Looking for a California History Curriculum?

“We are just finishing up the California Out of the Box curriculum.  I have to say it’s one of the best types of curriculum we’ve experienced.  I love the historical fiction books you chose.  And most importantly I admire how the curriculum is from the point of view of the people who lived here first.  It reminded me of the book A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.”

Ann Marie S., Homeschool Mom

Thank you so much for your kind words Ann Marie! Our curriculum is now 4 years old, and we are more confident than ever that it’s an engaging and integrated state history approach for upper elementary learners. Through our online courses and parent testimonials like this one above, we have seen year-after-year how well students respond to the five literature books, short stories, and hands-on activities included in the curriculum.

How does the curriculum work?

The curriculum features a teacher’s guide which relies on five historical fiction books: Island of the Blue Dolphins, Valley of the Moon, By The Great Horn Spoon!, Earth Dragon Awakes, and Esperanza Rising. These books anchor a number of major time periods: Native Peoples in California, missions and ranchos, 1849 Gold Rush, 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Dust Bowl and 1930s agriculture. These books can be read as a read aloud or students can read them on their own. In each of the 36 week sections, there are reading comprehension questions and activities which the parent can use to deepen learning.

In addition to the five historical fiction books, there is an anthology of stories, Stories from Where We Live: The California Coast, filled with short stories about youth adventures and experiences in a variety of natural environments within California. Since this book is now out of print, families can procure our Stories Combo Set that includes most of the stories from this book. Also, students will use the Audubon Field Guide to California to learn about the flora and fauna of the Golden State. This guide is a valuable resource that can be thrown in a backpack and taken on walks.

Interspersed throughout the curriculum are projects like building a home in the style of the coast and island habitat (from the Island of the Blue Dolphins). Another project invites students to discover and look more closely at plants around them by creating a plant collection that classifies leaf and plant shapes using the Audubon field guide. Here is a link to an article that features examples of hands-on projects found in both the curriculum (and our classes).

There are more suggested activities and explorations than one could do with their student(s). We know students learn in a variety of ways and we like to provide as many options as we can.

Sample California mobile

The end of the year culminates with students creating a mobile filled with their favorite moments from the stories and activities. (See this article about why we picked a mobile for the culminating project!) They also assemble a comprehensive California timeline from their year of study.

We know some homeschool moms prefer to teach the curriculum themselves. However, others are looking for a class; if that’s you, explore our online California history sections, taught by Ms. Tracy. Parents are raving about her classes. Here is the course page!

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