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Scotland Unit Study

The Old Schoolhouse magazine has asked me to write a new column for their publication called the International Schoolhouse.  In the article, I get the chance to share with you about the landscape, the history and the culture of the highlighted country, in this case Scotland.  However, there is so much to tell that simply overflows a 1500 word article that I have decided to compile the remainder of the information as a unit study for you. 

If you do not subscribe to the Old Schoolhouse, you can read a sample issue here -  Or better yet, subscribe here - The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - and get the Spring issue this month with the Scotland article, plus many, many more wonderful articles of encouragement.  It is their best issue yet.  Oh, and did I mention that you get 19 free gifts with your subscription.

Okay, so now that you have read the article, it's time to dive in for some hands-on learning to cement your student's growing knowledge of this small but fascinating country.

Unit Study:

1.  READING SELECTIONS - Let's start with some extra reading.  You can find some wonderful history books, travel books and picture books about Scotland at your local library.  Check out several.  Also, I would like to introduce you to a fictional series titled the Crown and Covenant, which I believe is a must-read set of books.  The links below will take you to for more information, but you can find these at your local library as well.  These books are perfect for your family read-aloud time.



My husband and children wrote a book review on the first book, Duncan's War, and you can read it here to get some more information about the series.

2. HISTORY & TIMELINES - Learn more about Scotland by compiling historical facts and events from Scotland's exciting history and adding them to your timeline.  If you do not have a timeline on the go, you can construct one by following these directions - How to Make a Timeline Easily.  Here is a link to a wonderful and exhaustive resource for timeline entries about Scotland (click on a time period) -

3. MAPWORK - A unit study would not be complete without taking a good look at the lay of the land.  Click here for both a labeled and unlabeled map of Scotland.  Have your students mark some of the major cities, the larger islands and the seas, at the least.  For older students, have them use your teacher's map and fill in the rest!

4. RECIPES - This is my favorite part - the food from the land!  If you do the above activities on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then take some time on either Thursday or Friday to whip up some authentic Scottish cuisine in the kitchen.

Scottish cuisine has much in common with food from other parts of the British isles, but has some distinctive attributes and recipes all its own.  There are certain foods that automatically come to mind when we think about the cuisine of the Scots - for example, Angus Beef, Scottish Oatcakes (or Bannocks), Scotch Broth and Haggis.  Haggis, you ask?  Never heard of them?  Well, its time to find out about this uniquely Scottish dish.

Haggis is one of those national dishes of Scotland that is both beloved and reviled by natives, and sometimes horrifies people who hear it described for the first time.  Haggis are made from the inner parts of a sheep - the lungs, stomach, liver and heart - parts that are unavailable by FDA ruling here in the States.  If you would like to read more about this unique dish, do a google search on Scottish cuisine or Haggis and many recipes will turn up, but I will not describe it in detail here.

It may be difficult to pull off the above, but here are three more recipes of local Scottish food that can be attempted in your own kitchen.  Enjoy!

Scottish Oatcakes

1 1/2 C scottish oats (same as steel-cut oats)

1/2 C all purpose flour

3/4 t sugar

1/4 t salt

1/4 t baking powder

1/4 C melted butter (1/2 stick)

1/3 C hot water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a baking sheet.  Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and oats.  Stir until combined.  Add butter until evenly distributed.  Fork in hot water until evenly moistened.  Roll dough out 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with round cutter 2 1/2 or 3 inches in diameter.  Bake 25 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on rack.  Store at room temperature in air tight container for two days.

One of the great aspects about this recipe is that there are no eggs in the batter, so if our little girls snitched the dough, there was no harm done.  Our children enjoyed rolling out the dough and using cookie cutters to make fun shapes.We love these served with butter and jam.  Also wonderful with cream cheese!  Yum!  Give them a try.

Scotch broth is a filling soup, originating in Scotland but now obtainable world wide. Its principal ingredients are usually barley, a cut of beef or lamb, and vegetables such as carrots, cabbage and leeks. The proportions and ingredients can vary according to the recipe.  Dried peas, split peas, and lentils are often added.

Scotch Broth

  • 3 pounds Breast of Lamb w/bone, or whole chicken
  • 8 cups Cold water
  • 1/2 cup Pearl barley
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 White turnip, peeled and diced
  • 2 Ribs celery, diced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, cover the lamb with cold water; bring to a boil. Add the barley, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the meat and barley is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add more water to adjust for any evaporation; skim the surface of the soup as necessary.

Remove meat from broth; cut meat from bone and cut in small pieces. Discard the bones and return the meat to the soup. Continue simmering.

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, turnip, celery, and onion and cook stirring often for 10 minutes.

Add the vegetables to the soup. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 8.

Finish your delicious meal of Scotch Broth and Oatcakes with some Scottish Shortbread.  This is the easiest recipe in the world to make and I started making these after school when I was a pre-teen.  They are not good for you, but they are delicious.

Scottish Shortbread

Simple classic shortbread cookies with butter and sugar and flour.


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


Thoroughly cream sugar and butter. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and mix thoroughly. Turn out onto a surface floured with remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead dough until it cracks on surface. Roll out 1/4-inch thick and cut out with cutters.

5. CRAFTS - Finally, it's craft time!

This craft was chosen as a quick and simple one that represents Scotland, its people and environment.  The polar fleece scarf can be made easily without any sewing.  Make sure to choose a plaid "tartan" print fabric to achieve the Scottish look.

First, click on this link to "weave" your own tartan fabric and then purchase something similar at your local fabric store or online..

Fleece Scarf

Have fun!

Warm Regards,

Terri Johnson
Knowledge Quest, Inc. - try our maps free! - we are looking for authors for our new book - see what we're up to. - our business helping your business to succeed!


Terri Johnson is the creator of Knowledge Quest maps and timelines.  Her mission for the company is to help make the teaching and learning of history and geography enjoyable for both teacher and students.  She has created and published over 20 map and timeline products.  Her Blackline Maps of World History have been widely recommended in the education community and published in The Story of the World history series by Susan Wise Bauer.  Terri and Knowledge Quest recently won the “Excellence in Education” award granted by The Old Schoolhouse magazine for best geography company of 2003 and 2004.  Terri resides in San Antonio, TX  with her husband Todd and their five children whom she teaches at home.


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