Discussion Groups for Grades 4 – 8

NEW! Starting July 1, if you purchase a Level III, Level IV, or Level IV Advanced box, you can enroll in our optional 12-week Facebook or email discussion groups.

  • The discussion groups are led by a U.S. Certified teacher.
  • The course begins in mid-September.
  • Choose to participate on Facebook (and enjoy interacting with other participants) or through a weekly email.
  • Each Tuesday we will post/email an online video, key concepts to learn, and a discussion question for each section of your history box.
  • Answer the discussion question by posting in the comments section on Facebook or by replying to our email.
  • After purchase, we will send you a sign up form. Let us know if you prefer Facebook or the email option there!
  • Starting late? No worries, you have until December 1 to complete the course! Follow on Facebook by completing the numbered posts in order or reply to the numbered emails that we send to you.

Our topics include:

Geography, Colonialism, Revolution and a New Nation, Native Americans, Civil War and Reconstruction, Industrialization and World War I, Immigration, the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, World War II, Civil Rights, and the Cold War.

If you have any questions, please write to us at afterschoolplans@gmail.com.






Hidden Histories

Hidden histories are those stories that are important to our nation but that most people haven’t heard about. It might be the story of Franklin Roosevelt’s use of a wheelchair, it might be the story of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, or it might be the African-American genius women who starred in “Hidden Figures.”

Schools focus on an outline of our history that includes well-known names, events, and themes. This helps to ensure that all children learn some basics as a starting point for future study. It allows us all to have a common story that we can refer to and understand as a collective. But, that outline was written by people with specific interests and biases and they left out (often in the interest of space and time) stories that resonate for specific groups or that build empathy between different peoples or that show the uglier and more difficult side of our history.

We have chosen to accept the outline set forth in the Standards of Learning presented in many states and to try to use that as a scaffold for including some of those hidden histories. We can pick a theme and go through the timeline offered by the states and add on details and stories and personalities to give our history more depth and breadth. We can see that there are a wide variety of people, events, and themes that can build richness and understanding in our perception of our country.

For children who are still learning about the complexity of the human condition, it doesn’t necessarily help to discuss the shortcomings of Christopher Columbus. Knowing about him, even if it is in the clean and pretty story found in many books, provides a stepping stone for future understanding of what his arrival meant to the people living in his path. The stories of pre-school provide a way to understand the absurdity of Columbus “discovering” a land already full of people, lives, and livelihoods.

Our Expansion Pack program looks to do just that. We work within the framework of what children know or are told they should know and build upon it. We can look at the main time periods from the point of view of African Americans. We can look at how scientists influenced our history and the role they played in it. We can see that women contributed throughout our entire history. Thus, our Expansion Packs take the basic outline of our history and fill in the holes, add richness and description, and show children that our stories come from many different people, places, and influences. Of course, this is not the final pass through. It is just another step for children as they grow and become increasingly capable of understanding the complex, complicated, and messy beast that history actually is.



Expats usually have to think about Christmas shopping early because of expected delays in Santa delivery times. This year, you can give an fun, engaging, and educational present and maybe even get reimbursed for the cost!


Our American-History-Santa-Bags include games and puzzles so your child will have plenty to do on Christmas morning after all the presents are open. You can read your new books, luxuriate in your new pajamas, drink your hot chocolate and eat your candy canes, and watch the kids have a great time while learning about American History (without even realizing they are doing something good for them).

Of course, I realize this fantasy doesn’t really work if you are living in the tropics or in the Southern Hemisphere. But, we can switch it around a bit. Your kids can read the books, put together the puzzles, and play the games while you sit by the pool with your new sunshade and sip a fruity drink. Either way, your child will learn the major concepts in our history and you won’t have to do a thing.

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Each box includes 4 – 5 games and puzzles, 12 – 14 fiction and non-fiction books, a standards-based activity book, and a Santa Bag (see above). Boxes are reimbursable for many state families. Send us a message at afterschoolplans@gmail.com and we will send you the Reimbursement Request form to give to your FMO to make sure you qualify for full reimbursement before purchasing.

Learning with Books, Movies, or Both?


I grew up in a house full of books and readers on an 85 acre farm in Ohio. Surrounded by old-order Amish, focused farmers, and a 5,000 acre swamp, our farm was a peaceful, lush, green bowl of quiet…perfect for reading. Of course, it was a farm, so we spent a ridiculous amount of time working, but when we weren’t working, we were reading. My father was adamantly again television, so we never had one in the house. But, we found our stories in words. My mom loved the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen while my father insisted we read Hemingway, Faulkner, and Mark Twain. In between, I found plenty of time for Louis L’Amour, Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew. I really believe that books are a wonderful way to learn.

I still read all the time and so do my children (see picture of one of our bookshelves above). But, now I think there is also a place for videos and movies. There is something magical about snuggling up on the couch and diving into a visual world that brings alive the abstract and distant past. Our History Boxes are based on literature, but there we do think that videos provide context and are great as a preview or a review of learning.

For older kids, we like the AP History Study Guide. The videos are short but comprehensive. You can find them here: https://ap.gilderlehrman.org/

For all ages, we love the videos available at Have Fun with History. You can search by topic or time period and learn more about themes and ideas that are confusing or that you just want to know more about. You can find them here: http://www.havefunwithhistory.com/HistorySubjects/index.html

And, of course, there are movies. We love the American Girl Doll movies for showing time periods in history, the Liberty Kids movies are great for learning about colonialism, and The States teaches a bit about our country. Some of our favorite movies include:

Ruby Bridges – segregation in America

This is America Charlie Brown – a fun survey of history

American Legends – great for learning about famous stories in our past.

Johnny Tremain – about the American Revolution.

Night at the Museum – this trilogy introduces kids to historical figures.

If you have any additional suggestions, please send us a message and we will add the to the list!