Read Through the USA is a 47-page PDF that lays out a literature- and activity-based study of the United States for students in grades one through five. It should take four days per week for 38 weeks if you follow the suggested schedule, so this will be your core history and geography curriculum for one school year.
Trail Guide to U.S. Geography
Junior State Notebook
Desk Atlas of the United States
The Trail Guide to U.S. Geography has information, questions, and activities. The Junior State Notebook has a page for students to fill in for each state plus stickers for each state’s official flower, tree, and bird. The Desk Atlas of the United States has information to read about each state, and it also serves as a reference tool to help students answer questions posed in The Trail Guide.
The pages of Read Through the USA mostly consist of charts that detail which reading and activities to do each day in the three books, the chapters or pages to be read in library books, and map labeling activities.
While the three Geography Matters books focus primarily upon geography, the recommended books from the library (or that you obtain another way) broaden the study into history, people, and events related to particular states. Read Through the USA assigns lengthy read-aloud books that will span a number of weeks in the study—books such as Minn of the Mississippi and Little House on the Prairie. For instance, you begin reading Minn of the Mississippi with the study of Michigan, and continue while you study Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. The Mississippi River runs through or borders on all of these states except Indiana.
Each week children can read independently or with assistance the briefer books that are related more closely to individual states. There are two separate recommendations, one for younger children (in approximately first through third grade) and one for advanced readers (up through fifth grade). These books might feature a person prominent in the state’s history. For instance, when students study Connecticut, young students will read Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider. This story is based upon the true story of Sybil Ludington, daughter of a colonel in the revolutionary army. She spied on the British and learned that they planned to attack Danbury, Connecticut. Sybil rode through the night to warn her father and his troops. Students are given three days to read each of these books. Meanwhile, advanced readers will be reading a longer book on their own over a number of weeks. In this case, while younger students read the story of Sybil along with other stories related to north-eastern states, advanced readers spend five weeks reading The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, a story that takes place in Massachusetts.
Young students may also read (or have read to them) any of the five picture books listed for that state. For Connecticut, they might choose from Wilhelmina Goes Wandering, Noah Webster and His Words, Ferryboat, Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color, and Snowflakes Fall. These books are a great way to involve siblings younger than first graders who aren’t ready for the rest of the work.
The lesson plans include URLs for free online quizzes at the Seterra website. These include quizzes such as those on state capitals, states east of the Mississippi, and states in the west.
The Geography Matters books are great on their own. The Trail Guide to US Geography even includes a six-week study of the book The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe as well as a list of recommended literature. However, Read Through the USA presents a more comprehensive course where literature plays a larger role, and it is all mapped out for you.