We have been doing a unit study on Early American history… for a while now. Many moons ago, I asked Shawn if there was an area of history that he felt we hadn’t covered well enough. He said that he didn’t really know much about the Colonial period of American history.
So I ordered an Early American history lapbook from In the Hands of a Child.
I happened to get a book from Goodwill called Rehoboth by Angela Elwell Hunt. It was a Christian novel, but as I read it, I realized that it was about the Wampanoag Indians and King Philip’s war right after the time of the first Pilgrims. It told about the ministry of John Eliot to the Indians. I read it first, then I read it aloud to my oldest children. We all really enjoyed the story, told from the perspectives of the Indians, the white missionaries and the Indian missionaries.
I got the Time Travelers – Colonial Life from Homeschool in the Woods.
I made this model of Jamestown settlement that I got from Homeschool in the Woods.
I looked in my book All Through the Ages for some books about the Founding of America and the Colonial period. I found a book called This Dear-Bought Land by Jean Lee Latham about Jamestown and Captain John Smith. We had never studied Jamestown in depth, so I was happy to read a book by an author that I already loved from reading her book Carry on, Mr. Bowditch years ago. My children really enjoyed this book about Captain John Smith, and we really got a feel for the time period and the dangers they faced from starvation, poor leadership and organization, lack of people willing to work and hostile Indians.
Simultaneously, I read a book about Pocahontas that I happened to have, The Story of Pocahontas by Brian Doherty, a Dover book.
We watched the HBO mini-series about John Adams. Not being from a Christian perspective, it was slightly depressing. It lacked the element of hope and the strong biblical foundation that our Founders actually worked from. I read aloud a library book about Abigail Adams, a biography by Dorothie Bobbe.
We then studied Thomas Jefferson by reading books from the library about him. I read a book aloud called Thomas Jefferson: Champion of the People by Clara Ingram Judson. In reading about Thomas Jefferson, we also read about the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Louisiana Purchase. I read several other books myself for background information but didn’t have time to read them all aloud. We wrote an essay together about Thomas Jefferson.
I also read a library book called Grand Papa and Ellen Aroon by F. N. Monjo. It was about Thomas Jefferson written from the perspective of his granddaughter. It was a sweet book that was informative and enjoyable.
I got several videos by David Barton of Wallbuilders, and we watched some about the American Revolution and the Foundations of American Government.
Somewhere in there I read aloud Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry. In this story, the main character, Joel Goss, went and fought in the War of 1812 and actually met President Monroe.
After doing all of this reading and soaking in the time period, we are now putting together that lapbook I ordered from Hands of a Child. The children are writing about the things they have learned from reading (or hearing me read) many living books about early American history. The lapbook goes up to the era of the cowboys and the Gold Rush, so I have had Kelsey and Morgan read some books about Davy Crockett and will probably read a few novels about Westward Expansion before I end this unit. I have been finding a few books in our home library from this general time period and assigning them to different ones of the children to read independently.
We have been working on this unit for about a year. The lapbook is our culminating activity. I have learned so much about American History through this study. I have a much better grasp of what happened when and why. We are so blessed to be able to learn this way – all together. We have had many discussions that have caused each one of us to think deeply about the Declaration of Independence and the biblical foundations of our government and the principles of freedom that so many of our people have died for. And we have become even more thankful for the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and for the Constitution that they provided for us.
Here is our lapbook so far:
This is an example of Spirit-led homeschooling.