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Teaching American History with Living Books

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Want to know my very favorite thing in our homeschool? It’s teaching American history with living books! To be honest, I’ve always found history slightly boring. I guess it was the public school textbooks that left me yawning.

But when I started teaching American history with living books, that all changed! I was no longer bored, but was living through history with amazing characters. It was like a whole new experience.

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!
This post is sponsored by Sonlight. I received the product for free and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

Teaching American History with Living Books

There are so many reasons that we love using living books in our history lessons. Some of the biggest benefits include:

  • Students connect with the characters on a deeper level, which helps them remember the little details of the event they’re reading about.
  • Living books increase exposure to cultures, people, places and times in history.
  • Kids are naturally curious so it encourages them to dig deeper.
  • It’s the easiest way to teach! No frills necessary. They get everything they need from the living books alone.
  • Can be done anywhere, anytime! Bedtime stories, car rides or during our lunch break are the perfect time to bring history alive using living books.
  • The whole family can learn together! The truth is, you never outgrow a read-aloud. Even teens will enjoy listening to children books read by their parents.
  • No prep work required! Just grab your living book and dive in. No need to print boring worksheets or try to find all the pieces you need for a detailed craft.
Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

We like to add a few extra elements into teaching American History with living books.

While not totally necessary, I’ve found that the kids love when we dig just a little bit deeper.

Food:

Food is a great way to enhance a living book. Some quick research will help you find out what a typical meal would consist of during that event. Kids will love trying all the different snacks and food, just like their favorite characters.

For instance, when reading Sarah, Plain and Tall, you could serve beef stew in a homemade bread bowl and serve a local homemade cheese to go along with it. Kids will love seeing the types of foods their favorite characters ate.

Journal:

When we begin a new read-aloud, I like to provide the kids with an empty journal. I encourage them to sketch photos of their favorite characters, plot line or setting. This has been a great way to keep little hands busy while we’re reading.

Craft or Activity:

Living books provide such a vivid look into history that kids will love doing crafts or activities that go along with the books.

Bear’s favorite activity is building with Legos, while I read. This keeps him still and quiet, while he listens to the story being read to him. He creates the one-room schoolhouses, his depiction of the family farm or his favorite character.

Another great activity to go along with living books is Play-Doh. There’s just something about recreating a scene, using only Play-Doh, that kids simply can’t get enough of!

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

Our favorite American history curriculum:

Sonlight is the leader of living books in the homeschool world and their Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 curriculum is no different! The included books are inspiring and engaging.

Jam-packed full of the adventures, discoveries, innovations and achievements that built our country, students will also be introduced to the heartbreak, injustices, tragedies and challenges that took place.

Through reading about real people and their stories, students will see the sacrifices it took to build the foundation of America. The books come to life and kids are excited to read them. They absorb, process and retain the information they’re learning so much better than they do when using boring and lifeless textbooks.

Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 is perfect for students in grades 4-7.

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

The easy-to-follow lessons, hands-on activities and historical backgrounds make Sonlight American History a favorite for the whole family! After all, what mom doesn’t love teaching using books your kids love!?!

What we love about Sonlight Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2:

Teaches multiple subjects:

Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 teaches Bible, reading, American History and literature in one easy lesson! Students read the daily Bible verse then dive into the rich literature based on American history.

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

Detailed Schedule:

Does anyone else have an “errands” day throughout the week or is that just us? We love having a 4-day school week but most curriculums are designed for 5 days. Sonlight’s 36-week plan has step-by-step instructions, detailing exactly what you need to do each day, for 4 days of the week.

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

I love how Sonlight takes the guesswork out of teaching! Just open your trusty binder, flip to the week you’re on and get started. No prep or chasing down materials required!

Instructor Guide:

If there was ever a magic wand you could wave to make homeschooling easier, it’s the Instructor Guide! This thing is jam-packed full of every little detail you need to successfully teach American history, without boring your kids to death.

Binder:

I wasn’t sure I would like the binder but, man, it’s now one of my favorite parts of the Sonlight curriculum. With a tab for each week, I’ve actually started using the binder to simplify our entire homeschool. I tear out pages from our Easy Grammar workbooks, hole punch them and stick them behind the correct tab. I also add our Scholastic “Weekly Readers” to the tabs, so we don’t forget to include those in our studies.

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

Since we use Teaching Textbooks for math, I simply use a sticky note to let the kids know exactly which lessons need completed each week.

The binder has made homeschooling so much more simple, by allowing me to place all of our curriculum in one spot, perfectly organized by week!

Map:

The big, erasable map has come in handy a lot more than I expected. We have a roll-up wall map but I’ve found that the kids love to draw on our erasable map while we’re reading stories.

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

They draw trails where the Native Americans may have walked and drew Sarah Plain and Tall’s house, exactly where they think it was located. We love being able to mark on our map.

Who knew that little detail would add so much to our lessons?

Totally customizable:

I love the fact that Sonlight has so many hands-on learning opportunities that don’t require hardly any extra effort on my part. But what I love best is that I don’t have to actually USE all the things they’ve included in their curriculum.

While some families just adore timelines, our family isn’t crazy about them. So, guess what! We simply don’t use them! Sure, it’s all there, ready to go if we ever change our mind, but for now, we’re perfectly happy without using them.

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

Bag:

One last thing that, again, surprises me by how much we use it is the bag from Sonlight! With so many components, I love that this bag keeps all of our curriculum in one handy place. Want to do history in the car? Just grab the bag and it has everything you need, from the read-aloud to the Instructor’s Guide!

Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

If you’re looking for a fun and effective way to teach American history, without stressing yourself out, you can’t miss Sonlight Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2!


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Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!

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Teaching American history with living books has transformed history lessons for us. No more boring textbooks! My kids are LOVING it!
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