American Girl: Kaya – American History Unit Study

“She wanted me to learn to be patient — to wait, and to trust the wisdom of others. That’s a very difficult thing to do, for it takes great strength to wait patiently.”

Changes for Kaya, pg. 55

If you happened to see my previous post about our Felicity (1774) Unit Study, you might remember that we’re using American Girl book series as a fun way to learn about American history in our homeschool. The books are really delightful and have strong male and female characters. All 3 of my kiddos (2 boys and 1 girl) enjoy listening to the stories read aloud in the evening before bedtime.

The following post is about our American Girl Kaya: (1764) American History unit study.

Books:

We read six books in the American Girl book series:

  1. Meet Kaya
  2. Kaya’s Escape
  3. Kaya’s Hero
  4. Kaya and Lone Dog
  5. Kaya Shows the Way
  6. Changes for Kaya

We also read Welcome to Kaya’s World 1764: Growing Up in a Native American Homeland. After reading the second book, Kaya’s Escape, I found a used copy of Indian Sign Language by William Tomkins to reference as well. Last, we read Roar of the Falls, which was different because we got to make decisions in the story to change the story. We only read it once, but we could read it again, make different decisions and read the story differently with a different ending.

The idea of the unit study is to read one book and do one coordinating activity each week for 6 weeks. We had fun doing the following themed hands-on activities. It only took us a little more than twice that long to complete in real life. I suppose it’s possible to do it in six weeks but we certainly didn’t!

Activities:

Activity # 1. DIY Paper bag & wrapping paper tube horse – find directions at daniellesplace.com/html/horsecrafts, you’ll need to scroll down to about the 5th horse craft idea to find the one we did.

Here’s an alternate horse head idea – Printable Horse Craft Version II

Activity # 2. We made Model Teepees Using Cereal Boxes, except that we found the cereal boxes a little too thick to fold very well. We tossed our first attempt, and used cardstock on our 2nd try at this craft. We learned that the Nez Perce used woven tule mats to cover their teepees. We made faux woven mats with paper and markers. Then we glued them onto our teepees, layering them like shingles from the bottom up instead of decorating the teepees like the instructions on the website suggested. Also, I ran out of brown cardstock so we did brown, yellow and white.

Activity 3. Beaded necklaces with beading kits from the Dollar Tree.

Activity 4. Nez Perce Trail Coloring/Activity Book – a free printable workbook

Activity 5. Make a Plains Indian Parfleche – (a parfleche was used to store food, clothing and other items) we ended up ordering some faux leather sheets from www.amazon.com to make this craft. We had some leather cord on hand for the ties. Because the faux leather was slippery and the parfleches wouldn’t stay closed, we ended up adding additional ties at the sides of the parfleches as well as where indicated on the pattern at each end. A quick Google search gave us inspiration for parfleche designs that the kids drew onto the leather sheets with permanent markers. My daughter decided she didn’t want to decorate her parfleche so she made a 2nd one using paper and yarn to try out the style of art we were looking at.

Activity 6. As we were reading through the six books in the Kaya series, it occurred to me that we should try and replicate the frames around the characters on the first few pages of each book. We used some small frames made from craft paper that came with a Fujifilm Instax film set and acrylic paint markers. This turned out to be my favorite themed craft.

Field Trips:

We were really blessed to be able to incorporate a few themed field trips with this unit study. There’s nothing quite so fun as themed field trips. Of course, these are not always feasible but I encourage you to be creative and take advantage of whatever activities you do have in your area.

Field Trip #1. We went camping in the woods. Of course, a tent or teepee would be ideal but I’m a glamping kinda girl.

Field Trip #2. We went to a nearby fishery, rented equipment and learned to fish. In a short 2 hours, the kiddos each caught at least 2 bluegill and released them. Again, We didn’t score many authenticity points (bluegill in a man-made pond is not the same as salmon from the river) but the kids had a blast and they caught fish!

Field Trip #3. We gathered fresh berries at Boysen Berry Farm. Eating freshly gathered berries and making dried fruit leather were our themed foods for the Kaya series.

Some other activities that would tie-in nicely are: horse riding, family reunion, Salmon run, preparing fish (specifically salmon) to eat, hiking in the woods, looking for animal tracks, weaving crafts, snow hiking, and canoeing.

Below are links to a few other fun craft ideas that we didn’t include, but they just look like so much fun I can’t help but share them.

Seed Art: http://krokotak.com/2017/02/seedspictures/

Paper Bag Bison Art: https://vsymtm.wordpress.com/category/vsy-class-projects/native-american-art/

Woven Coasters: https://aprettyfix.com/diy-woven-coasters/

📚 Happy homeschooling!

9 thoughts on “American Girl: Kaya – American History Unit Study

  1. This is wonderful. When my daughter was young, we read the American Girl books that were out at the time. Such wonderful books! I love the field trips, too! When my kids were little, we’d watched “Reading Rainbow” on tv, and then we’d always check out the “Reading Rainbow” section at the library. They loved it! I am going to nominate you for the “Mother of the Year” award. 🙂 Enjoy your Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The books are really good!
      We like Reading Rainbow too! I’ve purchased some of the vintage episodes and some of the books at thrift stores. Levar Burton does such a great job with selecting great kids books and matching field trips. I feel like he was one of the pioneers in hands on literature based learning. I admire his work a great deal and find him to be very inspiring! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like a fun unit! Love all the fun crafts and field trips 🙂 Ari just stumbled on her aunts American Girl book collection last weekend and is borrowing the set on Addy. We’ll see how she likes them 🙂 She would probably really like the one you just did on Kaya because she’s into native americans and wilderness survival right now.

    Liked by 2 people

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