How would you describe California Out of the Box?
California Out of the Box is a lively new California history curriculum designed for homeschool families and public, private, and charter schools. Interdisciplinary in nature, students are encouraged to tackle the study of related areas that arise out of reading five historical fiction books. The curriculum includes a teacher’s guide filled with activities and reading comprehension questions (and answers) as well as reproducible student pages (for use within a family — also available for purchase as the Student Folder book).
Beyond the curriculum book, what else will I need for this literature approach curriculum?
Teachers will need to purchase or borrow from the library these books:
- Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
- The Valley of the Moon: The Diary of Maria Rosalia de Milagros by Sherry Garland (link to audio book)
- By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman
- The Earth Dragon Awakes by Laurence Yep
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to California
- California Out of the Box Student Folder (optional; features a set of printed handouts found in the curriculum)
- Stories Combo Set: The California Coast reader and California Out of the Box Supplement available in our store
What is included in the California Out of the Box Student Folder book?
The California Out of the Box Student Folder book provides a set of the Student Folder handouts from California Out of the Box: An Interdisciplinary History Curriculum. Using the same pagination as the curriculum, this book is not designed to be a standalone self-guided resource, but should be paired with the curriculum itself. Additionally, this book contains a set of timeline cards which can be used with the timeline project.
Why these historical fiction books?
These 5 books (1-5 above) represent well-researched introductions that are current and engaging for young students. They make good read alouds for 3rd-4th grade and below, and are easily read by 4th-6th grade independent readers. To supplement these fiction books, students will enjoy the Mark Twain excerpts included in curriculum which give flavor and color to the 1800s by way of providing a vivid primary source.
How is it organized? How long does it take to cover the material?
The curriculum is laid out in 36-weekly blocks. There are generally 3-5 reading and activity selections per week. These are clearly outlined in the table of contents so teachers can easily adjust the flow. Click here to view the table of contents and sample pages.
I have heard it’s interdisciplinary. What does that mean?
Disciplines such as life and earth science, the arts, social studies, and even folklore and mythology are all introduced. To give an example, after students read the Earth Dragon Awakes about the San Francisco earthquake, students will explore the layers of the earth (creating a diagram), and then explore rock types such as igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. For practical learning, students will run some classic rockhound rock tests (with a hammer and goggles!).
What are some other features you have woven into the curriculum?
Some of the unique features include a discussion of all eight major California habitats, geography and mapwork using Google Earth, creation of a California history timeline, as well as tracking the development of California through historical fiction character’s migration to California.
What other materials will I need?
In addition to the 9 books above, each unit contains a supply list that includes materials most families will have around their home. The curriculum has been written to make it usable and cost effective. Some additional recommended books may be needed from the library; these are listed in the unit supply lists as well.
Is it religious or secular?
The curriculum is secular. It touches on religion only as far as the subject comes up in historical periods such as the missions. It does not assume a religious worldview.
What historical periods does it cover?
California Out of the Box takes students on a journey from the time of prehistory through the 1930s. The areas of historical exploration are life of indigenous peoples, Pleistocene animals, ranchos and missions, the Gold Rush, John Muir and the beginning of the National Parks, Pony Express, Transcontinental Railroad, California statehood, the San Francisco Earthquake, and the Dust Bowl.
Are there assessments to verify student knowledge?
Yes. As students work their way through the curriculum, there are numerous worksheets and comparative charts (found in the Student Folder/reproducible sheets) that will allow students to make cross-period comparisons to explore how different characters live and feel in the various time periods. As students read about the habitats, they will complete a description sheet for each one and/or chart where they will be invited to record their observations. Additionally, at the end of each unit, there are discussion and reflection questions that can be used to verify student’s learning.
What ages is it appropriate for?
The curriculum is written for grades 3-6, with additional suggestions for families wanting to involve younger siblings. Many of the hands-on activities will also be engaging for younger grade school students.
What type of learning styles is it appropriate for?
This curriculum is ideal for visual and non-traditional learners. It invites quick thinking and tying together various cross-unit information.
Is it standards-based?
Yes! It is based on the California History-Social Studies Framework (2016), through the 1930s; it also supports many aspects of common core standards.
Where can I buy it?
Can I use charter funds to purchase curriculum?
Yes. We are an approved product vendor with a number of California charter schools; click here to see the list. If you do not see your charter listed, contact your ES to get us added! We respond quickly so that you are able to use charter funds to purchase our curriculum. Charter families, click here for PO instructions.
Is the curriculum consumable?
Yes. Like the Story of the World Activity Guide, the student pages in the Student Folder and the teacher’s book are consumable and will likely be marked up by parents and students.