May 23, 2014

History Plans

I'm still finalizing some plans for next year, but I'm pretty excited about what we will be doing for history. I looked long and hard for a curriculum to use next year so that I wouldn't have to do a lot of work, but I never could find something that was what I wanted, much less that I could afford. See, I have figured out that what works best for the kids to engage with history, enjoy learning it AND retain it, is this:

  • a shortish list of really good literature books
  • a longer list of really good non fiction books
  • no spine
  • a few really fun and relevant (not just busy work) activities, especially games and food
  • notebooking/ some form of narration
  • putting them in charge of all the "output", by which I mean they plan their re-enactments, choose their narration forms, notebook what is important to them to remember
  • that I can use from lower elementary to lower middle school kids

Since I couldn't find all of that in one affordable curriculum (and trust me, I looked at everything from Sonlight to Heart of Dakota to Biblioplan to Beautiful Feet), I am forced to create my own. So this is my plan.

First, I had a lot of resources already that I'm going to use in bits and pieces.

Story of the World all four years, both the storybooks and the activity guides.
Draw and Write Your Way through History: Creation through Jonah (and I'll be buying Greece and Rome)
The Elementary Activity Book from Ancient Civilizations and the Bible

to this I added:
Streams of Civilization book 1
a booklist that I gleaned from a million (give or take a few hundred thousand) different Internet sites
History Pockets
Homeschool in the Woods Timeline Figures
lots of ideas that I found on Pinterest and some other odds and ends that I have picked up.

We first started this method of learning history a couple years ago, when I realized my kids weren't retaining anything we learned in our more traditional curriculum. After doing two years of American History, I've refined it a lot. I've learned that less is more: a few really good books are better than a lot of so-so books. I've learned that non-fiction books speak to some of my kids more than literature, so there will be a heavy sprinkling of those throughout the year. I've learned to over-plan and under-expect. In other words, the more I plan the more likely we are to do SOMETHING, but I keep my expectations low and don't expect for one minute that we will do all the things I plan. No matter how fun they look when I pin them! I've learned to keep a healthy mix of ideas in the plans and to let the kids have a lot of responsibility in the deciding of which to do as well as the implementing the ideas. And I've learned that the more I require of them in the forms of "regurgitation" (if you will) the more they retain. For example, notebooking, building with Lego, re-enactments, drawing, oral narrations, and more are necessary for them to remember what we read and talked about.

I'm hoping to share my plans with you each week, with booklists and links, adding pictures of what we actually do.

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