Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Beautiful Feet, The Western Expansion...

Beautiful Feet, The Western Expansion offers a literature approach to the study of early American western migration.  We used it this year in conjunction with Beautiful Feet, History of California, along with supplemental books from our TruthQuest History guides.  These two BF guides are a natural fit since they cover a similar time period and region.  The Western Expansion covers about 1800-1865 and is intended as a one semester study for fourth through seventh grade.  Books used in the guide are:

Frontier Living by Edwin Tunis
Abraham Lincoln's World by Genevieve Foster
Daniel Boone: The Opening of the Wilderness by John Brown Mason
The Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801 by Genevieve Foster
Of Courage Undaunted: Across the Continent with Lewis & Clark by James Daugherty
Amistad: The Slave Uprising Aboard the Spanish Schooner by Helen Kromer
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies
The Stout-Hearted Seven: Orphaned on the Oregon Trail by Neta Lohnes Frazier
Abraham Lincoln by James Daugherty

As you may have guessed if you've been a regular reader here, I did not use the guide as written.  I'm very eclectic in my approach and frequently adapt curricula to meet our needs.  I love the flexibility Beautiful Feet allows me!  With that said, regarding the books listed above, I did not use Frontier Living other than occasionally as personal reference for background information for myself.  I assigned Abraham Lincoln's World and Of Courage Undaunted to RileyAnn per the Ambleside Online Year 5 reading schedule.  I didn't read the Daniel Boone book because we read a plethora of Boone books last year, while studying his time period.  I started reading Amistad aloud, but the kids had a difficult time with it, so I set it aside and read Amistad Rising instead. 

Now, you might be saying, "Melissa, did you read any of the Western Expansion books yourself?"  Well, as a matter of fact, I did!  I read aloud The Year of the Horseless Carriage, which was fabulous!  I also read The Boy Who Drew Birds and The Stout-Hearted Seven, which were both wonderful!  I'm in the process of finishing up Abraham Lincoln by Daugherty.  Ruben was struggling with this book initially so I set it aside.  I have since picked it back up as a bedtime read aloud.  It's going much better.  I've also reduced the amount of suggested reading from the guide, as it was just too much at a time for him.  Now, he actually begs me to read more...he's a funny kid ;-)

Overall, I found The Western Expansion guide to be much more difficult than some of the other BF guides we've used.  The books were more challenging and the questions/lessons were more in depth, particularly coming off the first edition Early American Intermediate study.  Being a year younger, Ruben struggled more than Riley.  I think this guide could be easily used for older grades.  Don't let the shorter book list fool you, there is a ton of information to cover here.  The student is expected to do more independent research on a variety of topics.  It's a great study, but more appropriate for middle school in my humble opinion.   BF recommends it as a read aloud only program where the parent/teacher is working hand in hand with lower levels students (4th-5th grade).  I agree!