California Out of the Box, an interdisciplinary California history curriculum, uses story as a platform for history study and exploration. There is a big hole for a cohesive California history curriculum, so I am delighted to share with you more about this holistic approach with a strong literature component. If you love Story of the World, then I think this may be a good fit for you.  1726672271

It is a 36-week study with 3-5 lessons/activities each week based on 4th grade California state standards. However, it is designed with 3rd-6th graders in mind. While it was written for homeschoolers, it could be easily adapted for public/private schools. Additionally, I think it would work great for a co-op setting. The curriculum book is also the teacher’s guide.

California Out of the Box is an interdisciplinary curriculum. Your children will make connections as various aspects of learning are woven into the curriculum including:

  • Literature
  • History
  • The arts
  • Life and earth science
  • Social studies
  • Folklore and mythology
  • Geography
  • Poetry and literature
  • Research

I like that there is a strong emphasis on quality literature.  Five historical fictions books are used:


Three other resources used are:


It’s easy to use:

  • Reproducible sheets found at the back of the guide are easy to find and photocopy
  • Teacher’s don’t have to dig for maps; they are in the book.
  • Answer (keys) make grading/discussions easy.
  • Activities are geared for multiple learning styles.
  • Suggestions are made for further study.
  • Picture book list included to engage younger siblings.

It’s engaging:

  • Students will enjoy the links to videos, etc.
  • Visual learners will enjoy looking at images on Google Earth/Images and drawing their answers.
  • Interesting websites are mentioned such as the David Rumsey Map Collection.
  • Historical fiction books contextualize the time period quickly and create memorable learning.
  • Reflection questions encourage older students to draw inferences over time periods and their own lives.

It’s complete:

  • The curriculum covers prehistory through the 1930’s
  • Timeline activities help students place events in historical order.
  • Review activities are interspersed throughout book.
  • Students will explore the land and habitats as they study about the history of that particular area.

Some unique moments:

  • Exploration of the pygmy mammoth skeleton on Santa Rosa Island.
  • After a discussion about migration to California, students will explore requirements to be a US citizen.
  • After studying the San Francisco earthquake, students will explore a unit on geology where they will conduct rock tests.
  • Students will create models of a Gold Rush town or a “Come to California” poster while studying the Gold Rush.
  • Las Posadas and Dia de Los Muertos as cultural traditions are explored; students will learn how piñatas are made.
  • Students will read stories about ways kids have advocated for natural places and explore issues they are passionate about.
  • Habitats such as the coast, chaparral, oak woodlands, Sierra Nevadas, coniferous forests, salt marshes, desert, and grasslands in California are explored (throughout curriculum).

This is a secular curriculum, so you should be able to use charter school funds.

As I am a big fan of homeschooling with lots of great living books, the author sent me a free copy of the curriculum to review. I hope you found this review helpful and enjoy California Out of the Box!!!

You might also like:

How to Jumpstart Homeschooling Your Child: Curriculum Ideas and Outlines for Each K-8 Grade Level

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

Communism Study through Literature

Fun Ways to Teach Writing Without Buying a Curriculum

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