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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

American History, how I teach it... Ok, how I learn it too....

American History, A Look At What I Do!

I thought I would take the time and reveal how I make history come alive for my kids. In this post you will see what I use and how I use it. And as a side note, I think I learn more than my kids learn.  I am learning the right and true history for the first time!

With God's help and lead I kind of made my own History Curriculum this year and I love it. The kids love it too. It involves many ways of teaching and learning. I found 3 wonderful books at a garage sale.  They were on my book shelf for sometime, but did not realize it or remember it. Then one day I was looking for a book to read and I grabbed one. I quickly realized this was directed towards kids and was amazed at the facts and truth it held. These books are from Peter Marshall’s Ministries.  They say from age 8-12 but I think it should say Infant-Adult.  My 3 and 5 year old enjoy it as much as my 8 and 10 year old.

After talking to a fellow HS mom, who I found out was also using these books, I rushed to ordered the Activity Books that go along with them.  She said they were great and she was right.  They say age 5-8 but again, good for all. 

A few weeks later I remembered a DVD I had received by coming a member of HSLDA for free.  I found it and was thrilled because I had it stuffed in a cupboard for 2 years and never opened it.  It was Drive Thur History.

Fast forward a few weeks and I found a set of CD's that I did not even know I owned.  They were For God and Country Adventures in Odyssey.

Then I found a map of the world in the weirdest place and can't seem to find who it belongs to.  For now I am using it with the books to help with geography.

I recently ordered for free via Listia some Civil War replicas.  I am so excited to get these so my kids can see what things looked like back then.  One more visual addition to our learning.

Now that you know what I have I will explain how I use it.

Because my kids enjoy History it is usually the first thing we do together for school.  The time however, is never the same.  All 4 kids (3-10) sit around the coffee table with a tub of crayons in the middle.  I take some corresponding pages out of one of the activity books and copy them for each child.  They do the pages while I read.  Sometimes it is one sheet sometimes it is several and I never use all the sheets.  I pick and choose what I think they would like and what goes with that day's story.

Now here is the key, show emotion in your reading.   Many times I am up on the coffee table like I am looking starboard while I read parts of the book (why not I am in the comfort of my own home).  Other times I am slamming my hand on the coffee table as I read the debates between the continental congress.   I will even lay my hand on a child's back as I read of a man pleading with God.   But most of the time I sit in the rocking chair using different (horrible sounding) accents with fluctuations in my voice.  At times I look up and the kids are starring at me instead of doing their worksheets or coloring pages (which is fine with me).  I ask them, "What?"  They simply respond, "You are funny!"

At times we will act out what we read.  This does not always work but with the first book about Columbus it worked great, till we got to the killing.  We did not act that out!  The kids learn even more this way and retain it longer.  We also pull out the map in the middle of my reading when they want to see where a country or state or river is.

After reading about some people I would put in the Drive Thru History DVD.  For instance when we read about Washington, we watched Dave Stotts on his tour and life of Washington.  By the way Dave Stotts is drop down on the ground and roll all over laughing funny!  The kids love his shows.  This would hit home even more what we had just read about.

The For God and Country CD's have been invaluable in the van. They get to hear what it was like for the slaves trying to escape and how it must have felt as the soldiers fought for freedom.  It is yet another way to learn that is at a completely separate time from doing the lesson.  This forces the brain and imagination to work.  They pull up the stories from their memory and their mind pulls it all together, what they heard me read, what they saw and colored, what they sometimes acted out and now what they are hearing in radio theater.

So there you have it.  It is soooo easy I can't even begin to explain it.  I do all the kids together and the preparation is simply looking at what I am about to read and copying a few pages.  That is it.  Easy peasy and my kids love it.  It seems to be one of their favorite parts of the day and I pray to God they continue to enjoy it.  I look forward to God giving me even more ideas, hopefully that involve a camper and heading out to actually step foot where our forefathers stood and where many prayed.

Let me mention that this is God's gift to me.  I didn't search for this.  I prayed and he gave it to me.  I can take no credit for what I have done and written here.  He literally landed it in my lap and I did it step by step as he showed me.   So don't think for a minuet you can not do it.  If I can anyone can.  Just pray and follow God's steps.  He may have something even more wonderful and fitting for your family.

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