Monday, February 16, 2009

Goodbye Social Studies...Hello Learning!

Since I've been homeschooling, I've noticed how much homeschoolers talk about "History." You won't hear much talk about "Social Studies" amongst homeschoolers. Earlier today I was explaining how Social Studies is taught in my home state of Texas. So, is it taught differently where you live? Just wondering.

There are many things that bother me about the public school's approach to Social Studies. Besides it being "all about me" and all the things that are probably left completely out...the thing that bothers me the most is the lack of order.

Now when I was going college to be a teacher and they drew the target on the board with the child in the center and the circles getting bigger and made sense. Children understand what they know. They need to be older to grasp world history. It made sense.

But looking back as a student--it didn't make sense. There was just no sequential order to it. There was no chronology. Sure, I was taught the history of my state, and the history of my country. I was taught something about world history--I remember that class in 11th grade. But WHAT was happening here while this was happening there? I have no idea. How does it all fit together? No clue. I learned everything in such random order that really none of the puzzle pieces went together. (of course, I didn't realize it)

And guess what else? The world does not revolve around me! *gasp*

May I show you another option?

This year we are using The Mystery of History by Linda Lacour Hobar. (I am not being paid for this plug because it's not a plug. It's just a completely new way of doing things to me and I want to share.) Another similar curriculum I have heard great things about is The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. But I can only talk about what I know.

The Mystery of History will take 5 years to complete. It begins with Creation and ends with our present day. It is written from a Biblical World View, which is important to us. The center of history in this curriculum is God. Christ. The Creator of all things. The story of what has happened on this planet centers around the One responsible for this planet's existence. Just like it should be.

This year we are covering from Creation to Christ's Resurrection. Naturally, this includes a great deal of Bible stories. Sweetheart likes that because she is already familiar with them. But to find out what was happening in China while the Israelites were wandering the desert or to find out what was happening in Egypt while the first Olympics were going on is just so cool! I am putting together the big picture this year and loving it. Sweetheart is lucky to have this view point from an early age.

Enough talk. Let me show you what it looks like.

This is our timeline. The book gives very detailed instruction on making a timeline. It stressed me out to no end, so we decided to do it our own way. Sweetheart is an artist so she loves this part.

Around once a week, after we have read 3 small sections, we add the timeline items for that week.

The book gives suggestions for things like Adam and Eve's leaves. Much giggling that day. It's still one of her favorite pages.

Gideon has a burnt match in his hand to remind us of the torch used in the battle that never was.
We wrapped a mummy in toilet paper.

She really gets into this part of the lesson. And if your child is not artsy, you can buy timeline pieces here.

We just use this little gingerbread man die cut to trace the pieces. She reviews the timeline every week or so. She enjoys looking back at what we've done.
Every lesson has a "What Did You Learn?" (test) and a "What Do You Know?" (pretest). Sometimes we just do them out loud together.

And every single day of reading has activities for younger children, middle children, and older children. So, you can use this curriculum with all of your students at once. Presumably, we will get to the end of our 5 years and we will start over with this curriculum. Next time, Sweetheart will be in 8th she will be doing the "older children" activities, and probably reading it herself too!

This time around is really just an introduction. But seriously, did you know who Hammurabi was when you were in 3rd grade? It's a pretty good intro!

Besides the book and the timeline, we use a world map a lot. She wrote this when I left the room to go check on Little Bit and I had told her, "show me where you think Rome was." So, geography is built in too.
And here are some of the fun things you get to do. I'm being very honest when I tell you that most days we just read, discuss, and move on. Sometimes we don't even do the activity. Sometimes it's not very fun. But here are some cooler things we've done.

Literally 5 minutes after we finished the mummies, we began packing to evacuate for Hurricane Ike. Good times.

Stonehenge. AND we had pictures from a friend's vacation to look at of the real thing.
The creation of man in playdough. :)
Turns out history is a really cool subject. And Mama is learning a lot this year! So, I think we'll pass on the Social Studies, thank you.


  1. I love the timeline book! The characters are so cute. I love art projects being incorporated into all lessons.

    Love the mummies too! They make me giggle.

    Oh and speaking of Rome...I used to LOVE to ask my high school students where Latin was spoken. Not a single student in five years knew the answer!


  3. I luuuvv this! We too, got tired of the 'skipping' around. This particular school year, I just grabbed our nearest Bible and we timeline through it, applying geography when possible. Even our grammar lesson is based off of Scriptures. I am eager to look into your 5 year journey of the Mystery of History. I cringe at the thought of the price, but some things pay for themselves in the long run...
    Oh, and the pics are darling too! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. I have looked briefly at this book for history, too. What age do you think would be good for starting this? My oldest is in K now, so we have some time...


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)