A Davy Crockett and the Alamo U.S. History: Westward Expansion Family-Style Unit Study for Homeschool Families
This Davy Crockett and the Alamo U.S. History: Westward Expansion Secondary unit study is generally for students working at middle to high-school levels.
This Davy and the Alamo unit study uses Living Books and hands-on activities and lessons to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, Practical and Fine Arts, and Math (STEAM) along with English Language Arts, History, Poetry, and Folktales.
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Davy & the Alamo Unit Study History
Read one of these versions of David Crockett’s autobiography: A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, Written by Himself or King of the Wild Frontier, An Autobiography of Davy Crockett (Dover Books on Americana). Both versions contain the same text, they just have different covers and publishers.
If your kids prefer audiobooks, they can listen to this short YouTube David Crockett: His Life and Adventures audiobook from the Audio Books channel.
Watch this clip from Lies and Legends: The Real West (Davy Crockett’s Road to the Alamo). It’s a very well done production from LionHeart Productions and is narrated by Dermot Mulroney.
The Battle of the Alamo
This next video is a quick look at two of the lesser-known men, Jim Bowie and William Travis. Watch History of the Alamo by Jerry Skinner Documentaries and learn who drew the line in the sand at the Alamo as well as where the weakest point of the Alamo’s defense was.
Also, have your students listen to Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers by Brian Kilmeade, available on Audible.
Davy & the Alamo Unit Study English Language Arts
I’ve spent countless HOURS searching for high-quality literature about Davy Crockett and the Alamo for this age group. I gotta tell you, there are not a lot of good choices for wholesome, quality books that aren’t either highly inaccurate, inappropriate, or that portray minorities in a horrible, racist manner. (If you’ve discovered one, please let me know and I’ll add it here).
Several of these following titles are more in the literary nonfiction genre than the historical fiction that I prefer for learning, but I still think that they will be engaging enough for middle and high school students to enjoy.
Despite its title, Remember the Alamo, by Amelia E. H. Barr, is not so much about the Alamo as it is about a family who lives near the Alamo mission. With this historical fiction story, you get a glimpse into the daily life of living on the Texas/Mexico border in the early 1800s around the time of the battles for Texas independence. This book is in the public domain and is free for Kindle.
For older high schoolers, you can preview, The Gates of the Alamo by Stephen Harrigan. It is a grittier, fictionalized look at the history of the Alamo. This is the historical fiction genre that really helps the reader to remember and connect to the story, but parents should decide first if it’s appropriate for their high schooler.
Read Aloud Living Book
A Time to Stand: The Epic of the Alamo by Walter Lord is one of the best (and most entertaining) nonfiction accounts of the men who fought at the Alamo. Because it was first published in 1961, some words used may have different meanings today (i.e. “gay”). This book tells the real story, not the glamorized, Hollywood version. Available on Audible; highly recommend the audiobook version.
Watch the tall tale about Davy Crockett in Shelley Duvall’s Tall Tales and Legends: Davy Crockett. Many libraries carry this series of DVDs.
Be sure to also read the Davy Crockett Saves the World, by Rosalyn Schanzer. This book uses regional vernacular and phrases, several of which are in this unit’s vocabulary lists.
Have your student create a comic strip of an event from either Davy Crockett’s life or the book that your family used as a read
Choose one or both of these writing assignments. This first is a “real life” assignment and the second one is a critical thinking paper.
After you’ve read about Davy Crockett’s life in his autobiography (see the History section above), create an obituary for him. Use the Davy & the Alamo Real-Life Writing worksheet for Secondary Learners from the Free Resource Library to gather information before typing up the obituary in paragraph form.
For a critical thinking exercise, discuss with your teens what outcome might have resulted if additional men and supplies had arrived in San Antonio. Back-up was requested but never even sent. Have your students write a four-paragraph essay that outlines their opinion with supporting statements. Use the Davy & the Alamo Critical Thinking Pre-Writing worksheet for Secondary Learners in the Free Resource Library to help them organize their thoughts before writing.
Our poem for this unit is The Defence (sic) of the Alamo by Joaquin Miller (1841-1913). You can read it on Bartleby.
Copywork and narration are a real-life way to work on grammar skills. Use the Davy & the Alamo Secondary Copywork and Narration page from the Free Resource Library. After your student has written the sentence from dictation, let her see the original to check it with her work. Have her correct her work, so that she knows how it should look. As an extension of the narration, have him diagram the sentences.
Vocabulary & Spelling
Use the Davy & the Alamo Secondary Vocabulary from the Free Resource Library as spelling words and to learn new vocabulary.
Davy & the Alamo Unit Study STEAM
The Battle of the Alamo may have had a different outcome if Jim Bowie had had the resources (and mules) to move the cannons to a strategic location. With full parental supervision, build your own potato cannon (aka potato launcher) using one of these instructive resources: Dixon Hill or The Art of Manliness. Then use physics to learn about exterior ballistics using this teacher guide from Backyard Ballistics. (Parents, please be sure to supervise your kids while they do this lesson!)
The Kentucky Long Rifle came into popular use during Davy’s lifetime. Users were able to shoot with increased accuracy because of rifling. Rifling is why interior ballistic examinations are able to be done on bullets from crime scenes.
With the introduction of the Kentucky Long Rifle, muskets began to lose their popularity. The rifle was easier to fire because it used a flintlock mechanism.
Learn what a flintlock mechanism is and how it works in this article from How Stuff Works.
Watch this comparison of a long rifle and a musket in this video from R. Lee Emory.
Read a brief history of the Kentucky Long Rifle.
Just for fun, watch this episode of Top Shot from the History Channel, where contestants use muzzle-loading weapons in an old frontier challenge.
Learn about the three different types of barrel rifling in this article from NRAFamily.
Build a model of the Alamo Mission using Legos or other materials.
The only known portrait of Jim Bowie (painted during his life) is this one painted by George A. P. Healy around 1825. Healy painted many prominent people during his lifetime. You can learn more about Healy at the National Gallery of Art.
Children in the early 19th century spent time learning handicrafts. Learn a few simple embroidery stitches to create a heart sampler with the instructions and free pattern from Adventures in Making.
Be sure that you complete page two of the Backyard Ballistics instructions in the Science section for this week’s math.
Davy & the Alamo Music
Listen to Marty Robbins’ rendition of the Ballad of Davy Crockett.
Davy & the Alamo Devotions
Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and all the men who fought for Texas at the Alamo knew that they would probably die fighting the Mexicans. But they still chose to fight for what they believed in. The Bible tells us to be strong and courageous many times.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9
Abram is another example of having the courage to follow your convictions when he leaves his homeland at age 75. Read Genesis 12 to learn more about Abram’s courage.
More Ideas for Your Davy & the Alamo Unit Study
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