Wednesday, October 2

Serafina and the Seven Stars + the Biltmore House unit study

Every book in the Serafina series is set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  These books are set at the turn of the 20th century, just after the house was built.  In a time when many people used candles and oil lamps for light, the Biltmore House had underwater lights in its indoor pool!  It truly is a modern marvel and American castle...

The largest privately-owned residence in the United States, Biltmore Estate has 250 rooms, nearly 175,000 square feet, and took six years to built.  It is a standing testament to the Gilded Age.  With steep roofs, towers, and turrets, it is easy to see the Renaissance influences, but size was one of the most important factors in designing this house.  It has four acres of floor space, a bowling alley, indoor pool, teahouse, library, and 43 bathrooms!  It also has the best back porch ever made...

Frederick Law Olmsted - Landscape Designer
Best known as the designer of Central Park in New York City, this “Father of Landscape Architecture in America” designed the estate gardens and the 2,000 acres of property.  He is responsible for the beautiful flora and fauna we see today!  Olmsted told Vanderbilt, “The soil seems to be generally poor. The woods are miserable, all the good trees having again and again been culled out and only the runts left. The topography is most unsuitable for anything that can properly be called park scenery. My advice would be to make a small park in which you look from your house, make a small pleasure ground and gardens; farm your river bottoms chiefly and . . .keep and fatten livestock with a view to manure and . . .make the rest a forest.”

Richard Morris Hunt - Architect
Hunt designed a building that combined Renaissance-era influences and the latest in modern technology.  The house had central heating, indoor plumbing, hot water, refrigeration, electricity, a dumbwaiter, and two elevators!  Shortly after beginning construction, Hunt toured France with Vanderbilt, and the architectural plans were adjusted to add French influence.  As the original plans tended toward the British, this change created a unique blend of French and British design.  To expedite the process, a railway was built specifically to bring shipments of supplies to the site while the Biltmore Estate was being built.  (That rail line no longer stands today.)

Our spine novel for this unit is Serafina & the Seven Stars

Access more novel studies in the Fantasy & Fiction Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes eight novel studies covering the fantasy and fiction genre. Each novel addresses a new topic, primarily falling into social studies and language arts categories.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including one featured novel – the spine of the unit.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Some units also have cooking projects.
These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

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