A huge thanks to the American Girl company for providing me with products to incorporate into our American Girl Addy study unit!
As many of you know, we homeschool our two oldest children. Maggie is in 2nd grade and now that her reading and mathematics skills have a solid base, we’re slowly starting to incorporate other subjects, like science and history, into her education more often.
One of the many reasons we decided to homeschool is because homeschooling allows us to make learning fun for our children. Time and time again I’ve seen how making education enjoyable and exciting has resulted in my children learning faster and retaining the info they’ve learned.
February is Black History Month so I wanted to take time this month to start teaching Maggie about African American history in the US. The horrors of slavery can be a pretty heavy topic to talk about with a child. We’ve talked about slavery in the past already when we talked about the Israelites being enslaved by the Egyptians before Moses helped to lead them out. Because of those Bible studies we’ve already done, I knew she understood what slavery was, but now I needed to explain the history of slavery here in the US. And as I mentioned, while we want homeschooling to be a fun learning environment for our kids, there’s nothing “fun” about that discussion! It’s not a fun topic to teach or learn, however, it’s a very important piece of history for her to know about.
Learning about history through an inspirational, fictional story was the best thing I could think of to begin this discussion with Maggie. As I tried to plan her curriculum for this unit, I turned to American Girl, knowing that their Addy series was my first introduction to slavery in the US.
When I was in 3rd grade, I read the Addy series on my own. I still remember how heavy it was for me. Thinking about Addy’s older brother being whipped to the point where he was bleeding, reading about Addy’s brother and father being sold and separated from the rest of the family, Addy and her mother escaping but needing to leave the baby behind. These were heartbreaking stories to me as a 9-year-old. While I knew that Addy was a fictional story, the reality was that many African American families DID experience these very same things. Reading the Addy series was a deeply emotional journey for me.
Knowing how emotional the experience was for me, I decided I wanted to read this series with Maggie. We’ve been trying to read a chapter a day since we got the series. Typically, she’ll read a page and then I’ll read a page. Sometimes we alternate reading paragraphs. This gives us the opportunity to talk through the things she is reading and I’m there to answer any questions she might have along the way. She loves to hold her Addy doll while we read together too!
We started reading the Addy series in the middle of February and I quickly realized this will be a unit we continue to study long after the month of February has ended. Reading Addy has opened up a lot of topics for us to cover, like the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. We’ve also started talking about some of the influential black Americans throughout history, like George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others. Living in West Virginia, we have a lot of historical sites we can visit as well, like Antietam and Harper’s Ferry. I plan to do that once the weather gets warmer.
Maggie and I are enjoying our time reading and learning through the American Girl Addy series and we both highly recommend it!
American Girl Addy Educational Resources
As we’ve been going through our Addy study I’ve found a number of great resources online! American Girl has a fabulous section of teacher resourcing, including one for the Addy series. I also found this Addy Unit Study to be FULL of ideas to use. We’ve been referencing it quite a bit! There are lots of great printouts and links to educational content on YouTube too!
Don’t forget to check your local library for other historical books to continue the educational experience too!