I'm considering this year a gentle introduction to American history. We'll hit the high points and probably miss all kinds of details, but that's okay. The main point is to get EXCITED about our past! Meet who we can and table the details for later. I'm not a lover of dates; I'm much more intrigued with the idea of developing a mind for history, of understanding it and applying it to the now as much as possible. Last year I set up a timeline on the wall for our look at prehistoric man, ancient Greece and Egypt, but Max clearly had no interest in seeing where the details fell on the line. I think I need to listen to that and not force the date thing with him. Maybe that will come later and he'll want to fit the pieces of the puzzle together.
On a secular homeschooling forum I recently learned about an online series of history classes called History at Our House (HAOR); parents who have used it have raved about its value and their kids have loved the classes. I am looking at HAOR and am considering starting it after Christmas if classes are offered then or maybe waiting until next year - want to check into it a little more to see if it's a good fit for us. From what I have read so far I am liking the teacher's philosophy and it seems that he succeeds in sparking genuine curiosity about historical events. If you want to check out his programs you can watch an introductory YouTube video HERE.
Here are some materials we've been using over the past couple of weeks to familiarize ourselves with the history of America. We are jumping here and there, which I'm not sure is good as far as fitting it all into context, but we're taking a sweeping look at the big picture and deciding together what to focus on, which is guided by what Max finds interesting.
Play this game a few times and you'll be able to spout out all kinds of interesting things about the beginnings of your country Easy and hard levels. This is a fun dinner-time game around the table, too.
I posted about this DVD HERE - it's fantastic, although I personally could do without all of the commentary from people from our current pop culture (Michael Douglas, Sheryl Crow, etc.)
Already posted about this book; Max is impressed by how much Mr. Franklin did in his lifetime. Are men like Ben still around? He was pretty awesome.
On it's way in the mail
Appealing look at the man and what drove him. We learned a bunch by watching this. I tucked a number of historical documentaries into our instant play list, so we can pick and choose according to our mood. We'll probably watch one about Abe Lincoln next.
Is it okay to read these to an eleven year old boy? I think so. We've read two out of the series and he is asking for more. Great mental imagery of life on the prairie. Thank you, Laura Ingalls Wilder!
The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz
Max just completed this for a history through literature class he is taking online. He struggled to get through it because he didn't find it that interesting, but the part at the end when the main character gets to meet General George Washington and have dinner with him made up for the lackluster read. This story is set much earlier than the Little House on the Prairie series, so a different look at pioneer life.
You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Colonist: A Settlement You'd Rather Not Start (You Wouldn't Want to...)
I covet this series and wish to own every single one. It won't happen, but I can still wish it!
You Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea You'd Rather Not Drink (You Wouldn't Want to...)
You Wouldn't Want To Sail On The Mayflower!: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long (You Wouldn't Want to...)
You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Pioneer!: A Wilderness You'd Rather Not Tame (You Wouldn't Want to...)
Really looking forward to this one - it's on its way from Netflix. It's a PBS series about present-day families who are put into historical situations - I'm sure some very interesting things come into play!
I like the authenticity of this book - real pictures to balance out some of the comical pictures we've been looking at in the other books - that's a good thing!
This is one book of another interesting series - this one takes awhile to pick through as there are lots of little pictures and side comments sprinkled all over the page, similar to the DK Eyewitness books that are available. It's nice to hunker down and hunt through the book together.
I did pick up a book that contains the words to the Declaration of Independence and read through it. I know Max and I know he would not 'get' much of what was being stated. I'd like to find one with translation into everyday ordinary language so that we can have a better appreciation of it, or maybe we'll look at this document when he is older.
Herein lies some of the elements in our introduction to early American history and I'm certain many tangents will result (which is the best part!) This is merely scratching the surface; I'd like for us to learn about the Native American tribes and what happened to them, about some New Mexico history as the Santa Fe Trail was a vital piece of Westward expansion. This is the way we homeschooled last year for 4th grade - following a scent and seeing where it might lead. I'm finding it challenging to try and stick to a structured curriculum, and I think there might be some strong and valid reasons for this. I have some thoughts to share on that subject and will post soon with them.
If you have other materials you've used to learn about American history, please share! We can learn so much from one another as we homeschool!