Friday, February 20, 2009

Back to School Subjects - History

All of my kids really enjoy History. I think this comes from their Dad in some respects, since he has always expressed an interest in History. But I also think it comes from the way in which we learn it here at home. No dry textbooks with endless facts and dates to memorize. We do use textbooks, but they are for the "spine" of our program. The student reads from the text to get the facts and dates, and then completes an assignment for that section of the book. But then we get to the more enjoyable part. We read tons of really good historical books that help the kids "get into" the time period. Here is a picture of Social Butterfly's text, and some of the other books she is required to read this year. This isn't even all of them! I'm glad she likes to read!

One of the first historical fiction books that Night Owl read was Johnny Tremain. He loved it! That started a passion for learning about the Revolutionary War, which lead to the Civil war, and all the other wars! His current interest is World War II. The disappointing thing he has found out at the highschool he attends is that they only have one year of history - American history in the 9th grade. World history is offered as an elective, but not required. That is disappointing. Luckily, he likes history enough to read about it on his own.

Back here at home, along with the text and the historical fiction the kids will read, we have our timeline. For each person or event studied, we add a figure. This helps the kids get some perspective regarding when things happened. For instance, I found it interesting to learn that Beethoven was a child when we signed our Declaration of Independence. Below is a picture of our classroom door with the beginnings of our timeline on it. At this point it only had a few items on it. There is also a close up picture so you can see the figures a little better.

Jetter is just starting his studies of history and does not use a text. (That will start in 3rd grade.) For 2nd grade history, we just read good books about famous people. Currently he's really enjoying our book about Daniel Boone, which comes from the series called "Childhood of Famous Americans". We have lots of these books. Davey Crocket was another one we read from that series. We also have lots of books by Edgar D'Aulaire. He writes very informative picture books for children. They read the story to learn about the person, and the pictures help the younger ones stay attentive. I also have some neat historical figures. These are more of an "added bonus" and they don't get played with much, but they look great as a display of who we've studied about.
Some homeschool moms have their kids doing all kinds of projects: building log cabins, making candles like they did in Colonial times, doing skits and plays, etc. I have to admit, I'm not much of a project sort of person. I don't think it is necessary, and sometimes, the amount of time these projects takes cuts into other school time. If the kids aren't learning something new by building a log cabin with popsicle sticks, I don't see the benefit of having them do it. Now, if they want to do that for fun, on their free time, great! I just don't do that sort of thing much during school time. You'd think the kids would complain about this but they never do. Maybe they're not project people either!

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