We are finishing up our last bit of bookwork for our high school American History course. It took us eighth grade through the first part of ninth grade to finish this with a few more field trips to come in the next semester. I approached this through a doing/presentation-artistic deepening-academic skills sort of rhythm and used many experiential things as our “doing” – from field trips to Junior Ranger programs to reading primary documents.
The way I approached American History in our Waldorf homeschooling was actually to place Colonial History and an extensive overview of the American Revolution through biographies at the very end of seventh grade. It just made sense in the context of the Age of Exploration and what happened after that. This did not count toward our high school credit, of course, but it helped lay the foundation for what was coming in Eighth Grade. I can give details of what we covered in our seventh grade American history block if anyone is interested.
In Eighth Grade, I did two blocks of American History. I also wove Hurricane Katrina, The Panama Canal, and the history of the Modern Middle East/American relationships into our World Geography, but I did not count those hours toward American history. I just wanted those subjects covered and I liked putting them in World Geography.
In Eighth Grade we covered essentially the time of Lewis and Clark through the War on Terror and the Age of Digitality. In Ninth Grade, we started at the beginning again once more from a Native American perspective and talked about time back to the land bridge, how do we think the Native Americans came to be in America, the history of Native Americans in the Southeast where we live, the struggles up through Colonial Times, and then moved into Thirteen Colonies, the precipitating events for the American Revolution and the outcome. We used MANY primary documents from this time period, from Colonial documents to political cartoons from this period to American songsheets and music from these times. We took our time to analyze the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.
Our American History was…. a lot. I will try to detail what we did, projects, what we read, what went into our Main Lesson Books.
Native American/Early Regional Historical Sites Visited:
- Russell Cave National Monument Site – Bridgeport, AL Junior Ranger Program Badge Earned
- Fort Matanzas National Monument – St. Augustine, FL Junior Ranger Program Badge Earned
- Fort Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine, FL
- Etowah Indian Mounds – Cartersville, GA
Searching for some terrific American Revolution sites in our state and South Carolina to travel to in the Spring. 🙂
Civil War Historical Sites Visited:
- Sweetwater Creek State Park/New Manchester Mill Ruins – Lithia Springs, GA
- Manassas National Battlefield Park – Mannasas, VA
- Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield – Kennesaw, GA
- Earned Junior Ranger Limited Edition Civil War Badge (2015)
Play: “Freedom Train” -regarding the life of Harriet Tubman – Atlanta, GA
- Mammoth Cave National Park – Mammoth Cave, KY – Historic Tour/Black History of Mammoth Cave
Gilded Age Historical Sites Visited:
- Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC
Modern Historical Sites Visited:
- Jimmy Carter National Historic Site – Plains, GA Junior Ranger Badge Earned
- Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site – Atlanta, GA Junior Ranger Badge Earned
- On my list are our two museums of Jewish heritage and holocaust education and all of their programs as they tie into the local history of our area, The Center for Human and Civil Rights, and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. Hopefully Spring! There are so many places to go, and since I have younger students coming up, there will be many places to go and visit through the next four years.
Required Literature List for Student for American History:
- Poetry of Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley, which we analyzed
- Last of the Mohicans – Cooper (ninth grade, difficult read for ninth grade. Preview for your student). Extensive analysis and vocabulary lists.
- Sing Down the Moon – O’Dell
- Sacajawea – Bruchac
- Theodore Roosevelt – Benge and Benge
- Freedom Train – Sterling
- Across Five Aprils – Hunt. Extensive analysis.
- Elijah of Buxton – Curtis. An absolute favorite.
- Profiles in Courage – Kennedy.
- The Greatest Speeches of Ronald Reagan – Reagan – mainly skimmed and picked out speeches or phrases that typified Reagan.
- The Audacity of Hope – Obama
- Political Documents included primary resources from Library of Congress regarding Colonial life, maps of Colonial Boston and Philadelphia, analyzing documents regarding Colonial New York City, songsheets from Colonial and Revolutionary War Era, polictical cartoons from varying time periods, The Declaration of Independence, The US Constitution, The Bill of Rights.
Artistic Projects Completed:
- Native American Basketry Project
- Native American Beading Project
- Early Colonial American Teapot
- Portraits of American leaders in multimedia – pencil, collage, charcoal
- Learned three songs from the American Revolutionary time period to perform
- Main Lesson book pages listed below
In our Main Lesson Books, Eighth Grade (note this doesn’t cover every thing we did or discussed in class, but just what we decided to put into the Main Lesson Book).
- Beautiful Title Page
- Portrait Thomas Jefferson
- The Louisiana Purchase (map, summary)
- Map of the Travels of Lewis and Clark
- Summary, drawings of the Mexican-American War, Timeline of the Mexican-American War
- Multi-media presentation of the North (mill) and the South (cotton fields) – one was watercolor painting, one was oil pastels
- Causes of the Civil War (extensive summary)
- Map of the Union and Confederate States and the Territories
- Biographies of Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Robert E. Lee
- Timeline of the Civil War
- Summary of the Plains Indians War, the Indian Removal Act, multimedia portrait of Sitting Bull
- Summary of the Gilded Age and a Map of the Biltmore Estate (an example of Gilded Age architecture)
- World War I Summary (extensive)
- Portrait of a flapper from the 1920s
- Portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt (and Winston Churchill as well) (we spent a lot of time on their biographies), large page with a timeline of World War II, The Seeds of WWII, The Home Front, How the Allies Won WWII
- Drawing and Summary of the Cold War – we studied Eisenhower extensively and included McCarthyism, the Korean War, the Day of Pigs invastion, the Cuban Missle Crisis, the Vietnam War in this summary, along with the fall of the Berlin War
- The Speeches of Ronald Reagan – student used an excerpt of Reagan’s speech “A Shining City” and drawing
- War on Terror, comic book strip style of events
- Summary of The Digital Age – Coloseus Machine to ARPANET to the WWW onward
- Peacemakers – started with poem from Mattie JT Stepanek
- Civil Right Timeline/Multimedia Collage tissue paper, drawing, cutouts of the saying of Martin Luther King Jr. “Love Will See You Through”
Ninth Grade Main Lesson Book Included:
- Beautiful Title Page
- The PaleoIndian Period (summary and drawing)
- The Archaic Period (summary)
- The Woodland Period (summary and drawing)
- The Mississipian Period (summary and drawing)
- James Ogelthorpe and Chief Tomochichi (line drawing, summary)
- Letter to sibling extolling Colonial life, natural resources of chosen colonial city (we had compared and contrasted Colonial New York City, Colonial Boston, and the Southern Colonies ( our daughter chose Boston as her pretend place of living during Colonial times)
- Map of Boston during Colonial Times to go with letter to sibling
- Events Leading to the Revolutionary War (summary)
- Timeline of the Revolutionary War by year – so pages for 1774-75, 1776-1778, etc. These had a large border with events listed inside the border and then a featured point of interest about those years in the middle of the page.
- Analysis of The Declaration of Independence, The US Consitution, and The Bill of Rights
My hope is to keep extending the theme of America into our high school years in varying subjects and to especially look at Native American literature and literature and to keep referring to and analyzing political documents from history and to keep looking at current events. So, I guess the learning never stops, but this was a good foundation.