Wednesday, September 29, 2010

History rocks.

History. I hated it when I was in school. I never learned a thing. Dry boring facts to memorize until two seconds post-test when they vanished into thin air.

I know that wasn't everyone's experience, but that was history to me. We definitely wanted something different for our kids. I refuse to waste their time with dry, boring facts.

Garrett started American history last semester. Although we will be spending more time on it than a lot of people would, we are incorporating literature and composition as well, so it's more than just history. I am very excited about it! We are using this book.

It has each stage in history and an extensive book list to go with the time periods, or people, or events. The book lists are divided into age groups as well, so if you are studying with different ages, you can get books on the same topic for everyone's level. The books are trusted, previewed, living books.

We started with Columbus and we've worked our way up to the Civil War. This year we will work through to the present. With each stage in history, we discuss what is going on during the specific time using summaries from this book. He then reads a biography or novel about the time period. As he reads the books, he either outlines the chapters on his computer (preparing for note-taking in college level courses), or he writes a summary or an extensive paper (allowing us to work on composition and grammar).

Reading biographies takes the dry facts that textbooks present and brings them to life! It's hard to get excited about memorizing dates and event names, but when you start to read about what really happened, all the gritty, messy details, you can't help getting roped in!

This style of learning history gives us the opportunity to learn about why things happened. To learn about the character behind certain leaders and how they became who they were.

I have a choice as I teach history. I can have my kids memorize the dates of the events that transpired during, let's say, the leadership of George Washington. Or I can use the opportunity to dive into a book like "The Bulletproof George Washington". Here is a summary:

Colonial George Washington's perilous experiences in the French and Indian War are chronicled in this riveting account of God's providence and protection. The only officer on horseback to avoid being shot down, young Washington openly attributed his miraculous escape from harm to the intervention of a sovereign God.

Now that's history that won't be forgotten.

We are also incorporating English literature into our history as we read classics that go along with the time period we are studying. This year we will read The Red Badge of Courage, The Jungle, To Kill a Mockingbird, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, and The Grapes of Wrath, to name a few. Right now we are reading Uncle Tom's Cabin since we are coming upon our Civil War study. Wow, classic literature takes on a whole new meaning when you are studying the time period alongside it.

As we read our books, we bring in quality videos whenever possible. We have been enjoying America, The Story of Us. And we will be watching Ken Burns' Civil War as we move into that event. I can't wait!

One of our educational goals is to enrich character through exposure to great literature and inspirational people.

We think history is the perfect place to put this goal into action.


Sue said...

WOW!! I'm impressed. What fun learning experiences.

Heather said...

I think I'm going to order this Deleise. Thanks for the heads up!


Kelsey said...

That is so awesome and makes me so excited to do the same with my kiddos.

I drive my tractor in pearls... said...


When someone says they hated it, I want to hunt down their teacher and slap him (probably a coach) upside the head...

History gives context - it is the understanding of just about everything and covers math, lit, science, art, government, you name it....

History makes me happy :)


Mandy said...

Do you use this book with your younger kids too?