American Girl: Nanea 1941 – American History Unit Study

“Home had always been the safest place in the world. But within a few short hours, everything in Nanea’s life had been turned upside down. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying only to see the beautiful things… But all the images were edged in black.” The Spirit of Aloha page 40

Nanea is really wonderful and she’s definitely one of my favorite AG characters. We found her extremely relatable because her world was turned upside down at the bombing of Pearl Harbor and our world was turned upside down at the Paradise Camp Fire. I could barely read the above quote from above without chocking up. We know what that feels like. I got teary several times during read aloud time with this series.

My intention was to go from AG Molly to AG Samantha but then my daughter wanted a Hawaiian themed birthday party so we got sidetracked with Nanea. Nanea’s story is set at the beginning of World War II on the island of Oahu near Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. The doll was released in 2017, and as a newer doll, the books are a bit different than the original 1980s dolls’ books. The books were so enjoyable because they combined Hawaiian-American history with Hawaiian culture. It was really fun to learn some Hawaiian words and listen to the Hawaiian music referenced in the book.

Book we read

  • Nanea: The Spirit of Aloha (1)

Books we ran out of time for…

  • Nanea: Hula for the Home Front (2)
  • Prints in the Sand: My Journey with Nanea
  • The Legend of the Shark Goddess: A Nanea Mystery
  • Beforever Growing Up with Aloha: A Nanea Classic 1 – – – As far as I can tell this book is nearly the same as Nanea: The Spirit of Aloha except that the Beforever Classic has four additional chapters: 10. In the Dark, 12. Starfish, 18. Nanea in Charge, and 19. Dipping Her Paddle. Also chapter 14. in the Beforever Classic is titled “Deck the Halls” instead of chapter 12. Mele Kalikimaka. I chose to read Nanea: The Spirit of Aloha instead because it’s the book that originally came with the doll, it includes 2 pages with pictures of Nanea’s Friends and Family, a color map of Oahu, color illustrations throughout, and the last chapter, “Inside Nanea’s World” has both color illustrations and black and white photographs.


We attempted making guava bread two different ways and neither was very good. So I’ve got nothing to help you here. The characters have guava bread in the book and it sounds delicious… perhaps you’ll have better luck than we did!

this tropical inspired concoction was a big hit!
mango mochi ice cream


Learn to hula dance – I Hula Hawaii online hula lessons

Have a Hawaiian themed party

Do the contest activities mentioned in the book:

Watch Wild Hawaii on Disney+

Listen to the Hawaiian music referenced in the books

Lovely Hula Hands

Aloha ‘Oe with ukulele play along

Queen Liliʻuokalani’s Aloha ‘Oe

Mai Poina Oe la’u

Santa’s Hula


Origami Kit for Kids or you may be able to find kids origami books at your local library.

Military Clothespin Airplanes

Draw a portrait of your pet(s) like the reward poster for Mele in the book.

We hope you enjoyed this unit study for Nanea. Be sure to check out my other American Girl unit studies:

American Girl: Felicity 1774 – American History Unit Study

American Girl: Molly 1944 – American History Unit Study

American Girl: Kaya 1764 – American History Unit Study

American Girl: Tenney 2017 – Nashville, Tennessee Unit Study

🍎 Happy homeschooling friends!

One thought on “American Girl: Nanea 1941 – American History Unit Study

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s