Teaching history with historical fiction and chronological story books written for children has been a consistent part of our history curriculum for at least seven years. Two years ago we added in hands-on activities and last year we added documentaries. The kids know a lot about history and thanks to studying along with them, I do too.
Our hands-on history activities all began with a phone call from a local mommy. She was putting together a history co-op and invited us to be part of the group. Since we were all Americans living in Europe, the initial focus would be European History. Despite the fact I had all the books and materials ready to go for a year of American History, I said yes. Our history studies haven't been the same since.
Studying the Celts, Vikings, Scythians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and Mesopotamians while having the opportunity to see many ruins connected with the different cultures has been incredible. Many times we did a hands-on activity such as constructing a Celtic shoulder pin, only to later view similar pins displayed in a museum.
Over the summer I thought the history co-op was breaking up, so I spent a lot of time researching the history of India and Egypt. I was extremely excited to share my new found knowledge with the kids and even completed the first two lessons before receiving another phone call. My awesome friend Amy was ready to begin a new session of history-coop. Since families here tend to move away every year, she rounded up a new set of parents and kids and was ready to go with Medieval European History.
I said yes! The lessons taught by the different parents have been so educational, the kids enjoy the crafts and have made a few friends through co-op. I put India aside, and we switched gears to Medieval Europe.
So my plan for the year to study both India and Egypt using the historical fiction, documentary, and activity approach was blown out of the water. Since my son thrives on the documentaries, my oldest likes the books and my youngest prefers the activities I will take the same approach with but with Medieval European history.
We still haven't gotten back to the American history study I had planned two years ago, but I have confidence we will.
To see the history activities we have done over the past two years please visit our history page and my friend Amy's blog.
Here are some ways others teach history.
A Barefoot Hippie plan for history 1600-1800 - Barefoot Hippie Girl
Teaching History Revisited - Every Bed of Roses
A Glance at How We Do History - One Magnificent Obsession
Finding Your Way - Hammock Tracks
Unschooling History - Navigating by Joy