Beautiful Feet Books: Early American History Intermediate
This American history homeschool curriculum is a one-year study designed for 4-6th grades. Beautiful Feet Books is one of my favorite homeschool curriculum companies. And Early American History: A Literature Approach for Intermediate Grades did not disappoint! From beginning to end, it is filled with engaging literature that will bring the history of early America alive to your student. (If you are unfamiliar with Beautiful Feet Books, please visit my Introduction to Beautiful Feet post here.) This Charlotte Mason inspired history homeschool curriculum will have your child reading, reasoning, relating, and recording if you use it as instructed. I appreciate that this is a non-consumable history curriculum. It uses quality literature, which I am pleased to have on our family bookshelves for years to come! Beautiful Feet Books recently updated the teacher guide, and it is filled with new resources! The new book list is also more culturally diverse than the previous one. I am pleased about the change, because I believe it is important for children to learn about other cultures and ethnicities. Your student will read about Hiawatha, Pocahontas, Sacagawea, Phyllis Wheatly, Robert Smalls, and others. You will find the teacher guide filled with photos, maps, and fine art prints throughout. They also added some optional book lists called Rabbit Trails, as well as extra resources, projects, and recipes to bring more hands on experiences into the lessons. Let’s first unpack the teacher guide for this exciting history homeschool curriculum! Then we will go into the literature required for this study.
Inside this History Homeschool Curriculum:
The teacher guide for Early American History: A Literature Approach for Intermediate Grades is the first thing you will need. When you first open this lovely teacher guide, you will quickly notice that this history homeschool curriculum is divided into six historical periods:
- The Indigenous Peoples of North America and First Encounters
- The Golden Age of Discovery
- The Colonies
- The Revolutionary War
- The Young United States
- The Civil War
After you see the Table of Contents, the next section is How to Use This Guide. After reading these two concise pages, you will have a clear view of how this history homeschool curriculum works. I love that Beautiful Feet Books gets straight to the point! Spoiler- it is very teacher-friendly! Next will be the complete book list of required books for this study. And after that, it goes directly into the first historical period. Each section is laid out in the same way. I love this because I know exactly what to expect. And I can easily look ahead to the next section and see what Rabbit Trail books I want to gather for the upcoming historical period. Each lesson is open and go. Meaning it takes zero teacher prep for the lessons. This is a must for me as a mother of 5 children. (4 which are school age) This history homeschool curriculum can be easily tailored to fit your needs. This kind of flexibility is important to me. For example, if we are not enjoying a certain book, we can simply skip the book and those lessons. If we want to linger on a specific historical period, we can slow down and enjoy some Rabbit Trails books. If I want to skip the discussion questions and just have my child do written narrations, I have that freedom. Always teach the child, not the curriculum! This is one of the many beauties of homeschooling! This teacher guide is a tool, not a taskmaster. You should feel free to tailor it to fit the specific needs of your student and daily lives. Here is how each section is laid out:
- Each section will begin with a brief introduction of the historical period. I suggest this be read to your student when each new period is begun.
- The next section is called: Rabbit Trails. This has an optional book list if your student wants to dive deeper into this historical period. I was so excited to see this new section added! (I like to look ahead and gather any of the books I want for the next historical period before we get to it. I will give these books to my child as free reads.)
- After the Rabbit Trails comes the optional Crafts & Projects section. This is just an extra way to bring history to life for your student if you think he/she would enjoy these. Our family is not very crafty, and we will likely only do a few of these here and there throughout the school year.
- Open and go teacher lessons are next. This will list the specific literature readings for the day. It also contains questions that can be used as narration prompts or recorded into a notebook. You will find beautiful photos, maps, and fine art prints sprinkled throughout the pages. Your student should complete the 129 lessons in 3-4 lessons per week for a standard 180 day school year. This allows time to catch up if your student gets behind on occasion.
- Lastly, each period ends with a Historical Table section that contains recipes for you to cook or bake with your student. This is a tasty, fun way to bring history alive! As well as practice some life skills, like following directions, measuring, kitchen safety, etc.
Because of the ease of use, flexibility, and beauty of this teacher guide, I have no negatives to report – I honestly love it. This is truly a great history homeschool curriculum, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a literature based curriculum!
“I do not hesitate to say that the whole of a child’s instruction should be conveyed through the best literary medium available. His history books should be written with the lucidity, concentration, personal conviction, directness, and admirable simplicity which characterizes a work of literary calibre,” ~Charlotte Mason
Literature Used In This Study:
At the beginning of the teacher guide, after the Table of Contents and How to Use This Guide sections, comes the required Literature Used In This Study book list. This is a detailed list, complete with the title, author, brief description, and a cover picture of each book. You will need these books to complete the lessons laid out in the teacher guide. Of course, there are several ways to gather these books:
1. Check them out from your local library.
2. Purchase used books – all at once or as needed.
3. Purchase new books – all at once or as needed. (See individual books here.)
4. Purchase a bundle pack from Beautiful Feet Books. This is the most convenient option, because it contains all the titles on the following book list, as well as the teacher guide, notebook, and timeline. If you already own a few books, you can customize the pack and take off what you do not need! (You can get the bundle here.)
I am delighted that the majority of these books are what I consider living books. Living books bring subjects to life. They are engaging and will draw children into the story – they are not dull and dry like a textbook. Many people believe history is boring! I assure you that is the farthest thing from the truth. History is full of interesting people and their stories. Some are joyous, some are sorrowful, but each one has something to teach us. I believe living books are the best way to instill a life-long love of learning and reading to children. I hope this history homeschool curriculum review has been helpful so far! Now I want to share one of the most exciting parts of the teacher guide! The books! Here is the exciting book list, along with a brief description of each book. The first book needed is referred to as a “resource” book. Some refer to this as a “spine book”. A spine book is a book used to give structure, or backbone, to the study. It should always be a living book. It will cover the basic events of history in an orderly and chronological fashion. This will show your student how each of the in-depth stories in the books below fit into history. It holds the study together – just like your spine.
Resource (or Spine):
- A Child’s First Book of American History by Earl Schenck Miers
This is America! And this is its glowing, epic story, from the days of the Viking expeditions to the birth of the Atomic Age. Here are the explorers, the native peoples, the settlers and fur trappers, the soldiers, the statesmen, the men and women who have shaped our country and its destiny. It is our story of adventure, of wars, of industry and invention, of hardship and growth; it is an unparalleled tale of courage, high ideals, hard work–and a precious thing called Freedom. A living history book with beautiful illustrations throughout.
Indigenous Peoples of North America and First Encounters
- People of the Breaking Day by Marcia Sewell
The story of the Wampanoag people, the tribe that lived in southeastern Massachusetts at the time the Pilgrims landed. In this companion book to The Pilgrims of Plimoth, Marcia Sewall recreates the world of the Wampanoags, the People of the Breaking Day. In a voice that evokes the pride and natural poetry of these native people, and in paintings glowing with life and light, the distinguished author-illustrator presents another view of an important time in American history, a time before the meeting of two very different cultures. This book is filled with beautiful, full color illustrations to bring the Wampanoag culture to life for your student.
- The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway
This book tells the remarkable story of the intrepid Leif Erickson and his important and exciting adventures as a seafaring Viking. When Leif learned there were lands to the west of Greenland, he didn’t hesitate to voyage there to explore this unknown land. It was the saga of Leif’s discovery and settlement attempts in North America that later convinced Columbus that the Atlantic Ocean could be crossed and that lands lay in the direction of the setting sun. This chapter book is part of the original Landmark series for children.
- Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by David Shannon
Hiawatha was a strong and articulate Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes, but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves—a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution. This book is filled with vivid, full page illustrations. It includes a CD reading of the book by the author.
- Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac
When Ohkwa’ri overhears a group of older boys planning a raid on a neighboring village, he immediately tells his Mohawk elders. He has done the right thing—but he has also made enemies. Grabber and his friends will do whatever they can to hurt him, especially during the village-wide game of Tekwaarathon (lacrosse). Ohkwa’ri believes in the path of peace, but can peaceful ways work against Grabber’s wrath? This chapter book is an exciting story that takes an in-depth look at the Mohawk culture.
The Golden Age of Discovery
- Where Do You Think You’re Going Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz
Christopher Columbus thought he knew where he was going. He had planned to be the first person to cross the ocean and reach the rich lands of the Indies. When he returned to Spain, he insisted to everyone who would listen that he’d succeeded. But that wasn’t exactly true. Little did Columbus know that his mistake would come to be known as America! This short book is filled with black and white and color illustrations to encourage your students imagination of the story.
- Pedro’s Journal: A Voyage with Christopher Columbus by Pam Conrad
Pedro de Salcedo could not have known what adventures lay ahead! His incredible voyage as ship’s boy aboard Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria would bring both danger and excitement. Pedro captured his experience between the pages of a journal. If he did not return alive, perhaps someone would someday find it and learn of his incredible journey to the New World. This chapter book is written in journal style and has some black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout.
- Pocahontas and the Strangers by Clyde Robert Bulla
Since the white men arrived, all the braves in Pocahontas’ tribe speak of nothing but war. But when they capture Captain John Smith, “leader of the palefaces”, Pocahontas knows she must save him. And when she does, her life changes forever. Simple prose recaptures the life of Pocahontas, focusing on her struggles to bring peace between her tribe and the English settlers. This chapter book has detailed black and white illustrations scattered throughout.
- The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
In England in the early 1600s, everyone was forced to join the Church of England. Young William Bradford and his friends believed they had a right to belong to whichever church they wanted. In the name of religious freedom, they fled to Holland, then sailed to America to start a new life. But the winter was harsh, and before a year passed, half the settlers had died. Yet through hard work and strong faith, a tough group of Pilgrims survived. Their belief in freedom of religion became an American ideal that still lives on today. This chapter book is based mainly on the journals of William Bradford.
- The World of William Penn by Genevieve Foster
This book explores the wide world of William Penn from the 1660’s to the early 1700’s – a world reaching across the courtyards of the Sun King in France to the Great Wall of China and beyond to Colonial America. Penn’s contemporaries included such colorful figures as Louis XIV, Peter the Great, Edmund Halley, Sir Isaac Newton, Shah Jahan (who built the Taj Mahal), and the great explorers Marquette, Jolliet, and La Salle. His life also spans a fascinating age of world exploration and discovery. Penn’s Quaker beliefs undergirded his relationships with the Pennsylvanian native tribes and established the longest standing peace treaty between American natives and European settlers. Wonderful maps and illustrations by the author complement the text of this chapter book.
- Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
“It does a man no good to be free until he learns how to live.” These are the words of Amos Fortune, born the son of a king in the At-mun-shi tribe in Africa. When he was only 15 years old, he was captured by slave traders and brought to Massachusetts, where he was sold at auction. Although his freedom had been taken, Amos never lost his dignity and courage. He dreamed of being free, and of buying the freedom of his closest friends. By the time he was sixty years old, Amos Fortune began to see those dreams come true. This chapter book contains a few small, black and white illustrations here and there.
The Revolutionary War
- A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatly
In 1761, a young African girl was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, who named her Phillis after the slave schooner that had carried her. Kidnapped from her home in Africa and shipped to America, she’d had everything taken from her – her family, her name, and her language. But Phillis Wheatley was no ordinary young girl. She had a passion to learn, and the Wheatleys encouraged her, breaking an unwritten rule in New England to keep slaves illiterate. Amid the tumult of the Revolutionary War, Phillis Wheatley became a poet and ultimately had a book of verse published, establishing herself as the first African American woman poet this country had ever known. She also found what had been taken away from her and from slaves everywhere: a voice of her own. This is a beautifully illustrated, small chapter book.
- George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen From Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer
This is an interesting account of one of the most vital periods in American history. It is also a timeless lesson in seeing history from different points of view. The author spent two years researching books, paintings, cartoons, and descriptions of Revolutionary times. She uses art, text, and first-hand accounts to illustrate how history should never be reduced to simplistic conflicts between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.” Her illustrations, and her engaging quote bubbles, bring the Revolution to life again, and allow the characters of the period to speak for themselves. Through its lively text, detailed illustrations, and fully authenticated quotes, George vs. George shines fresh light on both sides of the story of our country’s formative years.
- Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady
Ellen Toliver is shocked to learn that her grandfather is a patriot spy. When he is injured on the day of an important mission, Ellen is the only one who can take his place. This is the last thing shy, timid Ellen wants to do. But her grandfather, and her country, are depending on her. As she faces each obstacle on her journey, Ellen wonders – will she ever get her message through? This thrilling chapter book has black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout.
- Why Not, Lafayette? by Jean Fritz
A young Frenchman of nineteen traveling across the sea to help a struggling nation fight for its independence? Why not? To Lafayette, anything was possible. A man who threw off the boundaries imposed on him to stand up for what he believed, the Marquis de Lafayette grew from an idealistic young man searching for honor and glory, into an idealistic statesman with rock-solid principles of liberty. Here, Jean Fritz brings to life the exciting story of the brave and appealing man known as “The Hero of the New World.” This exciting chapter book has a few, full-page black and white illustrations throughout.
- Remember the Ladies: A Story About Abigail Adas by Jeri Chase Ferris
Abigail Adams lived through the Revolutionary War and became the First Lady of the second president of the United States. Though women of her time could not vote, govern, or own property, Abigail believed that women should not be ruled by laws they did not make. Although she did not see these rights come to women, she never gave up talking, writing, and perhaps most importantly, believing that women were equal to men. Her courage and strength enabled her to help her husband create a new country. She never fired a gun, but her pen was a weapon that helped win freedom for her country–and herself. This short chapter book has some full-page black and white illustrations here and there.
- Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
Fifty-five delegates from the thirteen states have huddled together in the strictest secrecy in the Philadelphia State House to write the Constitution of the United States. But these men – a mix of some of the greatest patriots of the Revolutionary War – can’t agree on much. This entertaining and historically accurate account includes many little-known facts about the summer our Founding Fathers came together to overcome their differences and write this nation’s Constitution. This short book is filled with black and white and color illustrations to encourage your students imagination of the story.
The Young United States
- How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis & Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer
In the year 1804, two explorers set out to search for a river route across the western United States all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Their names were: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. These two men mapped and explored uncharted land for the U.S. government. Join Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery on an incredible, historic, and unforgettable journey. This book is brought to life with colorful illustrations that are bursting from every page.
- Heart of a Samuri by Margi Preus
In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way. Manjiro, a 14-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually, the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives there for some time, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he returns to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the Emperor to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai. This exciting chapter book has black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout.
- The Story of Harriet Tubman, Conductor of the Underground Raillroad by Kate McMullan
A slave from birth, Harriet Tubman knew she was meant to be free. After years of enslavement, she runs away to the North. But this freedom wasn’t enough – she wanted to lead others to liberty. This inspiring biography of Harriet Tubman tells how she helped free over 300 slaves as a “conductor” for the Underground Railroad, and how she became a nurse, a scout, and spy for the Union Forces during the Civil War. A moving chapter book with a few black and white illustrations.
The Civil War
- Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman
This 1988 Newbery Medal-winning biography of our Civil War president is warm, appealing, and illustrated with dozens of carefully chosen photographs and prints. Russell Freedman begins with a lively account of Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood, his career as a country lawyer, and his courtship and marriage to Mary Todd. Then the author focuses on the presidential years (1861 to 1865), skillfully explaining the many complex issues Lincoln grappled with as he led a deeply divided nation through the Civil War. The book’s final chapter is a moving account of that tragic evening in Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Additional content includes a sampling of Lincoln’s writings and a detailed list of Lincoln historical sites.
- John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drumer Boy by E.F. Abbott
In 1861, Johnny sneaks onto a train filled with men from the 3rd Ohio Union Regiment, determined to fight for his country. Taken in by the older soldiers, Johnny becomes a drummer boy – not to mention the youngest person to serve in the war. Living a soldier’s life, Johnny experiences the brutalities of battle, hunger and illness in between. Eventually he is captured by the Confederates, imprisoned, and then sent home a hero. John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb writing as E. F. Abbott, with illustrations by Steven Noble, is a fascinating novel for young readers, featuring black-and-white illustrations and photographs throughout.
- Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story by Janet Halfmann
Growing up a slave in South Carolina, Robert Smalls always dreamed of the moment freedom would be within his grasp. Now that moment was here. Robert stood proudly at the Planter’s wheel. Only seven miles of water lay between the ship and the chance of freedom in Union territory. With precision and amazing courage, he navigated past the Confederate forts in the harbor and steered the ship toward the safety of the Union fleet. Just one miscalculation would be deadly, but for Robert, his family, and his crewmates, the risk was worth taking. His steadfast courage in the face of adversity is an inspiring model for all who attempt to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. This book has colorful, blurred illustrations on every page.
History Homeschool Curriculum Final Thoughts:
I hope the brief descriptions of the literature were helpful to you! Honestly, every book on this list excites me! Some of these books were out of print until Beautiful Feet Books reprinted them. I love old books, and I am always thankful when publishers bring good books back into print. Many of these books were written by some of my favorite authors: Bruchac, Foster, Bulla, Fritz, and Daugherty. All in all, this is a fabulous selection of literature. These books will evoke so many emotions. You laugh, cry, and everything in between, as you read these books with your student! I am delighted that all of these books are what I consider living books. Quality literature is an important part of instilling a love of learning and reading into our children. If you are searching for a history homeschool curriculum that teaches through engaging, living books, then Beautiful Feet Books has you covered! You can view and purchase this entire history homeschool curriculum here. It is all in one big bundle for your convenience!
Click here to download the scope and sequence, as well as the book list from the teacher guide.
Be sure to download the free picture packet that accompanies this history homeschool curriculum. These are the coloring pictures referenced in the teacher guide.
“The children must enjoy the book. The ideas it holds must each make that sudden, delightful impact upon their minds, must cause that intellectual stir, which marks the inception of an idea,” ~Charlotte Mason