Pioneer Activities for Kids

American Girl Kirsten- Pioneer America Unit Study

American Girl Kirsten-
Pioneer Unit Study

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


This is an exciting, hands-on study of our country’s Westward Expansion.  We will be discovering what pioneer  life was like through the eyes of Kirsten Larson, a kind and brave young girl who has just arrived in New York, from her home far away in Sweden.  We will read about her adventures traveling west to Minnesota, explore the life of the other pioneers she meets along the trail, enjoy some Swedish treats that Kirsten’s mama cooked for her, and lots more!
So say goodbye to boring history lessons, and LET’S LOVE LEARNING together!

* Pioneer Unit Study Core Reading-

*Week 1:   Pioneer America – Kirsten’s World

Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854 

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:   
A Day With Kirsten

Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854

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

5. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″-   p. 30-31; 49 (inset)
(Medicine )

*Week 3:   
Friends and Foes on the Prairie

Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854

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)

love reading books

*Additional Reading & Videos for
American Girl Kirsten- Pioneer Unit Study-

*Note:  Below you will find the outline for Daily Reading/Videos that are
directly related to the core reading for each day listed above.
Continue to scroll down to find each day’s plan for Writing, Copy Work, Vocabulary, Bible, Science, Geography, and Art !

“Welcome to Kirsten’s World” is the spine for this unit.  No other books are required.  However, you can find a list of great “extras” for this unit study HERE (literature, paper doll books, cook books, activity books, science books, etc…).    I included 3 of the 6  books from the Kirsten series  in the lessons, but they aren’t necessary or integral to any activities in the unit.
It would be AWESOME  if you’re going to purchase any of the books (or anything from Amazon), if you could do it through my bookstore (or any links on this page)…there is NO extra charge to you & I get a small portion of the sale.  Thanks for supporting my work!

Pioneer America Kirsten Unit Study Printable PDF Version

If you would like the  Printable PDF Version of this unit study (above), click on the image below, or right –>  HERE !
Over 100 pages !
Get the complete unit study (with live links), planners, note pages, week at a glance, and lots more!  See sample pages in link above!

American History Printables

*If you’d like to purchase the companion Pioneer America Printable Power Pack for this unit study, you can find it  HERE    or by clicking the Book Store tab in the menu at the top of this page !   Thank you for your support !
I hope these resources make this unit even more FUN !!  🙂


Be sure to follow my Kirsten:Pioneer America & Kirsten’s Christmas Pinterest Pages  (and all my American Girl Pages on Pinterest if you’d like 😀 )  for TONS of additional ( and FREE )  ideas!
(I usually pin to these boards at least several times a week!)

You can also find more ideas for this unit, in this post from my Free History Curriculum series —->  FREE Early American History Curriculum

columbus discovers america native americans and the revolutionary war free early american history curriculum

*Note:  I am in no way affiliated with, or compensated by the American Girl Company.  This post does contain links to products on Amazon (just for some extra fun resources and books).  If you choose to purchase any of them, I’d really appreciate if you clicked through these links !   There is NO extra cost to you whatsoever, and I will get a small commission from each sale.   Thanks friends!   🙂

american girl unit study

*Week 1: Pioneer America –  Kirsten’s World

American Girl Kirsten Series,  Book 1, “Meet  Kirsten
(There are 6 books in this series, so you could choose how much to read each week depending on your child’s level and interests.  I just listed one book per week.  You can usually find these books in your local library, or you may like to find them on Amazon-  click image below)

+Day 1:  Meet Kirsten in Sweden !

* American Girl You Tube video introducing Kirsten & her family

*Introduction to Kirsten and her family.   Nice focus on her personality & character.
Look on the right hand side to click on equally as detailed descriptions of each of her family members.

*American Girl site’s “Meet Kirsten’s Family” page.   Brief intro to all of characters in the Kirsten series of books.

* Brief introduction to Ryd (Linköping  ), Sweden…includes videos, audio, and some pictures.

*Introduction to  Swedish Emmigration to America in the 1850’s…from “My Family History”. It’s nice to read these true stories !  What an adventure !  (more links included)

* Kirsten’s family packed an “America Trunk” with their most precious belongings.   They had to leave everything else behind in Sweden.  Here is a cute writing idea (geared toward the Mayflower-  but would work for this study).   Here is the link to the photo and here is the link to the blog “The First Grade Parade”  which is SUPER cute and full of great ideas!

+ Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Map of Ryd (Linköping) , Sweden
– Swedish girl
– Children in Sweden
– Swedish girl with basket 


+Day 2:  Journey to America

*AG Kirsten Learning Guide…includes reading comprehensions questions, printables, and activities.

Homeschool Share  has lots of great printables for this lesson, though they are intended to go along with the book “Klara’s New World”.
You will find lap books for both Sweden and Minnesota, a template to make an America Chest, and even a recipe for special Swedish Christmas cookies-  Yum !

Map showing route from Sweden to America… This lesson is for the book ‘The Long Way Westward’, but there are several very good activities that would be perfect for the Kirsten study as this book traces the steps of the Larsson family (not related 🙂 ) from leaving Sweden to arriving in America.

* ‘Coming to America-  New York’s Immigration‘ a nice video (about 5 mins) all about immigration to America in the 1800’s covering many, many angles of the topic.

* Mr. Donn’s Immigration links.

* “The Great American Melting Pot”  School House Rocks video

* Very nice introduction to the topic of immigration.

* Short slide show ‘Swedish American Heritage’  

* Short video, The Swedish Immigrant Trail’
Historic content up to about the 4 minute mark…then it is more about the attempt to establish a biking, walking, etc. trail in these communities today)

‘An Immigrant Tale’ documentary-  video is about 20 minutes.  This is a personal retelling by Matt Mattson of his family’s immigration to America from Sweden.  He includes many family photos and stories…some funny, some very poignant.   This may be too much for younger children, but I thought it was worth sharing here.

*Another page from My Family History”.
This is “chapter 2″…scroll down to read the exciting adventure of the Andersson family as they arrive in New York and begin their journey west.

Lesson plan on understanding immigration…Geared toward a traditional classroom, but  those who are homeschooling still may like to use some of the printable activities for sure!

* LOTS of really good pictures & information about immigration to America in the 1800’s.
The format may be a bit difficult for your child to weed through, but you may like to use some of the material for your notebooks or reading about a topic of particular interest.

* You might like to include a lesson/unit on Ellis Island.  I did not include one because Kirsten’s family came to America before Ellis Island was used as entry to the United States.  There’s so many really good resources for this topic !

+ Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Immigrants arriving in America
– Immigrant Family
– Ship arriving in America
– Crowded ship to America


+Day 3:  Go West !

* “Elbow Room” School House Rocks video is a perfect introduction to this lesson.
I love these videos.  🙂

Transportation in the early days….a brief overview

* ‘Travel in America in the 1840’s‘ YouTube video…about 12 minutes
“The film follows a young man as he travels from New York State to Illinois, showing him as he journeys by stagecoach, works as a mule driver on the Erie Canal, travels by lake steamer, and rides the new steam train!”   by Periscope Film

*By Steamboat

* National Parks Service site detailing 1800’s river transportation.  Although not the route taken by Kirsten and her family, this is a great site to get a feel for what their trip would have been like.

*  The Steamboat Times…A Pictoral History of the Mississippi Steamboating Era.
     The trip west by steamboat.

* By Wagon

* Detailed description of daily life on a wagon train headed west.  This is more of a textbook type resource and may be best suited to older children.  Lots of good insights into the effects on children and families .
Slideshow of Old West Covered Wagons…story in photos
* True story of the Vanderburgh Family & their journey west.
You could just skim a bit of each chapter or read it all.  Either way, I always love to read
real life accounts of people’s lives   Very interesting!
(I didn’t read all the way through the story, so be sure to read ahead a bit before sharing with your children.  🙂  )
* Pack your wagon !  Activity to understand the importance of packing the wagon.

* By Train

American Railroad Beginnings–  Short video from The History Channel
* BBC series ‘Transcontinental Railroad‘  (Part 1 of 5)
Rails West is a brief introduction to the transcontinental railroad
Transcontinental Railroad–  Mr. Donn’s history page with tons of links to related reading and activities

Webquest–  Westward Ho!
(Be sure to read through the lesson plans under the scouts/teachers tab)

* ‘Westward Trail‘ online interactive game…similar to the classic Oregon Trail game.

* Daily Life heading west:
– Hour to hour – brief description of a common 24 hours in a wagon train

* An interesting account of Henry David Thoreau‘s travel west from Massachusetts to Minnesota by train and steamboat.   This site has some nice maps and brief descriptions of what the trip west by various transportation was like.   There is also a list of teacher resources you might like to use if you are going to dig a bit into Thoreau’s life.

* ‘The Prairie Traveler’ –  A very detailed account of the journey west written by  Randolph Barnes Marcy, in the 1800’s after his trips west… including many historical sketches (nice index if you don’t care to read the book).

* Though the Oregon Trail did not go through Minnesota, the stories and information are great for learning about life on the journey westward in pioneer America.  There are TONS of great resources for this topic.   Here’s just a couple.
– Kids on the Trail
– Daily Life on the Trail   (click the links to the right for more pages)

+ Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Steamboat in the 1800’s
– Robert Fulton-  Steamboat
– Covered Wagon on the trail
– Prairie Schooners
– Covered Wagon
– Train
– Oregon Trail
– Life on the Trail
– Buffalo
– Children on the trail
– Life on the Trail

+Day 4:  Home on the Prairie- Pioneers

Life as a pioneer, from the National Heritage Ranching Center.  This lesson is GREAT!  It  includes reading, games, paper dolls, recipes, activities, and lots of pictures that would be great to use for notebooks or  for the dioramas if you are making one.  Though you may not have a few of the “tools” suggested here, there’s plenty of fun

* Short video showing what a prairie looks like

American Serengeti
(45 minute video about the American Prairie by National Geographic…I also listed this video during week 2 of the Geography unit)

* Finding shelter on the prairie

* Sod Houses-
Building a sod house and living in one…what it was like the good, the bad, and the itchy !
* Video tour of life in an 1800’s sod house … lovely slideshow of old photographs
* Build a virtual sod house online  by answering question about life on the prairie.
Little Old Sod Shanty on My Claim‘  spoken introduction/history/photos & original song complete with banjo.   Really fun !
* ‘On the Banks of Plum Creek‘  audiobook on YouTube.   Very nicely narrated.
The Little House series is set in the same general time as Kirsten’s books.  In this book, the Ingalls family lives in a sod house.

* Log Cabins-
* ‘The Living History School’s Log Cabin Tour
* Log Cabins on the prairie
* ‘Little House in the Big Woods‘ audiobook on You Tube.  Very nicely narrated.
The Little House series is set in the same general time as Kirsten’s books.  In this book, the Ingalls family lives in a log cabin.
* You may like to watch an episode of Little House on the Prairie to illustrate what a house on the prairie looked like inside.

* At home on the prairie… nice photos of various household articles found in a typical pioneer home.

* Inside a settler’s home

Reading the walls ?

Home on the prairie

*Take a tour of Kirsten’s home  from ‘Living a Doll’s Life’

* ‘Homesteading‘ a full length video (54 minutes) by Prairie Public Broadcasting…all about the early “homesteaders” on the prairie during the 1800’s .   Very well done.

* National Parks Service lesson on homesteading on the prairie in the 1800’s…includes printable pages outlining different types of homes that the settlers built.

+ Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Log Cabin
– Log Cabin 2
– Inside log cabin
– Inside log cabin 2  ,  Inside log cabin 3
– Sod House
– Tools  (Items found inside a settler’s home…might be good for your diorama !!)

* It might be fun to make a diorama of a typical village.  Here are a few examples to spark your creativity !
 Pioneer Diorama
– Printable Templates for pioneer town
– Pioneer Log Cabin

+Day 5: Home on the Prairie-  Native Americans

* Culture Quest   (an interactive introduction to Native Americans)

*Ojibway Indians
– The Ojibway–   Lots of links
– The Ojibway Tribe of Minnesota
– Ojibway Wigwams
– Ojibway homes–  very nice photos & drawings of the insides & outsides of Ojibway homes
– Ojibway People–  includes some nice maps (good to print) & photos
– The Chippewa/Ojibway Indians–  a very nice report, complete with photos given by a student on YouTube

*Dakota Indians
– Introduction to the Dakota Tribes
– The Plains Indians (Sioux)…lots and lots of links to follow
– Sioux Tribe Daily Life
– Dakota Tepees
– Indian Summer Homes (Longhouses)

* Couldn’t resist including the DIY No Sew Teepee from Fawn Over Baby
   (This looks totally do-able! )

* Here’s some ideas to either add to your diorama or make an Indian Village diorama.
– Simple paper Indian Homes (different types)  from Artists Helping Children
– Make your own cardboard teepees  from That Artist Woman

+ Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Ojibway Coloring Book
– Wigwam ,  Birch Bark Houses
– Tipis
– Teepees  🙂
– Dakota Indian Tribes  (be sure to look to the left & scroll down a bit)

american girl unit study week 3

*Week 2: A Day With Kirsten

*  American Girl Kirsten Series, Book 2, “Kirsten Learns A Lesson

+Day 1:  Daily Life

A brief introduction to  daily life on the frontier.
– Another nice intro to frontier life.

Frontier House – This is episode 1 of the PBS series that chose two modern families & challenged them to live as closely as possible to the way the early pioneers did.   Very interesting idea.  You can find many full versions of this program on You Tube.   Lesson plans for some of the episodes are included on the PBS site…click on the menu to find lots of other information.

Scholastic Time Machine 1840’s…life on the prairie in the 1840’s,
short video about 3 minutes

* Life was busy for Kirsten and the pioneer families!  No running to the store for milk or bread or soap!

+Washing Clothes
– Hauling the water, building the fire, making the soap…washing clothes
– Making soap & Washing Clothes
– Pioneer Skills:  Washing Clothes  (YouTube Video)

+ Soap Making
– Pioneer Soap Making … a history and how-to from Woodridge Homesteading
– Make Soap from The Giles Frontier

+ Spinning
-Pioneer Clothing
– From Flax to Linen  -short YouTube video highlighting the process during Pioneer Days
– The Wool Spinner  -short YouTube video about the process of turning wool into yarn for spinning-  These are about 2 minutes long and very nicely done.
– Making Clothing

+ Cooking on the Frontier
– Pioneer food & cooking
– Cooking on the Homestead…definitely a chore!
– Cooking on the frontier…from the PBS series Frontier House 
– Churning Butter–  Milk to cream to butter, finally…Phew !
– Butter Making Process
– Make your own butter !
– Bread baking –  interactive site
Candle Dipping

 – Pioneer Farming
– Farming Tools on the prairie
– Farming life in the 1800’s  short YouTube video

+ Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Washing Clothes
– Tools used to wash clothes
– Pioneer Girl Washing Clothes
 Spinning Wheel
Pioneer Clothing 

+Day 2:  Pioneer Fun & Games for Everyone !

* Pioneers had FUN too!
*Did Pioneer children PLAY ?

*Toys & Games

*Little House on the Prairie Games
The Historical Toymaker–  A nice site dedicated to the preservation of traditional toys
* About Pioneer Children’s Toys
* Introduction to fun & games on the trail
Indoor & Outdoor Pioneer Children’s Games
Pioneer Games to Make & Play
Parlor Games  (Games of wit !)
* A few more games to try
* Photos of period TOYS
Rag Doll tutorial video
* Make a Johnny Appleseed dancing doll

*Barn Raisings
– Barn Raising
(Video- also fun music…there are many songs if you leave it playing…I could have gotten distracted and discovered this 🙂  )
– Barn Raising Dance from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers  (Just for FUN! )
– Barn Raising Lesson Plan

*Quilting Bees
– Quilting Bees
– A short history of quilting   (nice photo of a quilting bee)
– Quilting Bees
– Try a quilting bee with this easy quilt making tutorial
– Resources for more quilt activities & learning

*Husking Bees
– The Husking Bee  (a very good description from the book Beautiful Belmont)
– Corn Husking Parties

– House Dances
– Entertainment on the Frontier 
– Pioneer Dancing  (How-to Videos…with links to traditional music)
– Reading of Chapter 8, “Dance at Grandpa’s” from Little House in the Big Woods
– “Dance at Grandpa’s” a book for younger children adapted from the
Little House in the Big Woods series (YouTube)

Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Quilt Coloring Pages
– Quilting Bee
– Pioneer Children Playing
– Pioneer Boys Playing
– Pioneer Children’s Toys
– Fiddler

+Day 3:  Love & Marriage

*Courtship and Marriage
Pioneer Weddings
Courtship & Marriage in the Wild West
A sweet recounting of a Pioneer Courtship & Marriage
(scroll down to that heading if you don’t want to read all the other sections)
A Pioneer Wedding
Mail-Order Brides and Marriage on the Prairie   (short but interesting perspective)

* Hope Chests
*Swedish Betrothal Chest
History of the “Hope Chest”

*Suitor’s Spoons  (Love Spoons)
Love Spoons
Make Your Own Love Spoon  (virtual game)

*Valentine’s Cards
* Try making your own Valentine’s cards…whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, it’s always nice to tell someone you love them.  🙂
– Here is some 1800’s Valentine’s Clip Art  (just for some ideas)

* Wedding Feasts

* Most weddings on the frontier were special, but simple.  People all brought a dish and pot luck was on the menu.  Here’s a few ideas:
– Pasta, Fried Rice, and Matzoh Balls:  Immigrant Cooking in America
by Loretta Francis Ichord  (Free ebook with lots of recipes & lovely colored illustrations- scroll through to find several Swedish Dishes)

– Prairie Recipes
– Little House on the Prairie Recipes

The Cake  and a recipe to try yourself
(or ask your friends to all bring a layer & have an afternoon tea )
* Or perhaps they would have had a special cake like this one from
Little House on the Prairie  (recipe included)

“Love Comes Softly” a Hallmark Family Movie (based on the Janette Oke novel)
(appears to be the full length movie)

Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Hope Chest
– Hope Chest 2
– Spoon  (Might be fun to design your own wedding/love spoon!)
– Bridal Crown 1   (fun to color;   Or glue to poster board, decorate, and wear !)  🙂
– Bridal Crown 2
– Country Dance
– Bride & Groom  From
(remember Norwegian brides often wore green dresses!)

+Day 4:  Pioneer Fashion

*Pioneer Clothing
Pioneer Clothing Was Functional
*Introduction to Pioneer “fashion” 
How did the 1800’s  pioneers dress ?
* “Fashion” of the pioneer woman

* YouTube Video… Clothing of the 1800’s
River Junction Trade Co.   (Just for fun…this site sells replicas of everything you would have found in the Wild West.  Clothing, Kitchen Wares, Chaps, Spurs, Saddle Bags, Ladies Hats, Lamps, House Wares, etc…  LOTS of fun to click through !)

*Traditional Swedish Clothing of the mid-1800’s
Traditional Swedish Women’s Clothing , Accessories, and Undergarments from A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle
Swedish Folk Costume from Dos Family

*Native American Dress
*Traditional Dress of the Dakota and Ojibway 
* More common dress
Native American War Bonnets

*Fashion Fun-
* Make a pioneer sunbonnet together… YouTube Easy Sunbonnet directions
OR try this easy no-sew pioneer bonnet from Craft Gossip

* Try making a traditional dress for Kirsten (or another doll similar in size).
There are several really nice patterns to try HERE.

Make an apron
Aprons were an important part of the Frontier woman’s wardrobe…also of the traditional
clothing worn by the women in Sweden.   Here’s a fun & easy YouTube tutorial with
directions on how to make an apron using a tea towel !

Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Pioneer Children
– Pioneer Man & Woman
Pioneer Paper Dolls
– Cut outs for diy paper dolls

+Day 5: Pioneer Medicine & the Traveling Show

*Just for fun- but maybe good to do first to give everyone a kind of picture of what some of the more unfamiliar/complicated reading may be ahead in this topic.
Little House on the Prairie-  “Circus Man”    (full length episode)
A traveling “medicine man” comes to Walnut Grove appearing to heal all kinds of ailments with his  mixture of magic and medicine.  What will Doc Baker do ?

Medicine in the Old West
(an audio interview from the book “Medicine in the Old West”… about 16 minutes )
Medicine in the Wild West
Old Time Cures and Remedies
“Patent Medicine” and Receipt Books
Remedies of the 1800’s
Mrs. Winslow’s Receipt Book
You can read this original copy online !
Druggists & Dentists   (hold on to your teeth children!)

* Make your own patent medicine from the 1800’s.
Rock Candy was used quite frequently as a treatment for all kinds of ailments.
Make your own and feel great.  😀
Recipe, history of the “candy”, and science lessons included!

Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Kilmer’s Swamp Root poster
– Patent Medicine
– Snake Oil Show
– Elixir Poster

American Girl Unit Study Week 3

*Week 3: Pioneer Friends & Foes on the Prairie

*  American Girl Kirsten Series, Book 3, “Kirsten’s Surprise

+Day 1:  Around  a Pioneer Town

Around Town   (Brief introduction to community life)
Pioneer Village  from Bonanzaville
(Introduction to & pictures of a typical pioneer town…audio of text for young
readers is nice too!)
Spring Mill Pioneer Village
( Be sure to click on the pictures to see inside the different buildings)
* Video Tour of Historic New Ulm, Minnesota
-Take a virtual tour of Bonanzaville Pioneer Village

The General Store
* Harkin’s General Store Museum in West Newton, Minnesota
The General Store
* A Personal Story of a General Store from From These Hills  

*The Hotel
* The Main Street Hotel
(Though this history is from Iowa, it is a good depiction of a frontier town)
Picture tour of frontier town hotels in the 1800’s
(the photos are on the right hand side of the page.
Click on the first photo to open the slideshow…click on each individual
photo to read a brief description)

*What to See on an 1800’s Main Street
The Livery Stable and Blacksmith Shop
The Pharmacy
The Millinery
The Train Depot
(This is a video of lovely old photos circa late 1800’s early 1900’s of Castle Rock,
Washington set to “Long Black Train” and posted by Dave Browning.
    It’s a FUN way to see the old trains and depots, as well as the pictures of an active
main street of this period, all set to music.  Very nice presentation!  )
The Jail
(One frontier town’s jail “house” )
The Saloon
(Be sure to click on the photos to see a larger version…if you click through to page 3, there
are lots of other links too.   Page 3 begins the mention of “saloon girls”….just a heads up.)

* And just in case you missed this link in the Fashion of the 1800’s section above…
River Junction Trade Co.   (Just for fun…this site sells replicas of everything you would have found in the Wild West.  Clothing, Kitchen Wares, Chaps, Spurs, Saddle Bags, Ladies Hats, Lamps, House Wares, etc…  LOTS of fun to click through !)
* Home Video Tour of Bodie, California Ghost Town
(there are tons of these videos on YouTube…this one includes a tour with some commenting by a park ranger)

* Printable templates to build you own pioneer town ! If you have already started your diorama for this unit, use some of these pieces to add to it.

Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– Pioneer Village Map
(map of the Little Log House Pioneer Village to color (or visit!) in Hastings, Minnesota)
– Western Main Street
– Blacksmith

+Day 2:  Kirsten’s Pioneer Neighbors

*Kirsten’s German Neighbors
– German Immigration Facts in Brief
– History
– Video history/tour of New Ulm, Minnesota
(Click on the photos to listen to and watch the short histories.
This is also a nice way to get an idea of what a typical mid-1800’s town in
Minnesota would have looked like.  There’s a video history of the meat market,
a saloon, the pharmacy, and more.)
– A brief history of German immigration to Minnesota with audio

– German Language
Kirsten’s neighbors often spoke different languages, making it hard to understand
one another….   Try playing some fun games and listening to the German language.

– Kirsten’s German neighbors brought many new customs to her town
Afternoon Coffee (or tea) and Cake …. Kaffee und Kuchen
(This was also customary in many parts of Peru…one of my favorite things when we
lived there!)
Recipe for Apfelkuchen (Apple Cake)…for an afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen, fun for sure!
Recipe for Butterkuchen  (Butter Cake)  Scroll to bottom of recipe for “quick” version

+ Wooden Children’s Toys such as these Noah’s Arks

*Kirsten’s Norwegian Neighbors
– History  (in brief)
– History of Norwegian Immigration to America
(be sure to click on the photos to the left of the reading)
– Photo of two Norwegian women wearing traditional dress in 1890’s Minnesota

* Try some fun learning games for speaking Norwegian
OR  learn a bit of Swedish with this fun video!

– Kirsten’s Norwegian neighbors brought their own recipes and customs
Lefse  (a traditional favorite, lefse is a thin pancake served in a variety of ways)
Easy Lefse Recipe

(My daughter had this sweet treat “School Bread”, from the bakery in “Norway” while on a
trip to Epcot.  She enjoyed them so much she asked me to make them for her birthday
cake.   I think after reading all the recipes I could find I came up with a fantastic version.
The one above is a bit complicated and omits the toasted coconut which is so good.  If
you’d like me to send you my recipe, just leave me a message in the comments and I’ll
be glad to send it to you.  🙂   )

*The Dakota and Ojibway
A Plains Indian Child in the 1800’s  iAdventure
(This is a very well done interactive/choose your own adventure type iAdventure…lots of information here about what it would have been like to be a young indian girl or boy in the mid 1800’s.)
Life on the Reservation 1800’s
Talking Hands Game
(Kirsten had such a diverse group of “neighbors”.  This often made communication between them difficult.  The Plains Indians used a type of sign language that made it possible for them to understand both people from other tribes and the settlers, despite language barriers.   This is a fun interactive game to try your “hand” at it.  😀  )
Indian Children’s Games
(Do you recognize any of these games? )

– Here are some Dakota and Ojibway recipes to try !
+ Wojapi
+ Lakota Plum Cakes

Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
– German Girl Paper Doll
– Norwegian Paper Dolls
– Swedish Paper Doll
Sioux Child Paper Doll
Sioux Children Paper Dolls
Ojibwe Boy Coloring Page
Ojibwe Girl Coloring Page

+Day 3:The Pioneers and the Dakota Conflict

* The Dakota Conflict- Introduction     (short video with good photos…approx. 3 minutes )
* The Dakota Conflict- Newcomers       (video…approx. 2 minutes)
* The Dakota Conflict- Treaties               (video…approx. 2 minutes)
* The Dakota Conflict:  The Treaties
(short audio explanation of the beginnings of The Dakota Conflict….approx. 3 minutes)
* The Dakota Conflict-  War                      (video…approx. 3 minutes)

* “The Dakota Conflict” a longer video from PBS…. 56 minutes
OR you can chose to watch different segments of the above video indexed HERE

*The Dakota Conflict   (Lessons and Videos)
* The Conflict Begins
*  The Dakota Conflict WebQuest    (complete interactive lesson)
* An Oral History of the Dakota
(including the Dakota Conflict…click through to find the appropriate reading)

* Little Crow   (“Welcome to Kirsten’s World- 1852”  pages 50-51)
*Little Crow
*Little Crow   (a short audio biography about Little Crow… approx. 3 minutes)
*Little Crow’s Speech on the eve of the Sioux uprising

+Day 4:
  The Dakota Conflict Continues

* The Attack on New Ulm and Related People
(Be sure to look on the right sidebar for all kinds of related links!)
* The Erd Building in New Ulm, and an account of the attack on New Ulm
(Youtube Video with historic photos…. 4 minutes)
* The Kiesling House in New Ulm, and the Dakota attack
(Youtube Video with historic photos…4 minutes)
* Holl Family Account of life on the frontier and the Attack on New Ulm
(This account was written by Irene Persons after interviewing Ms. Margareta (Holl) Hahn.
The interview took place on March 24, 1937. )

* The Dakota Conflict- Aftermath                  (video…approx. 2 minutes)
*The Dakota War of 1862
* The Dakota Conflict-  Internment              (video…approx. 4 minutes)
*The Dakota Conflict-  150 Years Later        (video…approx. 4 minutes)


+Day 5:  The Great Land Rush

*Did You Know?
“The Homestead Act of 1862, which gave away 160 acre claims, was repealed in the lower 48 states in 1976. In Alaska, claims could be filed up to 1986! ”  ~NPS

* Free Land!  The Homestead Act from The Mini Page 
( Do you remember these coming in the Sunday paper???   Fun find of the day! )
* History of the Homestead Act Video including many related topics from Education Portal
    (This is a short video with nice photos & illustrations….VERY thorough, but entertaining!
While I try to keep everything in my units completely free online, near the very end of this video you are requested to sign up for a free 5-day trial.  I felt like the main “meat” of this topic was covered in the beginning of the video.   I’m not familiar with this site, but you may like to sign up after seeing this.    There is a similar free  video with similar material.  You can watch it  HERE.

*Homestead History
(From the National Park Service with many links to related reading, videos, etc…)
* Homestead History   (Not the same as the above link!)
(Short Lesson about the Land Rush from the National Parks Service… it is written for use in a classroom, but there are some really good ideas included, as well as a printable game your whole family may enjoy playing!)

* Homestead Webranger Challenge from the NPS
(Interactive Game-  be sure to click on the menu at the bottom right corner for the
next pages)

* Land Rush Mini-Unit Study from DIY Homeschooler
* The Great Land Rush
*Oklahoma Land Rush Scene from Far and Away 
(YouTube clip…3 minutes.  You may want to preview…could be a bit intense for the littles.)

Coloring pages to use for notebooking, lap booking, etc…. or just for fun!
*Westward Ho!
*Land Rush Cowboy on Horse

*If you’d like to read the rest of the Kirsten series, I’ve included them below (these are affiliate links, thanks for trusting that I never include any resources I don’t love! 🙂  )





Reading Comprehension Think!

*Reading Comprehension Ideas:
Show what you know about the Pioneers !

*The American Girl website has some nice worksheets including comprehension questions especially for Kirsten.  You will also find some free printable activities as well.

*This AG loving mom has lists of comprehension questions for lots of the books in the historical AG series.  You will also find tons of other ideas for Kirsten here too !

* You can find interactive quizzes for many American Girl Doll books, including the  series of Kirsten books.

* Keep a running list in a notebook of important people, important places,  important events, and important ideas as you study this period of time. Use these lists later for writing prompts, notebooking, lapbooking, creating a timeline, etc…

* Create a notebook, lapbook, scrapbook, folder, etc…to show what you’re learning.  This is a fantastic way for the kids to articulate creatively what they have  learned! Need some inspiration?
Notebooking ,  Lapbooking , and Folders Templates

* This family made a book report poster from the Kristen series, but you could easily just adapt this by adding to the poster what we study each week.

* Find whatever outlet that excites your kids! One video featured a girl showing how to create different period hairstyles on her AG doll for example !  Or perhaps you’d like to set up a scene to scale with your Kirsten doll & make a video to share like this one… Kirsten Larson’s Christmas Cabin   ( a bit longish, but you get the idea that it is a way to show what you’ve learned).

* Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this unit to see a list of some of the fun crafts, cooking activities, & other creative ideas!


*Language Arts/Grammar Ideas-

* You may choose to use your regular grammar curriculum, add just a few of the  ideas below  into the mix, or use all the ideas below.  Isn’t homeschooling wonderful sometimes?

*Vocabulary ideas-

*Choose any list of vocabulary you’d like to use for this unit.  I have included a brief list for each week from the core reading.

*This unit spends  a bit of time learning about Kirsten’s native land, Sweden.   It might  be fun to  find some words that are still used today that originated from Swedish.
Swedish words

Pioneer Alphabetizing Activity , Word search

*Or you can use my lists that are taken from each week’s core reading.

*Vocabulary Lists:

*Week 1:
1.  immigrant       2. pioneer                   3. frontier
4. port                    5. merchants            6. reunited
7. idle                      8. settlers                   9. lye
10. flax

*Week 2:
1. bud                        2. birch                        3. livestock
4. bee (quilting)   5. courtship              6. Scandinavian
7. serenade           8. calico                      9. prairie
10. diagnose

*Week 3:
1. nationality          2. trappers                3. produce
4. Yankee                5. coward                  6. reservation (Indian)
7. conflict                8. captive                  9. surrender
10. ration

*Copy Work/Narration ideas-

*Week 1:

* This week’s Scripture verses-
Romans 5:3-4
2 Timothy 4:7-8
Hebrews 10:32-36
Hebrews 12:1-3
James 1:2-4

* It might be fun to try copying one of the Bible verses in Swedish !   Bible Gateway has the Swedish Bible in several versions.  You can easily print the verses out & use them for each day’s copy work.   You may also like to check out an English/Swedish dictionary for help!

* Listen to “Let It Go” from Frozen in Swedish with lyrics.  It is the first version on the video.  Fun to see if you can pick out any of the words….Then copy the chorus in Swedish maybe ?
Talk about what it must have been like for Kirsten to hear all the foreign languages upon arriving in America.   This was fun even if you just listen.  🙂

* Helen Keller Quotes
* Printable sheet of great quotes about persistence and perseverance  with lines to copy!
* Helen Keller Paper–  good to use for copy work or for note booking

*Week 2:

* This week’s Scripture verses-
Isaiah 30:18  and James 1: 17  (The best example of a Giver)
Psalm 37:21
Proverbs 11:25
1 Peter 4:10
Acts 20:35
1 John 3:17
1 Timothy 6:18-19

*It might be fun to try copying one of the Bible verses in Swedish !   Bible Gateway has the Swedish Bible in several versions.  You can easily print the verses out & use them for each day’s copy work.

* You could try copying a pioneer song such as
Oh, Shenandoah      + We’re Goin’ out West    + Sweet Betsy From Pike

*Did you try one of the cooking activities this week?
Copying recipes is a fantastic exercise.  There are all kinds of skills to be practiced!
You can copy one of the recipes from the lesson or you might like to try one of these:
Swedish Pepparkakor Ginger Cookies
Swedish Rice Pudding, Julgrot

*” The Lord is Good To Me ”  lyrics
* Johnny Appleseed Paper–  you could use this for copy work or for a note booking page

*Week 3:

* This week’s Scripture verses-
Proverbs 3:1-2
John 14:15
John 14:21
Colossians 3:20
1 John 2: 5-6

*It might be fun to try copying one of the Bible verses in Swedish !   Bible Gateway has the Swedish Bible in several versions.  You can easily print the verses out & use them for each day’s copy work.

* You might like to copy the poem “I Hear America Singing”  by Walt Whitman.

*Copy an excerpt from this Eyewitness to History account of the Great Land Rush  or a portion of the Homestead Act

* You might like to copy a part of Sojourner Truth’s famous speech “Ain’t I A Woman?”
or some of her inspirational quotes.

*Miscellaneous Copy Work Extras

* Nice covered wagon copy work printable (with lines)
* Pioneer draw & write printable

*Santa Lucia is a traditional holiday song…try copying a part in English or Swedish
(It’s a BEAUTIFUL song…here’s one version to listen to  HERE  )

*If you’d just like to hear some beautiful Swedish Christmas Carols while you work,
try these !

*Grammar ideas-

* Here’s a website of very short daily grammar reviews

Fun Grammar  offers interactive online games, and Education World has fun editing worksheets.

* You could also choose a sentence, or photocopy a page of the reading. Depending on what skill you want to emphasize, have your child diagram a few sentences, or find all the verbs, nouns, etc…, or whatever grammar skill needs work.

*Writing Ideas-

* Week 1-

* Imagine you are a child who has just arrived in the United States.  Write a letter to your family or a friend “back home” in Sweden. You may chose to write about the trip across the sea or your first impressions when coming ashore in America.  Paint a picture with your words so that your friend/family can “see” what you see, “smell” what you smell, “hear” what your hear, and “feel” all the emotions that you may have felt during this amazing experience.

* Week 2-

* There are so many interesting characters both pioneers and those from the infamous “wild west”.  Choose your favorite person and write a short biography, a poem, a folk song, or a fact sheet to highlight this person’s role in history.

* Week 3-

* Though there were many friendships made between the Native Americans and the Pioneers, their encounters were not always friendly.  Think about the personal accounts you have read this week.  Try writing a journal entry, a poem, or a short story from the point of view of a Lakota child.

Heart Bible

*Bible Ideas: Great Christian “Pioneers” of the mid to late 1800’s

*Week 1:  Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan-     Perseverance
*Week 2:  Johnny Appleseed-    Generosity
*Week 3:  Sojourner Truth-    Obedience


american girl unit study

*Week 1:   Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan-
Perseverance & Patience

“While they were saying it couldn’t be done, it was done.”
   ~ Helen Keller

Life on the frontier was full of difficulty and seemingly impossible challenges.
One’s perspective on life and the determination to persevere through endless hardships could literally be a matter of life or death for the pioneers.   Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan both lived during this period of history and have been great examples of what can be accomplished through faith, patience, and perseverance !  


“The Race”
(This poem would make a great introduction to the topic of Perseverance and to the lives and achievements of Helen and Anne!)

Helen Keller’s Biography
Anne Sullivan’s Biography

*Helen Keller Mini-Unit from Garden of Praise
Sign Lanuguage Mini Unit Study  from me  🙂

* You may like to read some of Helen’s most inspirational quotes here.
Keep in mind the character traits of perseverance and patience as you read.

Helen Keller
( Animated Hero Classics)

Adventures from the Book of Virtues:  Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan
(A lesson on the virtue of patience!   This video is geared for younger kids,
but I enjoyed it too  🙂  )
* Adventures from the Book of Virtues:  Perseverance

* Kids Bible Study on Perseverance from Kids of Integrity
*Other Bible studies about Perseverance are listed under this week’s Bible heading “Ideas to Think About and Discuss”.

* Perseverance…The Word of the Day !
(Need a little encouragement yourself Mama ?  Don’t Ever Give Up !!)

The Miracle Worker
(There are several different versions of this movie.  Look on YouTube for one that you
like best.  So good!)

*Sign Language Mini Unit  (from Fields of Daisies 🙂  )
(You could use one idea from this unit, or make this another part of your Kirsten Unit Study!   I have listed many resources, printables, stories, and activities to get children (of all ages…babies too!) started on learning basic American Sign Language !)

*Related Scriptures for Further Reading-

  • Romans 5:3-4
  • 2 Timothy 4:7-8
  • Hebrews 10:32-36
  • Hebrews 12:1-3
  • James 1:2-4

*Ideas to Think About & Discuss-

* What is Perseverance ?
* Discuss some difficult things your child/family has faced and how they have persevered.
* Read through some of the Scriptures above…
What does the Bible say about perseverance?
Do you think God knew we would face hard times in our lives?
Why or why not ?
* How can we have patience to not give up during challenges we face?
* What can we do to “push through” the hard times in life and and find the energy
to keep on working toward our goals?

* Family Bible Study on Perseverance from Thriving Family      
Perseverance Devotion and Patience Devotion from Garden of Praise    
* Perseverance and Patience Bible Study for kids from  Confessions of a Homeschooler

* How did Helen and Anne show patience and in what ways did they persevere?
Did they ever want to give up?
What helped them keep working hard?

* What is one thing (at least) that Helen and Anne’s stories challenged you to persevere in?


* Try keeping a journal of any quotes or inspiring thoughts you may read about during this study.  (Printable pages you can use for this are found in the companion Pioneer America Printable Power Pack !)

* Use the Sign Language Alphabet chart to spell words into each other’s hands.
Play a game to see who can guess the most words.
Did you find it difficult?
How do you think Helen felt as Anne tried to teach her to communicate in this way?
You can print a chart here  

* Try learning a bit of Braille … then try “writing” your name or another word in braille.
Braille Bug
Arthur:  You’ve Got Braille
Braille Printables –  LOTS and lots of them for any occasion!   🙂


* “I Have Decided”

* Coloring/Activity Pages-

* Helen Keller Notebooking Page

*Helen & Anne at the water pump coloring page

*Perseverance coloring page

*If you’d like a coloring page or printable activity to go along with any of the stories from the scriptures listed above, you can find them here: –

american girl unit study week 3

*Week 2:   John Chapman, “Johnny Appleseed”-


*John Chapman was a young man with a simple dream.  He wanted to share apples with people all over America.  He ended up sharing a whole lot more than apples along the way as he traveled among the pioneers and the Native Americans.  His knowledge of plants and nature, his kindness toward all people, and his great generosity became legendary.   Up to this very day people from all over the world have heard about his story and his simple message lived out in an extraordinary way.

* EVERYTHING “Johnny Appleseed” from Free Homeschool  Deals
(If you haven’t already discovered this site, GO there now!  It’s fantastic!)

* A lovely biography of John Chapman, published by Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in 1871.   It was the most complete and well written history I found.

* Johnny Appleseed Video Biography from The Story of Liberty  
(This is a nicely narrated type of video…not animated)

* American Legends:  Johnny Appleseed
(Short Disney movie-  about 9 minutes)

* Introduction to Generosity
* Kids Bible Study on Generosity from Kids of Integrity
Adventures from the Book of Virtues:  Generosity

Isaiah 30:18  and James 1: 17  (The best example of a Giver)
Psalm 37:21
Proverbs 11:25
1 Peter 4:10
Acts 20:35
1 John 3:17
1 Timothy 6:18-19

*Ideas to Think About & Discuss-

* John Chapman preached his message of the love of God best
perhaps by his love for others.
-What is generosity?
-Can you think of a time in your life that someone has been generous to you?
-How did it make you feel?  Did the kindness shown to you make you want to go and do
something kind in return for someone else?
-Many people laughed at John and thought he was quite strange.  It didn’t stop him from
continuing his work and his kind ways.   What do you think motivated him to act in this
way?   Have you ever been afraid to show kindness to someone because of what other
people’s reactions might be?

* Read this week’s Scripture verses if you haven’t already.
You may also like to read through this short and FUN Bible lesson on Generosity.
There’s lots of activities and ideas and questions to talk about in your family or
in during a quiet time all by yourself.
*Other Bible studies about Generosity are listed under this week’s Bible heading “Reading”.

-What were some of the ways you’ve read about in the Scriptures above to
show generosity?
-In what ways  did “Johnny” show generosity ?
Who was he generous toward?   Was he kind to what many people perceived as
the “enemy” ?
-What lessons can you learn from Johnny Appleseed?
Did anything inspire you to show generosity in a creative new way?


* Johnny Appleseed Lapbook Printables from Homeschool Share 
John Chapman printables of every sort  🙂
* “Johnny Appleseed”  mini unit from Garden of Praise

* Adventures from the Book of Virtues:  Generosity

*Make a list of some ways that you (or maybe your whole family) can intentionally be generous!  You won’t believe how much fun this is or how much JOY you will feel by being
kind to others!!  (There is a printable sheet in the Power Pack ! )
Need a few ideas ?
Ian McMillan–  YouTube clip from ABC News 
Rosie’s 21 Acts of Random Generosity
Video that will…    (I don’t know anything about the person who posted this video, but it is a lovely example of how each small act of kindness can have a ripple effect and make a real difference.  Watch all the way to the end!)

* Songs-
* Learn the “Johnny Appleseed Song”  (“The Lord’s Been Good To Me)

* Here’s some other fun songs you might enjoy~
Hands & Feet

*Coloring Pages-

* Johnny Appleseed Notebooking Pages from Cynce’s Place  
(These are really nice pages…not cartoonish)
Johnny Appleseed Paper–  you could use this for copy work or for a note booking page

* Johnny Appleseed Coloring Page
* John Chapman Coloring Page  (Hidden Picture)

*Generosity Coloring Page


American Girl Unit Study Week 3

*Week 3: Sojourner Truth-

“Lord, I have done my duty, I have told the whole truth  and held nothing back.” ~Sojourner Truth

“The Lord gave me ‘Sojourner,’ because I was to travel up an’ down the land, showin’ the people their sins an’ bein’ a sign unto them. Afterwards, I told the Lord I wanted another name ’cause everybody else had two names, and the Lord gave me ‘Truth,’ because I was to declare the truth to people.”
~Sojourner Truth


* Sojourner Truth Video Biography from The Story of Liberty  (about 5 minutes)
* Sojourner Truth mini-unit study from Garden of Praise
* Sojourner Truth – biography
* Biography from PBS   

* Bible Study on Obedience from Kids of Integrity
* Bible Study on Obedience from Confessions of a Homeschooler
(Really nice week long study-  check out this site for other similar Bible studies for kids
& lots more!)

*Related Scriptures for Further Reading-

-Proverbs 3:1-2
John 14:15
John 14:21
Colossians 3:20
1 John 2:5-6

*If you’d like a coloring page or printable activity to go along with any of the stories above, you can find them here:

*Ideas to Think About & Discuss-

* Sojourner Truth couldn’t read.
Sojourner Truth couldn’t write.
She was a slave.  She had only a few possessions and endured incredible hardships.
Yet as she lived out all her days, she had spoken in Universities, dined with some of the most famous people of her day, and even met the President !
How do you think this happened?

Sojourner had a very personal experience with God and continued to want to know Him her whole life.
How do you think her friendship with God helped her to accomplish so many amazing things?
What are some of the achievements she had in her life that really stuck out to you?

Sojourner Truth tried hard to listen to God.  When she believed she knew what He wanted her to say or do, she did it.  She lived to be obedient to the Lord.  Near the end of her life, she said she would like to be able to say, “Lord, I have done my duty, I have told the whole truth  and held nothing back.”
Have you ever known that God wanted you to say or to do something?
Were you obedient?  Why or why not?
What happened?

* What is Obedience?
(Short introduction using the Bible)
*Other Bible studies about Obedience are listed under this week’s Bible heading “Reading”.


* Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” Speech and discussion questions
* Alice Walker reads “Ain’t I a Woman” –  YouTube  about 3 minutes
* Activity for “Ain’t I a Woman Speech”  from Scholastic

*Think about Sojourner’s close friendship with God.  Spend some time being quiet with God yourself.  Jot down any thing that comes to mind that might be a way for YOU to be
obedient to God’s direction for your own life.
(You could also use the printable “Truth” journal sheet for this activity in the Printable Power Pack.)


* “Lord, I Done Done What You Told Me to Do “
* “I Will Follow”

*Coloring & Activity Pages-

* Sojourner Truth Coloring Page
* Sojourner quote page header
* Sojourner Truth Coloring Page 2
* Obedience Coloring Page

*If you’d like a coloring page or printable activity to go along with any of the stories above, you can find them here:


Frog in Pond


*Science Ideas for Pioneer Unit:

*Week 1:  Using a Compass & Orienteering
*Week 2:  Simple Machines & Inventions
*Week 3:  Great Inventors of the 1800’s

The number 1

*Week 1:  Using a Compass & Orienteering

* Kirsten came far across the sea to the shores of America, and then far across the land to find her home in Minnesota.  How did the ship’s captain know which way he was heading in the middle of the ocean or where to find the harbor in New York?   How did the settlers find their way across the great plains and over mountains?  The compass of course !
What is a compass?  Who invented the compass?
Why do I need one?  How do I use one ?

+ Reading-

Who Invented the Compass and How Does It Work ?  from Explain That Stuff !
Compass 101 –  YouTube  (3 minutes)
All About Compasses from Compass Dude

+Discovering & Doing-

* How to make a simple compass from Easy Fun School
DIY Make a Simple Wet or Dry Compass from Science With Kids
* Compass belonging to Lewis & Clark, circa 1804
* Finding Directions Using a Compass Lesson Plan & Activities

* Orienteering is a very popular sport in Sweden.  This would be a super fun idea to try along with this week’s lesson on using a compass.  This site has LOTS of ideas for different types of orienteering activities for people of all ages, from toddlers all the way up !  Have fun !!lesson on using a compass.  This site has LOTS of ideas for different types of orienteering activities for people of all ages, from toddlers all the way up !  Have fun !!
A few more sites just in case you like this activity-

– Orienteering Activities for younger kids
 Learning Orienteering from the beginning
– Orienteering Activities for all ages and also Geocaching  (which uses a gps instead of a compass)

* More Compass related games to play online !  Have FUN!
* 3 Active Compass Games

+Coloring Pages-

* Compass Rose
* Compass Mapping Printables
* Mariner Compass
* Compass Roses  from Willow Draws


*Week 2:  Simple Machines  & Inventions

*The 1800’s were a-buzz with exciting happenings!
People in young America were exploring, and inventing, and pushing the borders of all they knew.  Did you know that the sewing machine, the bicycle, the steam engine, the washing machine, the first postage stamp, staplers, calculators, matches, safety pins, typewriters, microphones, batteries, photographs, zippers, straws, and toilet paper were ALL invented during this time?   And in 1898, the very first roller coaster was patented.  🙂
Phew!   What an exciting time to be alive !
This week’s science ideas (Simple Machines), go along with next week’s lessons (Great Inventors of the 1800’s).
You might like to switch the order !

+Reading…. Discovering & Doing-

*  Simple Machines & Inventions Unit!   This is so much fun !!
Includes videos, experiments, and lots of links to more reading…you won’t be bored.  🙂
from Fun, Hands On Unit Studies 
–  Inclined Planes and Wedges
–  Levers and Screws
–  Wheels and Axels
–  Gears and Pulleys
–  Inventions and Rube Goldberg Machines

* Who is Rube Goldberg and what were his machines ?
(scroll down to see MythBuster related video !)

* Did you know that inspiration for an invention can come from the simplest daily activities?   Can you guess what invention came about after a walk around the block ?
Find out here.
Teacher’s guide is here.   (includes printables)

+Coloring Pages-

Inclined Plane and Wedges
Levers and Screws
Wheels and Axels
Gears & Pulleys
Rube Goldberg’s Machine  from

*Maybe give a try at designing a Rube Goldberg machine yourself !!


*Week 3:  Great Inventors of the 1800’s

+Reading…Discovering & Doing

* Mini-Units of Great Inventors from  Garden of Praise
(Be sure to keep scrolling down for activities, videos, coloring pages, projects, and further reading.  You could spend weeks on these ! )
 – Alexander Graham Bell
Cyrus McCormick
Thomas Edison
The Wright Brothers
Henry Ford
Nikola Tesla

* Stories of Great Inventors by Hattie Macomber  from Project Gutenberg
(This story is written in a very entertaining and conversational manner, much like Hillyer’s
‘A Child’s History of the World’.  
Nice black and white drawings.  Give it a try… it isn’t boring either.  🙂   )

*Explore more!
 Enjoy these videos with the Inventor Units above!

Alexander Graham Bell  (Nest Video- 24 minutes)
Cyrus McCormick   (about 2 minutes)
Thomas Edison   (Nest Video- 24 minutes)
The Wright Brothers  (Nest Video- 26 minutes)
Henry Ford   (about 3 minutes)
Nikola Tesla   (Brain Pop movie free-  about 7 minutes)

+Coloring Pages-

– Some Notebooking Pages for Great Inventors from Homeschool Share
  You can find coloring pages for the above inventors by clicking on each unit and scrolling down.

– There are coloring pages included in each of the above mini-units as well.   🙂


 I Want to See the World

*Geography Ideas- Pioneer Unit Study*

*Week 1:  Sweden
*Week 2:  Across America:  The Prairie
*Week 3:  Minnesota

american girl unit study
*Week 1:  Sweden


* Sweden from National Geographic Kids
Sweden Mini-Unit from Our Cup of Tea     (This is a lovely blog ! I love finding these!)
* Around the World in 12 Dishes- Activities, Recipes, and Books About Sweden
from The Educator’s Spin on It     
* Sweden Facts for Kids
* Sweden Virtual Video Tour   (YouTube-  about 6 minutes)
* Country Study


Sweden Map:  Labeling Activity
The Geography of Sweden
(After reading through this page, print out one of the blank maps of Sweden.
Try labeling the major bodies of water or other geographic highlights of Sweden…You may also like to print out a world map (or at least a map showing Europe and North America.  Label Kirsten’s journey from her home in Ryd, Sweden to America… and from New York Harbor to Minnesota…see pages 1-11,  in ‘Welcome To Kirsten’s World 1854.)
Interactive map of Sweden

+Hands On

* Swedish Flag coloring page
* Lots of activities to learn about Sweden including many to learn a little of the language from Enchanted Learning. 

* Country & Cultures Notebooking Printables from  Guest Hollow

* Short Stories about Sweden to read together:
Our Little Swedish Cousin‘ by Claire Coburn
Little Erik of Sweden‘ by Madeline Brandeis
Peeps at Many Lands- Sweden‘ by Mrs. Liddle and William Liddle

+ Start a diorama. You may like to create several, one for each week’s theme, or just add on each week to make one larger diorama.  I have included lots of links to coloring pages & paper dolls that would be good to use.  

american girl unit study week 3

*Week 2:  Across America:  The Prairie


* Ecosystems and Biomes
(You might want to start with these short video clips about what an ecosystem is and what a biome is… not specifically about prairies, but a good starting point.  Excuse the whiny girl character-  Eeks!)

* Minnesota’s Biomes  (a brief intro)

*Wild Kratt’s Mystery on the Prairie  (about 27 minutes)

*  From the National Parks Service, short intros to Prairies
All About Prairies
– Minnesota Prairies
Plants of the Tallgrass Prairie
(Click on each one to see colored photos and a brief description!)
Oak Savanna

* Explore the Prairie !
(Interactive site from Camp Silos)

American Serengeti  
(45 minute video about the American Prairie by National Geographic…if you didn’t watch this during week 1)

* North American Prairies

+ Mapping-

* Print out a blank map of the United States here.
–  Label Minnesota ;  outline it in a dark color
–  Label the state in which you live
–  Label the 3 types of prairies (or grasslands) found in America
(Here is some help from the National Parks Service… Grasslands and Prairies
of North America)

*Activities-  Biomes of Minnesota   (look for the printable pdf)

+Hands On-

* Biomes- Prairies  from Enchanted Learning
( A brief intro to the topic and LOTS of links to different animals common to the prairie lands of North America)

* Read about some of the wildflowers and grasses that grow in the Minnesota prairie here.
Try planting your own little prairie where you live.

* Want to study more?
The Young Naturalist’s Stories and Teacher’s Guides are an EXCELLENT resource !
Each topic includes a short story with nice sketches and a teacher’s guide with questions and links to other resources for further study!  You could spend months on these mini-lessons!

* Add items studied this week to your diorama…
OR you may like to make a separate diorama this week of a prairie habitat
OR you may like to make a collage of what you might find on the Minnesota Prairies.


American Girl Unit Study Week 3

*Week 3:  Minnesota


* State of Minnesota from the History Channel
(Nice, funny, short intro to the state of Minnesota…YouTube about 8 minutes)

* Minnesota Unit Study from Easy Fun School  
(Lots of ideas for fun activities including projects, recipes, and crafts!)

* All About Minnesota


* Watch this short tutorial on reading a map by the National Parks Service –

* Minnesota maps and other printable activities from Enchanted Learning

* Mapping Lesson Plans for the state of Minnesota  from
Minnesota Department of Agriculture

* Minnesota Road Trip !
(Here’s a fun alternative way to study the state!)

+Hands On-

* Links to Everything Minnesota !

* Minnesota Coloring Book  (printable)

* FREE State Notebooking Pages from The Notebooking Nook  

* FREE State Lapbooking Pages from Homeschool Helper Online
(Be sure to scroll down to see the LONG list of printables !) 

* Minnesota Animals
– Learn about 10 common animals in Minnesota and the actual size prints they make.
Do you have any of these same animals in the state where you live ?

* Minnesota State Interactive Quiz

* Minnesota Coloring Page

*Add to & finish up your diorama (It might be fun this week to add some of the major landmarks or landforms that  we have studied this week to your diorama….)




* This would be a good unit to study the Swedish artist Carl Larsson.
His paintings are bright, lovely, and happy.   I think you and your children would enjoy his work, if only just to click through some of his pieces.  🙂

– Lesson plans for a simple study of Carl Larsson
– Brief biography
– Scroll through a beautiful slideshow of Larsson’s paintings
– Links to lovely photos of many of Larsson’s works
– Larsson’s Wikipedia page  and  WikiArt page

– Making Art Fun – a show what you know kind of printable

– Some more artist study ideas to use from my favorite Kitchen Table Classroom!
– Worksheet on How to Analyze a Artwork

*Misc. Recipes, Crafts, Activities, and other Fun Stuff

* Recipe for St. Lucia Buns 
* Recipe for Swedish Rice Porridge 
*AG Kirsten event planner…games, printables & some ideas for related activities

*Little House on the Prairie  is a super site with loads of activities, crafts, history, stories, recipes and more.  All set in this time period!

*Dala Horse craft
* Other fun Swedish crafts & cooks for kids  🙂
*Make a yarn doll from Little House Living  
*Make a Native American Talking Stick

*Ojibwe Lessons….arts & crafts, science, literature, math, etc…

*Remember these unit studies are designed so that your family can enjoy them for FREE anywhere there is internet access ! There are so many wonderful books that you could add to these studies, please by all means use as many as you have access to.  You could easily stretch these units out for 6 weeks or even 9 weeks by adding some great historical fiction!  :)

Remember to check out my  Kirsten:  Pioneer America and Kirsten’s Christmas Pinterest Boards,  and look for some great supplementary books for each of the unit studies HERE  
you can check my Pinterest “EXTRAS” boards for each unit and HERE.

If you decide to purchase any of these extra books, I would appreciate it greatly if you could click directly from my links.  Amazon will pay me a small commission for it, and it will NOT cost you anything additional.  Thanks for your support!

***Hope you have enjoyed the Kirsten Unit Study !
Follow along as we learn all about Civil War America,
Addy’s Unit Study !  ***

American History Books Civil War

*Other FREE American Girl History Units from Fields of Daisies~

*FREE Native America Unit Study-  AG Kaya
+Kaya Printable Power Pack  (Free!)
Native America (Kaya) Unit Study- PDF Version
+Kaya Native America Pinterest Board

*FREE Colonial America Unit Study – AG Felicity
+Felicity Printable Power Pack
+Colonial America  (Felicity) Unit Study-  PDF Version
+Felicity- Colonial America Pinterest Board
+Colonial America (Felicity) Christmas Pinterest Board

*FREE Southwest Frontier America Unit Study – AG Josefina
+Josefina Printable Power Pack
+Southwest Frontier  (Josefina) Unit Study-  PDF Version
+Josefina- Frontier America Pinterest Board
+Southwestern Frontier (Josefina) Christmas Pinterest Board

*FREE Pioneer America Unit Study – AG Kirsten
+Kirsten Printable Power Pack
+Pioneer America (Kirsten) Unit Study- PDF Version
+Kirsten-  Pioneer America Pinterest Board
+Pioneer America (Kirsten) Christmas Pinterest Board

*FREE Civil War America Unit Study – AG Addy
+Addy Printable Power Pack
+Civil War (Addy) Unit Study-  PDF Version
+Addy- Civil War America Pinterest Board
+Civil War (Addy) Christmas Pinterest Board

*FREE 1900 Turn of the Century America Unit Study – AG Samantha
+Samantha Printable Power Pack   (My FAVORITE yet!!!)
+Turn of the Century (Samantha) Unit Study-  PDF Version
+Samantha-  Turn of the Century Pinterest Board
+Turn of the Century (Samantha) Christmas Pinterest Board

girl christmas holiday homeschooling
*American Girl Christmas School-  Homeschooling Through the Holidays

–> Check out all the American Girl Printables in the Book Store!

If you loved this Unit Study, check out the Printable Power Packs and the live PDF Versions of the American Girl History Units all in a neat BUNDLE!
And nicely DISCOUNTED of course!

american girl unit studies fields of daisies    American History American Girl PDF Versions Bundle





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