Using a Literature Approach to Teach Early American History in Your Homeschool

Are you planning to study the beginnings of the United States in your homeschool? Here’s how Beautiful Feet Books’ literature approach to early American history can spark curiosity for your kids and help them engage with history in a meaningful way.

Studying the United States in your homeschool? Here's how Beautiful Feet Books' literature approach to Early American History can help.

**This post is sponsored and contains referral links. I was compensated for my time reviewing this curriculum, but was not required to write a positive review. See this disclosure to learn more.**

I know it’s tough to believe that a pile of books can be the secret to engaging kids in history, but it’s true. Instead of stressing over textbooks and tests, you can allow a literature approach to take the lead as you explore the beginnings of the United States together.

That’s why you need to know about Beautiful Feet Books and how they bring connection and curiosity to your homeschool through literature.

Teaching American History Through a Literature Approach

Before I share more about using this literature approach to teach American history, here are the details you need to know about it.

Overview: Early American History Intermediate from Beautiful Feet Books

Designed for grades 4-6, this updated version of the Early American Intermediate Pack uses 23 living books — a mix of picture books and chapter books — and spans 129 lessons to be done two or three times a week over the course of a year. Along with the books themselves, the pack includes a teacher guide, timeline, and composition book.

Beautiful Feet Books: A Literature Approach to American History

The Early American History pack covers the following aspects of United States history:

  • Indigenous peoples of North America and the first recorded encounters with them
  • The age of discovery
  • Life in the first European settlements and colonies
  • The Revolutionary War
  • After the war and the beginnings of the new nation
  • The Civil War

That said, the lessons themselves are flexible and focus on the reading. If you have time, you can choose to include all or some of the other lesson components. Likewise, you can include fewer of those extras if things are busy for you.

In addition to the lessons themselves, the teacher guide includes ideas for crafts and projects, character and scripture connections, and an optional book list at the beginning of each unit. This gives you everything you need in the way of hands-on learning ideas and suggestions for further reading.

Better yet, it includes a Historic Table section at the end of each unit. This includes authentic recipes and information to help you understand the historical significance represented in these themed meals.

Why Choose a Literature Approach to Teach American History

Since we look to Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy to shape our homeschool path, we’re no strangers to using a literature approach to teach history. In fact, I’ve used Ambleside Online with my 9 year old up until this year and all she’s ever known is an education built on good books.

By the way, I shared about our move away from AO when I shared our 5th grade curriculum picks. You can find some background on my daughter’s shift to history with Beautiful Feet Books in that blog post.

We’re also no strangers to Beautiful Feet Books. Between teaching character through literature and their high school history courses I’ve used with my teen, I trust their approach to teaching through literature. But here’s why this literature approach is particularly helpful for exploring American history with kids.

A literature approach brings American history to life. 

There’s been a lot of chatter in recent years about what to include when teaching American history to kids. And plenty of opinions about what kids can and should be asked to handle have been offered in all of that chatter.

I wholeheartedly believe in learning history with different perspectives and experiences in mind, even when it shows once-honored historical figures, ideals, and ways of life to be negative, harmful, and even sinful.

Should I share this book with my kids?

If you’ve spent time at a bookstore lately, you know how hard it can be to determine which books to introduce to our kids and which ones to bypass.

That’s where this free guide from Beautiful Beet Books can help.

5 Ways to know if a book is worth sharing with your kids

While I trust my kids to be able to handle these perspectives, I also have to take sensitivity, empathy, and understanding into account when we discuss the hardest parts of our history. That’s why a literature approach to American history makes all the difference.

From indigenous peoples to post-Civil War, learning America’s history through living books helps kids experience life through the eyes of those who came before us. It also gives kids a chance to get to celebrate the good, learn from the past, and look to the future with awareness and a charge to do better .

Literature is the catalyst.

There’s more to teaching history through a literature approach than working through a pile of good books. These carefully selected books and the content within are important, for sure, but they’re the starting point. Instead of simply consuming the books themselves, teaching through literature allows the books to serve as a catalyst for further exploration.

Early American History Intermediate from Beautiful Feet Books

That’s where the teacher guide for the Early American Intermediate Pack shines. Since each lesson allows you to choose from multiple teaching components in addition to the readings, it’s easy to dig deeper than the reading assignment when your child shows interest.

The Rabbit Trails and Historic Table sections in each unit serve the same purpose. With plenty of suggestions for extra reading, hands-on learning, and research activities, this guide encourages kids to connect with American history and equips parents to lead that exploration.

Good books engage.

I didn’t mind learning history in the public schools I attended, but I wasn’t particularly fascinated by it as a student. For me, American history showed up in textbooks, lectures, and tests and that was that. Those aren’t necessarily bad, but they didn’t help me connect or take ownership of our story as a nation. 

Fast forward to life as a homeschooling parent. As a homeschooler, I’ve learned that story is a much better vehicle for history than textbooks and lectures.

Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period.

Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.

Charlotte Mason,
Home Education

Rather than presenting kids with quippy facts to spout off or recognize in a multiple choice test, teaching through literature trains them to make connections across the timeline and globe and understand their place in it all.

This is helpful in any subject, but it’s especially helpful when learning about the origins of your country. When it comes to American history, literature draws us in and helps us connect in a way that calls us to be critical thinkers and caring citizens.

Learn More about the Early American Intermediate Pack

Want to learn more about Beautiful Feet Books and their Early American Intermediate Pack? You can find it on their website along with sample pages and a downloadable scope and sequence.

While you’re there, be sure to check out all of their curriculum offerings. In addition to this early American history curriculum for 4-6 grades, you’ll find fantastic options for early elementary, middle school, and high school. 

Looking into homeschool curriculum options for teaching American History? Here's what you need to know about Beautiful Feet Books' literature approach to Early American History.

In closing, I happily recommend Beautiful Feet Books’ early American history curriculum. Whether you’re simply looking for a flexible curriculum option or an engaging mix of great books and hands-on ideas, this resource is a wonderful way to connect your kids with the beginnings of the United States.

Studying the United States in your homeschool? Here's how Beautiful Feet Books' literature approach to Early American History can help.