The Encouraged Mom

Helping moms find joy in the journey of homemaking, home schooling and home business.
Homeschooling Unit Studies

American Girl Kaya Unit Study – Week 2: Kaya’s Escape!

We are doing a study of American history using the American Girl historical doll books as a spine. I know that these books are fiction, but I have found that using historical fiction is a wonderful way to get involved with history in our homeschool and make learning fun. I supplement with plenty of non-fiction to make sure we get the historical facts, but sometimes historical fiction really brings the stories alive.

*Note: this post contains affiliate links.

We have fallen in love with the American Girl dolls and even though we don’t own many of the 18″ dolls, as I find them to be very expensive, I thought it would be fun if my daughter could “earn” the mini dolls by doing these unit studies. Kind of a reward system of sorts for a job well done and a reminder of our studies whenever she sees the dolls in the future. So, when we finish with our Kaya unit study, she will get the Kaya mini doll, and so on. American Girl sells most of the dolls on their website, but I’ve found them cheaper on Amazon. Here is the link to the Kaya doll if you’d like to do what we are doing.

So, on with the show…

Week 2: Kaya’s Escape!

Core Book:


*Kaya’s Story Collection contains the same stories as the original 6 story books all in one volume. However, the Looking Back section is completely different than those in the chapter books (from what I can tell) and each of the chapter books has one (making 6 separate Looking Back sections), where the collection only has one at the end. I will try to note in my lessons which version I’m using so you will know, but all the activities should be appropriate no matter which version you choose to use. I say use whatever is available at the library or less expensive to buy.


Day 1 – ch 1: Taken Captive!


Nez Perce words: Kautsa

Other words: huckleberries, winced, provisions, raid


Kaya’s Escape! ch 1

Answer Questions:

  1. What was Kaya doing at the beginning of the story?
  2. Why did Kautsa say they needed to pick berries, even though the day was hot?
  3. Kaya asked to sleep outside the tepee. Why did Kautsa say she couldn’t?
  4. Why was Kaya sad? What did Speaking Rain say to her to make her feel better?
  5. What woke Kautsa?
  6. What did Eetsa tell Kaya to do? What did Kaya do? What happened?
  7. Why couldn’t Kaya and Speaking Rain rest?
  8. Why didn’t Kaya jump off of the raider’s horse when she had the chance?
  9. What did Kaya tell Speaking Rain when she asked what would happen to them?
  10. How did Kaya finally get to sleep?



How to Find Huckleberries video

Language Arts: Metaphors and Similes

Making comparisons between things is easier when using metaphors and similes. You may want to refer to your language arts curriculum for specific details, but basically, when you compare two things using the words “like” or “as”, you have a simile. If those words are not used, it is a metaphor. Pick out the metaphors or similes in the following sentences and tell which it is, metaphor or simile,  and what things are being compared.

  1. “Each time Kaya heard that nickname, it stung like Whipwoman’s Switch!”
  2. “Her horse’s muzzle was as soft as the finest buckskin.”
  3. “She heard Kautsa’s sharp command, but sleep was like a hand pushing her down.”
  4. “The warning was a jolt of lightning – swiftly Kaya was on her feet.”

Science: Huckleberries and other berries, plant identification

Do some research to find out what kinds of berries grow wild where you live and learn about them. Use the websites I reference here as a starting point. You can also contact your county extension office for information.


Find out if huckleberries grow in your area, and if they do, see if it is the right time of year for picking. Then, if it’s time, go try to find some huckleberries and pick them.

Try huckleberry jam.


Day 2 – Chapter 2: Slaves of the Enemy


gullies, footing, quirt,


Kaya’s Escape! ch 2

Answer Questions:

  1. What happened to Kautsa’s old pack horse?
  2. How were the raiders’ tepees different than her own people’s tepees?
  3. Why had Kaya and Speaking Rain been brought to the camp?
  4. What did Kaya put in the bag on her belt to remind herself that she must think of others before herself?
  5. What happened to Steps High?
  6. What did Speaking Rain and Kaya decide that Kaya must do?
  7. Who was the boy? What did he and Kaya sign to each other about?



Indian Sign Language workshop by “Buffalo Bill” Boycott

Indian Sign Language Council of 1930

Indian Sign Language by Buffalo Bill Boycott

Language Arts: More Metaphors and Similes

See if you can find the metaphors and similes in the following sentences. Be sure to tell also what things are being compared in the sentence.

  1. “Still, fear was a bitter taste in her mouth as they moved farther from her people.”
  2. “Kaya felt like the starving dogs that sometimes appeared at camp out of nowhere, cringing and groveling for a bite of food.”
  3. “Grief was a knife in Kaya’s chest as she watched her beloved horse disappear over the rise.”

Write a short story about how you think Kaya will escape or what you think happens if she doesn’t. Make it interesting for your reader and be sure to add at least one illustration.


Try to tell a short story using some Indian sign language.

Eat some buffalo meat or dried buffalo (buffalo jerky).


Day 3 – Chapter 3: Escape!


lashed, abalone, outcropping, tumbleweeds, foothills


Kaya’s Escape! ch 3

Answer Questions:

  1. Why did Kaya leave Speaking Rain behind?
  2. What did Two Hawks do to keep Kaya quiet when the raiders were approaching?
  3. How did Kaya tell directions?
  4. Why did Two Hawks refuse to help build their shelter? What did he want to do instead?
  5. Kaya wanted to rest, but Two Hawks didn’t, so he left her behind. Kaya decided that they’d be safer together so she went after him. What happened to Kaya then?
  6. When Kaya found the dead fawn, what did that tell her about her surroundings?
  7. What was Kaya’s first thought about the kill? What did she end up doing?
  8. What happened after that?


Cougar Facts for Kids:

More good info about cougars:


Finding Your Way Using the Stars:


Cougar “talking”

Good informative video about Cougars

Constellations – Crash Course Kids

Constellation Location – Crash Course Kids

Science: Constellations, Cougars

Do some research and name three constellations that you can spot in the sky.

Go outside at night and see if you can find those constellations and the North Star or Elder Brother.

Using information you learned at the above websites, write a report about Cougars. Use the animal report form you can download from this page.

Language Arts: More Metaphors and Similes

Do the same as you did the last two days. Identify the metaphors and similes and the things that are being compared.

  1. “Behind them the gray sky shimmered like an abalone shell.”
  2. “They crept out of their hiding place like prairie dogs out of a burrow.”

Hands On:

Make marshmallow constellations















Day 4 – Chapter 4: On the Buffalo Trail


Nez Perce words: wapalwaapal, wyakin

Other words: poultice, basin, sniggle, fringe, cairn, pemmican


Kaya’s Escape! ch 4

Answer Questions:

  1. How did Kaya help Two Hawks escape the cougar? How did she stop his bleeding?
  2. After she treated Two Hawks’s wounds Kaya told him they must look out for each other. What did he say to her?
  3. How did they fish? Did it work?
  4. How did Two Hawks build a fire?
  5. What did Kaya place atop the little cairn that she built?
  6. They found a rawhide bag in a tree. Why did Two Hawks get so excited about that? What was inside the bag?
  7. When Two Hawks tried to see the prairie from a tree, the tree branch broke and he fell, breaking his ankle. How did Kaya comfort him?
  8. What did Kaya decide she would have to do if they were going to find help?
  9. Kaya saw a woman and then a wolf on the trail. What did she think they might be?
  10. How did Kaya’s father say that he found her?
  11. Where did Kaya and her father go?
  12. What did Toe-Ta say to Kaya when she told him about Speaking Rain? Do you agree with him?



Making Fire with a Fire Drill

How to Tell the Difference Between a Broken Ankle and a Sprain

How to splint a broken leg 

Hands-On: Survival Skills

Learn to start a fire. Try to make a fire drill or use another method that your parents choose. Explain how to start a fire with a fire drill.

If you have pine trees nearby, ask a parent to help you strip some of the bark to get to the fleshy underlayer and eat a piece.

Find some rocks and build your own cairn. Place an item of significance to you on top like Kaya did with the Magpie feather.

Eat some pemmican. Order some or here’s instructions to make your own.

Explain how to tell if an ankle is broken or sprained. What is first aid for a sprain? Explain how to splint a broken leg.


Day 5 – Weekly Wrap-Up and Wolves


Choose 5 of your vocabulary words from this week and write a sentence using each one.


Welcome to Kaya’s World 1764 p 20-23 (A World of Danger and How Bear Helped Nimiipuu)

Answer Questions:

Narrate back a summary of this week’s readings. Try to cover all the main points in the story. This is a big undertaking, so take your time and try to remember the sequence and the most important events when you tell your story. You can ask for prompts if you need them, but try to do it without them first.

Create a notebooking page of your favorite scene(s) from the book. Be sure to include illustrations.


Kidwings Explores: What is a Wolf

Wolf Education & Resource Center: Wolf Behavior 101


Optional –  Watch Wolf: Return of a Legend

Here’s a cute baby wolf at the San Diego Zoo:

Science: Wolves

Do an animal report on a wolf. Use information gathered from books or online. Here’s a few books that might help. See if your library has some, too.



Check out the powwow calendar at this site to see if there is a local powwow you can attend.

Take a trip to your local zoo to see a cougar or a wolf.

See how many constellations you can name. How many can you accurately draw (with the correct number of stars)?

Review first aid and survival skills.

Name some edible berries you can find in the wild. Tell how you know they are edible and draw a picture of at least one of them and label.


Well, that wraps up week 2. If you missed week 1, you can find it here. Check back soon for week 3 of our American Girl Kaya unit study and be sure to comment with any suggestions you have for our studies. See ya soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *