“If History were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”Rudyard Kipling
My ultimate goal in creating the American Girl History curriculum is to help children fall in love with history. I want them to be excited to learn more, enjoy and relate to the stories, and make it memorable with hands on activities. Learning with stories that they will never forget. It has been one year since I began writing this curriculum and is such a joy and accomplishment to now see other children enjoying it.
Today, Cassie from Home-Centered Learning, is my guest blogger, sharing a review on their experience using the American Girl History curriculum. I have loved watching her twin girls use it this past year, and I am so thankful for her review to help you in deciding if this curriculum would be a good fit for your family.
Why American Girl History?
When I started researching American History curriculums, I knew I wanted something that was not only accurate, but would simultaneously ignite a love and appreciation for the events and people of the past for my 8 year old twin girls. But, how do we introduce history and all of its glory and complexity in an age-appropriate way? How do we help young children begin to connect to those who have come before us?
From my childhood, I mostly remember attempting to learn history through boring textbooks filled with dry facts. I knew I wanted to take a very different approach with my children. While there are so many history curriculums out there, very few actually cater to the early elementary years. Many homeschool curriculums are family style and often place more emphasis on materials for older children. They might include simple activities for young children like coloring pages and word searches, but those will rarely offer much educational value nor spark an interest to want to learn more about the past. I knew that I wanted something more engaging for my twins, but I was having a hard time finding anything I thought they would love.
I decided to move ahead thinking I would probably have to supplement and piece together my own materials. But, right as I started to dive in, the stars aligned. I stumbled upon Lindsay from Little School of Smiths and she had just begun releasing her American Girl History Guides. Lindsay is a history major and I could instantly tell she had a similar passion for helping her own children develop a love for history. The very first thing I noticed was that there were no textbooks, no worksheets, and no coloring pages in her guides. Alternatively, the curriculum guides were centered around living books. Instead of working through dry facts, living books are all filled with inspiring stories that feed the reader’s heart. Even more, each of her guides were filled with hands-on activities, recipes, and arts and crafts. I knew these activities would not only help bring the stories to life, but they would also engage all of my children. It was exactly what I had been looking for to help create a light and positive introduction to history.
How The Guides Work
In each of the 8 guides, history comes alive through the eyes of the American Girls and their accompanying books. The units give suggested readings from the Welcome To books or the “Looking Back” sections in the back of the historical chapter books for each girl.
Each guide is flexibly paced over a four week study and is recommended for ages 5-10. Each week there are suggested readings and coordinating hands-on activities, arts and crafts, recipes, video links, and narration note booking suggestions. There are easy to follow instructions, picture tutorials, and templates for anything you need. Each guide also comes with a simple supply list and additional picture book or read-aloud suggestions. There are enough activities to do something every day or you can pick and choose what will work best for your child’s interests. The entire guide is also flexible enough you could use it as a supplemental resource to another history book or curriculum.
A common question is whether or not these units will hold the interest of boys and I would absolutely say yes! While the main character of each book is a girl, there are also other relatable characters. Additionally each of the Welcome To books and “Looking Back” sections in the chapter books offer fascinating historical insight appealing to both boys and girls. Each guide also includes read-aloud suggestions for boys that you can use in place of the American Girl chapter books or as additional reading material. My five year old son didn’t read any of the books with us since he was a little younger, but he loved all of the activities we did together!
We had a fantastic experience with the curriculum! All my kids loved it and it was also such a joy for me to integrate into our studies. We started with both sets of books. First, I purchased used sets of the Welcome To books and then we used a combination of audio and library books to work through each American Girl’s chapter books. I am really glad we did both and if you can get your hands on them all, I would. We will be keeping the books in our home library for years to come because I think they set such a positive and age-appropriate tone for an introduction to American History. I can see myself pulling from them as a supplement to future history curriculums. My twins loved all of the girl’s stories and I felt like they accomplished exactly what I was looking for – a connection to the past through someone who they could easily relate to.
We also utilized the narration note booking ideas for our history journals. We brought in lots of art, handwriting, geography, science, and literature. The girls created pages on historical figures like Lewis and Clark, wrote what they learned about the Nez Perce tribes, the Boston Tea Party, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, and what life was like during the Civil War. I helped the girls type up summaries of the chapter books and we stored those and many of the crafts they did in their history journals as well. Upon Lindsay’s recommendation we also used a History Timeline Book and the American Girl stickers which we all enjoyed.
We did a lot of the hands-on activities and loved every single one of them! At the end of our school year, we also grabbed the review game so we can continue to have a fun way to recall some of the details, events, and people we studied. Because of the added depth and connection my girls developed, I think they will have memories of these units forever though. And since the guides provide such a plethora of ideas, I am keeping them close by. I know we will be pulling from these units over and over for years to come.
Check out more information and to purchase American Girl History (the Bundle) HERE.
Each girl/time period is a 4 week study that can be completed in a month or extended longer. When we did the curriculum, we did one girl each month starting September-May. We skipped the month of December and used An American Girl Christmas.
Each guide is also sold separately if you are wanting to only study a certain time period, find them in my shop HERE.
You can also grab my FREE book list that goes with the curriculum to help you find the books you need.
Thank you Cassie for your amazing review! Cassie has an amazing and helpful homeschool blog you can check out HERE, or give her a follow on Instagram @homecenteredlearning.
In college Cassie studied Early Childhood Education and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Family Life Studies. Before having children she worked as a nanny, taught in multiple schools, and volunteered as a child’s advocate. Now, she is a stay-at-home mom to four children; 9 year old twin girls and two younger boys ages 5 and 3. She never thought she would homeschool, but when her twins were in first grade she pulled them mid-year and never looked back. Cassie quickly discovered how much she loves teaching her children at home. In her spare time she loves to read, blog, shop, camp, travel, and spend time with family and friends.