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Today we started our American Girl Doll curriculum.  This is a terrific study for my girls as it provides a more hands on approach to learning.  If you are not familiar with American Girl Doll curriculum, please see this post for more info on that (this link will be coming soon).

If I knew how much they loved the series, I would have started out with the first book in the series which would have been Felicity, but we started with Kit.  Our plans are to stay with Kit and then move back to Felicity. After that, we will move chronologically through the curriculum.

For the back bone our American Girl study, I purchased Portraits of American Girlhood by Cindy Sotelo.  Each series appears to be divided up into 6 week unit studies.  Today we started with “Week One” on page 174 for “Meet Kit”.We already listened to the audio recording of Meet Kit so we went right into the assignments, the first being on Vocabulary:  economy, Great Depression, and stock. Since my children are dyslexic and have difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling, we went through a dictation, copy procedure.  First I say the word and discuss it.  I ask if they might know what it means.  Then I give them the definition and use it in a sentence.  Then I write the definition on my white board and they copy it into their book.  Even this is very difficult for my eight year old.  For her, I will even write it again on paper and then put that paper directly in front of her so that she does not have to look far to copy the words.  This also allows her to scratch out the words that she has written which helps her tracking.  Frankly, neither of my girls can even read back to me what they wrote, but I believe that it is better for them to write than not write at all.  Sometimes Ellie, my 8 year old, gets so frustrated with tracking while copying that she will begin to loose interest, so I step in and write some of the words for her.  There is never a wrong or right way; each lesson is an ebb and flow of their abilities in verses my intervention.  It is a delicate dance between what it is they are actually capable of doing as opposed to just complaining to get out of doing school work.  I would say 90% of the time, it really is about them having difficulties.  I have learned that what may seem easy for one child, a dyslexic child can quickly be catapulted into feeling extremely overwhelmed.

After writing vocabulary, we moved on to our hands-on activity of making a collage of the events during the Great Depression.  It is good to follow-up the difficult writing activity with a lighter activity that is more visual or auditory.  Doing this then makes the second activity seem like a reward and their interest is rejuvenated after difficult copy work.  This activity is not part of study guide, Portraits of American Girlhood, but is something that I thought would really add to their ability to conceptualize the Great Depression visually.

First, I asked the girls to cut out the images that I captured on the web and printed up.  You will note that there are three girls at the table, one of them, Janakai, is dear friend of our family who I home school two days a week.  Janakai is not dyslexic.  The other two are my girls, Jeanette and Ellie.Next, I suggested to the girls that they matte their pictures with alternate colored paper for more visual appeal.  To make this process easier, I first asked them to glue the picture on the paper that they would use for matting.Then I asked them to cut around the picture, leaving a small reveal, thereby creating a matted frame.I know this might sound obvious and simple, but this advice to them goes a long way.  What kids have a tendency to do is to first cut out the paper that they want to matte their picture to, then they glue their picture to it and discover that the picture is either too large or too small to fit properly on the matting paper, which results in frustration on their part.  Once frustrated, they will soon loose interest in matting their pictures and start to look negatively on the entire project.  I have found that the more guidance you can give kids from the start, the more apt that they are to get excited about the project, stick with it, and do a great job at it.

Next, the girls arranged their pictures on paper to come up with a collage design.  I drew some very rough ideas on the board for suggested collage designs.I did not ask for complete attention when I did this as I wanted them to look up only if they felt they needed to.  Otherwise, if they already knew what they wanted, I wanted them to run with it.I asked the girls to leave room to write the title of their collage, “The Great Depression”, and to keep in mind that they would be also labeling each picture with captions that I printed up.  Again, a little bit of instruction on technique goes a long way for this as well.  The small pieces of paper to glue on for the captions can be tedious and difficult, especially for younger kids.  But if you hold your finger on the paper on the top of the glue stick while you pull the paper through, you get great glue coverage quickly and easily.  Again, it is little things like this that can make kids who are already struggling really throw in the towel.  Next, we cut out the captions to the pictures and they girls glued them on.  This was our opportunity to talk about each picture and even play a guessing game about the pictures.  I read the caption and they would guess which picture it goes to.

Here is Janakais finished page…Here is Jeanette’s finished page…Here is Ellies finished page…The pages were placed in a note book that I purchased from Waldorf school supplies. The girls also glued in the vocabulary page in to the notebooks.

Must haves for this activity as shown


  • Welcome to Kit’s World (hopefully you can find a used copy)
  • If you children are dyslexic or struggling readers, the audio version is very helpful.  If you do get the audio recording, I highly recommend that you still get the printed books.  There are great pictures in the book that you can use for the notebook study and it is very helpful to have a book to refer back to instead of having to find your place in an audio version.  On the other hand, it is great to enable your dyslexic kids to “read” the books on their own.


  • Enlarge copies for the Kit study from the Portraits of American Girl Study Guide, such as the vocabulary page (you may want to copy all forms for the Kit unit so you can save some trips to the copy store).  This will need to be done on a special copy machine that is used to expand blue prints (don’t worry, it’s not that complicated).  It’s a little time consuming but worth the effort.  The larger copies enable younger kids to accommodate their larger printing/cursive.  If your kids are dyslexic, this is especially important.  I find that my kids get overwhelmed immediately if they see a bunch of small rule that they have to squeeze their letters into.  This takes some time so be sure to set aside at least an hour at the print shop.
  • Again, if you kids are dyslexic or struggling readers, you will need to read the book to your kids.  You can also download an audio version of it and let them listen to it.  It is obviously very helpful if you can also read/listen to the book.
  • Cut out poster board to fit into notebooks.  Children will glue the Great Depression images to the poster board and then glue the poster board into their notebook.
  • Print out Great Depression Images

Great Depression Images

“Hooverville” aka Shanties

Stock Market Crash 1929

Dust Bowl

Amelia Earhart

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Okies traveling west away from Dust Bowl

Freight Car Hopping

Poor and Hungry Families


Children Soup Line

I found many more pictures on the net but due to copy right protection, I was not able to post them here.  Suggested searches for more pictures are “Great Depression Unemployment,”  or “Great Depression Apples”

I apologize if I have left anything out.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or suggestions.

May this help you help your children!

Thanks for reading

Love and blessings,