The American Girl series of books have been so helpful in my classrooms—whether I taught 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade. The books do a wonderful job of dramatizing eras in our country’s history, which helps students build a schema that helps them comprehend new content. (More simply, kids will understand a lesson about the Great Depression more easily if they read some books about Kit.)
Previously, I have written about the American Girl books and movies. Now, I want to extol the virtues of the American Girl online games.
There are games for all the American Girl characters. Some are mostly educational, others are mostly fun. All the games make students more interested in American Girl characters and books.
My best use of the American Girl online games was as an incentive for my American Girl challenge. I challenged my class to read at least one book about each of the historical characters. We set benchmarks with rewards: read 2 books and you can watch the Kit movie with the class, read 4 and we’ll watch the Felicity movie, etc.
Students who kept up also got to play the American Girl games during specially scheduled computer lab time. (Students who were behind on their reading sat in the back and read.) After one of those sessions, my students decided to get on board and do their reading so they could participate fully in the American Girl awesomeness.
Even the boys liked it! I take sexism out of it as much as I can. I tell the entire class that there is nothing like American Girl for boys, and so the girls owe it to the boys to not tease them about reading books about girls. That speech does the trick because the students understand that they have the power to create the environment they want to learn in.
There are several ways to access the games. I have listed many because they might help you create links for your class.
General access to games
Historical characters: this displays the game menus for all. Click on the girl whose era you want to teach.
Girl of the year: These are modern girls. Click on the girl for access to books, games, etc.
List of American Girls with links to their books:
Kaya 1764: a Native American Girl
Felicity Merriman , 1774: a horse-loving girl caught between Patriot and Loyalist family and friends during the American Revolution
Josefina Montoya , 1824: lives in New Mexico when it was part of Mexico
Kirsten Larson , 1854: a Swedish immigrant who settles in the Minnesota Territory
Addy Walker , 1864: a fugitive slave who escapes to Pennsylvania during the Civil War
Samantha Parkington , 1904: an orphan being raised by a wealthy family during the Victorian period
Rebecca Rubin , 1914: a Jewish girl growing up in the Lower East Side of New York City
Kit Kittredge , 1934: faces the hard times of the Great Depression
Molly McIntire , 1944: keeps the home fires burning during World War II
Julie Albright , 1974: A San Francisco girl facing the changes of the mid-1970s