As one of the original thirteen colonies, Pennsylvania has a rich and colorful history. Yet I remember my junior high study of PA history as dry and boring. But really, it doesn’t have to be that way!
As homeschoolers, we have the wonderful opportunity of teaching Pennsylvania history so that our children are caught up in the fascinating stories that make up our state’s heritage. This collection of resources will help you bring PA history alive for students of all ages.
Browse the entire Ultimate Guide to Pennsylvania History Resources, or choose one of these categories:
Old Bedford Village
Explore Our Past–Elementary level curriculum by Guy Graybill. The book’s theme is built around hot air balloons and covers topics such as forests, farms, coal and oil, and water. Each chapter includes:
- map study
- beautiful pictures
- related history
- student exercises
Pennsylvania Keystones–Written by Susan Kemmerer for grades 4-6. This Christian curriculum covers government, geography, industry, agriculture, and more. Students create a keepsake notebook, which includes:
- map studies
- nature studies
- creative writing
Keystone, A History of Pennsylvania–Middle school curriculum by Guy Graybill. This traditional textbook course contains pictures from every county in the commonwealth, most of which were taken by the author. Please note that this is a secular curriculum and does mention evolution. Key features include:
- answer key
- no additional books required
Keystones 2–High school curriculum by Susan Kemmerer. This literature-based Pennsylvania history study is designed for homeschool students in grades 7-12, and features:
- Charts, maps, and timelines
- Special reading assignments and reprints of historic literature
- Writing assignments which are assembled into a research paper at the end of the course
- A unit on government
- Required literature: Hostage on the Nighthawk, Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, Free Indeed: Heroes of Black Christian History, Reuben, and The Johnstown Flood.
Switched-On Schoolhouse Pennsylvania State History–Computer-based program from Alpha Omega Publications for grades 7-12. Topics include:
State History from a Christian Perspective–State study designed for grades 3-12. This notebooking-style curriculum presents lesson plans with adjustable difficulty levels for use with multiple age groups. Younger students may use Abeka’s My State Notebook as a base for the course, while older students create their notebook from scratch. Both options provide you with complete course materials:
- Lesson plans and text
- Quizzes and tests
- Answer key
- Full-color state symbol pictures
My State History Funbook–Color-cut-and-paste activity book for grades Pre-K to 2. Includes pictures and cutouts for younger children to make a colorful scrapbook about Pennsylvania. Also correlates with State History from a Christian Perspective for grades 3-12.
State Study Notebooking Pages–44-page set of reproducible notebooking pages, including ideas, directions, and state facts.
Pennsylvania Lapbook–Free resource with instructions, templates, and an extensive compilation of information about Pennsylvania.
Free pages for individual topics:
- Ben Franklin notebooking pages
- Betsy Ross notebooking page
- Liberty Bell notebooking pages with copywork
- The Philadelphia Convention notebooking page
- Pennsylvania worksheet
- “Where liberty dwells…” by Benjamin Franklin (copywork)
- “Early to bed…” by Benjamin Franklin (copywork)
Pennsylvania Grand Canyon
Hostage on the Nighthawk: William Penn (Trailblazer Books)–Fictional book set during William Penn’s second visit to the colony in 1699; presents problems faced, such as pirates and slavery (Grades 3-8)
The World of William Penn–A “horizontal history” book by Genevieve Foster; the story of William Penn as it fits into the life and history of the time period (Grades 4-8)
William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All (Heroes of History)–Biography of William Penn (Grades 5-9)
Benjamin Franklin–Illustrated biography of the life of Benjamin Franklin by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire; includes quotes from Poor Richard’s Almanac (Grades Pre-K to 5)
What’s The Big Idea, Ben Franklin?–Illustrated biography of Benjamin Franklin by Jean Fritz (Grades 2-6)
Benjamin Franklin: Young Printer (Childhood of Famous Americans)–Story of Benjamin Franklin as a child and young man (Grades 3-7)
Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia (Landmark Books)–Overview of the life of Benjamin Franklin (Grades 4-9)
Poor Richard–Biography of Benjamin Franklin; illustrated (Grades 5-12)
The Boy Who Loved to Draw: Benjamin West–True story of a Quaker boy from colonial Pennsylvania who grew up and became the first world-famous American artist (Grades K-3)
Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin–Biography of Benjamin West (Grades 3-6)
The Light in the Forest— The story of John Cameron Butler, who was captured as a child in a raid on the Pennsylvania frontier, adopted by the great warrior Cuyloga, and later returned to his white family (Grades 5-8)
The Cabin Faced West–Story of a frontier girl in Pennsylvania (Grades 3-6)
The Christmas Surprise–Fictional tale of a girl who is orphaned during the French and Indian War and learns forgiveness after being taken in by the Moravians (Grades 4-8)
A Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison–The story of a Pennsylvania teenager captured by Indians near Gettysburg in 1758 (Grades 7 and up)
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison–A fictionalized account of the kidnapping of Mary Jemison by Indians in 1758; author portrays Mary as a 12-year-old girl (Grades 3-9)
Night Journeys–Historical fiction set in Philadelphia in 1768; tells the story of an orphaned boy adopted by Quakers, and two runaway indentured servants (Grades 4 and up)
Encounter at Easton–Sequel to Night Journeys; continues the story of two runaway indentured servants (Grades 4 and up)
They Called Her Molly Pitcher–Story of Mary Hays, a Pennsylvania German woman who became a Revolutionary War heroine (Grades Pre-K to 4)
Molly Pitcher: Young Patriot (Childhood of Famous Americans)–Childhood biography of Revolutionary War heroine, Mary Hays (Grades 3-7)
Distant Thunder–Sequel to The Christmas Surprise (see above); the fictional story of a young girl living among the Moravians in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, during the Revolutionary War; mentions the Liberty Bell and British occupation of Philadelphia (Grades 4-8)
Saving the Liberty Bell (On My Own History)–Tale of a boy helping his father keep the Liberty Bell safe from the British during the Revolutionary War; based on a true story (Grades 2-4)
The Long Road to Gettysburg–A Confederate lieutenant and Union soldier share from their journals about the Battle of Gettysburg (Grades 4 and up)
Gettysburg (Landmark Books)–Account of the Battle of Gettysburg (Grades 4-10)
The Invisible Empire (The Century War Chronicles)–Fictional tale of a sixteen-year old former slave in 1870’s Philadelphia, and a newspaperman’s scheme to bring the Ku Klux Klan into the North (Grades 6 and up)
The Day It Rained Forever: A Story of the Johnstown Flood (Once Upon America)–Fictional story of the experiences of an 11-year-old girl and her family during the Johnstown Flood (Grades 3-6)
The Johnstown Flood–Detailed account of the bursting of the South Fork Dam and the terrible Johnstown Flood of 1889; also presents an in-depth look at the causes of the catastrophe (Grades 7 and up)
Henner’s Lydia–Illustrated story of an Amish girl growing up in Lancaster county in the 1930s (Grades Pre-K to 4)
Up the Hill–Fictional story of a Polish immigrant family who settled in a Pennsylvania mining town (Grade recommendation unknown)
Miracles on Maple Hill–Portrayal of Pennsylvania country life after World War II (Grades 4 and up)
Reuben (Ellie’s People)–Shares a glimpse of Amish culture (Grades 4-10)
The Pennsylvania Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield
ExplorePAHistory.com–This site is packed with dozens of stories about Pennsylvania (arranged by topic), lesson plans for teachers (organized by historical time periods), and information about historical sites to visit.
Pennsylvania Study Project–Overview of various aspects of PA history, government, landmarks, and more. Includes free printables and links to study resources.
Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commision–Comprehensive coverage of PA history, with separate categories for people, places, events, and things. Covers background of ethnic and religious groups that are an important part of Pennsylvania’s history. Also offers a thorough Overview of Pennsylvania History (subdivided into five time periods).
History.com–Videos, photo galleries, and interactive activities related to PA history.
Pennsylvania History Timeline–A detailed chronological timeline of important events and milestones in PA history.
WorldAtlas.com–Full-color printable maps of Pennsylvania; county maps, outline maps, historical maps, and more.
List of National Historic Landmarks in Pennsylvania–Lists ninety-eight historic landmarks in Pennsylvania with thumbnail images; Philadelphia’s historic landmarks are listed separately.
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