Thursday, February 7, 2013

Giddy for History

I'd like to invite you back to 1986. There I sat, in my sophomore history class, probably reading a Danielle Steele book hidden behind my history book. My teacher, a darling man whose wife was my favorite teacher (English/Drama), was the worst history teacher ever. I learned absolutely nothing. He was a coach. And to coach, you had to be a teacher (at least in our small school district). So, he taught history, like lots of coaches do. The only thing I remember about that class was sitting at his desk inputting his grades for him.

Fast forward to 1990. I sat in a college history course ... I think. I don't remember taking one, but I know I had to. I kind of remember being there. But I don't know what the class covered. No idea.

History .... BORING!

And then many years later I started homeschooling an 8th grade boy. And my eyes were opened to the wonders of the history of our country, and our world. So fascinating. I was hooked! I don't know if he got anything out of our history studies (actually, I know that he did), but I have never had so much fun in my life.

For Dawson's 8th grade year we studied the ancients. You know them ... Egypt, Greece, Rome, The Middle Ages, The Age of Reformation, and so on. We took a Living Book, hands on, exploration kind of approach to it by using A World of Adventure by Dorian Holt. It was our first year homeschooling and I was clueless. But, this curriculum helped spark my love of history.

We decided we would study American History for his 9th grade year. So the summer before that year, I spent every Thursday planning a 3-week unit of lessons using "America: The Story of Us" (The History Channel) as our spine.

We did projects, activities, notebooking, read Living Books, and watched lots of educational videos and movies. It was exciting! It was rich! It was pulsating! It was so fun and the highlight of my day! We would be into some of the units so much that we would extend them way beyond the intended 3-week unit. In fact, we could have camped on the shores of the Civil War for the whole year.

I compiled all of our lesson plans for this American History course and blogged about it last year. You are free to copy it and use it if you would like:

Lesson 1 ~ (Episode 1) Rebels
Lesson 2 ~ (Episode 2) Revolution
Lesson 3 ~ (Episode 3) Westward 1
Lesson 4 ~ (Episode 3) Westward 2
Lesson 5 ~ (Episode 4) Division
Lesson 6 ~ (Episode 5) Civil War 
Lesson 7 ~ (Episode 6) Heartland 
Lesson 8 ~ (Episode 7) Cities
Lesson 9 ~ (Episodes 8 & 9) Boom and Bust

Dawson and I had planned on studying Current Events and U.S. Government this year. And then next year we were getting stoked to devote a whole year to the World Wars! ... and then we moved and Dawson went back to public school. And I am in mourning over the loss of getting to plan that course! Maybe someday. In the meantime, I read as much historical fiction as I can. And I tend to gravitate toward those eras.

Now my direction of teaching history has changed since I am now teaching two third graders. We haven't really launched into history yet, but I have grand plans (believe - you - me)! They are mostly interested in geography right now. And it happens to be my favorite thing to teach for the time being (because I always throw history into it).

But every once in a while we choose a true history topic to cover. And I am in Heaven! In two weeks are are doing a week-long study of Abraham Lincoln. Ahhhhh ..... American History! I have plans formulating right now. I have all of our books checked out from the library, and soon I will start looking for fun activities to complement our reading.

We chug right along through the 3R's, we get in our calorie burn with P.E., and we have some oohs and aahs over science. But, history (and any social studies, really) is where our hearts reside. It's what brings us to the couch together, and shows us the path from which we have come and the roadmap for our future.

I am linking up with the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Cruise with this post. Their post goes live on the 12th.


  1. I so enjoyed this post. I love history and I love planning history lessons too! I also love literature and science - so much to do - so little time! ARRRGGH!

  2. I had the same experience with history. With the exception of pioneer history, I retained very little of what I was "taught". Homeschooling has given me a huge appreciation for all the stories history is made up of and how they are all inerrelated. I love it!

  3. I have experienced the same--boring history classes in school and an awakening of a love for history when I started homeschooling. Our first summer we spent studying the Revolutionary War and history remains one of our favorite subjects!
    I remember reading along in Dawson's American History studies--you did a great job.

  4. I've always been interested in history, but it was so randomly taught in my schools that I really didn't learn much. As a homeschool mom, I've delighted in being able to put together my own studies of history and hopefully give my kids a much better grounding than mine. Great post!


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