Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Works for me... History

I have kind of dropped the ball on curriculum... I am picking it back up and going to the subject of history. This is my favorite subject, albeit a subject I know very little about.

I have been greatly helped by the book lists and big brains of the people who organize Excelsior, the co-op we are doing this year. Next year we will not be participating, but I will continue with the same style of teaching.

I have mentioned before that we go through the cycle of history in 4 years, and we do this 3 times through. Last year was Creation until the fall of Rome. This year is the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation. Next year, we will study early explorers and history up to 1815.

I am learning history as we go... for me, this is one of the best parts of homeschooling! For example, I am sure that 1815 is not a completely arbitrary date, but I have no idea why it is significant. This summer, as I read and compile my syllabus, I am sure I will get to that!

I use the Veritas Press cards as a starting place, but I also pull in some other sources. The Veritas Cards are really just a source guide in themselves. On the back of each card (which describes an event or topic in history... 32 per year, chronological order), there are books and page numbers of sources with information on the topic. In addition to the sources used in Veritas, I like reading the Story of the World series and some of the Beautiful Feet books.

Most of our history time is spent with me reading out loud to all four children. They branch off into independent work during reading time, when I try to coordinate the literature reading with what we are studying. I also have the girls complete some assignments, map work, etc. that the boys do not.

Friday is our special day to review what we have learned and complete projects or activities. I really like the History Pockets series, and I also like time lines. Time lines are especially helpful to show the time relationship of events... for example, Jerome was writing the Vulgate during the lifetime of St. Augustine! Or, St. Benedict was creating the monastic rule around the same time that Justinian was ruling the Byzantine Empire!

The more I study history, the more I see how much I missed in school!


Em said...

Heather, thanks for this. History is my favorite, too. I'm ready to do ancients!

I have a friend who also uses & loves the veritas cards. There's another resource I think you'd enjoy (may have it already) called All Through the Ages. It's a book list broken into time periods, with the books categorized into age levels, fiction/non-fiction, etc... One could build a whole history curriculum with just that book.

Anyway, I enjoyed your post! Have a great day!


Roan said...

Please share how you do your timeline? On the wall? In a book? Where is it? etc.

Anonymous said...

I can think of two related reasons for the 1815 date. If you are continuing to focus on world history, 1815 was the date of the Battle of Waterloo that ended the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, which was a significant turning point in European history; the Napoleonic Wars and the revolutions that proceeded them can be seen as the beginning of the end for the old European monarchies (and the end of the end for some of them).
However, some curriculums almost completely focus on American history after the Renaissance/Reformation period. (I don't like that system; while it is good to study one's own nation closely, focusing so intently on it causes one to miss the grander context-besides, such interesting things were happening in the Old World then!) Anyway, 1815 also saw the end of the War of 1812 (there's an example of that context thing--this war was directly related to the war between England and France). It was not until this war that Europe realised that the United States of America was there to stay. So, 1815 ended the American Founding Era, which was of course a significant period in history.
Either way, it'll be a fun study (not as fun as Medieval though!).
Yours ramblingly,

Anonymous said...

Wow! Who is that Emily girl? Was she homeschooled? I bet her mom/teacher is really great!


Miekie said...

I really enjoyed this post! I too love history and especially time lines. We have two book time lines that can be unfolded. The "adult" one has been lent to a friend, but the other one is "The Junior Wall chart of History - from the earliest times to the present" Published by Studio Editions Ltd, 1990 - bet there are much newer one on the market now.
About the end of the Napoleontic wars (1820): Britain did not know what to do with all the returning soliders, so many of them were sent to South Africa and they settled in the Eastern Cape - that area is still more English than Afrikaans.
At the same time criminals were sent to Australia. Africa was being explored by David Livingstone. Shaka Zulu drove the Matabeles northwards and they settled in Zimbabwe... the steam engine was invented and Beethoven became deaf... History is such fun.

Have a great time studying!