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Portraits of American Girlhood


By: Cindy Sotelo
www.unitsunique.com

Units Unique
9800 Aztec Rd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111

Do you have a daughter who loves the American Girl stories? If you do, then you're in for a great year using this unit study!! The American Girl Collection consists of eight series with six books in each series. Each series follows the story of a different heroine as she faces the challenges and adventures of growing up during her distinct historical era. The first book in each series introduces the main character, the second centers on events in her school or home school, the third takes place during Christmas, and so on. Each book parallels the corresponding books in the other series. The books are no longer carried by Pleasant Company, the maker of the corresponding dolls, but you can find them at any major book chain, and probably through your library as well. Pleasant Company also produced a Teacher's Guide to go with each series, but they are no longer available through that company. You may still be able to find them through other retailers, but they are not a necessary part of this unit study. There are plenty of supplements also, for the craft hungry child! There are cookbooks, paper doll sets, and craft books. Also available is a reference book for each series, 'Welcome to ____'s World'. The author of this unit study highly recommends this reference book, and says that you can find them widely available in libraries and anywhere you find the American Girl books.

This unit study is based on the first seven series of books. It is set up to do one series at a time, taking a week for each book. While using this unit study you will be presenting your children with an excellent overview of American history. Each series follows one historical time period. Your daughters will find history much more appealing when they look at it from the point of view of getting to know their new 'friend', be if Felicity or Addy, or Josefina, or any of the seven girls you will meet doing this study. I admit that being a Canadian, I was worried about giving this study a proper review. We as Canadians were taught a little bit about American history, but never like this! I have two daughters who will LOVE this study. It is chock full of hands on activities, and at the same time it covers grammar, and science, and creative writing. You will need to add a math component, but unless you have a brand new reader who still needs phonics reinforcement, this unit study will cover everything else you need! That's the beauty of unit studies, subjects are not taught in isolation to each other. All subjects relate to a common theme, in this case, the books in the American Girls series. This will be a fun year of digging into American history through a girl's eyes.... the eyes of a girl who lived through the time period!

Now, for the nitty gritty of using this unit study! The author, Cindy Sotelo, wrote this study as a result of seeing the enjoyment in her daughter's lives while they studied using these books. The unit study itself is extremely well laid out. There is a scope and sequence, and a very thorough overview of the content of each unit. The study is geared for children from grades 2 through 5, and yes, boys would also find enjoyment in this study! The parts I found very helpful were the beginning resource pages, where Mrs. Sotelo talks about scheduling your year, and building interest through portfolios. She also talks about adapting the study for young readers and reluctant writers. There is a wealth of information in here, even before you start your first series of books! The author lists required resources for each series, as well as resources that would be helpful, but aren't necessary. The study itself is laid out with just enough structure so you won't feel like you're floundering about, but with enough freedom for you to adapt the study to your particular needs. I am very excited about using this unit study with my daughters as an overview of the country that is so closely linked to ours!!

There are art ideas, journaling ideas, creative play ideas... there is soooo much in here, I can't even begin to put it all down. Along with the Unit study comes a CD with printable helps for each series. There are forms for note taking, and nature study... the more I write, the more excited I get about this study! This unit study is also especially easy to use as in a co-op or group situation. The author used it to form a girl's history club and included at one time more than thirty girls!

If you are looking for an exciting trip through American History, this will be a great place to begin! One thing I forgot to mention is that while the American Girl books themselves are not Christian per se, the author most definitely is, and this study reflects her love for God and the importance of having God in our lives. While not a huge component of the study, I wanted you to be aware that the author is a Christian, and as such, a Christian world view is implied. I love the fact that we are free enough in our land today to implement fully Christian curriculum for our children! I wish that I had grown up with that same freedom! With studies like this, we will be raising our children to know and understand God's hand in everything!!

You can check out more about this on Mrs. Sotelo's website. Have a great year studying with the American Girls!!



-- Review written by Holly Cameron, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine


The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
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