24 July 2009

How-To History

(A continuation of a post earlier this week, about Classical History) The Story of the World, By Susan Wise Bauer, is a four-part series covering all of world history in story format. Each chapter in the book is meant to be used as a jumping-off point for the rest of the history lesson.

We have really enjoyed this method of learning history. In a story format, it's much more interesting and likely to be remembered. When we were talking about my son starting history this fall, my older daughter got so excited and started just gushing the praises of Tarak, a fictional nomad girl from the very first history lesson in book 1. She was thrilled that Jackson was going to 'meet' her and listed off everything she knew about Tarak's nomad lifestyle... and she learned it almost 2 full years ago!

So, what would a classical history lesson look like? Bauer suggests doing history one day a week with a long chunk of time dedicated to it, or doing one shorter session twice a week. These are the tasks to accomplish for each chapter from the text:

First, Bauer suggests reading (or listening) to a chapter from the Story of the World. Your child can color the corresponding coloring sheet while he listens.

Next, your child dictates to you or writes his own summary of the chapter. I tell my kids its like changing a movie into a preview, and that really helps them focus on what is most important about the chapter.

Then, find whatever place was the location or focus for the chapter on the globe and the map, and do the mapwork outlined in the activity book. We use colored pencils because they can get such a fine point (unlike crayons) and they don't bleed through or soak the paper. Also, they can be erased, to a point.

Next, you open the The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia Of World History and turn to the pages that correspond to the lesson. One of the time-savers that I love from SOTW is in the teacher's lesson plan, they list the pages in the encyclopedia for that lesson. Just peruse the double page spread with your child and note anything awesome to investigate further.

Last, you can go to the library and get books out on whatever caught their eye from the lesson, even if it is a book about how medieval women dressed. Or, you can do one of the projects in the end of each lesson plan, which range widely in variety. In the early ages we are just trying to excite their little brains with images and ideas, not necessarily focusing on what we would think is the most crucial for college entrance exams.

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