For our first term, we learned about Native Americans and started The First Americans, volume 1 of A History of US by Joy Hakim. I had looked at this series before for our studies this year, but I get overwhelmed at doing the reading. When I found the audiobook on Scribd it was an easy decision to use this series. I have heard other parents compare it to Story of the World, but for US History.
For years I was dreading teaching American History. While I love homeschooling, its no secret that diversity and minority stories can be lacking. Most traditional Christian homeschool programs teach a Euro-centric and providential American history. I knew I wanted to do better and include many perspectives in our studies. I looked at many of our go to programs to see if they would work. While some books looked good, I couldn’t find a program that I loved and met all my needs. So I’m mashing the best of them all together and using History of US as our starting text
Celebrating the Diversity
I really wanted to highlight the unique cultures and differences among the different Native American people groups and help my kids remember, so we did a special notetaking and journal projects. Several times a week we are reading from the American Indian Prayer Guide, published by Sonlight. We read all the readings on a specific group and then fill out our note taking sheet. I made the sheets to include space to write the name of the people, where they have lived and facts that make them unique.
For my young writers, we brainstorm what are some good details we want to remember and I write a sentence on the whiteboard for them to copy. The focus of this activity is remembering the diversity not the handwriting and spelling, so those parts get some help while we focus on discerning the important details. I’ve made a copy of our note taking page to share.
As part of their Language Arts I assign daily independent reading to them. Their reading list has included biographies and memoirs of Native Americans for this unit.
Vostaas: White Buffalo’s Story of Plains Indian Life, by William White Buffalo Written by a Cheyenne to share with children the real experiences of their people and the Plains Indians. It led to some excellent questions and discussions as our son read it and compared it to our family, culture, and experiences.
Pocahontas and the Strangers by Clyde Robert Bulla A biography of Pocahontas told from her own perspective. It inspired my son to want to learn more about the Powhatan people, their daily life and houses.
The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads This Newbery Honor book is set in Ancient Mayan culture of a boy coming of age when his father is sick and the work still needs to be done for the family’s survival.
Questions lead to Research
The more they read of their assigned reading and listened to our audiobook. The more the kids had questions and wanted to learn more about specific questions. Sounded like another themed newspaper was forming. We made our list of questions and topics we wanted to learn about and headed to the library! One kid was fascinated by the idea that the Europeans just took land and kicked out those who were there first. Another one wanted to learn more about Powhatans after reading Pocahontas on their own. I helped them organize their time to read the library books and write their findings. We like to compile their writing in regular newspapers for friends and family as a way to share the project with others.
Learning Alongside My Kids
I enjoyed digging into our study along side my kids. Reading about each unique Tribe has been teaching me a lot! I discovered how much more I need to learn when their report on Famous Native Americans brought up people I hadn’t heard about before. I’ll be adding that to my own reading list!