Growing up, I suppose I enjoyed studying history in school. I’ve always found it interesting. But when I think about what I really remember as a child, I think of doing (a few) hands-on projects at school and taking field trips to missions (when we lived in California). In the 11th grade, I had a wonderful American history teacher who made everything into a story, bringing the dry facts to life. Other than those few instances, however, what I remember of public school history is reading a dry textbook and answering the questions at the end of the chapter. But I did love biographies, especially the Childhood of Famous Americans series, and checked them out from the library by the armful.
As a homeschooling mom, I’ve approached history in a different way from how I was taught in public school. I love to read and have wanted my children to also develop a love of reading and learning, so instead of learning primarily from textbooks, we use a variety of resources. We start with a core text—not a public school text, but something more compelling. For World History, we are currently reading through the Young People’s Story of our Heritage series. This series, published in the 1960’s by V.M. Hillyer and E.G. Huey, is an expansion of Hillyer’s A Child’s History of the World. We also use several Usborne books about various time periods. We read our core texts aloud.
Then, to supplement our core text, I add in historical fiction, biographies, etc. as independent reading. We also do some hands-on projects, internet research, report-writing, and map-drawing. I get many of our extra projects and activities from Diana Waring’s history series. This method of studying history enables us to incorporate other subjects, such as art and composition—reports, essays, and creative writing.
As we “travel through time,” Emily is keeping her reports, maps, and projects in a 3-ring binder, so that she’ll have a record of her studies and something tangible to look back through for review.
This is the third time (at least) I’ve taught World History to my children and I’m finding it more interesting all the time! I really hope that Emily will learn to learn to love history as I do and will retain more than I did from my education!