What It Is:
Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents is a four week micro-unit study. Since this study is meant for grades 1-8, it is perfect for multi-age teaching. Each week focuses on one of our Founding Presidents: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, And James Madison.
Each week has:
Brief Bio - this lists important information, such as birth date, education, occupation, religion, political party, and the years they served as President.
Supplies - basically the things you will need to teach that week, These things were simple: each week you would need a biography, ingredients for a recipe, and also for a couple of the weeks, a printout of a coloring page.
Key Facts - this was the bulk of the teaching section. The Key Facts began with History, and went over in a few paragraphs, their road to the White House and what events influenced them. A section on Language doesn't just bring to light terms that might be unfamiliar, but also expands on the feel of the time period. For example, in the week on Adams, this section goes into more detail about the home that the Adam's lived in, which wasn't the actual White House for part of their presidency. It also explains details about the Adam's marriage, and how the two corresponded with each other. And in a couple of the weeks there is a section on Government, which explains in simple terms the politics of that time period.
Cooking - Yes, the title of this unit study has the word cooking in it, so it does have its own section. This section talks about how cooking was an important part of the presidency. From entertaining (Washington) to more international cuisine (Jefferson), the marks that each president left on the history of food is discussed here.
How We Used This and What We Thought:
I found the unit study very user friendly. It came as a downloadable pdf with links embedded in the text. I appreciated that even some of the harder vocabulary words were hyperlinked to a dictionary. All of the recipes were linked, plus many web pages to learn further.
We followed the schedule of a week per president and got almost all the way through the four weeks during the review period. I found that with the amount of material, we could spend a couple of days per week doing this. At the beginning of the week, I would assign a biography to Dasher. She is older and would read it independently, and then I would try to find other resources to read to Nutsy. A couple of the weeks the study recommended a biography, but the other weeks we were to just find any book on that President to read.
Two days a week, we would meet together and work our way through the Key Facts sections. There was a lot of great information here! For example when we studied Jefferson, it was interesting to read about his love of language and neoligizing. This is the act of actually creating a new word. Jefferson was famous for this, and a list of some the words he came up with is listed.
And the cooking.....this, folks, is the reason I got this unit study. Our family loves to cook, and combining cooking with history (which I love to teach) seemed perfect.
Each week there was a recipe to try. And the recipe to go with Washington? Cherry pie, of course. There was a slight misprint in the recipe, but it was caught early in our review period and corrected.
The recipe for Adams was a favorite of John's - his wife's Apple Pan Dowdy. Bookworm decided to tackle this dessert one Friday and diligently rolled out the layers.
It was not a complicated recipe, but there needed to be time for the dough to rest.
There was lots of butter involved.
The crust was pastry style, with layers of dough and butter.
Then, onto the prepared apples.
The finished product, with some vanilla ice cream.
Bookworm did feel that this was a very rich dessert which was heavy in the butter. This made it very delicious, but the bottom crust did get a bit soggy.
The next week we made Jefferson's Macaroni and Cheese. This was a hit in our family, and so good that I forgot to take a photo until the next day, when it was all gone.
The final recipe, which we hope to try at the end of this week, is Dolley Madison's ice cream (Vanilla, not her favorite, which was oyster!).
All in all, the recipes were solid and brought these men's personal lives more real to my children.
For the most part, I liked this unit study. There was adequate information, that was accurate and well said. Because this was for elementary students, I did wish that there was more hands-on activities. There were links to two coloring pages in the four weeks and that was the extent of the extra activities. At the end of each week there was a "Did You Know?" section that had interesting facts about that President. We definitely learned more about our Founding Fathers doing this, and thought that is was a decent history unit study.
There are other unit studies that other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed, including:
- Victoria and Her World
- Pirates or Privateers: You Decide
- Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims
- Many Nations
- Christmas Comes to America
Click below to see what they thought!