Perhaps no knowledge is more delightful than such an intimacy with the earth’s surface, region by region, as should enable the map of any region to unfold a panorama of delight, disclosing not only mountains, rivers, frontiers, the great features we know as ‘Geography,’ but associations, occupations, some parts of the past and much of the present, of every part of this beautiful earth.Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason, p. 224
That is a lovely quote by Miss Mason that reveals the close relationship between history, geography, and geology. And we certainly “unfolded a panorama of delight” when we studied Minnesota history and geography last term in our TBG Community geared towards middle and high schoolers. (We also studied much of the geology of the state but I’ll save that post for later.)
Whether your students are elementary age or older, it’s always important to visit the many historical sites around Minnesota. And of course, the history of our state is not studied in isolation. Charlotte Mason homeschoolers are always observing and recording the flora and fauna of their surroundings, the geology, and the geography. There should be an atmosphere of wonder all the time and not a unit-study, check-off-that-box type of attitude.
For elementary students, we have read Gopher Tales by Antionette E. Ford. Short and sweet chapters in a straight forward narrative that became a jumping-off place to further reading for us. Along with that, every child should read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie book series. An excellent balance to the Little House books for upper elementary and up is The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich. There are many other living books that I will share in a list below. Gopher Tales, as well as many other older history books, is not without issues, namely the treatment of the Native Americans.
Teacher reference book:
North Country: The Making of Minnesota by Mary Lethert Wingerd
Land of Sky-Blue Waters by August William Derleth
This was an excellent and living book! We LOVED it. It is about the expedition to find the source of the Mississippi River. Geographically, it begins in Detroit and travels through Lake Huron, Lake Superior, and into Minnesota. Great information on Ojibway and Dakota tribes.
Minnesota: The Story of a Great State by Maude L. Lindquist and James W. Clark
This was just a good, old, schoolbook but we only read specific pages that are listed in the lesson plans below. We began in SE MN and then moved clockwise around the state. Some things were outdated but we found that interesting and looked things up.
Gopher Reader, Volumes 1 & 2, edited by Hermina Poatgieter and James Taylor Dunn
These are excellent, living articles on MN history, geography, geology and more. We only read specific chapters listed in the lesson plans. A must-have for families!
Great attention is paid to map work; that is, before reading a lesson children have found the places mentioned in that lesson on a map and know where they are, relatively to other places, to given parallels, meridians.Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason, p. 224
Map of Minnesota –
We used MN Mapper map. It allows you to include or hide all features with its layers.
One of the most important historical events in our state’s history is the Dakota War. We read one chapter from The Dakota War of 1862: Minnesota’s Other Civil War by Kenneth Carley.
For learning more about the Dakota War, this is an excellent documentary from MPR – Little War on the Prairie Documentary. Not for littles.
There were other essays, poems, and field trips not listed here. You will come across many enriching things about our state that will be unique to you and your students, as well as take them to visit sites that are more local to you.
MORE LIVING BOOKS FOR MINNESOTA
Fiddlefoot Jones of the North Woods by Jordan
Drusilla by Brock
Eagle Wing, a Chippewa Boy in Old Minnesota by Coleman
Sod-House Winter by Judson
Up the River to Danger by Palmer
Climb a Lofty Ladder by Havighurst
Little Whirlwind by Hubbard
Fire Canoe by Falk
Steamboat’s Coming by Turngren
A Wish for Mimi by Gag
Elsa’s Secret by Grey
Oh, Susannah by Holberg
The Middle Sister by Mason
North on the Great River by O’Farrell (old school book)
My Minnesota by Ford (old school book)
You can read descriptive reviews of most of these on Goodreads. Do you have any others that you think should be on this list? Please let me know in the comments.
Below you will find a pdf of our readings for history and geography. Also included are the correlated mapping items. We met together in our co-op over the course of 14 weeks (7 meetings) for discussions, some reading and narrating, and an occasional map drill in class. Kristin Spittle chose and assigned these and as always, she did an amazing job! Each assignment was completed over a two-week period at home. I hope you will find the plans useful for charting out your own Minnesota history course.
Teaching from peace,