Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Making History FUN in Homeschool

Having one foot in the traditional teaching world and one foot in the homeschooling teaching world offers an interesting perspective.  Here's one:  About the time that tradition teachers are relaxing and taking that summer break, I am usually stepping on the gas for next year's curriculum.

Maybe it's just me?

 I'm researching it out, trying to figure out where I want to go with the curriculum in the coming school year, even preparing my own supplemental stuff ahead of time.

Maybe that's just me?

Whatever the case, this year is no exception.   I have my preschooler covered (see Letter of the Week packets and supplemental Phonics packets in my store, here:

I even created some cute Number Cards since I have begun teaching her numbers...they're pretty much on the same level as our Alphabet Letter Cards.  Glimmercat is pictured with the number, and something representative of that's an example:

The Number Cards are now part of our Early Primary Bulletin Board stuff.  You can find the set of numbers 1 through 10, right here:

Almost six!
So, as I mentioned, everything is pretty much covered for my upper level preschooler.  But what about my first grader?

Truth is, you can get excellent advice from practiced homeschoolers about what curriculum to use for your kids, but what it really comes down to is what works best for you.  And your child.

And likely, what works amazing for one of your kids might need to be switched up or ditched for the next kiddo.  Different personalities, different learning styles, all of that comes into play, right?  But every once in awhile, there is something that strikes me as curriculum that is amazing because it will reach across a broad spectrum of personality styles and learning styles and...Just.  Be.  Amazing.

When I do find something that impresses me because I can see it working well like that, I love to share it.  Here.  And you can check it out, or add your two cents, and make your own call.  Because that is the beauty of homeschooling.

But today I do want to share with you one such item I have come across, which you likely have heard something about already.  I don't get kickbacks for this.  Except the intrinsic kind where I happily think, "Yay, I'm directing my friends to something awesome!

 I'm talking about Story of the World, by Susan Wise Bauer, a popular homeschooling history curriculum, in which classical history is covered very well for young children.  You can read some lovely reviews about it or even purchase it here on Amazon:

Once your child is ready to sit and listen to chapter books out loud, they are ready for "Story of the World".   I was so excited to get the book in hand, thumb through the pages and imagine sharing it with my son.

But let's chat in detail:  why do I like it?  

The minds of children tend to work very well with a chronological bent.  They are practical and curious.  They very much want to know about things like, "What happened?" and "How do you know?" , as every mom can attest.  And this book does a slam-dunk job introducing history with practical questions directed towards them. 

Back when we were two.
For instance, the Introduction of SOTW is full of questions to ask.  I take my time with these when I read aloud to my son.  It's wonderful to engage him in the learning, and it is a way for him to discover learning in a Socratic method.

He can answer questions like, "What did you look like as a baby?" and "How do you know this if you can't remember it?"   Then, he can understand the logic in relating his own answers to history and how we (and archeologists) discover information about history when we weren't there to see it.

If you dread the idea of history because you remember dreary tests full of useless memorization
dates, then let this book reignite your flame, too.  History is simply stories about us, when you break it down.  And SOTW is full of small, digestible stories that both you and your child will enjoy.  I thumb through and look over the chapter about early Africa and a story about Anansi the Spider catches my eye.   

That excites me because there are many Anansi tales, and we will take some time to enjoy those when we get to that chapter.

In fact, taking the time to enjoy and relish the time periods we cover is where the fun begins.  I'm talking supplementing here.  Of course I am!  Because here is the key to making history fun:  investigate the senses of each time period.

What did these people eat and drink?  Can we try out some new recipes here?   What did these people see in their every day lives?  Let's go look at it, too!  What did they hear?  No music like we are used to...what can we discover about what they did listen to?  What did they wear?  Can we wear that?  How did they play?  What did they like?  Let's experiment a bit with it ourselves!  

Volume 1 of Story of the World (pictured up above) covers the time period from the Earliest Nomads in the Fertile Crescent to the fall of the Roman Empire.  We are going to have fun this year as we cover this time period, and we are going to share with you as we go!  We'll keep you posted. 

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