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Monday, November 11

Horses in History: Appaloosy Books {Review}

We might live on a farm out in the country, but the kids don't really know that much about horses.  You know what they do love?  History!  If you have a kid that loves one or the other - or both! - Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series by Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books are a wonderful accompaniment to the curriculum.  You can spend a couple of days using each book as a 'side road,' or even read the short ones aloud and use the units as a Fun Friday study...

Aimed at kids aged 8-14, these would make good read-alouds for younger children as well.  They range from 60-140 pages, and the lengthier ones coupled with the enrichment guide make a good unit for middle and high school students.  Each book focuses on a different historical period or event.  There are hand-drawn pictures sprinkled throughout the book, and the text is a good size with spacing for younger readers.

The books are narrated by the horses themselves, which lends a really unique voice and perspective to the story!  The horses make friends, suffer insecurities, and have many human characteristics.  They also seem to be omniscient, knowing much about what's going on around them and the reasons why.  We liked this different 'take' on narration and found it refreshing.

We had the opportunity to check out the first four books in the series:
  • Appaloosy - Set amongst the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho, Storm must choose between his freedom and his caretaker, Faith.
  • Dusty's Trail - Carrying mail for the Pony Express is a grueling job, as well as one that presents many challenges for Dusty and his caretaker, Levi!
  • Golden Sunrise - The Mexican-American War in Texas is a dangerous place for Cheyenne and her caretaker, Jared.
  • Day and Night - The Civil War not only tears apart human families, but horse families as well, bringing heartache and worry to brothers Shiloh and Tucker, who end up galloping on opposite sides of the war.
    • We also used the downloadable enrichment guide for Day and Night.
Learning through reading is our family's preferred learning style, so these books were right up our ally.  The middle schooler and I read three of the books together as a review for some of the things we have already covered in our We Were There studies.  He's one of those kids that you want to cover material with umpteen times, and this was a gentle and fun way to go over it again.  

We saved Day and Night for a 'fun week,' and did it with everyone together.  Each day we read a portion of the book aloud and then completed the corresponding enrichment guide activities.  We really enjoyed having the enrichment guide, and I hope that the author has the time to go back and create one for each of the other books as well -- they are a fantastic way to incorporate the material!


The 100-page enrichment guide for Day and Night is divided into eight sections and includes:

  • Reading Comprehension - Each day of the guide has one page of comprehension questions.  These also make good jumping off points for discussion.  I like to read the comprehension questions from the previous day - to refresh the story in their minds - before reading the current day's chapter.
  • Vocabulary - Each day of the unit guide also covers vocabulary words from that chapter.  We cover these, and all of the other subsequent sections, the same day we read.
  • History - This section gives more in depth information about what's going on at this period in history in the story.  It covers events, places, and people.
  • Geography - Each book is set in America - some are set in small locales, while others cover a wide expanse of land.  The geography section not only covers locations, but also geographical features and landscapes.  We also used some YouTube videos to better visualize the elements discussed here.
  • Horses - Since the books center around equine narrators, it only makes sense that there would be a section on horses!  This section looks a horse-related topics.  It was interesting, but the least favorite section for my kids.  For a horse lover or a child interested in horses, it's fleshed out well and leaves room for further investigation.
  • Biography & Research - In this section, students are asked to research a historic figure from the era.  The boys each picked a real-life character from the story and wrote a short essay.
  • Creating Writing - Broken into smaller pieces that are spread over the eight days of this unit, students learn writing techniques and how to craft their own short story.
  • Living History - This section provides a craft or game that is related to the story.  It lays out which materials will be needed and gives good instructions.  The crafts are more appropriate for younger children than upper grades, but would be a fun activity to do together with a multi-age family.
  • Soldier's Life - In Day and Night, there is an enrichment guide section about daily life for Civil War soldiers.  I'm not sure whether this extra section will be included in other enrichment guides or what the topic would be, but this was one of my kids' favorite sections!  They enjoyed learning about uniforms, insignia, medicine, and bugle calls, as well as making up some hardtack!
I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who loves horses or animals in general!  It's a wonderful way to introduce history to younger children, and the narration brings a fresh perspective to traditional stories.  We look forward to seeing more enrichment guides and what else this young author has to offer!

See what others are saying about Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series at the Schoolhouse Review Crew...
Crew DisclaimerBook Set: Appaloosy, Dusty's Trail, Golden Sunrise & Day and Night {Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books Reviews}

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful review! I'm glad that you enjoyed the series and the guide. Glad some kids still get into history; it's so much fun for me. I strive to help bring the fun to kids as well. I almost have the Dusty's Trail Enrichment Guide ready and Blue Skies West has been so much fun to write, I can't wait to share them with the Review Crew ! Thanks again. ~Author Mattie Richardson :)

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