About the Author:
Justine Gamble is a wife and homeschooling mom to five children. She is an advocate of adoption and orphan care. She enjoys cooking and traveling. Justine grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She received her degree in Child and Family Studies with an emphasis in education and a minor in Business from Portland State University in 1998. Click here to read an interview with the author.
How this Curriculum was Created:
This multisensory learning really began as an experiment for our family, as I was trying to find a way to better engage some of my children into listening, understanding, and enjoying school. We have five children of varied ages and abilities. Some struggle with dyslexia, some have natural academic abilities and need more challenges and others are from another country and have language as well as logic and learning issues to work through. We had tried a variety of programs and curriculums to help each of our children with the things they struggled with. Through research and experience, I knew I needed an engaging, entertaining, educational, multisensory solution. As a result, Girls of American History was created. After completing the year using this curriculum, my children took the standardized test and each of them were substantially improved over the year prior, with comprehension and social studies being of the highest scoring subjects. I believe this is directly related to multisensory education.
In everything we study, we try to follow the pattern of Read it, Hear it, See it, Write it, and Do it. Not every subject allows for each of these activities, and we don’t do them in that particular order, but we do our best to cover each of those learning techniques. All children need to learn how to learn in different ways. Although one child may learn best by reading something, that child should practice learning through seeing, hearing, etc. For this reason, my children read things on their own pertaining to our lessons, I do a read aloud, when possible we go on a field trip, play a game or watch a show pertaining to the subject, they write about what they are learning, and we do a craft or make food related to the subject. These practices work best with history, science, and language arts subjects through the use of literature guides.
How to Use this Curriculum:
Girls of American History was created to be used with the popular American Girl historical, fictional series. Each unit in Girls of American History is meant to last six weeks. Of course you can lengthen or shorten this based on what works for your family. For example, you may decide to spend more time on the Felicity™ & American Revolution Unit, as there is so much to learn and review for that particular time period. Don’t be deterred by the use of American Girl books; this truly is not a study just for girls, but for all children. There are many strong male characters in each series, as well as crafts and field trips that will entertain and engage boys.
Each unit will include a suggested weekly schedule, list of required and suggested books, craft resources, field trip ideas and suggestions, party and meal ideas, templates, and other resources. This unit is not meant to be an all inclusive curriculum—only because I, personally, don’t do well with them. This guide is meant to add depth, interest, interaction, crafts, and a historical perspective into a particular time period. The characters in the required reading are fictional; however, it is strongly suggested to be a supplement to nonfictional history.
You may use this guide in a variety of ways. For example, you may choose to use it as a literature guide, utilizing some of the activities, crafts and field trips as a way to add depth to the reading. This is an excellent way to help children develop stronger comprehension skills, as well as encourage a deeper love for reading.
You may choose to use it as a fun supplement to a history curriculum you already have or plan to use. This will help bring history to life in a way that is easy for children. Relating the engaging fictional stories to nonfictional history will not only peek a child’s interest, but will encourage them to be more involved in discussions. The hands on activities and field trips will deepen their understanding of the subject matter.
You may also choose to use it as a core curriculum, incorporating much of the history, geography, language arts, and other subjects listed. Should you choose to use this as more of a core curriculum, I suggest that you evaluate the language arts piece to see if it will work for your children. There are suggestions for biography reading, geography, character study and language arts, however these are for you to determine based on the abilities of your child and what works best for your family. You may want to supplement science, math, and grammar.