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Learning American History Through Literature: The Easiest Way to Unit Study

If you love the idea of unit studies but they seem overwhelming to plan, you’re going to love this review. Learning American History Through Literature was sent to me by Common Sense Press in exchange for an honest review and I love this resource! In this review, I will share exactly what Learning American History Through Literature is, how we’re using it, and why I love it. So many times, I over complicate things–this is why I love the products from Common Sense Press. They simplify everything and make even the most frustrating subjects doable. You can read about their writing curriculum here that we also love!

What is Learning American History Through Literature?

Learning American History Through Literature is a full history curriculum. It can also be used as a supplement, but I think it does a great job standing alone! If you are a fan of unit studies, this is perfect for you. It is organized into seven units:

  • Colonial Period
  • Revolutionary War Period
  • Westward Expansion
  • Civil War Period
  • Industrial Age
  • World War Years
  • Postwar Years (1945-1968)

This is not a textbook or even a traditional history curriculum that explains what to do each day. This curriculum leaves a lot up to Mom to design their history unit study as she sees fit. (I love that!)

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Learning History Through Literature

Each unit is packed with ideas and resources. Because we are “learning history through literature,” the units are organized into literary sections. Here is what each unit includes: 

  • Prologue: An introduction to the story. Gives your child an overview of this moment in history.
  • Setting: Gives more context to the unit and tells where it is taking place.
  • Language: Provides vocabulary words used during this time frame.
  • Plot: The actions and events of the story. This section includes books set in the current time period.
  • Dialogue: Suggested questions to talk with your child about, based on the books they have read, and the studying you have done together over the time period.
  • Reading Between the Lines: Activity ideas to do together. This includes a ton of ideas like games, movies, hands-on ideas, and more. Each unit has recipe ideas as well, which I love!
  • Epilogue: This section of the unit is meant to be a way of tying everything you’ve learned together. There are ideas for biographies based on the time period and ideas for presentations, which is my favorite way to end a unit study.

How We Are Using Learning American History Through Literature

This curriculum could not have come at a better time. I am realizing how, even though it’s hard for me, the best way to have a successful homeschool for us right now is to really simplify everything. I’d love to spend hours a day on intricate projects with my 4th grader, but it’s not possible right now. When we started out the homeschool year, I was trying to pull together an elaborate unit study on pioneers for Vera and it was just frustrating and we never got to all the things I had planned. It was really frustrating to me! 

Get the 6 Secrets to a Simpler Mom Life

But then, Common Sense Press sent me Learning American History Through Literature and it was truly such an answer to an unsaid prayer for me! 

We dropped the elaborate study I was attempting and opened the new book to the section on Westward Expansion. I went through all the sections of the study and listed out all the ideas I could do and read with Vera. Here is what our unit study looked like:

  • Read the overview and make a timeline of this section of history
  • Read Going West, a suggested book that gives a great overview of the time period
  • Make cards with vocabulary words
  • Create a notebook to store the notebooking pages, vocabulary words, and whatever else Vera creates during the study
  • Read selected picture books
  • Assign Vera to read several books off the suggested book list
  • Notebook some selected dialogue questions
  • Do a few projects from the project list
  • Watch: Sarah, Plain and Tall
  • Have a 1800s meal with recipes from the book
  • Have Vera choose a person to read about from the suggested list of notable people and give a presentation on him or her

That’s it! We moved through this list as we quickly or as slowly as time allowed. When finished, we can move on to the next section in the book. It’s so simple and easy to plan for! So thankful for this resource.

What I Love About This Curriculum

  • Learning American History Through Literature can be used to teach multiple ages–my favorite way to teach history and save my sanity.
  • You can use this resource for one or even two years of history content.
  • It’s a super inexpensive resource. All you need is this book and a library card! That’s it.
  • This curriculum is PACKED with ideas and you can pick and choose and customize it however it works best for your family. I love a curriculum like that because you can tailor it to work just for you.

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