American History Through the Life of George Washington
I did something new with our history this year. I decided to teach the 1700’s portion of American History with George Washington as the central figure. Although it’s hard to pinpoint my favorite era in American history, the 1700’s and the winning of independence is at the top of my list. And George Washington is truly one of the greatest men who ever lived.
Washington’s role in American history is very large, and goes back before the American Revolution. He was a Virginian, a landowner, and a loyal British subject. He first became a surveyor, at a time when colonists were rapidly moving westward and exploring the new territories of Kentucky and Tennessee. He went on to play important roles in the French and Indian War, which would prepare him for his much larger role as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. And of course, he became our first President.
Not only was he an important man and soldier, he was a man of high character who did everything for God and his country. He was humble, and yet he was a great leader. He loved his wife dearly, and was constantly torn between his commitment to her and his commitment to the freedom of a new nation. His writings reveal his heart and his character.
Washington’s life encompassed most of the 1700s, so it was the perfect background to our entire study of world history and American history. If you’re new to my website, you might want to read about how we study history in our homeschool. Then jump in and peruse this list of resources. There are a few really great books that we use, and then we add a ton of free (or very inexpensive) resources.
This study is for all of my children, all ages from 6-16. Reading assignments are totally up to you. We use a mixture of read-alouds by me, Audible, and quiet reading. It depends on each book and each child. For read-alouds, I generally gather all the kids together. I do allow the use of Audible for many, many books. This is obviously flexible depending on each child.
This post contains affiliate links.
Here are the books we used as the backbone of our study:
|George Washington, Sower Series
By Mott Media, LLC See history come alive…learn of many hidden facts involving famous men and women from the pages of their diaries, letters to friends, books they wrote, etc. Washington was not a preacher or great Bible scholar, and he did not speak or act in this manner. He was much like the average member of your church, for he sat regularly in the pews of many churches. Daily Washington lived by the biblical teachings he gleaned from his Bible reading. And he was a sower of the seeds of faith to others. For ages 9 to 13.
|The Light and the Glory, revised and expanded edition: 1492 – 1793
By Peter Marshall & David ManuelDid Columbus believe that God called him west to undiscovered lands? Does American democracy owe its inception to the handful of Pilgrims that settled at Plymouth? If, indeed, there was a specific, divine call upon this nation, is it still valid today?The Light and the Glory answers these questions and many more for history buffs. As readers look at their nation’s history from God’s point of view, they will begin to have an idea of how much we owe to a very few–and how much is still at stake. Now revised and expanded for the first time in more than thirty years, The Light and the Glory is poised to show new readers just how special their country is.
|The Light and the Glory for Young Readers: 1492-1787
By Peter Marshall, David Manuel & Anna Wilson FishelAdapted for children ages 8-12, The Light and the Glory for Young Readers explains American history through the lens of the providential-history approach, showing how God intervened over and over again in history just to create a place where His followers could worship. Telling the tale of Columbus, the Spanish missionaries, Roanoke Colony, and more, learn how Jamestown’s proximity to swamps shows that they didn’t seek the Lord’s direction, how King Phillip’s War was due to God lifting protective grace, and how “this fighting was more than a war over land. This was a spiritual battle… yet, God continued to take care of His people by showing them special favor.” Study guide with questions and answers included. 186 pages, softcover. Ages 8-12.
The teenagers read The Light and the Glory on their own and worked the Study Guide. I read The Light and the Glory for Young Readers aloud to everyone 11 and under.
Specific resources for each category are listed below.
Intro to the 1700s
It’s always fun to really dive in to the culture of a historic time. Clothing, homes, food, music, art — these all make us feel as if we are there. And sometimes they help us to understand the actions of a people more deeply.
- Colonial Life – this book is so great! Color photographs of reenactors featuring all aspects of colonial life and culture.
- Life in Colonial America – Coloring Book – I LOVE these Dover coloring books for all historic time periods, and this is no exception.
- Rip Van Winkle
- Discover the 13 Colonies Notebooking Unit at Education Possible
To round out your study and include World History, I highly recommend George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster. All of her books are excellent, and give a great overview of how and when world history and American history intermingles:
“When George was a young man, Benjamin Franklin was the most well-known American, Louis XV was on the throne of France, and George II was king of England. Father Junipero Serra had just arrived in Mexico to work with the Panes Indians. Mozart and Bach were writing their immortal music and Voltaire warred with his pen against Ignorance, Injustice and Superstition. The young nobleman Lafayette watched the feisty American colonies with fascinated interest as they stood up to Mother England when she sought to tax them unfairly. James Cook was sent by the Royal Society of London to Tahiti where their team of astronomers might observe a total eclipse of the sun and thereby accurately measure the distance between the earth and the sun. These are just a few of the wonderful narratives explored by Foster in her Newbery Honor Book of 1940.”
It’s very important to understand the different Indians of the Northeast and the colonies. They played important roles throughout the 1700s in Colonial America.
I have a seperate blog post dedicated to the Iroquois tribes and the French and Indian War. It features one of my own history books, The Iroquois Handbook. This book was originally published in 1818, and was written by an missionary who lived with the Iroquois for 30 years. It is such a valuable resource for homeschoolers studying this time period.
The 18th Century Through the Life of George Washington
George Washington was born in 1734
- George Washington by Ingri d’Aulaire
- George Washington (Sower Series) -Chapters 1-3
- George Washington, Writings – The Colonial Period 1747-1750
- George Washington: A Picture Book Biography
- Servant to Abigail Adams
Daniel Boone is born
- Lapbook of Daniel Boone – North American Explorer
- Make a leather “possibles” bag. We made one out of vinyl (it’s cheaper than leather and looks pretty good!)
French and Indian War
- George Washington (S0wer Series) – Chapters 4-7
- George Washington, Writings – French and Indian War period January 1754 through May 1775
- The Matchlock Gun
- The Sign of the Beaver
- The Last of the Mohicans (Audible version)
- The Last of the Mohicans (Illustrated Classics version)
- The Last of the Mohicans is just one part of the Leatherstocking Tales
- This site has a good map of Fort Duquesne
- Alone Yet Not Alone
- Last of the Mohicans
- The Sign of the Beaver (Free with Amazon Prime membership, or order the DVD)
- PBS Video The War That Made America
- Creat a Sign of the Beaver lapbook, or add these activities to a history notebook
- Let your younger kids try loom beading with pony beads
- Let your younger kids try weaving yarn on a cardboard loom
- Check out this list of 15 Hands-On History Ideas for Middle School Kids Studying the French and Indian War
- See this great post on a hands-on lesson on the French and Indian War
- French and Indian War Map Activity ($2.50 download)
Let me just say that the resources for homeschoolers to teach the American Revolution are ENDLESS. You really have to narrow it down to your favorites, or just plan to spend an entire year on the subject. (Which I am totally not opposed to!) So I’m sharing here what we used, as well as some other great stuff to choose from.
This is a subject I am very passionate about. When students learn the whole story of the forming of this nation, they own their American heritage. And when they own this heritage, they develop a patriotism and a belief in our system that follows them into adhulthood. That’s when they will make decisions that affect the entire country. They will act and live and vote and spend according to their beliefs and understanding of how this country works.
And if they’re like me, they’ll cry when someone sings the Star Spangled Banner, or when they watch Schoolhouse Rock’s “The Shot Heard Round the World” or read Patrick Henry’s address to the Virginia Burgesses. This history will be real and the effects of it today will be real, and the need to preserve it will be real.
So, here we go!
After the French and Indian War, King George began taxing the American colonists to pay for that war. But he neglected to get their input. You know, taxation without representation? This led to all sorts of outrage, including the Boston Tea Party, and the battles of Lexington and Concord.
- George Washington (Sower Series) – Chapter 8
- The Light and the Glory Chapter 14
- George Washington, Writings – Commander of the Continental Army 1775-1783
- Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (illustrate by Ted Rand)
- The Boston Tea Party by Steven Kroll
- Johnny Tremain
- Read Patrick Henry’s famous speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses
- Read the Declaration of Independence (and also my post on The History of the Declaration of Independence)
- Rush Revere and the Patriots (see my review of this series here)
- Ben Franklin: Inventing America
- Johnny Tremain
- Drive Thru History: American History
- School House Rock: America Rock – “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”
- We made notebooking pages for “events leading up to the American Revolution.” I gave my younger kids a list, and had the older kids research online. You could also add these events to a timeline.
- The boys (ages 9 and 11) did daily copywork from George Washington’s Rules of Civility (it’s in “Writings” but also available here). I copied it on the chalkboard (one or two rules daily) and they wrote it on notebook paper for their history notebooks.
As tensions mounted, the Continental Congress realized the need for a real army. The minutemen were good, but they weren’t trained soldiers for a long war. So George Washington was appointed Commander of the Continental Army, and was given authority to raise and train a real army. They would now fight the King.
- George Washington (Sower Series) – Chapters 9-111
- George Washington, Writings
- The Light and the Glory – chapters 15-17
- Draw a Revolutionary soldier and cannon from Draw and Write Through History
- Continue cursive copywork from Rules of Civility
- Use this interactive online activity about the different battles of the American Revolution
The Constitutional Convention and the first President
- George Washington (Sower Series) – Chapter 12
- George Washington, Writings – Presidency 1789-1797
- The Light and The Glory – Chapter 18
- My American Government and Civics Study (download here)
- Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
- Constitution 101 – a free online course from Hillsdale College (great for high school and parents)
- Three Ring Circus from Schoolhouse Rock
- I’m Just a Bill by Schoolhouse Rock
- For an explanation of the Constitutional form of government, I drew a very basic outline on the chalkboard of the three branches of government and had the younger kids copy it onto paper for their history notebooks
- Create lapbooks or interactive notebooks on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (lots of links on this Pinterest Board)
Washington’s entire life was one of service to his country. He did not spend much of his marriage with his wife due to the needs of his countrymen. Though he enjoyed his life as a gentleman farmer and looked forward to horseback riding on his Virginia farm, he only got to do this on limited occasions. Retirement was something he certainly earned, but it was short lived. Washington passed away one night in his sleep in 1799, just before the close of the 18th century.
- George Washington, Writings – Retirement 1797-1799
Great books in general:
When I teach history to my children, I am always reading a book or two on my own that follows the same subject or time period. Here are a few that I recommend, along with many of the books above.
- America’s Godly Heritage by David Barton
- The Bulletproof George Washington
- 1776 by David McCollough (I also have a wonderful interactive version that was purchased at Cracker Barrel a few years ago, but I can’t find it anywhere online now)
- Being George Washington by Glenn Beck
- The Christianity of George Washington
Thanks for joining me on this journey through the 18th Century in American History. It was such an important time in our history, and I hope after using some of my suggested resources here, you will see just how Providential it was that George Washington appeared on the scene. He never had any biological children, but he has left quite a legacy.
- How NOT to Teach American History
- Excellent American History Books for Kids
- Six Great Children’s Authors on History