American History has been our favorite subject lately, having started it last month. We are loosely following Adventures in America from Elemental History, but mixing it up to add a bit more to the program. We allow that program to lead us, but will explore tangents on our own. I timed this post to coincide with Columbus Day, a holiday I never really appreciated, being Native American and all. But Satori learned both the good and the bad about Christopher Columbus with all the resources we used.

After reading the short passages in Adventures in America, we loaded up BrainPop and watched their Columbus movies. If you don’t have BrainPop, here’s a free Columbus Day BrainPop Jr. video you can watch to see what the program is like. BrainPop Jr. is suitable for grades K-3, with the regular BrainPop for higher grades. We love both. Regular BrainPop also offers a Columbus video.

Along with the videos with the funny robot, there are also quizzes, activities, and more offered. We decided to do this Columbus activity, as it looked pretty cool. First, we printed off the free template three times, to make each of the ships that sailed to America – Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Satori colored one in and I colored in the other two and we cut it out.

Directions are included, all you need is a pencil, scissors and the paper! We labeled all the ships, Satori choosing Niña as hers, as she is a little niña (little girl).

To take this picture, I set the ships (taped them down) on our bathtub near the loft with the world map shower curtain as the background. I simply lowered the shower rod so the ships lined up nicely to show their journey across the Atlantic!

We also read three books – Morning Girl by Michael Dorris, Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad, and Christopher Columbus. Morning Girl is about two siblings living as Taino Native Americans before Columbus arrives. Pedro’s Journal is about a little ship boy traveling with Columbus on his ship. I read both aloud. The last one was an easy reader by Stephen Krensky, so Satori actually picked that up and read it in a few minutes. You can see some of the books I’ve lined up to read (some now, some when Satori is older) on our American History book list.


We are using the American History timeline I designed. I’m putting it together in chunks of six pages, accordian-style so they’ll be easier for storage.

I used magnets to put it on our whiteboard and made little magnets for important events. Click the photo below to see one of our first two events!

Here’s another look across the top of our whiteboard. By this time, it is filled with permanent marker with the other events we’ve studied. The marker stays very nicely, but if we want it off, we use rubbing alcohol and it comes off clean! Using “removeable” permanent marker and magnetic stickers, we can test ourselves if needed.