We recently finished a unit study about WWI and I wanted to take a detour before jumping into the Great Depression and WWII. I also think understanding the 1920s can give us a better understanding and framework for what was going on in these two later time periods. However, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this unit, so I decided on a mini unit.
Planning the Unit Study
Every unit study I plan begins with my planning template. I go into more detail about how I plan, as well as offering my planning template as a free download in this post.
This unit isn’t as extensive as some others. I broke it up into 12 days, but it could fit into 10 or less if needed as well. These are the plans we used. Feel free to use them as is or as a jumping off point to give you ideas for your own unit.
For this unit, our read aloud was The Secret School by Avi. Ida is eager to graduate eighth grade and go to high school so she can become a teacher. When her teacher has to leave suddenly, Ida realizes her dream could slip between her fingers as no teacher means no school. All the kids at the school put it to a vote and decide that Ida will be the teacher of their secret school in hopes they will all be able to pass their exams and continue to the next grade.
This is such a sweet story with loads of humor. It was a great companion to our unit that focused mostly on city life. This quaint story gave a clearer picture of rural living in the 1920s with a few nods here and there to other things we were learning in our unit. The whole family, from my four-year-old to my eleven-year-old, enjoyed this one.
With a few exceptions I’m trying to move away from text-book style spines for our units. I’d really like to have resources that are more engaging, so I thought I would try a “Who Was” book for this unit. I’m going to keep looking for other great non-fiction spines, but I would say these went over better than the text-book style we normally use. If you love Who Was books, What Were the Roaring Twenties? is really a good overview of the time period.
Book basket books are books I set out for my kids to look through on their own, or for me to read to them. We set aside at lest 15 minutes a day to look through the basket, and I rotate the books regularly. If there’s a topic my kids want to know more about, I try to find books on that topic to add to our basket.
I did a horrible job of tracking my books for this unit, but these are a few of the book basket books I remember. Some topics to consider adding to your basket are: airplanes, automobiles, radios, TVs, Women’s Suffrage, Jazz and famous Jazz singers, The Harlem Renaissance, the Gilded Age, King Tut, Baseball, Scopes Trial, Lindbergh, Immigration, discrimination, stock market
- The Egg Thief by Alane Adams: This is such a sweet story about a boy and a dog in search of missing eggs on the farm. There are a few other picture books set in the 1920s in this fun series.
- The Roaring 20’s and the Depression Saddleback Graphic Novel: My kids really enjoy reading the graphic novels from Saddleback. It’s easy to think a graphic novel isn’t a real book, but this gave such a wonderful overview of the time and was a great start to many deep discussions for us.
- Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews: Inspired by the Jazz of New Orleans, Troy Andrews is eager to make music of his own. He didn’t have much money, but “Trombone Shorty” didn’t let that get in his way. To be honest, I didn’t have this book when we did our Roaring 20’s unit. I found it after, but it’s such a perfect fit I had to include it here.
Overall this was a fun little unit that gave the kids a peek into this cultural explosion in our country. I think there is a lot of room to explore interesting topics deeper: jazz music, baseball, and the Harlem Renaissance to name a few.
I’d love to hear if your family tries any of these resources. What did you add or change? What did you like? I’m always interested in your feedback as I take it all to heart for a bigger curriculum project I have planned.