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Gather ‘Round: North America Unit

It’s been awhile since I blogged. I’m no longer on Instagram, so when I write here, I would like to write meaningful, helpful, and encouraging posts. We are a Gather ‘Round family, and because this curriculum has been such a blessing to us as a family, I like to share how I plan or how we have done a particular unit.

You can see why we love Gather ‘Round Homeschool here, and how I planned our Oceans Unit here. We have completed these units, too (although I haven’t written about them as yet): Africa, Earth Science, and Europe. It will take us two years to complete Year 1 (we started in March 2020), which is why we love it – it is so flexible and adaptable to each family.

We have just finished Space, which we all loved. I’m looking forward to writing a review soon. My posts on Gather ‘Round on Pinterest are quite popular, which I just love – I want other families to thrive with this curriculum, too!

Adaptations for our Family

My children are 8 and almost 7, and we generally do 2-3 units a week. This means that it takes us 6-8 weeks to complete a whole unit. We take our time, enjoy the ride, and learn from a state of rest. I think this is why my son – who is very resistent to academics – loves it, we’re not in a hurry to check boxes and finish.

As I have looked through the Teacher’s Guide for North America, I have noticed that there is A LOT of information and topics to go through. I know that this will overwhelm both the children and I. Therefore, I am going to do what I did with the other two Connecting Continents units that we have done: focus on the animals and cultural interests. Always remember that curriculum is a tool, and you must make it work for you. I often summarise when there is a lot of information, or if the subject is quite scientific etc. I also sometimes don’t do all the activities in the workbook if I think they are not neccesary, or if I know that it’s just not the kind of day to push bookwork.

Read Alouds

This unit I am going to do a lot more reading of books that go along with theme and topics, more so than previous units. There are just so many good books that are written about history and culture from North America! I haven’t curated an exclusive list, but these are the main books I am wanting to read over the next few months with the children:

  • Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Riding the Pony Express by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • The Secret Valley by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Literature is the number one top priority in our homeschool. It shapes, challenges, grows, leads, and helps our children walk in another person’s shoes. It’s a wonderful way to bring history alive, to help children live in another culture, and to understand how different people think and why they do/did things. Living picture books are another way to bring our unit alive, so we also have a good collection for the children to read in their own time and volition. These picture books are set face up in our living room to create interest.

Extras

Because we live in New Zealand, we can’t do many real life experiences or adventures! So this time I am going to add in cooking to help bring our unit alive in our home. I have researched some interesting meals to make (like this Jamaican Chicken). We also have a YouTube list that I have collated with videos that go along with each lesson. You can find that here. In all of our units, the videos have helped the children so much – especially with science or ideas that I find difficult to explain.

Routine

We always start with our read alouds in the living room, which last for about 30 minutes. I then read through my Teacher’s Guide, sometimes reading all of it or paraphrasing when needed. After this we watch the videos that I have picked to enhance the lesson, and from there, we move to the school room (usually 20-30 minutes with the lesson reading). At the table, we work on our book work for 30-40 minutes. And that is our typical Gather ‘Round morning!

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