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Studying American History the WTM way?

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I want to do a year (6th grade) of American History but I want to do it the way The Well Trained Mind book describes studying history.  I am wondering if maybe someone else has already done this and could provide some info on what spines and other books/materials they used, map work, etc. and also just how it went.  I have searched the forum and didn't find anything so thought I would post and see what might turn up.

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We did American History the WTM way for 6th and 8th grade last year. I started the year with a Jackdaws portfolio on the American Revolution per WTM. Each girl read Johnny Tremain for her first lit book. I assigned a main topic for each month: Aug-Sept American Revolution and Constitution. Oct-Nov: Native Americans, Dec: Civil War Jan: Civil War in our state, Feb: After Civil War, Western Expansion Mar: Industrialization April: WWI, May WWII, jumped to civil rights as much as possible. 


For spines after the Jackdaws I used whatever the library had. There are tons of decent books on each topic. We read them and outlined from them. For maps each girl worked in her Complete Book of Maps and Geography. These are for grades 3rd and up. The beginnings are quite elementary. But much of is American states and maps and the level is through about 6th grade level map work. They had done the younger stuff in past years. Plus each has the Geography Coloring Book suggested in WTM. They sometimes worked in them when learning about the world wars.  For memory work I used what the WTM suggests, plus a few others. Each girl continued to read at her level.  As we got close to the Civil War, the 8th grader read the Narratives of Frederick Douglass. The 6th grader read a younger biography of him. I read tons of longer picture books aloud to both. The library isn't short on books for American History. Instead of one spine per year, I used more like one per subject. I found a series for the Wars that ours held that was perfect for reading aloud and outlining from. I couldn't tell you the name. I didn't write it down. But there were similar ones for each war that worked perfectly. I also read from SOTW 4 often. I would maybe open the month's topic with a chapter from it one session then pick up the library books for the next couple of weeks.  I most definitely did not read all of SOTW4. It was too long. We focused on Am. History, but we needed to be aware of what was happening in the world to make sense at some points. I had no read schedule of readings besides my general topics each month. We just read tons. Some sessions I had them read on their own and write summaries on a topic of their choosing. So in the Civil War they might have chosen women's roles in the war, read some of the library books on that, and written a couple of paragraphs on that, then filed it under the appropriate section of their notebooks. ETA: I forgot timeline books. We kept those up too.


We have kept the WTM style notebooks, so their outlines and summaries went in them with past year's stuff. 


We did a couple of big projects. For Native American month each put together a presentation and wrote a long oral speech and gave in front of co-op. We made a salt dough map and they each made a poster to go with their subject.  We went on lots of state history field trips and some out of state throughout the year. 

Edited by 2_girls_mommy
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Wow, that sounds like it was a really good study of American History.  Thanks for the information.  That certainly gives me some additional ideas.


I have purchased a couple of American History encyclopedias, really about the only two I could find, but they are for children around 12 years old / 6 grade down to 3rd grade, I think.  So I'm not sure if they will be what we need or not.  My sons are 11 and will be 12 in the fall, so it will likely be on the easier end for them.  That may not matter that much, if we are really focusing on learning how to study history though.  I plan to look at them when they arrive and if they won't work for us I will return them.  One is DK Children's Encyclopedia of American History and the other is United States Encyclopedia: America's People, Places and Events by National Geographic Kids.

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