Sunday, August 9, 2009

Subject Study for Summer; Learning History in our Home~

Words of Wisdom, ~

Charlotte Mason said " The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn "outlines" of the whole story ... of the world. 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 thoughts 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".

My boys LOVE history~ they actually enjoy watching the history channel as much as they enjoy Cartoon Network. Seriously they do. They cannot get enough of learning about history.

I would bet they were one of a few boys who sat most of the afternoon and learned about the Korean War on Veterans Day. They were so moved by the interviews and the sacrafices it was truly amazing to watch them and try and answer all the different questions they had upon watching the history special.
We are talking about ANY kind of history, it can be history of trains to the Ancients to deadliest battles, - anything and everything that has to do with past events, they enjoy it all~
I have talked about textbooks and how I have a growing frustration with them. So, having said that I doubt we will be doing too much learning from them this year as we did the last. I really cannot get over the abundance of resources for teaching history. It can really be quite overwhelming.. I try to consider programs I might like and there are things I like about them and yet, I hate that feeling of being "boxed in " again.. once I start to get that impression I will change and put it down.
Having taken this year to slowly study on my own about Dr. Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason, I found that the more I learned, it seemed, they were almost talking to me. It was quite strange because as I read through Ruth Beechick's chapter on history, I became quite excited, because she had actually written what I had been thinking to myself all along. I felt quite inspired having read this chapter in her book "You Can Teach Your Child Successfully".
Here are a few excerpts of what I am referring too:
" In no area of curriculum is there more disenchantment with ttextbooks than in hisotry and the social studies. Disenchanted people include not only certain segments of our population who disagree with points of view in teh books, but hey include, also, educators who are concerned with their effectiveness for teaching. " ~ Dr. Ruth Beechick

This caught my attention. I had not heard these words before, I often thought of them as I would pilferage through books and texts. I was quite relieved and intrigued to have seen this.
and more here:

" The most obvious weakness is the superficial treatment of most topics. Publishers try to get in everything that states and school districts want included, so their scope and sequence charts look as impressive as their art. But in the study, some topics were found to be only mentioned and not developed at all. They were even mentioned in out of context positions, wherever the writers could manage to fit them in."

"Children know this weakness even if they cannot analyze or explain it to you. If your children love to read The Monitor and the Merrimac or books about pyramids or knoghts or explorers or about any of the topics of the social studies but do not love to read their textbooks, they are expressing their discernment". ~ Dr. Ruth Beechick

Upon reading this, I finally felt like I may have been on the right track all along. It also explained alot of the frustration I had been seeing while teaching my boys history~
I remember when we had tried using a popular American History program for fourth grade and it seemed like it was fairly good, it wasnt, the information was sporadic and in chunks, with no real conversation with the reader .
I then, began trying to find a "good" solid, perhaps not completely comprehensive ,American History book~ I looked and looked and finally caved and had picked up a popular Childrens American History Book I had found.
It seemed it would suffice. We openeded it and began reading near the beginning as we were studying the Native American Indians. It had wonderful pictures so that would help with our notebooking pages I would make for them, we started reading and as I did, it had one paragraph for each region of natives. I couldnt believe it.. here, I began reading to my youngest about the Great Plain indians and little snippets about their diet and how they hunted.. etc.. and then it moved to the Northeast etc... my son immediately began asking questions.. like if they are going to talk about what they ate why not talk about how they dressed and why and more things about their lifestyles and daily life..... again, disappointment.
I began pulling from many different resources.. one thing that saved us~ Living Books~ real stories written to create relations between the people or indians who lived long ago.
Living Books and Biographies brought life into our History at home.

It was interesting in attempting to choose a "spine" for our history at home to say the least. We started with Story of the World this year. ( recently changed our spine to Mystery of History, see below)
After reviewing many history programs I found Story of the World would work nicely, and would be used as our Spine for our History. I also use many other books for our history~ but like to have one particular book to refer back to .

Some book references I use: (while using MOH & SOTW)

Usborne Internet Linked Book of Ancient World History
** Update, one thing I love about homeschooling is the flexibility it brings into our lives. After pouring over and reading the enitre SOTW book, I decided to use SOTW as more a supplement to save me a bit more time and effort I elected to use Mystery of History for our Spine instead. Although I am not willing to let go of SOTW at this point since the boys enjoyed the stories, I think the two programs may compliment eachother very nicely.. and just love the fact that I have this kind of flexibility in my teachings at home. **
You can find a list of corresponding chapters between SOTW and MOH here.
This year we began reading many more biographies. I found this taught history so much more eloquently than any textbook or history program. The boys seemed to enjoy learning about people lives and it seemed to bring history to life for them.
I don't ever remember reading a biography of any kind while in grade school or highschool. Do any of you?
Biographies were only spoke about in English and was explained by definition only. So sad, so many children would fall in love with biographies and I believe, shape their perspective on history and what it teaches us about our world and about humanity.
Timelines to help teach:
I am planning on using this timeline for our history. I found this would work best for us.
Here is an interactive timeline I thought was really neat.

These are some sites I plan to use in helping us with our history ~

By now you might be starting to see a trend or a pattern here with many of my sites I chose. They tend to be very different from other sites online with all the lesson plans and "read and answer the questions" kind of teaching.
For me, these sites are much more multi-sensory for my boys who tend to have strengths in their visual and auditorial learning. These sites help them to enjoy and retain much more information.
I think also, I would consider these resources leaning more toward a "living history" as well.

More resources with Living Books:

As you can probably see, literature and living literature plays a huge part in our learning history.

We do not use textbooks we just love living history books~ I really have grown dislike them.

I often glance at living book lists when I can find them to help me find good, solid read alouds for the boys. I have found some very good resources at the following:

This year my plan is to complete the Ancients History while working on American History and Government broken into 4 block cycles. My boys love the many areas of history/social studies so this will be very much a focus this year in our home learning.
For American History, aside from the biographies and timelines, field trips many internet resources and unit studies they also love a hands on approach to learning. For this, I chose Homeschooling in the Woods, Time Traveler History Activity CD's.
These are packed with activities that my boys enjoy, crafts, copywork, projects, and lapbooking/notebooking activities. They are sure to have fun while learning with these.
As the boys create their projects I hope to post the ideas and activities they will be working on as we move along the year. ~
I also plan to read with the boys, "The History of Us" by Joy Hakim.
"Happy History Study", for your learners at home ~

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