History of the Horse: A Literature Approach for Intermediate Grades serves as a study guide for a number of novels about horses. The target audience is grades three through seven, but students using this course should already be interested in horses since they will be reading stories of horses, learning the history of horse breeds, learning about the physiology and markings of horses, drawing horses, etc.
The novels used for this study include a number of books by Marguerite Henry: King of the Wind, White Stallion of Lipizza, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Misty of Chincoteague, Brighty of the Grand Canyon, and Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West. Students also read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and Black Stallion by Walter Farley. The study adds factual information with the books Album of Horses by Marguerite Henry and Handbook of Horses by Elwyn Edwards. Students also learn to draw horses with Draw 50 Horses by Lee J. Ames.
The books introduce readers to stories that illustrate the history of horses themselves as well as horses in relation to historical events stretching back into the eighteenth century. Geographically, the stories take students to Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and America.
In addition to the required books, lessons recommend viewing movies based on the books students are reading. Some lessons include web links to free online videos such as one on a “pony swim” or another on efforts to save wild mustangs. Students will use the Internet for other research assignments as well. Just for fun, a deck of cards that comes with the course pack features images of 54 breeds of horses. The cards are used to play whatever games students wish, but the images should be worth studying on their own.
The course has 93 lessons, and the study guide recommends completing three lessons per week. Following this plan, the course will take 31 weeks which is one school year. It primarily serves as a literature course although children will be learning some history, geography, and science, and they will complete some activities in language arts and the fine arts. In addition, lessons periodically present Bible verses to be memorized or Bible passages to be copied into the student’s notebook.
The introduction to the study guide explains how to use the course. Students will read, discuss, narrate either orally or in written form, and create a notebook. These are summed up as: read, reason, relate, and record.
The notebook should include students notes about what they have learned, maps that they draw, research results, biographical sketches of authors and key historical figures, artwork (drawings, sketches, etc.), and a student-created glossary of words they have learned.
Activities I have described in a general way are included in the lesson plans with instructions such as: “In glossary define: dais, galleon” ( p. 2) and “Have student narrate the Duchess and Earl’s kindness and character in the way they treated Agba” (p. 3). However, the guide rarely specifies that a narration should be done. The lesson plans more commonly present reading assignments, discussion questions, glossary words, and assignments such as recording a memory verse in their notebook, researching a topic, or completing a drawing/art activity from Draw 50 Horses. Parents might require more frequent narrations than those specified, but there’s plenty of work if you stick with only what is specified in the lesson plans. Of course, parents will need to decide which activities each child should complete since you wouldn’t expect a third grader to do a research paper like you would a seventh grader.
Horse enthusiasts are likely to love this course, but other students might become horse enthusiasts after completing this course, even if they started it reluctantly.