Creating My Own Curriculum for U.S. History | Early Elementary

It became apparent to me that following the heels of the presidential election, and listening to stories of American History on Your Story Hour, my six year old was very interested in American History. I also remember reading that the early elementary years are a great time to delve into this topic, so I began looking for a great way to study U.S. History.

Of course, in typical style, nothing seemed to match what I was looking for perfectly, so this is how I came up with our curriculum for American History.

I’ve had a couple people ask, and so I’m happy to just share the link for the document I’m using to plan our curriculum here.  Just as a warning, it’s not finished, and I’m adding and updating as we go, so don’t be surprised if things change on it. I will let you know when it’s all done and share a PDF file that won’t change. 🙂 In the meantime, feel free to check this out if you think it will be helpful: U.S. History Lesson Plans.

I would love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite U.S. History resources for early elementary ages?

Here are all the links mentioned in the video:

Beautiful Feet Books:
The Early American History program fro Beautiful Feet books became my jumping off point and spine. Basically this program put everything into context for me, making the prospect of making my own curriculum doable and not ridiculously overwhelming.

A look inside Beautiful Feet Curriculum

The Mystery of History:
I really like the Mystery of History, and it’s likely to be the bones for most of our history over the next few years. In this case, I’m simply using the activities and some of the information as a supplement to what we are studying in American History.

Your Story Hour:
My son loves theses audio dramatizations, and he has learned so much about history though them. He would seriously listen to them for HOURS every day if I let him (let’s be real, sometimes I do.) How awesome is it that we can incorporate these great stories that he loves into our history?!?

Heroes of History for Young Readers:
I have loved the corresponding set of missionary stories for our family. The boys both love the books and we read them over and over again. I also love all of the additional activities and songs that go along with it. I can’t wait to incorporate some of these books into our history.

My Review of Heroes for Young Readers

Drive Thru History American History:
Although these are intended for a bit older kids, we have watched a few clips of these online. My littlest (3 years old) just LOVES all the cars, and my oldest (6) is such a visual learner and LOVES seeing all the places and things he has heard and read about. I can’t wait to dive into these!

Rainbow Resource:
There isn’t a whole lot to say about Rainbow Resource except that it is one of my favorite homeschool resources, and one of my first stops when I am looking for homeschooling ideas and curriculum.

Scholastic 3-D Interactive Maps:
This is such a fun mapping resource that really brings the geography of the times to life. While I will likely be doing most of the work of making the maps for the kids at this age, there is so much they can do with them, and when we go back and study these things in later years, they can have a turn making the maps themselves. I absolutely love the breadth of topics covered in this resource as well!

Hana’s channel, Pepper and Pine:
Hana’s channel and blog is another one of my all time favorite resources for finding homeschool materials and supplies. Her reviews are fantastic and I love seeing what she is doing with her kids. If you prefer blogs over YouTube videos, check out her blog here.

Summer Homeschool Unit Studies Resources

Dinosaurs, Garden Critters and More

Did you see my last post about planning my summer homeschool block? Well, here is a bit more information about what we are doing, along with some of the additional tools and resources we are using.

Mystery of History

For History, I’m highly adapting The Mystery of History. I lined up the number of lessons we would need to do with our science lessons to stay on track for the two timelines to work together. For this block, we will work on 7 lessons in Mystery of History Vol 1 and 12 lessons in our science. I usually read these lessons ahead and then use felts or just tell the stories to the kids. I find the actual text is a bit too textbook for them, but we still love using it as a spine. We also sometimes combine or skip lessons depending on what’s appropriate for the boys.

When I plan little unit studies, my goal is to plan enough to get my kids really interested, but not to plan so much that we can’t dig in deep and follow their own questions and curiosities as we study.

Lesson 1: Creation – make a creation mobile with the days of creation

Lesson 2: Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden – talk about what the garden of Eden might have looked like. Use play doh to make new animals and name them.

Lesson 3: Jubal and Tubal-Cain – Read Genesis 4:21-22 and talk about how God made people with creative and thinking brains. God must be even more amazing. Watch two YouTube videos about how to make things with iron: here and here. Make musical instruments and make music with some of the instruments we have.

Lesson 4: Noah’s Ark – Play animal concentration or other animal games.

Lesson 5: Ice Age – UNIT STUDY

Lesson 6: Dinosaurs – UNIT STUDY

To see a review of some of these products and what we did with them, check out this video: https://youtu.be/qvgAj-RKfcU

Lesson 7: The Sumerians – Make a cuneiform tablet, and read various books from the library – look at some ziggurat pictures

Science in the Beginning

We are working out of the Science in the Beginning book, which I love. We are mostly doing the units just as they are listed, but we will spend more time on the lessons the boys are really interested in. We will be doing day 3 of creation (it matches with the garden unit study the boys really want to do).

Gardening Unit Study

This is something the boys really want to do. They are not only interested in the process of growing plants, but also about all the critters in the garden. I’m using the book Wildlife Gardening as my guide and will be pulling ideas and activities from there as we go along. Basically, I have come up with several lesson ideas. We don’t have to do them all and I will let the boys pick what we do each time we finish with one lesson. I will use the library as a great source and really follow the boy’s leads on this one.

Lesson 1 – What a plant needs to grow

Lesson 2 – Pick what you want to grow in your garden

Lesson 3 – Prep the beds and plant our seeds/plants

Lesson 4 – Talk about bugs and garden critters

Lesson 5 – Start a compost pile – decide what kind we want to do

Lesson 6 – Make a butterfly house (maybe order caterpillars and watch them grow into butterflies). Pull out all our butterfly books.

Lesson 7 – Learn about Bees

Lesson 8 – Learn about Ladybugs – make a ladybug sanctuary from Wildlife Gardening.

Lesson 9 – Learn about spiders and make a spiderweb catcher from Wildlife Gardening.

Lesson 10 – Learn about frogs and toads and make a toad home from Wildlife Gardening.

Lesson 11 – Learn about worms and find some.

Lesson 12 – Learn about birds and make a bird feeder and a bird bath.

Lesson 13 – Learn about animal tracks and animals at night.

So, that’s pretty much it for now. The boys have already been enjoying some of these lessons. They are also very excited about some of the ones that are coming up too. If you want to see some of the tools and resources we are using up close, check out the video below. I’d love to hear about any unit studies or activities you have planned for the summer!

*I am an Usborne Books & More Independent Consultant and make a commission on books purchased from these links.

Astronauts | K-4 Unit Study

Astronaut Unit Study

Spine Book: Living in Space by Katie Daynes*

Related Topics: Jobs People Do, Space

Get ready to blast off as you explore astronauts on earth and in space.  Train like an astronaut, explore the International Space Station, find out how astronauts brush their teeth in space, and more!

You can simply have fun with the activities below, or here’s a complete, day-by-day six week unit study for your children grades K-4. Don’t forget to check out the booklist, and additional links and resources at the bottom of this post.

*Each section below is based on a section in Living in Space by Katie Danes.  You can check this book out at your local library or purchase it for $4.99 from my online store here. This book is not REQUIRED to do the unit study, but is highly recommended.  

Earth and Space

  • Look at pictures from space using Google Earth, or look at a globe and talk about what astronauts would see. Identify the continents. Talk about what you see. What are the white parts? Blue? Green? Brown? What else do you see?
  • Make an earth craft.  You can simply set out craft supplies and let your child create her own artistic interpretation of earth or you can do one of these crafts:

Space School

  • Do some gravity experiments
    • Try dropping things of different weights. Talk about how fast they fall.
    • Crater marble drop: Cover the bottom of a shallow pan with flour. Drop a marble from different distances. Look at the craters they make. Are they different? What’s happening?
    • Gravity jump:Gravity is what keeps us from floating away. Jump as far as you can. Measure your jump. Try to jump farther and farther. How far can you go? Young children can use non-standard measurements like a stick. For more advanced children, have them figure out the difference between the lengths of their jumps.
  • Take a field trip to a pool. Swim around to try to find out what it fells like in space.
  • Take a field trip to a playground.  Notice all the ways and places you experience gravity.
  • Read about how to become an astronaut and look at current space schools.
  • Physical exercise is a big part of astronaut training. Get active and train like an astronaut.

Preparing to Go

Lift Off

  • Find out all about NASA’s space shuttles on their interactive web site.
  • Did you know NASA is building a new space shuttle for a journey to Mars? Read the latest news on shuttle Orion.
  • Build and launch a simple baking soda rocket
  • Watch a live launch. Spaceflight Now broadcasts many live rocket launches.  When rockets aren’t launching they may be streaming a live Q&A session with astronauts currently in space.  This is a website you don’t want to miss out on.

In Orbit

  • Take a video tour inside space shuttle Discovery.
  • Watch a timelapse of an orbit around the earth.
  • Do an experiment and learn how satellites orbit.
  • Do the math. If the circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles, and it takes 90 minutes to orbit the earth, how fast is the space shuttle moving?

A Home in Space

The Space Station

  • Take a video tour of the International Space Station with astronaut Suni Williams.
  • Did you know that you can actually see the space station from Earth? Check to see the next time you should be able to spot the space station from your area.
  • Watch live streaming from the ISS. You could even watch the live stream when the space station is passing over your area and view your area from the sky.

Eating and Drinking

Keeping Clean

  • Check out this youtube playlist to watch videos on how to shower, shave, brush your teeth and wash your hands in space.
  • Think about some other things that might be difficult to use in space.  When do you use water? What about other liquids? Talk about all the things that would be different. If you like to write, write a story about waking up one day and finding your whole house in space.  How would you do basic, everyday things? If you are an artist, illustrate your story.

A Day In Space

  • Read about a day in space with astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
  • Astronaut Garrett Reisman filmed a video series about his day aboard the ISS. Feel free to watch all seven clips or just watch a bit here and there to see a day in the life of an astronaut.
  • Astronauts eat, sleep and make videos in space, but what else do they do all day? Read about all the different things astronauts do in space.
  • Did you know that there are lots of experiments going on all the time on the ISS? You can read an overview of them here.
  • Watch a video to see how astronauts sleep in space.

Space Suits

Going Outside

Back to Earth

Space Trips

Additional Resources

Quicklinks

Check out the Usborne quicklinks that go with “Living in Space” which include how to draw an astronaut, a printable book, videos and more.

Websites

Vocabulary/Spelling List

You can go here to make handwriting sheets for your word list.

astronaut, shuttle, international, planet, gravity, fuel, orbit, payload, laboratory, airlock, mission, training

Book List

Printable Book List

*Denotes books that I have personally reviewed
Usborne books link directly to my Usborne shop website. I earn a commission on sales. No other earnings are associated with other links.

 

Activities, Toys, and Extras

None of these items are required to do this unit study, however, if you have a child who is particularly interested in a topic, this is a great list to expand learning opportunities.  It also might be something to hold on to for Christmas and birthdays. Some of these things can also be helpful to encourage a sibling who is learning along side of all your other kids, but may not be as interested in the topic.

Activity Books

Toys

Games