All posts by afterschoolplans

Mexico and the United States


Teotihuacan with the moon pyramid, sun pyramid, and ruins.

Our newest expansion pack explores some major themes regarding Mexico and the United States. Much of the Southeastern United States was a part of Mexico before the Mexican American war and today the countries overlap in many ways. Our expansion pack looks at indigenous people (prior to the formation of either country), the Mexican American war, famous artists (Romare Bearden and Diego Rivera) and immigration today.

This pack is perfect for an expat student from the United States living in Mexico or vice versa. Each pack includes books and a directly mailed activity packet that asks the student to review, reflect, make connections, and analyze current situations.

We also suggest that students visit famous historical sites including Teotihuacan, the Alamo, the Anthropology museum (Mexico) and the Native American museum (U.S.). If visits in person are not possible, we hope students will be able to explore the sites online.

The packet can be ordered separately or with an existing grade level American-History-in-a-Box. Orders are reimbursable for some expat families. Email us for the Reimbursement Request Form.

If you have questions, please contact us at


5 Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day!


Every January, many Americans have a day off to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This holiday allows us to honor the birthday of one of our most famous and influential Civil Rights leaders.

Born in Georgia in 1929, King fought for equality and justice throughout his life. He believed in peaceful protest as a way to bring about social change. Legal racial segregation in the U.S. ended in large part due to his work. With this holiday, we celebrate his life, his work, and take the time to reflect and honor his legacy.

This is also a great time to talk about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. While King was an important leader, there were many people who contributed to the cause including Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and many others. In addition, this is a great time to talk about what those people fought for and the events in our history that made the movement important.

A review of the movement could start with the slave trade and the devastating effects of slavery in the South. Discuss the many heroes in the abolitionist movement including those who helped many escape from the South. The Civil War resulted in freedom for the slaves and Reconstruction provided many opportunities cut short by segregationist policies. The Great Migration saw many flee to opportunities in the North and was the impetus for the Harlem Renaissance and the flowering of African American art and music. Today there continue to be setbacks and struggle within our communities and King’s birthday can be a time to talk about how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.

Finally, while children living abroad are exposed to a wide variety of world history, geography, and language experiences unavailable in the U.S., sometimes our own history is given short shrift. Families can incorporate books, stories, and activities into home life to ensure children know about their own holidays and historical leaders as well as those in the host country.

Here are five ideas for learning about King and celebrating his birthday with the family.

  1. Create a timeline of Civil Rights history after reading books about the topic or watching videos. is a great place to find educational videos.
  2. Celebrate his birthday with a cake and make cards thanking him for his work!
  3. Learn about his “I have a Dream” speech and then make lists of personal and family dreams and goals.
  4. Talk about diversity and equality in the United States and in the country in which you are living. Compare and contrast the history of equality in the U.S. and in other countries.
  5. Give back and honor King’s commitment to service. Volunteer at a local shelter, arrange a neighborhood trash pick-up, or make a donation to a favorite charity.

Our favorite books about King include:

  • For all children, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport, is a Caldecott award winner that tells the story of his life using his original writing.
  • For elementary children, I Have a Dream, by Dr. Martin Luther King and Kadir Nelson, pairs King’s most famous speech with beautiful pictures
  • Middle school children will enjoy Free at Last, by Angela Bull, which is a thorough biography with illustrations.

Martin Luther King, Jr., fought to end racial segregation and inspired, and continues to inspire, many Americans. This holiday is perfect for discussing the Civil Rights Movement and the impact of one of the movement’s most famous leaders.

Women in History Expansion Pack

Recent events have brought women’s rights back into the national discussion. Workplace harassment, disparity in pay, and equality in opportunities remain major issues for most women. As more women speak up about their experiences and demand equality and respect, it is worth looking back over the history of equal rights in America.

From the first women’s rights convention in Seneca, NY, in 1848 to the current “Time’s Up” initiative, there have been a wide variety of intelligent, thoughtful, and motivated women who have influenced our history. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Church Terrell, Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Betty Friedan are just a few of those who fought this battle over the years.

Our “Women in History” expansion pack explores the impact of these women and others as they fought for equal rights or simply inspired others through their work in science, politics, or education. Our history is full of inspiring women who have contributed in meaningful ways to our story. Reading about the women in our past is a great way to understand the current movement and the limitations and challenges faced by women today. Combine our history with current events to help our kids move forward so that our future is more inclusive, safer, and maybe a bit more equal.

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For more information about our expansion packs, including “Women in History,” visit our website here: 

Remember that our history boxes and expansion packs are often fully reimbursable for State and private sector families living abroad. Email us at for more information and a Reimbursement Request Form to find out if you qualify for full reimbursement.

American-History-in-a-Box coordinates with Twiga Tutors

We are thrilled to be coordinating with fellow EFM business owner Christianna Pangalos of Twiga Tutors ( in the upcoming year to expand our offerings. We have combined forces to provide a history box and tutoring package for all K – 8 students at post. U.S. certified teachers will guide your child as they learn about American history through the books, games, and activity book included in the American-History-Box. Each package includes the history box plus three months of email and online sessions designed to motivate and encourage your child’s learning.

When you order your tutoring and history box package, we connect you with your tutor and coordinate a schedule that works for everyone. Each package will include a mid-box review and a final test. After taking the exam, a final session will explore areas for improvement or additional exploration.

We are so excited to coordinate with a fellow EFM committed to education, interested in history, and working to improve the expat experience for all children. Together we hope to improve your experience and expand on the opportunities your child has while living and learning abroad.

For more information, you can email Leah at or Christianna at You can also request an invoice from either of us or pay through paypal here:

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New: Add a tutoring package through Twiga Tutors to your American History in a Box! Each course will include nine email check-ins and three Skype sessions with a certified American teacher over a three month period. Your teacher will review the activities with your child, answer any questions they might have, and encourage learning and excitement about the topics in the box.

Click here to order: Any history box plus a 3 month tutoring package: $749 screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-9-18-25-pm

To order multiple boxes or tutoring packages click here and request an invoice.



American History Videos to Complement your American-History-in-a-Box!

Our American History boxes include books, games, puzzles, and activities to learn the major concepts in our history. We recommend starting each topic with a quick video to learn background information before reading the books included in the box. We love the videos found on because they are short, engaging, and full of great information.

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Another great option is to listen to the free Khan Academy lectures on each time period. You can find them here:

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Including a variety of resources when learning history helps kids to internalize the major concepts and ideas in our history. We recommend watching a short video for each topic, then read the books in your box, and finally complete the activities in the workbook. We encourage families to talk about the topics and to try to:

  1. Put the concept in the context of the time period. What else was happening in the U.S. at that time?
  2. Put the concept in the context of today. How do we look back on that person, event, or idea? How do we think about it now?
  3. Put the concept in the context of the country in which you are currently living (if possible). What was going on in your host country during this time period?

For additional materials or resources, write to us at


Thanksgiving really is my favorite holiday. I love the cooking, the eating, and the focus on family. There isn’t much pressure and you don’t have to spend a ton of money. The main point is to give thanks and to embrace family. Who wouldn’t love that?

We also celebrate the story of Squanto, the American Indian who helped the pilgrims with their first harvest in 1620. The settlers were struggling and many died before Squanto and his tribe, the Wampanoags, helped the Europeans learn to fish, hunt, and grow their own food. In 1621, to celebrate their harvest, the Pilgrims invited the tribe for a three day feast. While many president’s, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln recognized specific days for Thanksgiving, Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday in November as the official holiday that we celebrate today.

The Thanksgiving meal can vary across regions but often includes a turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. As one of the biggest holidays for travel, it is estimated that in the U.S. around 44 million people will travel by car or air to celebrate the day with family and friends.

We find it is a great time to reflect on the challenges faced by the Pilgrims, the lives of the Native Americans, and the positive and negative results of those interactions. For kids, we recommend these books:

  • The Story of the Pilgrims, Katherine Ross
  • The Very First Americans, Karen Ashrose
  • Squanto’s Journey, Joseph Brubac

For adults we recommend:

  • Book of Thanksgiving, Jessica Faust
  • The First Thanksgiving Feast, Joan Anderson
  • 162: A New Look at Thanksgiving, Catherine O’Neill Grace

For activities, we love to do a Thanksgiving tree and have everyone write what they are thankful for on leaves to add to the tree (usually a cut out on the wall).

Many families go around the table before the meal and everyone shares their thanks. It is also a fun time to read about the pilgrims, about Native Americans, and about life in early America. IMG_5041


Afterschooling is actually a word. Coined by homeschool parents, it is generally used by those who send their children to traditional schools. Most parents afterschool whether they use the term or not. They read with their children, teach them to cook, go on science expeditions, visit museums, talk about politics…the list goes on and on.

Generally, afterschooling teaches new skills and concepts or delves deeper into ideas learned in school. It rarely takes the form of worksheets, lectures, and videos and instead focuses on skills, experiences, and literature. Homeschool parents already know about the value of teaching by doing, seeing, testing, and reading. Many traditional parents who want to realize some of the outcomes from the homeschool movement while still sending their children to traditional schools practice afterschooling.

The typical way to develop an afterschool plan is to figure out something that you or your child are interested in and want to learn more about. Then, you do. There isn’t that much planning or organizing and there definitely isn’t much testing.

We try to emulate this method with our American-History-in-a-Box program. We provide rich and interesting books, fun and interactive games, and an activity book that, while standards-based, encourages children to think independently and actively engage with their topics. We do include coloring pages and word searches, especially for younger children, but we also include project ideas and critical thinking exercises. For a child who balks at paper and pen? Skip the activities in the book. Read about the Standards and then talk about the concepts, find more books, visit museums, debate. Hopefully, our boxes provide the first step, the motivation, the inspiration to learn and discover.

I grew up an a farm (true afterschooling) and learned by doing. I love the idea of being cognizant that kids are always learning and that we can guide that process (or let them guide us). If we think something is important, like learning history, we can share that with kids and help them connect that subject with life as it is and will be.