My homeschooling roots are in a classical education because so many things just chimed true and made complete sense to me like covering history in chronological order when I first started homeschooling. Too, my own education in high school mostly focused on American history with no real start in early civilizations or Bible. So when I answered part of Laura’s question on Should Homeschool History Be Covered in Chronological Order, I just had to expand on it.
I know my family has reaped many benefits for following an organized cycle, whether a curriculum provider does that in 3 or 4 years. On the other hand, after that history has to have life or you can lose interest in repeating the same story line.
History is an adventure to say the least because there are so many action packed stories and other side show events or people’s lives that are running parallel to each other that eventually you want to stray off that organized cycle to explore some of the sideshows.
Because children take in a lot more than we give them credit for at times, I don’t feel it confuses them but infuses them for a love of history when we take time to cover history in other ways.
Before I list other ways to teach history, look below to understand how to maximize these other ways in your journey.
- They work for families who have just taken their kids out of public or private school and are feeling overwhelmed and burned out.
- They work for families too who have been homeschooling for a while and have hit the humdrum of history. Sometimes you just need a new bounce or spring to your history studies.
- They work for families that savor history and want to cover it in more depth and for gifted learners who need more substance.
- Some of the ways work for families who have special needs children who learn through different senses;
- And depending on the resource, they work for families who have very young children and may not really get the benefit of understanding chronological order or care how the Egyptians kept time before clocks were invented.
History Confusion or Infusion?
Look at the approaches below, all of which I have done at some time or another though new curriculum has come along.
1. Teach History Through The Lives of Characters. Though this may seem like a literature approach because you are using great literature, it is not. A literature approach uses many great books and focuses on many topics of a time period. Teaching history through the life of a person that lived in that time period focuses on events that affect your main character. It is more in line with taking a biography approach to history.
This is how we cover history presently. My very favorite set of books for older kids that we wallow in as much as we can are the books by Genevieve Foster by Beautiful Feet. These are keepers in my homeschool and ones we never tire of reading. When you learn that Daniel Boone was a little boy growing up at the same time as George Washington, then you appreciate the impact both made on American history.
For younger kids, it is very easy to find books or biographies on famous people like George Washington and for girls like Pocahontas. Another keeper for younger grades is the D’Aulaire collection by Beautiful Feet too.
The American Girl dolls are also a fun way to learn. I think about Native Americans with the Kaya doll. Look here at a Squidoo lens for crafting with dolls.
Make history meaningful by reading the lives of real people with lively literature. Too, this way is one I feel is better to teach real young kids because they remember people easier than understanding what time period they lived in. There is not a lack of literature on most famous persons of history and enough to choose from for kindergarten to high school age.
2. Teach History Through Art. In classical education, art and science are tied into the time period you are studying. However, art does not have to be studied that way. When history can be learned along with something else that your child loves, it makes it more meaningful. One curriculum that does this is Visual Manna.
Another example is Mapping the World With Art. Geography and history are inextricably linked as it should be and you learn while you watercolor or make maps.
3. Teach History Through Science. For science lovers who need to learn a bit of history through a science brain, Joy Hakim has a series called The Story of Science that we are going to try next. I have seen rave reviews and talked to homeschoolers who used it. This is a secular source. Sometimes for me that is a good thing so I can add my own Bible content, but many times too it means they tout a no need to believe in God or an evolutionary belief which is contrary to what I want my children to learn. But as homeschoolers I don’t think any of us are not use to tweaking curriculum for our beliefs and worldview. So I will address our belief in creation and dependency on the Creator with my children. From what I have seen the story is so engaging that it is worth the time to tweak those parts. This is another way for us to sneak in some more science with history that we love. Since we haven’t read these yet, the jury is still out on this.
4. Teach History Through Drawing. Children have a natural disposition toward drawing and doodling. So encourage that. Some grow up to draw beautifully. Mr. Senior 2013 was like this and I used Draw Write Now for him when he was younger.
Then also came along Draw and Write Through History which we have used too and love.
The History in Scribe is another fun way to learn about historical events and writing and drawing about them too. This can be used for a child that you expect a little more writing from. There are a lot of free notebooking pages, mine included, where ample space is left for visual diagrams. As you can see, you don’t even have to have a curriculum, just an imagination. For example, a child can draw the flora and fauna that Lewis and Clark saw along their expedition. Then a love for history beyond boring dates that makes me yawn too is revived. They also have a beautiful nature journal to keep as well.
Too, if you have a child delayed in motor skills or a reluctant writer, then drawing is a fun way to engage them, build motor skills AND teach history.
Let go of ALL that thinking that history has to be taught a certain way when you need to and trust your mommy gut on what is best for your child. They will not forget it as they grow older or what you taught them.
5. Teach History By Topic. Though this may sound like a unit study it really is not because the emphasis isn’t on covering all subjects like science, math, and art, etc., but it is more about understanding the people and culture from the earliest civilization to present day. Our geography quest we did on Turkey was an example of this.
Though we covered some other topics, the focus was still on the main topic which was to explore the changes ancient to modern on Istanbul, Turkey. We covered it in a few short weeks from the time it was Constantinople until present day. No restraint on time periods, no control, no cycle 1 or 2, just unequaled and sheer delight in reading and learning what my sons were fascinated with at the time.
6. Teach History Through No Ordinary Paper Dolls. Figures in Motion is geared toward younger children and could obviously be used to enrich your history too. But using something hands on and that is historically accurate, it will help your child to understand the characters of history and build a love of it too. Give these to your younger children to hold, play with and imagine the time period as the older children tell the story of history.
(Viking ice cream boat made with vanilla ice cream in a rectangle box and icing in a can with skewers for the sail.)
7. Teach and Learn History With Others. And no, I don’t mean a co-op unless you have the energy to do one. Keep it simple always and plan with just one other family that your children enjoy being around. That is kind of important. You still want to be friends afterwards so it helps if not only you and another homeschool mom are friends, but the children are too.
Buddy up with just one other family keeps history something to look forward to each week or every other week. This allows you an off week to cover something you want to about the subject.
One year we studied history with another family and decided what topics to cover each time. No rhyme, no reason to the order of it, just whatever delighted our children to learn together. Too, we met every other week and it was just perfect for us.
We made ice cream Viking ships (of course had to eat it too) and exploded volcanoes when learning about Crete.
8. Teach History By Watching Movies. Pop some popcorn and enjoy. Episodes of Liberty’s Kids can be found free on YouTube and there is a free series by John Green on YouTube too for American History. Movies like Alexander the Great, The Nightmare in Jamestown about the first colony and Lewis and Clark Journey West to name a few can be viewed on Netflix. Be sure to watch with your kids because some of the documentaries give the vivid facts of history that are not so necessary for younger children.
There is also Drive Through History which is on DVDS. Sit back and be entertained by Dave Stotts as you visit places both ancient and modern.
There are so many more ways to teach history other than chronologically.
I know I have said it before too but I am still totally delighted with Brimwood Press because it covers history chronologically in 14 lessons or big huge chunks and not in cycles. Up until this time, again, we had no choices if we wanted to cover it chronologically and move faster. Now, I can use Brimwood Press at anytime or if we lose our way chronologically and still include one of these other ways. I have a choice always too of covering it chronologically in depth by using one of the other providers like I mentioned in my earlier post: Should Homeschool History Be Covered in Chronological Order?
Choices, lots of choices! Give me choices anytime. What about you? Have you found one that fits your needs right now or that you might want to scoot into later?
Hugs and you know I love ya,