We first “discovered” the American Girl series of books about 5 years ago. We’ve read many of them, covering several different major time periods in history from the American Revolution to World War II. It’s a neat way to get a historical perspective from a girl that my daughters can relate to. Since we’re always looking for homeschool lessons to go along with the books we enjoy reading, the Girls of American History Curriculum is a perfect fit for us. Written by homeschool mom Justine Gamble, it takes a unit study approach, which is one of our favorite learning methods.
We had a chance to review Unit 6 in the Girls of American History, which focuses on the early 1900s and the Industrial Revolution with the Samantha series of American Girl books.
All 6 Samantha books are required reading for this unit study:
Book 1: Meet Samantha
Book 2: Samantha Learns a Lesson
Book 3: Samantha’s Surprise
Book 4: Happy Birthday, Samantha!
Book 5: Samantha Saves the Day
Book 6: Changes for Samantha
(FYI: I looked for these books at our local library and discovered they were checked out, so I placed a hold on them and had to wait until they were available. Some of them had to come through inter-library loan, which delayed our studies by two weeks. If I had the budget to purchase them, I would’ve gotten them from Amazon just because you don’t have to worry about due dates and then they are available to refer back to as you go through the study. They are also the kind of books that get passed down to younger sisters in the future, so it would be a worthwhile investment.)
There are 16 pages in the downloadable PDF literature guide/unit study. It is designed to be used over the course of 6 weeks with one book per week. A 5-days-per-week schedule is included, which divides the reading and activities into easily manageable sections. This makes it simple for planning ahead of time. Anything that makes my planning easier is a plus!
Historical topics covered in the study include: women’s suffrage, orphan trains, the progress of machinery and manufacturing, “horseless carriages,” child labor, and the Transcontinental Railroad. This time period is rich in inventions and innovations. Samantha herself is an orphan, albeit a privileged one who lives with her grandmother in New York, but we still see the changes between the “old-fashioned” ways and the “newfangled” ways of a new century. Change is the theme throughout all the books.
One of the neat features about the Girls of American History study is the access to the material on the website. Once you purchase the unit study, you can login and get a list of related activities, craft projects, and even field trip ideas. There is also a list of additional books to read that accompany the historical time period. For instance, we also read about the Wright Brothers because their flight was mentioned in the Samantha books. Other notables to read about are Thomas Edison and Susan B. Anthony.
We enjoyed making a seashell picture frame and plan to make an embroidered pillow as suggested in the study. Other recommended resources from the study are Draw Write Now and the craft book for the Samantha series. These things are what truly makes it a multi-sensory unit study!
If you have a daughter in the 8-12 age range who loves to read and/or loves American Girl books, I recommend the Girls of American History unit studies. At only $7.95 per study (or $72 for the whole set of 12), they are reasonably priced. They can make planning simple for busy homeschool moms and make history more relatable and enjoyable for kids.
Read more of this series by clicking the image below:
Part of the series with 26 homeschool bloggers: