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Our history journey with Lewis and Clark

Over the course of two years, we’re studying American history in our homeschool.  We’ve been stuck Lewis and Clark for what seems like forever because of travel and camp and convention. Honestly, I haven’t minded because it’s such a fascinating adventure.  A couple of years ago, I read Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose and was really looking forward to getting to this part of our story with the kids.

We’re using a literary approach to history, basically reading our way through the years. Fortunately, there are a plethora of children’s books on history and with careful searching, there’s usually a few excellent resources on each topic. On some topics, there are almost too many from which to choose. I’ve been pretty good about borrowing most of them from the library to save money. Of course, the library fines we’ve racked up kinda cancels out my book buying savings.

Captains Lewis and Clark and the Corp of Discovery traveled almost 8000 miles round trip.

For Lewis and Clark, we mainly used two books, although I always have several more available for the kids if they’re interested. The first is Lewis and Clark and Me as a supplemental resource, but one not to be missed. The short book tells the tale of the journey from the point of Seaman, Captain Lewis’s Newfoundland. (An aside, if you are of my generation you probably learned that Lewis’s dog was named Scannon due to a misinterpretation of his handwritten journals. This is why penmanship matters, people!)  Seaman was loyal to Meriwether Lewis to the end. (Have tissues when clicking that link.)
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The primary book we used was Of Courage Undaunted . Published in 1951 and written by Newbery and Caldecott Medal winner James Henry Daugherty, it is an engaging and exciting retelling of the amazing journey. Each section begins with a delightful verse and there are copious illustrations throughout.  This book definitely meets Charlotte Mason’s criteria of presenting ideas in literary language. Of course, this book is more than 60 years old and has some language you may want to discuss with your children. For example, we don’t call people savages, it’s tacky. But one of the things I love about the book is that it basically presents the information straight from the journals with little editorializing.

The girls have also read (several times I think) a book we own about Sacagawea, whose name, the documentaries inform me, is pronounces Sa CA GA way ah. Or Sa ca GA wa ah. But in no case Sa ca JAH way a.  Between that and the dog’s name, I doubt my entire Lewis and Clark education.

We did watch two documentaries, one by Ken Burns and one from National Geographic. Both were streaming on Netflix and at least the Ken Burns is available for free if you have Amazon Prime. Now we move on to the War of 1812. I’m so excited to show my kids this.

2 responses to “Our history journey with Lewis and Clark”

  1. Wayne Cockfield Avatar
    Wayne Cockfield

    I followed the Lewis and Clark trail all the way to Fort Clapsop in Washington State. Great fun. By the way, William Clark, the younger brother of Revolutionary War hero, George Rogers Clark, was a notoriously bad speller and on one page of his journal, he spelled the same word seven different ways.

  2. April Avatar

    That sounds like so much fun! Yeah, one of the things our history studies are teaching us is that there were many “creative” spellers, including George Washington and Daniel Boone. Lewis was no great speller either.

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