Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How We Do Homeschool: History

Our history work is totally based on the memory work provided in our Foundations curriculum from Classical Conversations. There are 3 cycles of information in CC, and everybody works on the same cycle each year. When I am planning for our history work, I consider 3 components that are provided in the Foundations curriculum: timeline, geography, and history sentences.

We have a basic timeline that covers events from creation through modern history that we work on memorizing each year. We use the Veritas flash cards for this, but we use them in a slightly different order as laid out by CC. We learn 8 new cards each week until we have the whole timeline completed. Then we move to memorizing the presidents for the last couple of weeks. Ideally, we work on timeline memorization a little each day, but it doesn't always happen. I need to pull together some activities that Jonathan can do independently for that.

We also work on geography, identifying countries or empires, cities, and features as well as learning to recognize continents and other land formations. This really is surprisingly easy, and it doesn’t take much time at all each week. We usually work on geography 2-3 times per week, and it doesn't take more than 5-10 minutes.

There are "geography notebook" pages available from CC which consists of several maps and the list of memory work for each week. I placed these into sheet protectors in a binder, and we spend time identifying the memory work list and tracing the lines of countries, continents, rivers, or other features on the map. Jonathan uses a dry erase marker, and he just wipes it off when he’s done and I’ve checked it. He often does this while I am reading some of the history selections out loud. We also spend time looking at maps in general and identifying things when we have a chance.

Each week we work on a history sentence (sometimes a couple of sentences) that is included in the memory work. We spend time memorizing that, and we do a lot of reading. There is a chart that is available through CC that outlines selections from various history curricula that go along with our focus for each week. I use parts of that as well as library books from the suggested reading list and other library books or resources that I come across.

We often read from Scholastic’s Everything You Need to Know About World History Homework (out of print, but available from sellers on Amazon and Ebay $15-$20) which includes information for all the history sentences in all 3 cycles. This is usually a couple of pages per week. We have used selections from Story of the World ($16.95 retail x 4 volumes). The chart includes selections for Mystery of History and the Kingfisher Encyclopedia of World History as well as notations about which of the Veritas timeline cards are applicable, but I haven’t used any of these so far.

I read most of the Story of the World selections out loud, and if I find a library book that is extra long or that may be a bit difficult, then I’ll do a read aloud for that one. Otherwise, Jonathan reads a lot of the library books on his own. At this point, I usually require a casual narration from him once he is done with the selection for the day. We basically talk about things a lot. We also look for ways to tie our history study into things in real life such as current events and missions, but we try to keep it natural rather than forcing it.

I try to include different activities for narrations sometimes. For example, one day last week Jonathan was supposed to read 3 "articles" from a book about the Aztecs that was formatted to be like a newspaper. The articles were short, and they had pictures. He was required to pick out the ones he wanted to read, and then he chose one of those to illustrate. When he was done, he explained his drawing to me and what it had to do with the information he learned about the Aztecs.

I do like that doing history this way also allows us to incorporate some hands-on activities at times as well. In the fall we used the book Classical Kids from the library to plan some activities about Ancient Greece and Rome. We started our year with a similar book called Old Testament Days about the life and times of Abraham, and our library has others that cover a variety of topics. The library has been a huge resource for us.

Other posts in this series:
Our Schedule
Spelling and Handwriting

English Grammar
Science and Art
Classical Conversations
A Few Random Thoughts

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