I’m planning out some American Girl Doll literature-based units for my girls for next year.
For starters, I really love literature-based education. I use a mishmash of curricula for my kids, including Sonlight and My Father’s World, and everything I use fits into a literature-based model. What’s literature-based curriculum? It’s a curriculum based around – you got it – literature. Rather than what people right now call “traditional” education, which is based around worksheets and uses excerpts of books. What’s traditional about that, anyway? It’s only been around for about 100 years. We’ve been educating children for way longer than worksheets have been around.
Don’t get me started on that, I’m wandering. Back to the topic. American Girl Doll Curriculum, done in a literature-based style. Charlotte Mason, Ambleside, Robinson’s, Ruth Beechick, The Good and the Beautiful, etc. – they’re all based around reading great books.
American Girl Doll books aren’t going to be confused with great literature, but they’re usually well written books, fun for kids, and mostly historically pretty accurate for children’s historical fiction. Because I’ve gone through Sonlight levels P 4/5 through E, and I’ve got F on hand for my son to start, I’ve read a LOT of historical fiction. My kids learn so much through literature and I wish that I’d had these books around when I was in school. Sonlight, in particular, has excellent book choices.
So why I am doing an American Girl doll year with my girls? I need a “gap year.” My youngest child just isn’t ready to do Sonlight’s level B. Both girls really love American Girl books and they want to read them all with me. They’ll only be in 1st and 3rd grade once, so why not have a fun year reading through the American Girl books in our homeschool?
I’m planning a whole year with these books – but I’m planning the units so that they can be done in any order, and any number of them could be done. Want to just do one? Do one. Want to do them all? Do them all.
Since I’m planning for the whole year, I want a cohesiveness to our year so that everything revolves around a “spine” book. What’s a curriculum “spine?” A curriculum spine is a history book that we keep referring to throughout the year. It gives simple explanations and overviews of the time period.
For my American Girl year, I chose books that my son has enjoyed:
The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 4: The Modern Age: From Victoria’s Empire to the End of the USSR Story of the World Vol. 4 became our American Girl spine.
I also chose to use an Usborne book, Last 500 Years Usborne World History, to help fill in the concepts with pictures and short summaries.
I added two Draw and Write Through History books, because I’ve found that these are an inexpensive supplement that my kids really enjoy. Two of the books covers enough of the time period that the American Girl dolls span.
Napoleon to Lady Liberty: The World of the 1800’s (Draw and Write Throuh History, 5) and
Draw and Write Through History: The 20th Century
To make the history really come alive, I’ve learned to use videos, photos, and primary sources, so I’m busily hunting those down to include in each American Girl homeschool unit.
The units are planned so that we can take either 3 or 4 weeks to finish each book. It depends on how into it we are, and how much extra we want to do for that “girl.”
If you end up wanting to try a unit (rather than a whole year) and you don’t want to buy any books, just borrow what you can from the library and skip anything you can’t get. There’s nothing magical about any particular book. I mean, *ahem* except that book that I wrote about teaching your child a foreign language at home.
I’m really enjoying planning these units out for my own girls, and what we’ve started so far has been a really delightful time for the three of us together. I’m so excited to share them with you. Let me get them polished up and I’ll start to put them up as I feel they’re done and my girls and I have worked through them to check what works and what doesn’t.