Posted in Homeschooling Corner

Our Early State History Unit Study (and freebie)

This was such a fun unit study that I just have to share! Out of all our unit studies, this has been my absolute favorite. I really like unit studies because they are hands-on and incorporate many subjects at once, making learning fun and something to anticipate and enjoy together. The subjects we’ve touched upon throughout this unit study include history, geography, art, English and a little science and music. Read on, and if you’re interested in doing your own version of this unit in your homeschool, I have created what I hope will be a helpful freebie (my first!) which you can “grab” at the end.

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It was my daughter’s idea to use a thick poster board instead of wall space we don’t have. I thought that was brilliant! Timeline supplies and dates listed in freebie.
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I wanted my son to write the dates but he had a good point when he said his writing wouldn’t be legible! But he chose our timeline dates, hung the postcards and helped with the assembly.

The idea for this unit came from a decision to create our own wall timeline which was something we had never done before. I came across a delightful 50 state postcard set on Amazon and made an impromptu purchase. This postcard set was perfect for our timeline. I cannot find the exact same set now on Amazon, but there are similar sets such as this one. (The only issue I see with the one I linked is that some of the postcards are printed vertical and others horizontal).

For this unit study, I chose the following as our base curriculum-

American Story

The American Story, by Jennifer Armstrong. I purchased our copy from Barnes and Noble. It features 100 factual short stories, beginning from the 1500’s. To use this book, we simply read one or more stories each day or week, keeping up with our timeline as much as possible. (I don’t think it’s necessary to keep up exactly.) This book would be perfect for multiple ages as a read-aloud.

American Ride

American Ride, which is an entertaining and accurate history series by BYUtv. We streamed each show from the BYUtv website through my son’s Kindle. We began with season one which starts off with the pilgrims, and continued watching in episode order. I recommend this show for middle and high school ages. Maybe one of my readers can suggest a similar resource for younger children? But this show was perfect for my 14-year old. We both enjoyed watching it and we learned a lot.

That’s it! From there we added one more read-aloud just for fun, our timeline of course, and a state notebook my son created himself.

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I thought about choosing living-books to represent some of the states, but decided instead to try a book from Rush Limbaugh’s children’s series Rush Revere and focus on a time period instead, such as the American Revolution. Any book in this series would fit this unit beautifully. Also, the website is fun and educational, so check it out! By the way, we really enjoyed this book and my son plans to read the whole series now. This book would work great for multiple ages as a family read-aloud or an upper- elementary aged child could easily read it on their own. We read this together before bedtime.

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We left space for the postcards to go in the notebook. Supplies and resources are listed in the freebie.

Each day we’d start this unit off by watching an episode or two of American Ride. Then we’d read from The American Story. Afterwards, we’d go to our kitchen table and work on the notebook pages for one to two states. ♥ The states were studied in order of their statehood dates. For each state, we’d look up the corresponding state page on history.com and from the interesting fact section, my son would select something to illustrate or create which would represent that state. For example, my son drew a diamond for Delaware since Thomas Jefferson called that state a “jewel among the states”. For Pennsylvania, he drew the Liberty Bell. For Maryland he looked up a photo of the original U.S. flag and illustrated that, using chalk pastels for color. ♥ Under each illustration, he’d write the history fact in his own words.

Usually this led us to further learning bits such as listening to Elvis Presley songs on YouTube (for Tennessee) or following directions for a snowflake tutorial to make a paper snowflake (for Montana who holds the record for largest snowflake, but that fact wasn’t found on history.com! We somehow came across it here.) This is how other subjects such as music or science came into play. Why not try a Kool aid experiment (for Nebraska)?

Ducksters.com state pages may be preferred for younger children.

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Our second timeline board. We added the map to use up the extra space.
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This was a fun activity, and big sister got involved. I had cut a poster map by the states and laminated each piece. They then assembled them without referring to a map.

We’d end our unit study time by adding the postcard(s) to our timeline board, along with any other dates we chose to include. Most of our history dates came from American Ride, others from The American Story, but a few came from random internet searches. We didn’t include every single date possible, just those dates we found most significant (the start and end of the Civil War) with a few fun dates mixed in (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made it’s film debut in 1939).

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This is a great game for this unit!

Don’t forget to add in a fieldtrip or two, at least in your neck of the woods. Here in Utah, we live close to Golden Spike where the Central Pacific and Union Railroads joined. Or explore your own hometown.

♥ Ready for your 2 page freebie? These are planning sheets. The first page includes the curriculum and supplies we used. The second page has our timeline dates and some tips. I’m sure these aren’t perfect so if you have any questions, need clarification or can’t get the links to work, just let me know in the comments below. If you do this unit in your homeschool or as part of summer vacation, be sure to let me know! ♥

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Posted in Homeschooling Corner

How We Use Online Learning In Our Homeschool

There are many online resources, curriculum and programs available to homeschoolers. I won’t even pretend to know most of them, haha, but I do want to share how we use the internet in our homeschool. I want a healthy mix of hands-on and online learning for my son who is 14-years old. I think it’s important to learn how to balance both in today’s day and age.

Five years or so ago, we discovered an amazing distance education that we truly love. It is a perfect fit for our family. It’s through an LDS-based private school called, Liahona Preparatory Academy, and this is a big chunk of the way we homeschool.

We like Liahona because they film and stream their classes live, which is fun, but there is always the option to watch a previously-recorded class anytime, making this online learning quite flexible. It’s also personal because he can instant message and email his teachers, who have met him and our family. He is welcome to participate in many of the school’s activities such as youth conference, prom and super trips (we are going on a super trip at the end of May). Students may be unaccredited or accredited, God is fully included, there are no classes on Fridays, and assignments and tests are minimal (solely given on the subject matter taught).

This year, Marcus is taking three classes through Liahona: math (a combination geometry/algebra 2 class), earth science, and history.

English, music, art, more history and science- these are subjects we mesh and tackle together through hands-on learning, such as notebooking, unit studies, classics we read a-loud, poetry tea times, nature walks, fieldtrips, etc. We use online resources in conjunction with these activities, only as we need them or find them useful to complete the whole picture.

For example, right now we are in the middle of an early state history unit. As part of this unit, we are watching the history of the United States unfold through a wonderful BYUtv show called, American Ride. We started at season one and now we’re into season three. Marcus streams each episode for us on his Kindle, and we watch on our TV. After each show, we have a little discussion, and then we might pull out a book called, The American Story, by Jennifer Armstrong.

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Then at the kitchen table, Marcus works on his state notebook. He creates two pages for each state. He sketches something representing the history of the state on one page, and writes a description underneath his picture. To help with this part, we use the state pages on history.com and ducksters.com. For Tennessee last week, Marcus sketched a guitar and wrote that Elvis was from Tennessee, which is considered the home of blues and country music. And then we used YouTube to listen to a few Elvis songs. We decided Burning Love is our favorite (maybe because of the movies, The Game Plan and Lilo & Stitch?)

I also found an excellent printable USA map from mrprintables.com.

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This is our fabulous timeline. It was my daughter’s idea to use a poster board since we don’t have enough wall space.

♥ So that is how we use online learning in our homeschool. Thanks for reading! What is your favorite online resource or program in your homeschool? What is your favorite Elvis song? ♥