One of the challenges, with teaching children, is to find a way to help them digest, organize and retain information. Over our two decades of homeschooling, I’ve learned that one way to be successful at that is to be sure your students experience the information in several different ways. Allow them not just to read [...]
One of the challenges, with teaching children, is to find a way to help them digest, organize and retain information. Over our two decades of homeschooling, I’ve learned that one way to be successful at that is to be sure your students experience the information in several different ways. Allow them not just to read it, but provide opportunities to also hear it and to “put their hands in it”, too. History, in particular, lends itself well to these methods of learning. Besides reading the textbook, be sure your students have a chance to meet great men and women of history and to be introduced to pivotal events in biographies, autobiographies and historical fiction. There are fabulous audio recordings that narrate archeological digs, bring historical stories to life or present music from a particular culture, era or genre. Children can recite poetry and famous speeches or addresses. “Putting their hands in it” relates more to hands-on projects that help to solidify a student’s understanding of the material. It can be anything from preparing a recipe, writing a report, drawing an illustration, sculpting a replica of a famous statue, acting out a historical event or building a model of an important piece of architecture. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. And their is scientific evidence to show that when a student kinesthetically (touches, feels, put’s their hands in it) experiences information at the same time that they are hearing or seeing it, new synapses (connectors) are formed in the brain, expanding thinking and retention power, as information can move even more quickly from one neuron to the next, with the new connections that are made. One of the most common examples I can think of is teaching a child to write letters by speaking the letter names out loud, while tracing them in sand. They experience the letter by seeing it’s form being shaped, hearing it’s name pronounced and feeling it drawn in the sand. This multi-sensory approach is a great brain-builder. It also makes learning, so much more fun!
I have always enjoyed helping our kids create history timelines for this same reason. They remember the important people and dates so much easier when they experience them in so many different ways. When our older girls were young, our history timelines were art masterpieces that ended up circling the entire perimeter of our dining room. Each new picture moved forward in history, highlighting a significant event or person and allowing them to engage their creative, artistic sides. I wanted to give our youngest a similar experience, but have the timeline confined to a space smaller than an entire dining room. I decided to help her create a Timeline Notebook and I’m excited about the potential. She will literally be able to continue adding pages, all the way through high school, as her studies expand and go more indepth.
Of course the most exciting thing, for her, is the artistic and creative aspect of it. I’m excited because she can’t help but learn, as she enjoys the projects that she will work on. As she gets older, she will appreciate history, its significance and her place in it, a little more than she does now, at age 10. Then this book will be a treasure of memories and information.
To create your own History Timeline Notebook, you’ll only need a few simple supplies and you’ll probably have most of them on hand, at home.
- a three ring binder (I would recommend a 1 ½” or 2″, if you plan to continue adding pages over several years. If you grab one that has the plastic sleeve on the front, it’s so much easier to add a nice cover.)
- 8½ x 11 cardstock (something you can run through your printer. I prefer the heavier weight, so we can cover both sides without any bleed-through.)
- markers (I like Elmer’s Painters Markersfor this kind of project. They are so much easier to control than paint and a brush; and the vibrant colors are fade resistant and permanent.)
- a ruler
- pencils, pens and colored pencils
- glue and/or tape or even some Elmer’s Glue Spots
- a three-hole punch
- your computer printer
To really boost enthusiasm, it’s always fun to allow students to begin by creating a cover for their notebook. Our first notebook will be for United States History, so we thought an American flag would be a colorful and symbolic cover.
Sketch out your design, lightly on a piece of cardstock, making sure you have all your outlines where you want them. We made the 13 stripes of our American flag 1/2″ thick, so we carefully plotted marks to create those lines, first.
Knowing that the field of blue was the height of the first seven stripes, we drew the six bottom stripes across the entire sheet.
Then we drew a vertical line from the top of the page to the top of that sixth stripe from the bottom, which created the border for the field of blue.
After that we could sketch in the remaining seven stripes and are ready to add some color.
Outlining the individual color shapes before filling them in with Elmer’s Painters Markers, made it easier to keep the color where we wanted it. (Elmer’s Paint Markersare acrylic paint. They can also be used on wood, plastic, clay, glass, metal, foam board, fabric, and terra cotta. They are permanent, streak free, non-toxic and acid free, plus they’re available in fine and medium point, as well as with a calligraphy tip.)
We filled in the field of blue and left it to dry while we moved to another area of the flag. Another reason I love Elmer’s Painters Markers is that once the paint is dry, another color can be laid in over the top of the last, without the colors mixing or bleeding into one another. That will make adding stars over the blue, super simple, later.
Next, we outlined and filled in the seven red stripes, starting with the top stripe and ending with the very bottom.
After the stripes were filled, we were ready to add stars over our field of blue. It wasn’t easy drawing tiny white stars with a medium point marker, but we managed by making small dots and then dragging tiny bits of paint from the center of the dot out in five different directions. Though we didn’t space them very well (Epic mom fail!) and weren’t able to get all 50 stars on our flag, she’ll never forget that there are 50 or why, since that was a prominent point of our discussion as we created them. We left our white stars to dry and started on the first page of our timeline.
I created a timeline page template to use and converted it to a pdf file for you, so you can download it and print your own, if you like. I like that we will be able to print additional pages, as we go, and add new ones each year.
While we waited for the stars to dry, we got started on some timeline pages. First, I three-hole punched all the template pages we printed. Then I used the Elmer’s Calligraphy Painters Markers to start adding dates to the hash lines.
We added some illustrations to the timeline, using the Elmer’s Painters markers. The first illustration was of Columbus’ sea voyage. While we waited for his sails to dry, we had the bright idea to make a sphere of green and blue dots, swirl them and create an “Earth”. We would use that to depict Magellan’s trip around the world.
With the addition of a couple of mini-reports we typed up from information in our textbook, we completed the first page of our timeline. We know two important dates and several things about two important men in history, as well as their sea voyages.
The cover is completely dry now and ready to be slipped into the plastic sleeve on the front of the notebook.
I want to give you one more idea for a timeline page, so you don’t think there’s only one way to make them. I hope you will get creative and add all kinds of interesting things to your timeline. I know we will add report pages and recipes with pictures of our student baking them. We’ll also include pictures of any other projects she does and slip them in next to the appropriate dates. In the meantime, here’s what we did with the second page.
This is going to be a fun, ongoing project that I can work on with our daughter. It’s a great way to compile a lot of information in a compact amount of space. Years from now, I think she’ll enjoy looking back through it and remembering the times we worked on it together; and I know it will help her to retain the important facts from history that we are teaching her.
What creative ideas do you use to encourage your students to learn and remember what they’ve been taught? Do they like hands-on projects to solidify the concepts and information in their mind? Leave a comment and share your ideas, so we can all benefit from your thoughts.
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric” @GlueNGlitter I purchased Elmer’s Painters Markers in order to test them on this project. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product.
Do you know the way your child learns best? With five of our own, ours run the full spectrum of possibilities from the “I need to put my hands in it before I really GET it” learner, to our creative, artsy learners who write novels and create cartoon characters in the margins of their Math [...]
Do you know the way your child learns best? With five of our own, ours run the full spectrum of possibilities from the “I need to put my hands in it before I really GET it” learner, to our creative, artsy learners who write novels and create cartoon characters in the margins of their Math papers, to our “Please, Mom, just give me the textbook and my assignments” learners who need to do the job and check it off their list. This is the area where I feel that as homeschoolers we are truly blessed. Knowing those learning styles really helps tailor educational experiences to the best way our kids will absorb them. The problem is that there aren’t many curricula options that can accommodate them all and even fewer that celebrate them. The history unit studies from Diana Waring Presents can and do; and they’ve been a long-time favorite of mine.
I ♥ History. My kids don’t always share my passion, so being able to present information in a way that interests and sticks with them can sometimes be a challenge. That’s why Diana Waring Presents history unit studies are perfect for our family. I love that Diana understands that:
- We will never be able to spoonfeed our children everything they need to know in just 13 years of schooling.
- We MUST teach them how to learn and where to go for reliable information, so they will always be able to learn what they do need.
- We don’t have to apologize for Biblical history. Modern science and archaeology continue to show that what has long been accepted on faith is absolute truth.
- Teaching, using our childrens’ strengths and interests to instill knowledge, will help them to love learning and retain more knowledge.
It isn’t “learning”, ONLY if it comes from between the covers of a textbook. As a matter of fact, some of the best learning often doesn’t. I want my kids to love books, all books, not just textbooks, as much as I do. But, my reality is that some of them simply will not. So my goal is for all of them to recognize excellent and reliable ones and to be able to utilize what they find in them. I also want them to be able to discern the reliability of the information presented from any source, even a textbook, based on what they already know to be true, the original sources for the information presented and the worldview bias of the author. I want them to be able to form opinions, understand truth and present reasoned arguments for what they know from testing the information themselves. History is more than memorizing names, dates and places and regurgitating the data onto a test page. It’s filled with interesting people, drama, intrigue and passion — rising and falling empires, reasons for the way we do things today, and so much more. It’s loaded with lessons and knowledge we can use to avoid past errors and it begins to lay out our personal place in history, our purpose, and the part we will play in the ongoing story. Making that information come alive and be exciting for kids should be one of the primary goals of all good history curriculum. Diana Waring Presents is exactly that.
This will be the first in a several-post series that introduces you to Diana and her three sets of history curriculum that can take your elementary through high school students from the beginning of time through the Korean War in a way that they, and probably you, have never experienced, before. She has divided the history of the world into three titles: “Ancient Civilizations and the Bible“, “Romans, Reformers and Revolutionaries“, and “World Empires, World Missions, & World Wars“. To complete all three titles, will take at least three years and you may want to stretch your schedule out over even more time, depending on how involved and interested your students get in each phase. The beauty of this unit study method is that once you have completed all three sets, you can begin again, studying through each period in history, utilizing different books and activities, going even more in-depth with your, now, older students, who will build on the foundation of what they already know. History will become “real” to your students (and to you) and you and they will become excited and care more deeply about your places in it.
Recognizing that students have different strengths and learning styles, each unit of a Diana Waring Presents history curricula is divided into four phases. Phase One introduces students to the subject-matter and will really appeal to your “people person” learners or as Diana calls them, the “Feelers”. They’ll be drawn into the dramatic and intriguing lives and events of history through reading, audio recordings and other resources. Open-ended questions will pepper the discussions during this phase, causing students to think, form ideas and opinions and making them anxious to investigate and research to find more information, so they will discover what THEY believe, not just parrot back what they’ve been told is true.
Your “Thinkers” or as I often call mine, your “Ducks in a Row” students, will be drawn in by Phase Two of each unit. This phase is designed for the child who “just wants the facts” and to be able to commit them to memory. This is achieved through working through a historical chronology — creating their own timelines, spending time with vocabulary drill, as well as research and report writing.
Hands-on learners (Sensors) will be enthusiastic about Phase Three of their history units. This phase focuses on projects a student can put his hands in – things she can physically DO, that reinforce the subject matter. Becoming mapmakers, your kids will explore the geography of a given time in history. They will study the architecture, art and music of the periods, make their own artistic creations and even cook! They’ll participate in Science experiments and connect periods in history with the inventions and discoveries common to them.
Creative expression will overflow your classroom and your “Intuitor” students will love Phase Four. Skits, puppetry, journalism and poetry, sculpting, drawing or painting, cartooning and illustrating, creative writing and more are all possible avenues of learning about the subject at hand in this final phase of each unit. Maybe you have a student who loves performing, listening to and composing music. This is the time when they will discover their passions in the pages of history and see a value to the subject, that they never understood before.
I love that by the end of every single unit, the concepts and material will have been presented in ways that will appeal to each learning style and insure that each of your students absorbs important historical truths in a way that helps them remember and makes it important to them. I also love that in studying history, we will also be doing Language Arts, Science, Art and more. That’s the beauty of unit studies — one theme encompassing multiple subjects. And lest you think that is the limit of the unique and valuable qualities of the unit study method, consider that you will be able to teach every grade-level in your homeschool using the same non-consumable texts and resources, adapting and choosing lessons and activities appropriate to the student’s age. Not only is it fabulous, it’s long-term frugal — another of my favorite things!
At the beginning of each unit, in the hardcover Teacher Guides, daily lesson plans for each of the four weeks (phases) of a unit are outlined. Each page from the student book is reproduced in the teacher guides and enhanced with background information, prayer, teaching and discussion suggestions. Key Concepts are listed and discussed, so the teacher has a well-rounded background in the material. Teacher’s Guides also include information on evaluating a student’s understanding of the subject matter and how to assess their involvement in the discussions and activities, as well. Each project idea and suggestion is defined and presented in a way that will be simple for you and your students to understand and implement. The Appendix at the back of the Teacher Guide also includes reproducible maps to use for each unit, as well. PLEASE NOTE: There are many suggestions and ideas included in each phase of a unit. This is not a textbook. You are not required to finish every project on every page. It was never intended that you would. Choose the one(s) that fit your students’ current needs and interests. One project completed with thought, skill and enthusiasm will do more for your child’s education, understanding of the topic and study skills than finishing an entire unit of workbook pages could ever do. Don’t fall into the quantity over quality trap.
Because this is not traditional textbook curriculum and it is important to Diana for you to understand exactly what the curriculum is, how it works and how you would use it, she has generously offered the complete Unit 3 from Ancient Civilizations and the Bible as a FREE sample for you. Just click the link to open the pdf file and save it to your computer. Look it over and see why I am so excited.
Ancient Civilizations and the Bible covers the time from Creation through the life of Christ. It contains nine units:
- Creation and the Flood
- The Rise of Civilizations
- Egypt and the Exodus
- The Children of Israel
- Assyria and Babylon
- The Persians and Medes
- Greece and the Hellenists
- The Rise of Rome
- Jesus Christ, Immanuael
Each set also includes an Activity Book for Elementary Students. While they will be able to learn the same information, very young students may not be able to handle all the projects and activities included in the main Student Book. Diana has carefully designed a supplement that includes mazes, word searches, map, craft and art activities that may be more age-appropriate for younger students. It is designed for K-4th grade. In my opinion, the average third or fourth grader would definitely be able to use most of the activities in the main student book, though they may enjoy several of the activities in the Elementary manual. Plus, after completing all three sets of Diana Waring Presents history curriculum (“Ancient Civilizations and the Bible“, “Romans, Reformers and Revolutionaries“, and “World Empires, World Missions, & World Wars“), they will be ready to begin again and go more in depth with more challenging activities and projects in each set. You can download a FREE sample from the Ancient Civilizations and the Bible Elementary Activity Book, by clicking this link.
The courses also include a Test Kit that contains a final test over each unit in Ancient Civilizations and the Bible. Tests are a mix of essay, multiple choice, true false, matching and short answer questions and are reproducible, so you need only purchase one for your homeschool. As homeschooling parents, themselves, Bill and Diana Waring understand the importance of high-quality, non-consumable curricula products that can be used for all your students, over the years. I love that about them.
Each of the three course’s complete sets, also include 3 sets of CD’s: What in the World?, Digging Deeper and True Tales. For Ancient Civilizations that is 10 CD’s of AMAZING historical and archaeological information and yet another factor that further sets this amazing curriculum apart from any mainstream curriculum, secular or Christian. Having been able to hear Diana speak in person and even having had the opportunity to sit and visit with her, in the past, I can confirm from first hand knowledge that she is an amazing storyteller. Her enthusiasm and passion for history and discovery are incredibly infectious and students will be enveloped in her excitement as evidences and proofs, drama and intrigue are unfolded in the historical information she presents. History will literally “come alive” for you and your students, as you listen to this excellent audio collection.
Finally, none of the information presented is given in the, “This is history because I say it is”-fashion of most modern textbooks. There are lists and lists of resources and source documents given, that let you know where the information was derived from and your student will be expected to delve into that list to acquire their own information, think it through and form their own ideas and conclusions. This isn’t a “spoonfeed me, let me regurgitate quickly memorized information on a test and then move on” kind of curriculum. It creates thinkers, analyzers, puzzle solvers — students who will learn to research and write, to evaluate good solid source information and draw their conclusions with common sense and logic. Students are truly educated, not indoctrinated and the lessons learned will serve them throughout their lifetime.
Busy-at-Home readers have a tremendous opportunity to get the Ancient Civilizations and the Bible complete set at an amazing price using the coupon code “relational”. This code will allow you to purchase the entire set: Ancient Civilizations & the Bible Student Manual, Ancient Civilizations & the Bible hardcover Teacher’s Guide, What in the World—Volume 1 CDs, True Tales—Volume 1 CD and Digging Deeper—Volume 1 CDs. The special price for Busy-at-Home readers is valid through October 29 and also includes FREE shipping and Diana’s new DVD, as a bonus. For all of that your cost will be only $86! It’s a huge savings and the best part is, it’s a one-time purchase, for non-consumable material that can be used for all of your students.
I’m excited for you to have this opportunity and I will be sharing some of our personal experiences and pictures of projects as time goes on. I will also be posting reviews of the other two sets in the series. Stay tuned. More exceptional offerings from Diana Waring Presents are on the way! You can also like Diana Waring Presents on Facebook to stay updated on what’s new.
I received the set “Ancient Civilizations and the Bible” in order to test it and conduct this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As always at Busy-at-Home, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.
As a history buff and homeschool mom, this challenge was definitely perfect for me! I got to review two different U.S. History resources, compare and contrast them and decide which one I liked best. Interestingly enough, I had never used either the Dummies Guides or the Complete Idiot’s Guides for any topic, prior to this [...]
As a history buff and homeschool mom, this challenge was definitely perfect for me! I got to review two different U.S. History resources, compare and contrast them and decide which one I liked best. Interestingly enough, I had never used either the Dummies Guides or the Complete Idiot’s Guides for any topic, prior to this comparison, so it truly was a “blind” test.
I have taught my kids to be “aware” when they read or research any subject, but especially history, of the author’s worldview and the source documents from which they obtained the information they are writing about. The further an author gets from the original source documents, the greater the chance for error; and even if the author has all the correct information, their personal worldview can have an impact on the way they interpret it. It will come as no surprise, then, that the first thing I looked for in each book was a bibliography. I was curious to know from where each of the authors had sourced their information. I was more than just a little surprised that neither book contained one and so my expectation was that sources would be footnoted throughout the texts. Again, I was disappointed by both books. Further investigation provided “disclaimers”, at the front of both titles, declaring that the books were the opinions and ideas of the author and that no liability could be assumed for the accuracy or use of the information they contained. To say that understanding this disturbing information, set the tone for my review, would be a wholly accurate statement.
Since I was no longer evaluating the books from the perspective of documented, verifiable faithfulness to historical accuracy, I compared them on these basic criteria:
- Commonly accepted historical fact
- Organizational style/ layout of text
- Ease of finding desired information
- Quantity of details and information included
U.S. History for Dummies is written chronologically and divided into time period sections, as you would expect. However, the writing style and details draw the reader in, much like a novel. It lays out many more descriptive details and, in modern parlance, engages the reader in a “story”. This text also includes many vignettes, in gray boxes scattered across pages, introducing characters, quotes and little known facts or events that are often overlooked in other studies of history. With the understanding mentioned previously about lack of documentation, U.S. History for Dummies, trends along the commonly accepted views on American history. It has both a detailed Table of Contents and Index, making it easy to quickly find specific topics of interest, and though it has done a good job of weaving events into a readable “story”, each independent section easily stands on its own when you want to focus on an individual subject. An average middle-school student should have no difficulty with the reading level.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American History is more reminiscent of a History textbook in it’s layout, and again, I found that the reading level should pose no problems for the average middle school student. Like U.S. History for Dummies, the author is descriptive in his details, hinting at his own personal opinions and worldview in the light in which he presents the facts. Given the disclaimers at the beginning of each book, this came as no surprise. The content is comparable to the Dummie’s Guide, highlighting commonly accepted historical data in chronological fashion. The Complete Idiots’s Guide to American History also contains boxed vignettes, sprinkled throughout the text, highlighting lesser known figures and events and lending interest to the story. There were two features distinctive only to the Idiot’s Guide, however, that I liked.
- Vocabulary – Throughout the book, small boxes titled, “What’s the Word”, pop up with definitions and explanations of terms that are used in the text and may otherwise be unfamiliar to younger readers.
- Each chapter concludes with a section called, “The Least You Should Know”, highlighting the main points, events, people and dates from that chapter. This brief summary is a good refresher for what came before and solidifies the highlights in a reader’s mind.
Given that the two books were, for the most part, equal in content and easy to navigate, those two extra points would probably cause me to select The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American History, were I to make a purchase.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to compare these two books and the best part is I get to pass along some savings if you would like to do the same. You will be able to save 50% off one order of regularly priced books by using Coupon Code CIGBlog11, at Idiot’s Guides.com. The discount code is good through October 31, so pull out that Christmas list and order all the titles you will need at one time, to maximize your savings. They have a selection that covers a myriad of different interests and learning needs. That’s a fantastic savings and perfect timing if there are titles that would fit someone on your Christmas list. Enjoy!
I received copies of both books, named above, in order to compare them and write this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.
One of my favorite ways to encourage interest in history, is the use of historical fiction. Historical fiction uses invented characters and circumstances to highlight real events in history. Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires is one of those engaging titles that will tempt your students to want to further investigate the core events [...]
One of my favorite ways to encourage interest in history, is the use of historical fiction. Historical fiction uses invented characters and circumstances to highlight real events in history. Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires is one of those engaging titles that will tempt your students to want to further investigate the core events and activities surrounding the Civil War and the mysterious group, the Molly Maguires. Were they real or the stuff of legend? How did they impact the war, politics and labor?
I was intrigued by this book, not just because the storyline is interesting and exciting, but also because even as a lover of history, the political involvement of industry, the beginning rumblings of labor unions and the vast bigotry surrounding European immigrants, in the Civil War era, had been lost on me in the typical study of American history. This book inspired me to seek out more information on the time period, the cultures of the immigrant populations and how they shaped the country we live in, today.
Katie, the oldest living child of Irish immigrants, was born as a U.S. citizen. Her family lived in Pennsylvania where her father worked in the coal mines eaking out a meager living for his happy and industrious family. In a tragic mining accident, her father lost the use of his legs and the family lost their source of income. At 14, Katie left school to take a position as a servant and help contribute to the financial support of her parents and siblings. As an opportunity arose further from home, she was employed as a maid by a wealthy mine-owning family. She was slowly pulled into the politics and underground movements surrounding the war, industry, unions and the military draft. Before she had a chance to think it through, she was disguised and spying within one of the underground movements.
Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires was an easy read that piqued new interests and curiosity about the Civil War era in the United States. I would use it in our homeschool anywhere from fourth or fifth grade on up and feel it would be an interesting book, even for adults. The text also includes a glossary of terms students might not otherwise be familiar with, as well as study questions and project ideas which also add to its value as an educational tool. The adventure and drama will keep students interested and draw them into a story often missed by standard history textbooks. The book is published by Tribute Books and can be ordered from them for $12.95.
I wrote this review as part of the month-long Book Tour for Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires. The views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and no compensation was received for the review. An unbound, copied print of the text was sent in order for me to conduct the review.