As parents make back-to-school preparations, I wanted to find a way to help those who may be overwhelmed with possibly homeschooling or supervising virtual schooling during this pandemic. I asked my college friend, Chris, who blogs at Tech Savvy Homeschool, to write a guest post for The History Mom, with her veteran homeschooling mom’s opinion on the best tools and resources for homeschooling history. Be sure to check out Tech Savvy Homeschool on Facebook and Twitter for even more resources as we forge a new educational road this fall.
History can be the cornerstone of your homeschool. Many homeschool families use a history spine book to be the jumping off point for other subjects such as geography, literature, religion, science and more.
Teaching history in your homeschool is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to encourage critical thinking, citizenship, empathy, and more in your students. Below are some tools to help you in your homeschooling history journey.
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Using books for teaching history in your homeschool
Many homeschoolers take a chronological cycle approach to teaching history. Whether you use a 4, 5, or 6 year cycle, the idea is to revisit the same historical periods multiple times but with deeper levels of knowledge for older students.
There are a number of history curriculums with this in mind:
Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is a very popular 4-book series that tells the history in a narrative form like your favorite storybook vs. a dry textbook.
Genevieve Foster’s classics Augustus Caesar’s World, Christopher Columbus’ World, George Washington’s World, and Abraham Lincoln’s World are a great elementary or middle school option. They tell the story of a key historical figure as well as other people and events that existed during their lifetimes.
Simply Charlotte Mason’s history series using the Bible as a background as well as other titles such as Stories of America and Stories of the World.
Other narrative style history programs include Notgrass History and Mystery of History, which has a distinctly Christian approach.
Biographies and historical fiction are also wonderful additions to your history study.
“Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.”
from Charlotte Mason in Home Education, Vol. 1 Part XVIII.–History, p.280
Charlotte Mason, a 19th century educator, encouraged the use of books that put children in touch with the lives and worlds of others.
The D’aulaires classic series is a favorite for elementary students with large colorful illustrations and a storybook approach.
Find examples of biographies and historical fiction using The History Mom’s lists or Simply Charlotte Mason Bookfinder.
Using videos to teach history in your homeschool
There are many wonderful videos that teach history and can be used in your homeschool classroom.
For elementary and middle school the Drive Thru History series is popular. Join Dave Stott for “adventure learning” as he takes you up close and personal with history on location.
Liberty’s Kids is a 40-episode cartoon series that explores the American Revolution period.
For high school students, Ken Burns’ documentaries such as The West and The Civil War provide lots of wonderful history with visuals and more.
Henry Louis Gates’s documentaries on Africa’s Great Civilizations, The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, and Reconstruction are also must-see videos.
Compass Classroom offers several excellent video courses to help students learn history such as Dave Redmond’s Antiquity, Modernity and American History series.
Another resource for high school history is The Great Courses available through Amazon or your local library.
Other tools for teaching history in your homeschool
Make history come alive when you access primary source documents using the National Archive’s DocsTeach tool. Lessons plans are also available for free.
Another way to add hands-on activities to history (while social distancing) are online history learning tools such as Mission U.S. and Eagle Eye Citizen. Virtual field trips are an amazing way to add life to your lessons.
If you like flash cards and other images to help remember historical facts and figures Classical Conversations history cards are the best.
Timelines are another history learning tool that are popular in homeschool classrooms. You can make your own or use a premade version such as these from Homeschool in the Woods.
A Book of Centuries is an alternative approach to a timeline dividing history by centuries (one per two-page spread) to capture key persons and events, as well as drawings of tools and items of the age. You can learn more about a Book of Centuries here.
As you can see, there are a limitless supply of resources to help you teach history in your homeschool. What are your favorites? What did we miss? Comment below.
Don’t forget to check out the educational links available under the Online Resources tab on The History Mom as well. If you have questions about a specific time period, feel free to reach out to me or Chris through our blogs. Good luck!