

If baking is on your list that needs to be done, why not be learning what Swedish immigrants were baking up in their holiday kitchens, buy some cardamon and bake on….if ornaments are to be made, why not find out what ornaments in Colonial Williamsburg looked like, and try making your own… and if you need a creative way to focus your families hearts and minds on Christ, how about opening your home and gathering your friends together for a Las Posadas celebration ?

CHRISTMAS SCHOOL IS SO FUN !!!!
And just think of the great family memories that your kiddos might make.  lol


There’s tons of great units, lesson plans, activities, and other ideas out there to use if you don’t have the inclination to plan it all out right now.
If you’ve been working your way through the American Girl History Units on this site, or just think the idea of Christmas school sounds like fun, you might like to check out my Pinterest boards  (I’m still adding to them daily!)
I will eventually write these into actual units, but for now, click away and ENJOY !

*Felicity’s Christmas-  An American Girl Colonial Christmas

*Josefina’s Christmas-  An American Girl  Southwestern Christmas

*Kirsten’s Christmas-  An American Girl Pioneer Christmas

Also, you may like to check out some of the fun books and movies to go along with these!


photo by:

American Girl Kirsten-
Pioneer Unit Study

Kirsten Pioneer Unit Study

Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854:
Growing up on America’s Frontier

 


* Core Reading-


*Week 1: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854
Kristen’s Journey to America

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 1-3, 40-41                     (Meet Kirsten in Sweden)
2.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 4-7                                   (Journey to America )
3.   “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 8-11                               (Go West ! )
4. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 12-13                               (Home on the Prairie)
Pioneers
5.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 14-15, 24-25                (Home on the Prairie )
Native Americans

*Week 2: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″
A Day With Kirsten

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 22-23, 26-27                 (Daily Life)
2.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 16-17; 32-35                (Fun & Games for Everyone! ) 3.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 18-21                              (Love & Marriage )
4.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 36-39                              (Fashion)
5. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 30-31; 49 (inset)          (Medicine )

*Week 3: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854”
Friends and Foes on the Prairie

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 44-45                                     (Around Town)
2. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 42-43; 46-47                        (Kirsten’s Neighbors)
3.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 48-55                                    (The Dakota Conflict)
4.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 48-55                                    (Conflicts Continue)
5. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 56-58                                     (The Great Land Rush)

Continue reading American Girl Kirsten- Pioneer America Unit Study

~ A Christmas Carol~
(Mini Unit Study)
God Bless Us Everyone

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
If you’ve never tried a unit study before,
this busy time of year might be a good time to give it a try !
Simple learning ideas for stress free
and FUN holiday homeschooling !
So that there’s lots of time for baking cookies, going to plays, homemade presents, and hopefully,
even a bit of quiet time to soak in the awe of the advent !

 

  A Christmas Carol

*Reading Suggestions-

*Week 1:  ‘A Christmas Carol’

A Christmas Carol”  (Gutenburg Version)
“A Christmas Carol”  (Easy to Read Version…Larger Print)
This piece is divided into 5 staves, perfect for one week’s daily reading.

OR
Listen to one of these audio versions
 iTunes Version
  YouTube Version  (Audio with Text)

AND/OR
Watch the 1971 animated version  Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
George C. Scott full version  A Christmas Carol
(There are many good animated and full versions to be found)

*Vocabulary & Other Activities
* A Christmas Carol Lesson
( Lots of printables…worksheets, fact sheets, recipes, and other activities)
* A Christmas Carol Vocabulary
* A Christmas Carol  Script–   Try gathering some friends and acting out this play version !
* Discussion Questions, Fun Activities, and more
* A Christmas Carol Crossword Puzzle
Reading Comprehension Questions from Easy Fun School

*Week 2:  Charles Dickens

* Biography of Charles Dickens  OR  Everything Dickens  (interactive)
OR
Watch the brief BBC Biography, The Life of Charles Dickens on YouTube
or the full length A&E Biography  (very interesting, but probably best for older students)

* ” Christmas With Charles Dickens“, a short memoir by Dickens’ daughter, Mamie Dickens

* “A Christmas Tree” , a short story by Dickens
(Also, you can listen to a well done  audio version on the same page!
This might be helpful, as some of the victorian language is likely
unfamiliar and a bit difficult. )

* Collection of Short Stories by Dickens to enjoy reading online

* ‘The Ivy Green‘ a poem by Dickens

*  Samantha:  An American Girl Holiday
(Just for fun-  though this movie is not set in England, the time period and the themes
of the industrial revolution and child labor are the same)
Continue reading ‘A Christmas Carol’ Mini Unit


Fun Family Traditions for the Holidays
Family holiday traditions

“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!”
~Albert Einstein

Family traditions for the holidays vary as greatly as the families who keep them.

Whether you celebrate with a fantastic home-cooked feast, or Chinese Take-Out;
spend a quiet day at home, or spend it packed with extended family and friends, and friends of friends;
whether you are starting a new tradition in your family or keeping a long beloved one… keeping holiday traditions is part of the fabric of what makes a family.

Traditions become something we count on.
Another thing we can count on in life is change.

Have you just moved and can’t find your Christmas tree among the chaos ?
Feeling lonely because family is far away?
Spending the holidays in a country where food and customs are quite different?
Maybe, for whatever circumstance, you aren’t able to keep your most treasured traditions?

Don’t despair !
Don’t let circumstances rob you of the joy and roots of the holiday!
Get creative !
Make up a new tradition.  You might just be surprised how much you’ll love it!

Soon after another move far away from all our family, and before we had really met anyone in our new town, a very quiet Christmas surprised us.
It was just us.
Our traditions always included a wonderful Christmas dinner and a house bursting with friends and family.  The house was glaringly quiet and we debated what to do.
And so, we decided to go out for Chinese food !
Yep.  Could have been inspired by the 24-hour  A Christmas Story marathon.  🙂
Truthfully, it felt kind of sad and pathetic at first….but we laughed and we told funny family stories, and we ate together, and really enjoyed the night.
Five years later, and five Christmas Eve Chinese dinners later, this has become one of my children’s absolute favorite traditions.

So, whether you’re looking for some new traditions to add to your celebrations,
or you’ve found yourself in need of a few creative ideas for making some new ones,
here’s my
Friday Family Tradition Favorites:
* Serving Others from Melinda Todd
Reading Stories aloud by candle light from Contented at Home
(read them on a kindle, laptop, etc…all FREE)
* Turkey Ticket Traditions from Lets Get Together
*
Thanksgiving Games from A Pinch of Joy   
* Fun Family Holiday Traditions from Crazy Little Projects
* Start a New Tradition from A View Along the Way
* Build a Gingerbread House Village from HOUSEography

 

~Thankfulness:  The Real Things Haven’t Changed~
   Words For Wednesdays

Little House on the Prairie

“The real things haven’t changed.
It is still best to be honest and truthful;
to make the most of what we have;
to be happy with simple pleasures;
and have courage when things go wrong.”

~Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have been working on a unit study about life in Frontier America.
I am amazed by the pioneer’s courage and their simple faith.
Thankfulness…the real things haven’t changed.
Their gratitude for the smallest graces
is something we can all reflect on

and aspire to.
What simple pleasures are you thankful for today?
My quick list:
~Laughter
~Hot Coffee
~The smell of baking bread
~Salty, roasted pumpkin seeds
~Music
~The change in seasons today

Gratitude

~Gratitude Builders ~
 (For Kids of All Ages)

Is today Monday again?!?
Are you SURE it isn’t Monday ?
Gratitude builders (for kids of all ages)… it’s what I’m thinking about these days.  Yep.  And it’s what I’m reminding myself of at the moment as I grump at my lack of computer skills.  Onward…

‘Tis the season to reflect on all we have to be thankful for in these wonderful lives of ours !
‘Tis the season for gathering together with friends and family.
And…
‘Tis the season to cram as much wonderful life as possible
into every corner of every day .
I’m not sure about you,  but these very lovely feelings of gratitude and family warmth
can quickly turn into a jumble of endless evenings of events, crying kiddos,
serious shopping stress,  kid meltdowns, and then one major mommy meltdown !

What helps our family?
I’m a planner.
I make plans to make plans.
I’m not even joking.  Ask my poor family.
And because,  I’m prone to mommy meltdowns (and yelling at dogs!),
I know we ALL can benefit from taking some quiet time as a family to appreciate these special days.

Just taking a moment to breathe, to be thoughtful, and to be thankful.

So, I’m making a plan.    🙂
I’ve googled, and Pinterested, and pulled out old books.
I’m making a list of a few things to do, nothing strenuous or time intensive,
just a couple quick ideas to make some quiet family time actually happen.

*Gratitude Builders For Kids of All Ages ~

* Quiet Times:
– “Praying Scriptures of Thanksgiving” from His Mercy Is New
   (Try reading & praying these simple verses together in the morning, or before bedtime)

–  Printable Family Gratitude Devotions from Frugal Fun For Boys
–  
Simple Weekly Thanksgiving  Family Devotions from Ligonier Camp
The Attitude of Gratitude (Lapbook) from Homeschool Helper Online 

*Stories of Thanksgiving for Families:
–  Thank You, God, for the Fleas!” adaptation from Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place

–  “The Children’s Book of Thanksgiving Stories”  from Project Gutenberg
( I love this resource !  Lots of short stories. Great for bed time, car time, anytime !)

Family Thanksgiving Book

My Family’s Thanksgiving Story
Perhaps you might like to make your own family’s special story of Thanksgiving.
I started the Thanksgiving notebook when my children were very small.   Every year there are various questions written at the top of it’s pages…every person (including guests) on Thanksgiving Day (or sometime during that week) signs in beside a number on the first page and answers the questions throughout the book.  We have several books now that are filled with the sweetest thoughts, memories, and words of love & friendship.   There are some years of little kid scribbles, of some umm… ‘creative’ things the kids were thankful for, some touching memories of happy times, and even several years that the pages are mostly in Spanish as we celebrated with our beautiful Peruvian friends.
Every year I bring the old notebooks out to read and remember.  There are some lovely treasures in those books-  thoughts from my Grandma, who passed away at 95 last year, and other people we have been blessed to know and love along the way.
These books are a very precious part of our family’s story.

IMG_4742 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*”Watch” a short book, or a movie curled up together:
– “The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings”  book on YouTube
– “The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks”  book on YouTube
– “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”    (full episode)

* Family Activities:
– Create a Simple Gratitude Garland from Life Lesson Plans
– Write a “We are Thankful for You” letter to someone as a family

– Try printing out these family talk Gratitude Table Topics from Growing Book by Book
Family Games… Ideas for Building Attitudes of Gratitude

“An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” Unit Study from Fields of Daisies (that’s me  🙂 )
– Some lovely Thanksgiving Coloring Pages from Karla Dornacher
  (Because they’re my favorite everyday  🙂 )

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful;  it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” 
― David Steindl-Rast