Thursday, December 10, 2009

Westward Expansion

We've been planning to study a bit of American history in the upcoming school year. The boys are extremely interested in the American Revolution, we're still planning to study the pioneers, & we've also been very eager to study the Gold Rush which has both American and Australian ties to it. So when a great opportunity arrises itself to jump into a unit study we often take hold and run with it. Paige, a fellow homeschooler, mentioned an internet based "curriculum" called Westward Ho! The idea is to register and then play along while learning all about the westward expansion.
While it wasn't our original idea to go with gold mining first, one of the joys of homeschooling is that we can change our plans without too much difficulty. So, I thought I'd list some of the fun resources we'll be using for the upcoming study. (Honestly, I list the resources here so I can easily find them again for myself!)

Various Resources:
  • Westward Ho! -- if you want to join in the fun you'll need to register by December 15. The actual "journey" doesn't begin until February 8 and it runs through March 12. The site also has a lot of great information and resources on it if you have the time to look through them.
  • Time Traveler's History Study -- this is a terrific product put out by Homeschool In The Woods. I'm pretty sure I've said that about all their products, perhaps I'm slightly biased? They have many on various bits of American History, and we'll be using a few of them in the upcoming school year. The lessons are all ready preplanned and you can devise where to go from there!
  • Westward Expansion Links -- this page is chock full of links. I looked around for well over an hour, and while many of the links don't work, those that do are pretty nifty! Someone has really gone to a lot of effort to compile that list!
  • Westward Ho Lapbook (free) -- this is another great one by Dynamic Moms. Their artwork is always fantastic too. This one includes animals, fauna, timelines, Oregon Trail, Lewis & Clark, Pony Express, and more.
  • Oregon Trail Lapbook (free) -- this is one I've had my eyes on for a while. It's free from Lapbook Lessons and quite through in regards to the Oregon Trail including booklets on forts, landmarks, Bible verses, songs, and more.
  • Lewis & Clark Plans -- while we've all ready touched on Lewis & Clark I stumbled upon these fascinating plans which would do an amazingly through job on covering them. You could also get lapbook resources from Dynamic Moms if you wanted.
  • Seeking Simplicity -- Joy's blogged about her adventure using Westward Ho in the past with her children. Looks like they had a lot of fun too.

We'll also be using the following books:
  • Going West -- full of crafts, projects and information. Another Kaleidoscope Kids Book.
  • By The Great Horn Spoon -- fictional account of a boy and his butler when they decide to go gold mining in order to save the family home. This book is loaded with accurate historical information and is one of those "fortunately unfortunately" books that keeps you hooked until the end. The audio version is awesome! The movie is comical.
  • The Everyday Life Of An American Pioneer -- we picked this one up used a while back, and it discusses what pioneers would have done in various places, times, and situations. It discusses storms, stampedes, the campfire, etc.
  • Pioneer Days -- this book is written in story form about a Pioneer family (and eventually their new neighbors/friends) It tells you what they did and then gives you a few crafts based on that. Lots of fun crafts and a few yummy looking recipes too.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Pioneer Girl -- this is more of a biography of Laura, but written in fun story form. It has chapters that share information from the books Laura wrote herself too. This also talks about how her books came into print, and includes a nice timeline in the back of her life.
  • Riding The Pony Express -- this is another book we picked up used not that long ago.. The book is about a little boy who goes to find his father, only to discover his father has joined the pony express. This is broken down into really short chapters.
  • Jimmy Spoon & The Pony Express -- I have to be honest and admit I've not read this one yet, but it came hugely recommended when I was seeking a chapter book on the pony express. It has short quick chapters in it, and is about a boy who signs up and then rides for the pony express.
  • They're Off -- this is another Pony Express book, a time period the boys became hugely excited about when we did Mailing May. This one also came highly recommended and is a longer picture book with beautiful artwork in it.
  • Pony Express -- Hands On History. Another one we picked up during a CurrClick sale. This one has printables, expansion ideas, information on actual riders, cards (based on actual riders), games, historical information and more.
  • Suzannah Strikes Gold -- yet another one we found in a used shop recently. This book is written from a Christian perspective and is about a little girl and her family traveling to California and eventually their adventures while they are in California as well.
  • The Ballad Of Lucy Whipple -- we found this in the library and then later the same day we found it used in a local store so we snagged it. This is another one we haven't read, but tucked away for when we did our gold study. It takes place in California 1849 and is about a young girl in California during the gold rush. This one also happens to be a movie, which we might look at obtaining after we read the book.
  • Gold Rush -- Hands on History. We purchased this during a sale knowing we were going to be doing a gold unit. I love the hands on history books because they come with lots of fantastic ideas to really get into the study. This one has lots of information on Gold, Yukon & California gold rush, Chinese immigrants, crafts, recipes, and more!
  • Lewis & Clark & Me -- a short chapter book about Lewis & Clark written from the perspective of Seaman, the dog. While we've all ready touched on this subject I think the boys will enjoy reading about them a bit more again.
  • Little House On The Prairie -- we may or may not pull some of these out. They were how we were going to break into our pioneer studies originally, and we may still enjoy some fun with them.
  • Great Pioneer Projects -- this book is very big and very awesome. We purchased our copy as an ebook during a CurrClick sale, but they no longer carry the book. This book covers the entire westward movement. It's loaded with maps, pictures of people from the past and little tidbits about them, crafts, recipes and more. It's 115 pages and they are divided up into 12 different chapters.
  • The Cabin Faced West -- this is a book about a little girl who's family moved away from the "city" to the west. I'm pretty sure I've read this book enough times when I was younger to know it by heart. In fact, I use to enjoy pulling out the "blue dishes" mom had just in case a president stopped by our house someday.. While this book doesn't talk about the gold rush, it's a great account of pioneer life, in fact we're all ready in the middle of reading this book!
  • On To Oregon -- (check homeschool library builder, they often have a copy on hand!) is a book based on real life accounts of the seven Sagar children traveling along the Oregon trail and the dangers and adventures they encounter along the way.
Australian Resources:
  • Eureka Stockade -- this is a book based on the Australian Gold rush, which will give the boys a great view of what it was like here during the gold rush..
  • To The Goldfields -- this one is based on life in the Victorian Goldfields in the 1850's.
  • Billabong Gold -- recounts the story of an Australian family and their hardships during the Australian Gold rush.
  • The Gold Rushes -- this is a non-fiction book looking at the gold rushes in Australia
  • Journey To A Dream -- is about a young girl who's father packs up the family wagon and moves them to the country.
While we have a lot on our list it doesn't mean we'll get to every last bit of it. Westward Ho! Lasts for a month, and we may end our studies then or we may continue forward with them. It will simply depend on if we're ready to lay them aside by then or not. We're really looking forward to it! Because we have so much planned all ready we may revisit the Australian side later in the year when we use the unit study Australian Book Traveler. Or we may hit on it in bits and pieces along with the American version.


The Unsell Family said...

WOW! Thanks for posting all of this Kendra!

animals in australia said...

Traditionally, when one thinks of the expansion of the American West, the event most likely to come to mind is the California Gold Rush of 1849. While that profitable discovery did boost California's population by 80,000 eager prospectors, there remained an awful lot of land between the Pacific Coast and, say, St. Louis, Missouri. "Why mention St. Louis?" you might be asking. Because in actuality the young United States started exploring the vast land mass to the west from that very point and almost fifty years before those gold nuggets started hitting the pan in California.