This week in homeschooling: We start a new US History study


The Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory, Utah, 05/10/1869. National Archives photo.
The Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory, Utah, 05/10/1869. National Archives photo.
We finished the second volume of “Story of the World” before Christmas, and I decided to take a break from that and focus on American history for a while. We’ve been reading our way through Joy Hakim’s “A History of US,” but I wanted to delve a little deeper and do some projects along with the reading. After a little bit of research, I ordered the “Time Travelers: Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression” unit study from Homeschool in the Woods.

We started last Thursday — when it arrived — but we didn’t really get into the “fun” stuff until this week. The first lesson is about the Transcontinental Railroad and Seward’s Folly; we focused mainly on the railroad. The kids wrote a newspaper article about the railroad, and they put together a small booklet that will eventually go into a lapbook. I think we’ve only done one lapbook in our homeschooling experience, so this is a new thing for us.

The “Time Travelers” study materials don’t provide a lot of text, so we’re going to keep reading the relevant parts of “A History of US” with each lesson. I put a couple of the unit study’s recommended books on hold at the library, but they took longer than I’d expected to come in. I need to work on my timing for future lessons.

We also watched a couple of videos: a short bit about the building of the transcontinental railroad from the “Heartland” episode of the History Channel’s “The Story of Us” series, which included some info about the use of nitroglycerin that Pete found pretty fascinating (‘splosions are cool, I guess); and the 1903 film “The Great Train Robbery.”

The kids have been eager to get to the history lesson every day this week. I hope their level of excitement about it continues!


Poppy is alternating between her third-grade McRuffy math workbook, where she’s working on fractions and division, and Teaching Textbooks 4. Pete finished his kindergarten McRuffy book and has moved on the the first-grade book. He didn’t think he could handle that when I first got the book out — “But Mama! I’m not in first grade!” — but he’s been getting along just fine with it so far.

Reading & Grammar

Poppy has been reading a LOT of “Garfield” comics. And also drawing a lot of “Garfield” comics. And talking a lot about Garfield.

We finished the second “Penderwicks” book on Wednesday, and we started the third one yesterday. The books look and read like they were written decades ago, but the first one — “The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy” — was actually published in 2005. The kids love the Penderwicks, and I like them well enough. The kids — particularly “spunky” sister Skye — have bad attitudes sometimes and use some language that we don’t use around here, but the ultimate lesson is generally about being helpful and loving to your family members. And Poppy almost always comments on it when Skye’s being unpleasant, so I guess she’s been listening to me every now and then after all.

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  • Oooh- Homeschool in the Woods has such great products. We are using a lapbook we previously made, during our current history studies. It is so fun to look back on – I think more fun than initially putting it together was.

  • We’re finish SOW book 4 this year and plan to do US History next year. I’ll have to take a look at A History of US.
    Popping in from the Weekly Wrap-Up

  • Perry mason

    I know someone who used to like Garfield a whole bunch.