Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Early American History - The Planning Stages

This post contains affiliate links.  

Next year for history, we will be studying Early American History with Beautiful Feet Books.  I wasn't going to blog about it until well after we started, so I could just share how well it was working for us.  Then I decided I might as well share our entire journey, because in all my initial research, I couldn't really find many other homeschoolers who shared their actual experiences with it.  Well, I found a few blog posts about the older editions of the upper level materials, but my search turned up nothing substantial for the elementary levels.  I wanted to know how it worked in a real homeschool, what worked, what didn't work.  What the lessons looked like in real life, what the planning would be like for me.

Finally, finally, I came across a blog, A Story in Time, where a real homeschool mom shared her experience with Beautiful Feet Books because she couldn't find the same things I was looking for when she searched either.  If other homeschoolers feel the way I do, research the way I do, then I feel like maybe someone who's researching Early American History from Beautiful Feet Books will happen across my series, and hers, and decide if this program is or is not right for their family.  So here we go . . .

Why Early American History?
I really did love our former curriculum, and it served its purpose when we needed it most.  I look forward to using it again with the girls, but it was time for the boys to move on.  So why did I go with Beautiful Feet Books, and why specifically did we start with Early American History?
  • Separate history and science - We are now at a point where we want something more streamlined and sequential, and the unit study approach wasn't working in this regard
  • Charlotte Mason friendly - We were doing a literature-based approach, but I wanted to move back towards her methods a bit more, with less busywork 
  • Flexible lessons - I wanted a guide with a suggested flow and sequence, but not something so structured that I would feel restricted to "getting it all done" instead of using it the way that works best for us
  • American History - I read this article about starting with American history (and another similar one that I cannot find at the moment) and it just felt right.  Plus, I know my boys well.  I know this is a good place for us for next year
Beautiful Feet Books is very CM friendly.  It uses living books and the lessons are short.  There is no student workbook or test booklet just to quiz children on useless facts.  Instead, it offers a reading guide and provides questions and prompts, to encourage meaningful discussions.  The student's "work" is created in a notebook, and the manual does give suggestions for mapping, copywork, and the occasional report.  After going through the manual, not every assignment is in line with the CM philosophy, particularly for the intended age range, but they definitely look easy enough to adapt.  I do plan to share how that goes as we work through it.

Primary vs. Intermediate

There are two elementary levels for covering Early American History that could have worked for us.  Primary is labeled as K-3, and Emory falls squarely in this range, being a rising second grader who is technically the age of a first grader.  Intermediate is intended for 4th-6th grades, and Elliott is on the young end of this range, so my first instinct was to use Primary, and just adjust up for my 4th grader as necessary.   I looked over all the samples I could find.  I noticed there was some overlap in the books used for each level, so I started checking suggested age/grade recommendations, and I read descriptions and reviews for the books, and I previewed the samples on Amazon.  I realized that most of the books used in Primary were well within my oldest son's age range, many with a suggested level of up to 6th grade.  I think these books can sufficiently challenge him, especially since we've not thoroughly covered this time period before, because I can always adjust the assignments to meet his skill level.

If I am able to keep the boys together and meet them each where they're at, I would prefer to do so, and for our family, I believe this is the best choice.   I do plan to choose a few selections from Intermediate for family reading, as well as other books that will give more perspective and understanding of historical events, particularly of Native American culture and slavery, to give a bit more of a well-rounded and historically accurate portrayal of all the events of the time period being covered.

So Part 1 is done.  I've chosen a time period and a curriculum for our history studies next year.  The next step, which I'm currently doing, is gathering complimentary resources.  I'll write another post soon sharing some general resources that I plan to use to help flesh out our studies with art, handicrafts, music and the like.

Related Posts
Gathering Resources

If you have any resources for studying American history (through the Civil War) that you feel are a MUST for elementary students, please share!  

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1 comment:

  1. I hope you enjoy your studies with BFB. We are in the same time guides this year as well except my oldest will be using Early American and World. Thanks for the link...