An American History: Westward Expansion Family Style Unit Study for Homeschoolers

This Davy & The Alamo Family unit study is for the younger students in your family, preschool to 2nd grade.

Feel free to mix and match these Primary activities with the activities and lessons from the Davy & the Alamo: Intermediate and Secondary Learners Unit Study that best suit your children and their learning styles.

This Davy & The Alamo unit study uses Living Books, and hands-on STEAM activities along with English Language Arts, History, Fine & Gross Motor, Poetry, and Folktales.

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English Language Arts

Read Aloud Living Picture Books

davy crockett tall tale

Davy Crockett and the Great Mississippi Snag by Cari Meister, illustrated by Peter George. One of the many tall tales about Davy Crockett, this one involves a fierce river beast: the alligator! This book has a nice biographical page at the end that is appropriate for everyone, including preschoolers.

In this next tall tale selection, Davy Crockett Saves the World, by Rosalyn Schanzer, Davy leaves behind his sweetheart to stop Haley’s Comet from destroying the world. This book uses regional vernacular and phrases, several of which are in this unit’s vocabulary lists. This was my kids’ favorite book from this unit.

Independent Readers

Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier by Stephen Krensky is from the Stories of Famous Americans series. This biography tells about Davy’s life as a child, being hired out to pay his father’s debts. This beginning chapter book is at a 2nd-grade reading level.

davy crockett book

Davy Crockett: Young Pioneer by Laurence Santrey covers the same material of Davy’s childhood and adolescence as the previous reader but at a slightly higher reading level. It a good transitional book for those too advanced for beginning readers, but who are not quite ready for longer chapter books.

This final independent reader is based upon the many tall tales told about Davy Crockett. It’s an older book, but many libraries carry it. The Narrow Escapes of Davy Crockett: From a Bear, a Boa Constrictor, a Hoop Snake, an Elk, an Owl, Eagles, Rattlesnakes, Wildcats, Trees, Tornadoes, a Sinking Ship, and Niagara Falls by Ariane Dewey is a fun story full of descriptive phrases and verbs. Some of my favorites were: “The tussle was a tangle” and “as fast as dry dust in a hurricane.” The book lends itself to a great study of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs!

Read Aloud Living Books

The Mystery at the Alamo by Gertrude Chandler Warner is part of the popular Boxcar Children series. The children get to be in a documentary about the Alamo and find themselves in the middle of a mystery involving a priceless ring. This book in the series is on Volume 20 of the audiobooks. It’s also available on Kindle and Audible.

Folktale

Our folktale this week is from the Appalachian region the southeast United States. The Pig Who Went Home on Sunday by Donald Davis and illustrated by Jennifer Mazzucco is the version of the Three Little Pigs as told by the author’s Appalachian grandmother during the 1950s.

Literary Analysis

A literary analysis of a book involves studying the different elements of the book. This week, we’ll examine the tone of the book, Davy Crockett Saves the World, by Rosalyn Schanzer. Because this is a tall tale, the tone of this story is definitely not serious; rather it is one of incredulous exclamation–it is a whopper of a tale! Have your students create a picture of Davy Crockett that shows the tone of this story. Use the Literary Analysis for Primary Learners worksheet in the Free Resource Library.

Writing

Pretend that you are a TV news reporter visiting the site of the Battle of the Alamo right after the Mexican army defeated the Texans. Answer the five investigative questions on the Investigative Reporter for Primary Learners worksheet in the Free Resource Library to help you organize what you need to tell your viewers. Be sure to present both sides fairly. Have a parent or sibling video your investigative report.

Poetry

There is an overabundance of poems about the Alamo and the Texan fight for independence from Mexico. In the 19th century, most literate folks wrote poetry, including Sam Houston and Davy Crockett. That doesn’t mean that their poems were good; just that they wrote them. LOL Many poets also took huge artistic license and changed important details of history in order to make their poem rhyme. This Texan Marseillaise is a call to arms type of poetry written in March 1836 by an unknown gentleman after receiving Travis’ call from the Alamo.

The Alamo

Texians, to your banner fly,

Texians, now your valor try,

Listen to your country’s cry;

Onward to the field.

Armed in perfect panoply,

Marshaled well our ranks must be:

Strike the blow for liberty,

Make the tyrant yield.

Who is he that fears his power?

Who is he that dreads the hour?

Who is he would basely cower?

Let him flee for life.

Who is he that ready stands

To fight for Texas and her lands?

Him his country now commands,

Onward, to the strife.

Small in number is our host,

But our cause is nobly just:

God of battles is our trust

In the dread affray.

Telegraph and Texas Registar, August 1836

Grammar

Copywork and narration are a real-life way to work on grammar skills. Use the Davy Crockett and the Alamo Copywork and Narration page from the Free Resource Library. After your child 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 underline all of the proper nouns in the selections (there are three total).

Phonemic Awareness

This week, you can help your preschoolers and kindergarteners with their reading readiness by learning how to remove sounds from blends in words to make a new word. For example, we’ll take the word “drip” and remove the “r” to make the word “dip”. Use the Davy and the Alamo Phonemic Awareness Games packet from the Free Resource Library for the word lists and games.

Spelling

Research shows that kids retain information well when they are moving around, so try this kinetic spelling practice. Write the letters from their spelling words on index cards. Attach a clothespin to one of the short sides of the index card. Next, set the clothespin on a table or other flat surface so that the clothespin is standing up with the index card at the top. Then, let your child use a popper toy, a nerf gun, or a slingshot to shoot down the letters in the correct order.

Vocabulary

Use the Davy and The Alamo Vocabulary for Primary Learners from the Free Resource Library to learn new frontier and Appalachian themed words like “coonskin ” and “varmits”. This week’s vocabulary words all come from Davy Crockett Saves the World by Rosalyn Schanzer. You can use the vocabulary words as spelling words, as a word wall to practice copywork, or as flashcards to work on memorizing definitions or just making sure that they understand the concepts.


STEAM

Science

When Davy was a young boy, he probably hunted Eastern gray squirrels to put food on his family’s table. The squirrels in Texas are different though. He probably saw both rock squirrels and thirteen-lined ground squirrels during his travels through the Texas region. Learn about these 3 different kinds of squirrels. Record what you learned on the Davy & the Alamo Science Investigation for Primary Learners worksheet in the Free Resouce Library.

General squirrel information from SciShow Kids.

Rock squirrels at Texas Backyard Wildlife and World Wildlife Zoo.

Eastern gray squirrel facts from The Wildlife Brothers and James Knott.

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (also called the Striped Gopher) from Learning as We’re Living and Janelle LaRae Streed.

Technology

As a young boy, Davy used a slingshot to hunt small game to provide dinner for his family. Then, when he was older, Davy’s father allowed him to use the family’s long rifle (with only one bullet a day), to hunt small game like squirrels and rabbits as well as larger game like deer. The Kentucky long rifle used rifling inside the barrel to make the bullet spin which gave that rifle much greater accuracy. Putting a spin on a bullet to improve accuracy uses the same principles of physics that baseball pitchers and football quarterbacks use when they put a spin on the ball as they are throwing it.

Pick one of these hands-on projects (or do both, just for fun!)

Learn why spiraling a football increases accuracy and how to spiral a football.

Build an indoor slingshot with these instructions from PBS Kids or make a pocket slingshot using Seven Oaks’ directions.

Engineering

Challenge your kids to build a model of the Alamo Mission. They can use legos, craft sticks, or a shoebox with clay. Find pictures to inspire them here.

Art

Fine Arts

Chester Harding painted a portrait of Davy Crockett. Davy also posed for another portrait with John Gadsby Chapman (shown below), which shows more of his personality. He posed for this painting while in Washington, D.C during his time in Congress.

davy crockett portrait
Portrait of David Crockett by John Gadsby Chapman, public domain
Practical Arts

Read the book, Nuts to You by Lois Ehlert. Next, build a squirrel feeder to help out your furry backyard friends. Use a slinky to make this one from Got2HaveFaith. This squirrel feeder from ThePaperMama uses a wide-mouth mason jar. Or, try this one that uses a milk carton from FunLearningforKids.

Math

Santa Ana had several thousand men in his Mexican army and the defenders at the Alamo only had 200. Have your students count by 10s and by 5s to 200. If counting by 5s and 10s is too abstract for your kids, make it more concrete with this trick. Get a box of toothpicks (from the dollar store) and count out 10 at a time. Bundle them together with a rubber band. Continue until you’ve made 20 bundles. Finally, let your student try counting by 10s with the bundles.


History

A Picture Book of Davy Crocket by David Adler, illustrated by John and Alexandra Wallner Adler has a whole series of picture book biographies of famous Americans and they are all packed with facts, but written as interesting stories. This one contains a few sentences of violence, describing how Crockett died at the Alamo. Best for ages 6 and up.

Read about Texas’ first President, Sam Houston, in Michael S. Adler and David A. Adler’s A Picture Book of Sam Houston, illustrated by Matt Collins.


Music

Disney produced a five-part mini-series in 1955 that aired on ABC that was wildly popular. The first three episodes were made into the movie, Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier. Listen to the Riders in the Sky sing the theme song. Watch the movie, Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier on Disney Plus.


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.


Gross and Fine Motor

Fine Motor

Playing with the pocket or indoor slingshot that you made for the Technology section is great for strengthening those finger muscles. However, if you didn’t have a chance to make one, either grab one on Amazon that uses paper pellets or try using one of these Poppers for spelling practice.

Gross Motor

Pretend Play: The Mexican army probably carried ladders with them to climb up and breach the outer wall of the Mission. Do you think you could ride a horse and carry a ladder? What about climbing a ladder while someone is shooting at you from the top? How fast can you climb a ladder on your playset or at the park? First, climb up and pretend that you are a Mexican soldier trying to get into the Alamo Mission. Now, once you are in the Alamo, you’ll have to use hand-to-hand fighting because you won’t have time to reload your gun. Be sure to cross mid-line as you pretend to fight the enemy to stay alive.


Sensory

Create an Alamo small world sensory bin with kinetic sand, some legos, and a few army men.


More Ideas

Be sure to follow my Pinterest board US History: Westward Expansion for more great hands-on activities and ideas for your Davy and The Alamo unit study!

Color pictures of the Alamo as you are listening to the Boxcar Children: Mystery at the Alamo.

If you live in or near Tennessee, take a Davy Crockett road trip with this guide from Fodors.

alamo battle toys

Re-create the Battle of the Alamo with Texian soldiers and Mexican soldiers and your model of the Alamo.

Finally, don’t forget to pin this post so you can refer back to it during your Davy and The Alamo unit study.

davy crockett alamo
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