Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Living in the Past {Blog Cruise}


Sometimes I really do wish I could live in the past, just for a day or two at a time.  Or live in the past but with a few modern day conveniences that I'd rather not live without. Time travel field trips would be awesome for this history-loving homeschooler!

Anyone who has read my blog a few times probably can guess that my favorite subject is History.  I read historical novels and biographies, and love teaching History to my kids.  I am sure they are not as enthusiastic about it as I am, but I hope they are enjoying it at least half the time!

I'm not sure exactly how I got to the point of choosing History as a favorite subject. I don't recall that any of my schools had a History class - it was just lumped in with Social Studies.  And believe me, Social Studies was not a favorite subject at all. I was engaged and interested whenever we did a unit on a historical period prior to 1900, but looking back I don't remember doing those very often. In fact, I remember almost nothing of what we did in Social Studies classes.  History was most often taught out of a textbook, and in unrelated chunks, and the point seemed to be to help us regurgitate a few memorized dates and facts for the test.  

I didn't have a clue why we had to know that stuff beyond passing the test, other than for personal interest and to play Trivial Pursuit like a boss. But I was interested. I remember getting a children's encyclopedia set when I was in Grade 4 or 5, and being fascinated by the volume outlining European history, especially the kings and queens of England. Starting when I was in my teens, my reading choices were very often historical fiction. 

When I started homeschooling, I knew I wanted to make sure my kids learned about the larger world, and that the stuff they studied wasn't just trivia for the test, but had some context.  During those first few years, I read The Well-Trained Mind and one of the concepts that really stuck with me was that history should be presented chronologically.  Light bulb! I realized why so little had stuck with me from my school days - we studied events in isolation, and in a seeming random order.  I promise you I was an adult before I had any idea what sparked WWI; could confidently put events in chronological order; or understood the extent of influence the events exerted on each other.  Granted, I grew up in Canada, so we learned far more Canadian history than US history, but I knew almost nothing about the Civil War or the War of 1812 until we moved to Maryland.  And here we are - living an hour's drive or less from Gettysburg, Antietam, Harpers Ferry, Fort McHenry, Washington, DC...  I felt like I'd better learn my American History and do a good job teaching it too!

We are using America the Beautiful from Notgrass for our middle school history study this year.  Here's a sampling of some of the things we've seen and done to make it more memorable.

I love studying and teaching history, and I try to make it relevant and engaging for my kids.  I don't always succeed, and I don't always have good ideas for doing that, but we do our best to have fun.  We go on field trips whenever it's practical; we have incorporated art, music, and crafts into our studies; we try recipes... and of course we read and discuss and look at maps and pictures and timelines. On one of the Blog Hops last year, I shared more ideas for making History come alive in these posts:  Introducing 5 Days of Living History -Tasting History -  Hearing HistorySeeing History - Touching History

What is your favorite subject to teach? Leave a comment and let me know! Be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog (this link will be live on Tuesday, February 12th) to see what other Crew members choose as their favorite subject. You can also visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog homepage to see the reviews we are working on, past reviews, and past blog cruise topics.  


Stacie said...

My son and I love History and a friend of mine actually suggested the same curriculum you are using. My son is big into anything nonfiction so that is a plus for me.

Rebekah Teague said...

I love History, too! Great sounds like you guys have lots of fun. I need to check out the curriculum you are using.

Unknown said...

We enjoy history too! Right now it's a snuggle up and read subject with lots of fun projects and art. I've learned so much history too! :)

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