How We Homeschool: History

Ahhhh History! One of my favorite subjects! Sadly, it's one of my son's least favorites. You see, with autism, often times there needs to be a reason to do or learn. He needs to know why he's asked to do something, and if the responding answer doesn't please him...well...all bets are off. Just learning history for the sake of fulfilling requirements isn't enough, he needs a reason. Of course, we all know the important of learning our history, where we came from, etc. We learn about the past to protect and preserve the future, and to quell our own curiosity. But, for a child who is a literal and concrete thinker, and who gets very bored very easily, I've had to become quite creative with our history lessons.

First, The Complete Book Of.....books are great!

 I know, I know...I mentioned last week about dividing and conquering, and not using large books. The thing with this book, though, is it is dividing into time periods. And each lesson is very short, and it is accompanied by an activity. You can easily mark the pages so that anxiety and stress is reduced, and use the lessons as points to expand upon should an interest be developed. Most of the topics and pretty short and sweet, with fun and easily completed activities that shouldn't take much more than 30-45 minutes from start to finish. This is great since you don't have to fight to maintain attention, etc. The lessons are well written, easily understandable, and the graphics are engaging. When he takes an interest in a topic, I find more resources and we stay on it for a while. When he doesn't, we zoom through it with ease. These aren't in print any longer, but you can still find new and good used copies from Amazon and other online retailers. Sometimes, I've even ran across them at bargain outlets! I believe I paid around $10.00 each for ours, so they are also affordable.

When he really gets into a general topic, like this year's Revolutionary War obsession, I go to Homeschool in the Woods and to their Time Traveler's series. These are CD-Rom disks that include lessons, a teacher's guide, and a ton of printable projects to create a lap book that is nothing short of a work of art! Break out the printer, cardstock, glue sticks and colored pencils because you're going to need them!

These are FANTASTIC sets that are fun to do, and feel more like arts and crafts than history lessons. I even get into them, and find I have to remind myself to stop doing his project! I posted this photo of The American Revolution, but there are many more sets from which to choose. This year we focused on the Revolutionary War, and we even took a trip to historical Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown. Each set is designed to take around 8 weeks to complete, but you can tailor it to fit your own needs and stretch it out longer if you want/need. I personally spend longer on each topic since we expand so much. You get a text based narrative that covers details and the history itself, then a variety of projects to reinforce that history lesson. With the Revolutionary War, for example, we had a tea cup cutout that we used to make a booklet with the events that led up to the Boston Tea Party. These sets can be purchased online through  Homeschool in the Woods.

In addition to that, we go on field trips. Everywhere we go, we try to find interesting points of interest to visit. We were in Princeton, WV not long ago and found a historical home that had no admission fee. While my mom was conducting some personal business, we walked over to the house, took a private tour, and had the caretaker tell us all about the McNutt House that served as a hospital for both the Union and the Confederacy. It was a great experience that helped to spur an interest in the Civil War.

We also use a variety of workbooks from Teacher Express through scholastic, as well as books on a variety of historical topics that are of interest at the time. We watch a lot of documentaries, and different shows to reinforce the interest he takes. Sure, the show Gold Rush may not be a great show for history class, but it reinforces his desire to learn more about the Gold Rush, so we use that as a catalyst.

So there you have it, How We Homeschool: History! We use a variety of books, field trips, and hands on projects to have fun while still learning! I hope you find this of benefit to you and your homeschool! God Bless!