Topic | USA Geography/History Read Alouds for K

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  • MamaSnow

    I had planned out some of our read-alouds for our kindergarten this year to cover topics related to World Geography, just to give some basic overview and exposure to it for dd5.  However now it looks like we will be heading on furlough to the States in a couple of months (we are a missionary family overseas), so I’m looking to switch gears a little bit so that some of our read-alouds cover some of the basics of US Geography and History instead.  We’re just doing K, so I’m not planning to do any full-blown historical study or anything, just want to be able to read things that will give dd some basic overview/context for America in general (the last time she was there she was only a toddler, so she has very little idea/context about her “passport country”) and for some of the places we will be visiting and seeing as we travel.  We will be travelling pretty literally all over the country, and will be spending  longer periods of time in North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, and Texas – Maine, Washington, and California are also fairly significant stops on our itinerary.   (Yeah, I did mean it when I said literally all over the country…)

    Anyhow, I would love to know any favorite living books that would be appropriate for her age that would expose her to America in general or any of the States I mentioned more specifically.

    Thanks much!

    Mum In Zion

    Hi MamaSnow,

    We are also a missionary family overseas.  When our kids were 3 & 5 years old we had an extended furlough that took us to the UK, USA and Australia (our passport country).  We took an inflatable globe so they could see where we were in relation to “home”.  It was a fun way to learn compass directions, continents and oceans, the equator and northern and southern hemispheres. Not alot of detail but helpful when explaining where we were flying to next.  While in each country we learned the flag, capital city and some foods and words unique to each place (even though we all speak English!!)  While in Australia we visited alot of family which took us around half the country.  We didn’t focus much on Australian history but concentrated on family relationships.  We only visit Australia every 3 years, so we felt it important for the children to understand where they “fit” into the larger family and to build relationships and memories.  I also kept a journal of our trip.  The children would tell me something about the places we visited or the people we met and I would write it in their journal.  Then they would decorate it with a drawing or glue in a picture, boarding pass, postcard etc.  

    I can’t help you with suggestions for American living books, sorry.  I just wanted to share what we did and to reassure you that your dd will learn so much just by travelling with you, seeing new places and meeting new people.  At that age children are like sponges, so let her relax and just absorb the culture.  

    Furloughs are never a holiday and rarely relaxing (in our experience!).  So make sure you find time to rest and look after yourself too, and I’m sure your dd will have a great time.




    For US geography at that age, my first thought is the Holling C. Holling books.  We’ve done Paddle-to-the-Sea (Great Lakes region) and Minn of the Mississippi.  They are fun stories that cover geography along the way. 

    For US history, I’d suggest you check out the Christian Liberty books.


    Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    All-of-a-Kind Family (similar feel to Laura Ingalls Wilder books, except about a Jewish family in NYC)

    I think some American tall tales book would be fun, too – Paul Bunyon, Pecos Bill, etc.

    A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus by David Adler is a good place to start.  He actually wrote several of these “A Picture Book of” books on famous Americans – Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc.  I think they are good for the younger set – not too dense or heavy and told in a story format.  They are around 30 short pages long – good for beginning readers too if you break it up.

    Kate Waters wrote some books like Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy which are also lovely and tell about the pilgrims and the Mayflower.  Good prep for Thanksgiving, right? 🙂 (That’s how I’m using them anyway).

    Finally, Nathanial Benchley wrote some beginning reader stuff like Sam the Minuteman and I think some about Indians, which were good too.

    As far as geography goes, we aren’t really reading books because my ds is already on book overload and not happy about it (we’re also trying to do a K year which I started out very light but in my enthusiasm keep adding stuff which I now realize I should cut back in the interests of ds’s interest level if you know what I mean :)). What he’s been doing and loving is a couple of US map puzzles. Even my 3 yr old has caught on and knows Washington, California, Texas, and Florida, which is pretty cool.  I just picked up some flashcards that have the states and their capitals and also states and their flags which I’m thinking we can use in a game way.

    There is a post here too, where Rachel listed a whole bunch of really great stuff for American History and symbols like the flag and statue of liberty for the younger set which I think would be helpful for you.  Have fun!



    Thanks everyone for the ideas – if anyone has any other favorites I’d love to hear those as well.

    And thanks Michelle for sharing your furlough experience!  I appreciated the encouragement.  In addition to dd5, I also have ds 2 and dd 6m, whereas on our last furlough we just had dd and she was only 18m so this will be a new experience for us!  Thanks for sharing about your travel journal too – I like that idea.  And BTW, I don’t know where you are from in Australia, but we live and work in Papua New Guinea and all 3 of our kids were born in Cairns, so we’ve spent quite a bit of time there. =)


    Mum In Zion

    We are from Brisbane but our 3 kids were all born in Israel. Last time we were on furlough our children were 9, 6 and 12 months.  I had good intentions of continuing on with our history readings, geography, copy work, and read alouds, but we travelled around alot and our baby didn’t adjust to new time zones very well, so we didn’t do as much “school” as I thought we might.  

    If you are driving alot I would recommend getting audio cds to play along the way.  We did this and covered a reasonable amount of history and some fun stories that I would not have had time to read otherwise.  I had the two older children keep a journal again but this time they wrote in it instead of me.  I used this for copy work and then they would “narrate” to grandparents (and anyone else who would listen!) about the places and people they had seen.  

    I also used my iPod touch with some educational apps, so the kids could practice math facts, play phonics/spelling games, read and listen to stories, as well as some fun games to distract them while we were in meetings or places where they needed to be quiet for extended periods.

    Considering the ages of your children, I wouldn’t worry too much about anything “formal”.  If you are able to read American stories and use the places you visit as a springboard to learning something new about American culture, history or geography then I think your children will have learned plenty…. more than the average 5 year old 🙂  You might also consider tracing your travels on a fold out road map.  We found this helpful for the children to comprehend large distances.  Israel is so tiny compared to Australia, so the thought of driving for 2 or 3 days and still being in the same country was something very new to them.

    Hope you find some of my ramblings helpful 🙂  

    Blessings,  Michelle


    We are from Massachusetts and we just started reading Peter Arenstam’s “Nicholas” series. The title character is a mouse who travels through each of the New England states. My Kindergartener and first grader *loved* the first one about our home state. We filled in an outline map with the geographic features and cities that Nicholas saw. Book two is about Maine.

    Kelly Bond

    Well, these are not necessarily living books, but I have found them to be excellent introductions to all of the states, plus the USA in general! They are fun, nicely illustrated, and I have learned a lot, too. Smile

    Discover America State by State

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