Monday, March 14, 2016

Exploring History and Geography

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Exploring History and Geography (Virtual Curriculum Fair 2016) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

My two favorite subjects are History and Geography. History because it's the true story of what happened to real people and what their lives were like. Geography because it inspires imagination and the desire to see so many places for myself. To be honest, I'm not sure that History or Geography are favorite subjects with my kids, or at least not always, but I can say pretty confidently that History is a subject in which they always find something to interest them. And there are almost never complaints about these subjects!

One aspect of teaching history that I feel strongly about is correct context. By that, I mean the timeline and setting in which the events of history occurred. What was the world like at that time? What happened to lead up to a particular event? What was the result, and what followed afterwards? It seems crazy now, but as much as I liked history when I was in school, it was not taught chronologically, so I really had no idea of how any timelines fit together. It seemed like more emphasis was placed on memorizing dates than on understanding the story. I went to school in Canada, so naturally we didn't spend a lot of time in detailed American history, but still - the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the War Between the States all made so much more sense to me when as an adult, I followed the story in chronological order rather than just as isolated dates to memorize for the test.

So it's no surprise that the History curriculum we use focuses on the chronological story of the world and of the United States, and uses literature (stories!) as important tools.

Notgrass has been my go-to for high school history (combined with Bible and Literature) for several years now, and it tops my list of favorite publishers for History curriculum. All of my kids have studied or will study Exploring World History and Exploring America. (See my post: E is for Exploring America for more info on that one.) Each of these courses is worth three full credits - one each in History, Bible, and English or Literature. History also forms the backbone of our high school literature courses, Because my boys haven't been interested in reading, we simply reduced the amount of literature they were required to read during the course and awarded a half credit instead of a whole for that portion of the course.

Midterm Evaluation - 10th Grade @   Exploring America from Notgrass, featured on Exploring History and Geography (Virtual Curriculum Fair 2016) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

The essay books included with the curriculum contain poetry, speeches, essays, and short stories that relate to the history being studied. Each of the novels assigned was either written during the time frame being studied, or was written about one of the specific time frames or events. I like the context that studying history and literature together provides, especially for students that have limited interest in reading in the first place! Below are the full lists of novels studied for each of these courses. The titles in parentheses were on the older reading lists which is what we followed. When Kennady gets to Notgrass next school year, it's likely that she'll read more of the novels, or perhaps a slightly different combination than the ones the boys chose.

Exploring World History 

(Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis)
The Cat of Bubastes - G.A. Henty
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
Julius Caesar - William Shakespeare
The Imitation of Christ - Thomas a Kempis
Here I Stand - a biography of Martin Luther - Roland Bainton
(Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan)
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell (Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen)
The Hiding Place - Corrie ten Boom
Bridge to the Sun - Gwen Terasaki
Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton (Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad)
(Eric Liddell: Pure Gold - David McCasland)
Animal Farm - George Orwell
The Abolition of Man - C.S. Lewis

Exploring America

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Narrative of the Life of David Crockett - David Crockett
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Company Aytch - Sam Watkins
(Little Women - Louisa May Alcott)
Humorous Stories and Sketches - Mark Twain
(Up From Slavery - Booker T. Washington)
In His Steps - Charles Sheldon
Mama's Bank Account - Kathryn Forbes
(Christy - Catherine Marshall)
Miracle in the Hills - Mary T. Martin Sloop and LeGette Blythe
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Giver - Lois Lowry

Geography is my other favorite subject to explore, and although we hadn't done a separate subject study of geography until last year, it has always been an integral part of our history study. Geography impacts culture and history in many ways, so I think it's important for students to have some idea of the lay of the land when they explore important historical events or the development of distinct cultures.

Kennady started working on Cultural Geography last year, using this Grade 9 level text from BJUPress. In Grade 8, she'd wanted to study Europe specifically, and since I couldn't find a ready-made curriculum, we worked on the introductory units in this text and on the chapters that dealt with Europe - along with some additional reading and map studies. So this year Kennady is finishing this textbook, thanks to a little head start on this high school credit. Of course, we still turn from time to time to another of our favorite resources, Geography Through Art, for some related art project ideas.

Middle School Monday - Looking Ahead to Grade 9 on Homeschool Coffee Break @

The study Kennady did last year combined Cultural Geography with a Simply Charlotte Mason study called Visits to Europe. That put an emphasis on maps, and assigned readings in two beautiful books, Material World and Hungry Planet , both by Peter Menzel. These books describe the everyday lives of people in various countries, and show photos of their living quarters, household possessions, grocery provisions, and meals. We were glad to explore these books, and they remain on the resource list for this year's study as well. And of course, we love to explore other cultures by trying foods! We haven't done this nearly as much this school year, but we've had a lot of fun with it in past years, as you can see in my blog post series, Eating the Americas and A Taste of Europe.

Hungry Planet and Material World Homeschool Coffee Break @

Eating the Americas | Homeschool Coffee Break  A Taste of Europe - Easy Tapas from Spain on Homeschool Coffee Break @

If history were told in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. ~Rudyard Kipling

What are your favorite high school level History or Geography curriculum choices? Leave a comment and let me know! Also, please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers as they share thoughts on "Exploring Our World" in this week's Virtual Curriculum Fair.

This year the Virtual Curriculum Fair is hosted by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World, Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses, and Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset.

Laura @ Day by Day in Our World - Learning About the World Around Us

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses - Social Studies a Science of Relations

Kym @ Homeschool Coffee BreakExploring History and Geography

Laura @ Four Little Penguins  - Going Around the World at Our Kitchen Table

Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory - Our Tackling of the Social Studies and Science

Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset - Encouraging Curiosity about the World

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Annette said...

interesting resources. will be saving them for later perusing. :)

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