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American Pioneers and Patriots

American Pioneers and Patriots

by Caroline D. Emerson, Michael McHugh (Editor)
2nd Edition, ©2002, Publisher Catalog #CLP79835
Hardcover, 165 pages
Current Retail Price: $21.00

See series description for full review.

Unlike most history texts, this one uses fictional stories to teach third graders about specific time periods. The stories follow young kids on adventures coming to the New World, living in the Colonies, settling the nation, and building the transcontinental railroad. Though the stories and characters are fictitious, they accurately represent events, people and living conditions of the period.

How Does This Work?

There are 12 units, each with a single story of three chapters. There is a one-page introduction to each unit that gives some historical detail, and one page at the end of the unit that describes an activity or procedure in more detail (topics include the making of cloth, building a birch bark canoe, etc.). Finally there is a list of review questions and suggestions for actitivies.

There is a supplementary test book and an answer key. Tests are to be taken after every second unit, and are all multiple choice fill-in-the-blank. The answer key provides answers to the in-text review questions, and to the test questions. If you don't plan on using the tests you probably won't need the answer key, since most of the review quesitons can be answered from the text or from the student's personal experience and circumstance.

There aren't a lot of dates and names in the stories. This is strictly American history, from pre-colonial Spanish immigration to the late nineteenth century and the laying of the first transcontinental railroad. Students are meant to acquire a feel for the various time periods, and to see that children as well as adults played a large part in history. The writing isn't Pulitzer-winning, but it will certainly keep the attention of third graders, as will the color and black and white drawings. Don't use this for higher grades, however—both the approach and the style will most likely put older kids off.

OurHonest Opinion:

At third grade it probably isn't too important that your student's history text doesn't have lots of "real" history. The story format, which is heavy on dialogue, will even draw in many kids who are predisposed against the subject. This could be a good choice if you've slogged through a more traditional text for first and second grade and want a breather before plunging into more advanced material, or if you're looking for something to kickstart your young child's interest in history.

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