Tag Archives: elementary school

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 (www.twigatutors.com) 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 afterschoolplans@gmail.com or Christianna at christianna@twigatutors.com. You can also request an invoice from either of us or pay through paypal here: https://afterschoolplans.com/american-history-in-a-box-for-expats/

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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 http://www.havefunwithhistory.com/HistorySubjects/index.html 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: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/history-survey/us-history-survey/v/us-history-overview-1-jamestown-to-the-civil-war

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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 http://www.afterschoolplans.com.

Awesome Games and Toys for Fourth Grade

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  • Leonardo da Vinci Catapult Kit, Pathfinders – Assemble your own catapult and learn about basic scientific principals.
  • World Record Paper Airplane Book, Ken Blackburn and Jeff Lammers – Combine the principals of origami, the science of flight, and personal creativity in making a variety of paper airplanes.
  • Rush hour, Thinkfun – Think strategically and logically to get your car out of traffic.
  • Easy Origami, John Montroll – This book on origami mind-teasers will challenge all children.
  • Super Deluxe Solar Education Kit, Sundance Solar – Learn how solar power works and build a small solar system.
  • Disgusting Science Kit, Scientific explorer – Collect bacteria and make it grow at home.
  • Magnet Levitation Kit, Dowling Magnet – How do magnets work? Try your own experiments.
  • Pop Bottle Science, Lynn Brunelle – Make a volcano, quicksand, compass, or tornado with this kit.


Memorial Day

Memorial day is the American holiday for remembering people who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. armed forces. After the Civil War, Decoration Day was among one several days marked to honor the fallen but they all eventually merged into what we know as Memorial Day. This holiday is held on the last Monday in May and is often celebrated with parades, parties, and moments of silence. Cemeteries will be decorated with flags, flowers, and personal mementos by family members.

For more information, visit:

Many schools in the U.S. require that students know the meaning and history of national holidays. To share more information about this holiday with your elementary children, read them these books:

  • Let’s Get Ready for Memorial Day, Lloyd G. Douglas
  • Memorial Day Surprise, Teresa Golding
  • The Wall, Eve Bunting
  • Memorial Day, Christin Ditchfield

Looking for an activity to celebrate the holiday and learn a bit more about the history? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Write a letter to a thank you letter to someone currently serving in the armed forces.
  2. Research the U.S. military and the different ways in which a soldier can serve. Create an organizational chart with a brief description of each branch and then list some of the jobs available in each section.
  3. Visit a nursing home or neighbor and ask what they remember about our countries wars. Write down their responses. Then, write a thank you letter thanking them for their time.
  4. Make a list of each war and the dates. Then, visit a cemetery and try to find someone who fought or died in each war. Leave flowers at three graves (if allowed by the cemetery.
  5. Flag activities! Make a flag out of tissue paper balls, construction paper, or fabric. Research the history of our flag. Read a book about Betsy Ross. Learn a new song about the flag. Go out as a family and buy an American flag for your front door.Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 3.15.50 PM

Should I order an American-History-in-a-Box set?

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 8.19.28 AMIs an American-History-in-a-Box set for me?

If you have children in grades K – 8 who do not currently learn American History in school, then this box is for you! Currently, in the U.S., children learn American History at every grade level and take high-stakes tests in the subject starting in Grade 3. Testing is cumulative, so if you plan to return to the U.S. it is a good idea to make sure your child is familiar with the major concepts required by your state. For more information, go to your state education site for a list of standards and the testing schedule.

Do I qualify for reimbursement?

If you are a State Department family currently living at post, you may qualify for reimbursement. International corporations also usually reimburse for these classes. Children abroad can receive additional funding for classes or materials that are usually provided in the U.S. as part of the regular curriculum but are not included at your current school. If you do not have grammar, computer, or U.S. History classes, for example, you can be reimbursed for materials or classes that cover that need.

The FMO at post decides if there is funding and if you qualify. Most people do qualify if they have supplemental funding available ($4,100 per child per year) however, if you have used it all up then you have to wait until next year. For more information, contact your FMO or the Office of Allowances at AllowancesO@state.gov. You can also read information about supplemental allowances here: http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c21944.htm.

When can I order a box?

You can order a box at any time. But, if you hope to be reimbursed, you need to order before the end of the school year. Contact us at afterschoolplans@gmail.com for the Reimbursement Approval Form. You can give that to your FMO to figure out if you qualify for supplemental funds.

Order your box here: https://afterschoolplans.com/american-history-in-a-box-for-expats/

Is there a way to assess if my children learn the material in the box?

Absolutely! After your child finishes the workbook, we will send an assessment to be completed. After you send it back to us, we will give you a mastery-learning sheet that suggests additional materials and resources for deeper learning.

How did you choose the books and games for the box?

We chose books that are fun, interesting, and compelling for each age group. Some books are more challenging and might require parental assistance. Some are very easy for the age group but include information that make them valuable or are so beautifully written or illustrated that we couldn’t resist them. We tried to make sure that the books were accessible for a variety of learners and a variety of interests. We also worked to make sure they specifically address American History standards and review the major concepts. Our main goal is to make sure kids read, learn, and enjoy the books.

What are the grade levels for each box?

We have grouped the grade levels so we have kits for Kindergarten and first grade, second and third grade, fourth and fifth grade, and a box specifically for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. If you child is a sports fanatic, we have a box that looks at American History from the point of view of sports. Each book covers a sporting event or sportsman through the lens of history.

What will they learn with American-History-in-a-Box?

In our boxes, children will learn the major concepts, read about some of the important people in our history, and review some of the most significant events. The boxes provide an overview and a scaffold for future learning.

Is the box the same as a U.S. History course in the U.S.?

No, the box does not cover all of the material that a child would learn during a full year in a U.S. history course. The box provides an overview and an introduction to the major events, people, and concepts.

How do I order a Box?

Simply go to www.afterschoolplans.com and click on the “American History in a Box.” If you would like to order more than one box at a time, email us at afterschoolplans@gmail.com and we will send you an invoice.

Do you have any other resources for Expat Kids?

Of course we do! We have an American History Coloring Book that is great for all ages. It covers the major concepts, people, and events in American History.

We also haveKids on the Move, A Relocation Workbook” for kids in transition. Your child will love the activities, coloring pages, and places for saving pictures and memories. The first section helps your child collect memories of your current home, the second section helps with processing the move, and the third section helps your child get excited about their new home.

Finally, if you are new to embassy life or just want to review all those acronyms, our Embassy Kids Coloring Book has over 40 pages that explain who works at an embassy, what you might find there, and what those offices actually do all day!

Questions? Email us at afterschoolplans@gmail.com.

Family History Project


My kids and I are working on our family history project right now. We have hung a long sheet of butcher paper on the wall. First, we will put in some basic American History dates. Then, we’ll try to find as many family history dates as possible. Finally, we’ll find pictures to go with our events and paste them into the timeline. I hope to leave the timeline up so we can add family dates as we think of them and American History dates as we learn about them through books, online, or in classes. The most important thing is to establish a visual that demonstrates connections between cultural and personal history. I hope we can also collect family stories that reflect the times in which they took place. My kids are excited and can’t wait to see exactly where my birth falls on the timeline!


Family History Project

  • Write in the birthdates of family members including parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and known ancestors.
  • Include dates of major moves, awards, and graduations.
  • If any family members fought in wars or served in the military, include them here.
  • Many families immigrated to the U.S. Include dates and names for any related immigrants in your family.
  • Create a timeline using butcher paper, permanent markers or paint, and all the dates that you can collect. If possible, paste family photos for your family history and find historical photos online to post about American History. Use different colored markers for American History and family events.
  • Leave the timeline up and add family events as you remember them and American History events as you learn about them.
Dates American History Family History
1000 – 1607 Discovery and Exploration

Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492 while searching for a trade route to China.

1607 – 1763 Colonialism Europeans started establishing colonies in the 1600s.
1763- 1800 Creating a New Nation The Continental Congress led to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War. In 1787, the U.S Constitution established the nation’s democratic structure.
1800 – 1850 Growth of America Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and roads, canals, and railroads allowed transport of people and goods across the country. To make room, Indian tribes were forcibly moved West.
1850 – 1876 The End of the Union Eleven states seceded from the Union and the nation plunged into Civil War with Lincoln’s leadership. The North’s victory restored the Union and four million slaves were freed. Reconstruction was a period of uncertainty and rebuilding.
1876 – 1900 Westward Expansion, Immigration, and Industrialization Many Americans moved West, partly due to a belief in Manifest Destiny. Some Indian tribes fought to retain their land but ultimately they were forced onto reservations. Many Americans moved from farms to cities and worked in factories and mills. Immigration significantly increased the population.
1900 – 1920 The Progressive Era and World War I Economic imbalance led to fights to reform political and social institutions, called “The Progressive Movement.”
1920 – 1929 The Roaring Twenties The party decade saw quick wealth, illegal clubs, and the new sounds of jazz.
1929 – 1939 The Great Depression and the New Deal The stock market crash of 1929 led to the Great Depression as banks failed, wages were cut, and unemployment soared. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” eased suffering and put thousands to work.
1939 – 1945 World War II The Japanese attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered WWII in 1941. The Allies included the U.S., Britain, and Russia. In 1945 Germany surrendered and the full extent of the Holocaust was understood. Japan surrendered in 1945 following the drop of two atomic bombs.
1945 – 1960 Cold War, Vietnam War, Korean War Communist countries engaged in an ideological conflict with the “Free World.” Many feared nuclear war. American soldiers fought in Korea.
1960 – 1979 War, Protest, Civil Rights President Kennedy inspired Americans and his assassination devastated many. Martin Luther King, Jr., sought equal rights with nonviolent demonstrations. Many Americans protested the war in Vietnam.
1980 – 1999 The Global Age The Soviet Union crumbled, the Cold War came to an end, and the economy revived. Many Americans amassed great wealth. The internet boom brought about a time of technology.
2000 plus A New Millenium The War on Terror and debates about U.S. involvement abroad take center stage.

Get Organized in School!

Many really smart kids cruise through elementary school and then start having problems in middle school due to a lack of organization. They can finagle most things when they are younger just because they are smart and capable, but the work load and information overload in middle school finally stops them in their tracks. Kids used to being able to figure most things out in their heads don’t know how to organize, file information, take notes, keep track of assignments, and find all those books and papers they need for their different classes. The answer is not to discipline or punish or yell or sigh in despair. The answer is to get organized! Here are our top five tips and a list of books to help you accomplish this task!

  1. Keep an assignment notebook. Most schools provide one, but if they don’t you can easily make one. Check it every night and cross off each assignment as it is completed. For bigger projects, write out a daily “to-do” list to make sure you aren’t cramming right before the assignment is due.
  2. Keep a work area at home. Drop your books and materials off at that area as soon as you come home so you are ready when it is time to do homework. The work area should be quite, well-lit, and stocked with all the supplies you might need.
  3. Have a regular homework time. It might be before dinner, after an hour of play, or right before bed. Finish everything and then pack up your bag so it is ready to go in the morning.
  4. Make sure you have a place for materials from each class. Have a folder where you can fit loose papers, notebooks, or anything that might come home. Always put papers in the correct place the first time you touch them. Don’t ever just throw things into your backpack, make sure everything has a place. The key is to set up the organization system before you are faced with materials or information.
  5. Keep a calendar next to your work space. Record all upcoming assignments, trips, vacations, etc. You can also keep a “to-do” list that you review atQuickly review the calendar before you study to make sure that you know of everything that you need to do. Once you have finished a project or assignment, cross it off!

The following books have lots of additional suggestions to help you get organized at school and at home.

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Organization skills help throughout life in so many things. Learning how to be organized sooner rather than later will make your life easier, happier, and calmer! If you have any additional suggestions for getting organized, please post them below! Happy Holidays!