U.S. History for the Grammar Stage-- Year 2

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, I had it almost completely done and...well, it vanished. God is in the deleted blog posts, right?!? ;)

We had a wonderful history year last school year. Making our own plans was a bit cumbersome, but very worth it. This year, we are continuing with the second year of U.S. History. When I sat down to plan the year I assumed like last year we would use The Complete Book of U.S. History as a spine and add in lots of books... However, as I sat down to look it over, I realized that The Complete Book of U.S. History took more of a "social history" turn that we would have liked in the second half. I scoured the shelves and settled on the Veritas Press 1815 to Present cards as a spine. I looked through all the usual lists (Sonlight, TOG, BP) and picked some nonfiction books to provide a great spine alongside the VP cards with The Complete Books of U.S. History to fill in any gaps.

Here is the link to the schedule: U.S. History Year 2 Overview/Schedule

After last year, I have discovered that we really enjoy studying history in chronological units-- for this year, we will be studying the following units:

U.S. History Year 2 Chronological Units:

I. Westward Expansion (1830's-1850's)
II. The Civil War (1840-1870)
III. The U.S. Grows (1865-1900)
IV. Changes (1890-1920)
V. Trouble (1914-1945)
VI. New Frontiers (1950-present)

I picked my topics/units, lined up the VP cards, assigned The Complete Book of U.S. History (though we will most likely only use this when we don't have other resources on hand for the topic), added living books, hands on notebooking, and unit projects. I also scheduled any of the NEST history DVD's we happened to have on hand, but they are not necessary.

Veritas Press cards 1815-Present
The Complete Book of U.S. History

Remember the Alamo
Buffalo Bill
If Your Traveled West in a Covered Wagon
Clara Barton
If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War
If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman
Bully for You Teddy Roosevelt
If Your Name was Changed at Ellis Island
The World Wars
The Story of Ruby Bridges
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr.

Many of the Sonlight Core E Readers and Read Alouds are scheduled as well. (These can be seen on the schedule.) I scheduled both upper grammar and lower grammar readers (from Sonlight), but not every week has a lower grammar reader. I added what I had on the shelves for my 2nd grader from the SL grade 2, 3, and 4/5 readers that applied to the time period. We will just fill in with the rest whatever he wants to read.

A note about read alouds. Many read alouds are scheduled. We will not read all of them. I am adventurous in my planning, but try to be realistic in my expectations. We will get behind and end up skipping some. Some we will read over the summer, some will remain unread for future use. It is what it is. We are currently 4 weeks into this schedule and still only reading the first scheduled read aloud. It happens. Review weeks (which are scheduled three times throughout the schedule) are great read aloud catch up weeks.

Last year we discovered interactive notebooking. Basically similar to History Pockets or Lapbooking, but you do projects, activities, and interactive notebooking pages that get put into a 3 ring binder, providing you with a wonderful "scrapbook" from your history studies.

Hands on History Pioneers
Hands on History Civil War
Scholastic Interactive maps
TruthQuest History binder builder (American History year 3)
TQ Memory cards and maps (American History-- second half of year 2 and year 3)
VP 1815-Present Teacher's Manual (I used a few of the projects from here, but not many and it is not necessary if you do not have it).

(The Hands on Histories and the Scholastic Interactive maps were purchased during the Scholastic $1 sale). 

Here are a few samples of what the kids have done so far this year:



Projects. I both love them and hate them. My kids love love love them. I love the idea of them, but find that I struggle to actually get them done. Last year we planned one project per unit, and bought a "kit" for as many of those as possible. Amazingly, this way they get done!

I. Westward Expansion (1830's-1850's)-- Covered Wagon, pan for gold
                                               Here is the completed Covered Wagon Project.

II. The Civil War (1840-1870)-- Freedom Quilt (using patterns found online, we will make mini quilts using felt and glue)
III. The U.S. Grows (1865-1900)-- Grow peanuts, make homemade peanut butter
IV. Changes (1890-1920)-- Wright Brothers model airplanes
V. Trouble (1914-1945)--Photojournal of the Great Depression (include recipes and choose one to make)
VI. New Frontiers (1950-present) Man on the Moon diarama

One of the main areas I knew we needed to work on was in review. I have not seen a whole lot of retention in previous years history studies which while it is to be expected from young children, it can still be disheartening.

Timeline Cards
The timeline cards from last year helped significantly and I planned to do them again, until I stumbled on the TruthQuest History timeline cards which were well priced and wonderful. I printed them on cardstock, laminated them, and cut them out. Quite the project, but they are a huge hit so far!


Veritas Press Teachers manual
The VP teacher's guide has worksheets and tests for each card. While I don't have my kids fill them out, they make wonderful jumping off points for discussions and are great for oral review.

History is getting more fun and more engaging every year. The kids love the VP memory song, the timeline games, the hands on history notebooking, and I love all the books. As long as I don't get caught up in trying to do it all, we should be great!

Ready for a great year of U.S. History Year 2!


  1. Hey Nicole, this is a great post! Are you simply using most of the VP resources, or are you adding in other teacher resources as well? Do you have a post with what you put together last year? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Jackie! Thank you! We are using just what is listed, I actually have a copy of Sonlight Core E that was given to me, but I have yet to use it...My thoughts were to use it for some reading comprehension questions, but we shall see! The great thing about teaching history through living books is you read together and discuss! And all that hands on notebooking provides tons of interaction with the material! :)
      Here is a link to our U.S. History year One plan from last year. http://onemagnificentobsession.blogspot.com/2013/05/us-history-for-grammar-stage.html


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