Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hands on History

My girls absolutely love the American Girls series of books. They get them from the library and read the same ones over and over again. The books have a doll and a story line from each era of American history, and we all have enjoyed studying and learning about these major historical events through the eyes of a fictional girl. The books are chock full of facts and true names, dates, and places that really bring the stories to life, and helps the reader learn and remember key points of the history lessons.

This past few months, we have been studying North American history, and of course, the Native Americans who lived here. The corresponding American Girl we studied was Josefina. We got all the Josefina stories out from the library, and decided to build some adobe houses from real clay. It was a lot of fun, and the girls learned a few Spanish words (from the Navajo tribes of the Southwest).

Set up paint in sections of an old egg carton. Leave a few sections empty for mixing colors!

Painting the inside of a 3 sided box (shoebox would work too!) to make it look like the Southwest. Lots of shades of brown!

Terra Cotta Clay - (Buy it at AC Moore with the 40% off coupon!)

A few strategically painted cactuses on the sides of the box, and a wall made of terra cotta clay bricks. Simple to do, yet very authentic looking!

Terra Cotta stained the hands, which just added to the authentic feel of the project. One of the girls commented that the Navajo Indians must have had permanently stained hands after building so much for their homes with clay!

An almost finished setup, complete with a fire ring out front of the adobe house!

The building of an inside model of an adobe house, complete with the picture of a floor plan from the Josefina book. Still working on this one, and hopefully will add a picture of the finished product soon!

Rainbow Resource carries an American Girl Curriculum called "Portraits of American Girlhood" that has an entire year of North American history laid out in 6 units, utilizing the American Girl doll stories and materials. Our local library carried most of the items, and we were able to order in the ones that they didn't have. This curriculum plan is full of great ideas and creative, fun ways to learn American history the hands on way! I have gotten a lot of great ideas from it for my little "American Girls".

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