Saturday, June 3, 2017

How I Homeschool - History

Today, we are talking History.  At this point in my on going series, we are going to start separating what I do in elementary/middle grade ages from my high schoolers.  I will cover their stuff at a later date in either one or two posts.  

I love a good spine.  What is a spine?  No, in this case it is not the bones that help support your back.  However, like a human spine, a curriculum spine is a support system.  And, as far as curriculum goes, it helps you set the pace for a good program.  I have 2 spines that I use for our history learning.  
World History

We love Story of the World by Peace Hill Press of the Well Trained Mind for our World History.  It is lovely.  Perfect for the Charlotte Mason mama.  There are 3 parts to the curriculum, though not all are necessary - the reader, the activity book, and the CD set.  While I love all 3, you can pick and choose what you want.  Here is my normal for using this set.  First, we read the day's section from the reader.  Then, we follow it up with some narration.  You can make up your own OR she has a lovely set with each chapter in the activity book.  Then, we follow all that up any activity we may have planned.  The activity book is chocked full of ideas - maps (we love these), coloring pages, arts and crafts, and, my favorite, extensive book lists broken down by age for each chapter!   I either do an activity or read a fun book to them.  We always do the maps.  The CD's are awesome for car rides, rest times, or bedtime listening.  A simple but effective way to review.  I simply love this series.  There are 4 book sets to the series - Ancient History, Medieval History, Early Modern Times, and Modern Times.

"Now, how is that just a spine?  I thought you said it was a support system."  A good spine allows fluctuation and the ability to "do your own thang."  And, this does just that.  If we find a particular part of history more fun, we stop and do even more with it - whether it be a fun Lego build, more arts and crafts, create costumes, more reading, or a great movie.  For Ancient History, I like to pause along the way and incorporate where the major Bible history falls in.  All of the Bible can be covered throughout the first book in the series, Ancient History.  

And, while I love this curriculum, it is just world history.  It is a great overview of it.  However, it lacks in good solid American History.  Oh, yes, it covers it in a broad sense, but that is what she does with every country around the world.  Since we live in the United States, American History, I wanted us to learn American history in further detail.

American History

About the time we were ready to begin American History, we were introduced to Homeschool in the Woods by Amy Pak.  There are has been no turning back for me.  I love the flexibility and thoroughness this curriculum has to offer.  Here again, it was my spine.  We have had such a blast with this series, following it and then diving off to do our own thing.  All come in either CD format or downloadable format, so, yes, you have printing to do.  But, it is worth the ink.  I have printed up, for each one, the reader sections.  You could easily read them off a computer screen, but, I personally do not enjoy that.  I would rather have it in a notebook so I can interact with my kids more.  Stick them in a notebook and you don't have to print ever again!  There are loads of activities to choose from.  You can either put it all in a lapbook style.  Or, there are notebooking pages you could do.  We have done both.  I prefer notebooking over lapbooks, as I have to come discover over the years.  Also, included with these are large book and movie lists, a newspaper older children can write up as they go along, lovely timelines, maps, games, and a nice little calendar you could follow.  (We followed the calendar loosely, very loosely.  It was good to keep us on track, but we kept diving off so much, it would always take us longer than the time she alloted).  At the end, she gives recipes, decorations, and even invitation ideas for a wrap up party!  It is great fun.  These start from the beginning of American history - exploration through the 20th century.  (Side note - she also has some world history as well which looks well done as well.  I have never tried them because these are the newer parts to her history series and we were already set on the Story of the World for us.)

Again, this was our spine.  I would dive off for costumes, Lego, and other goodness if we so chose to do so.  And, like Bible history, I would incorporate these where they fell into the Story of the World timeline.  This has worked well for us.  It gives us variety and a good sense on how the history timeline falls.

A couple of other good things that we have enjoyed to bring our histories to life are videos.  We have loved the Liberty Kids series, Drive thru History, and America, the Story of Us series.  YouTube has some great videos as well to add to it.  I found this list a while back and it has been a useful resource for me.  As far as fun listening is concerned, Jim Weiss is hands down our favorite storyteller!  He has an awesome collection of historical listening.  You can find his CD collection here.  

As far as extra literature is concerned, there are a couple of series that if you can get your hands on, even from the library, you will love them

Landmark history series - older series, but, oh, so good - here is a wonderful list
Who was? What is? etc. series
The Magic Treehouse series (here is my post on where they fit into history)
Cornerstone of Freedom series - another older series, but very good - here is a list

One final resource.  I love a good anthology of literature.  I have a collection of them, to be exact.  I will share them more when I get to literature, but here is a great one for your history needs.  It went out of print for a while, but it is now back in print.  And, it is a gem.  My copy looks like this:

However, Nothing New Press has rereleased it and now it looks like this:

(isn't that a gem of a cover-loving the vintage look)

Get your hands on a copy of this book.  You won't regret it!

That wraps it up for History.  What's your favorite curriculum or books for history?  Let me know in the comments.   Have a great weekend and enjoy some history!

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