So how does a homeschooling mother plan out a year's worth of lively history lessons? Where does she find the materials, the information - the time?
Well, we all go about this our own way. Some of us follow a prepackaged curriculum, while some of us make up a curriculum of our own. And of course there are those of us who follow no plan at all - but instead pursue the interests (and inevitable questions) of our children. Each teaching style has its pros and cons. I tend to be a do-it-yourselfer, but I like to have a (flexible) plan in place. And since I am planning history for both 2nd and 6th grade level children this year, I'd better get cracking!
I began by choosing a period of time on which to focus our studies: this year it will be the Middle Ages, roughly the years between 500 and 1500 AD. Next I decided to use a world history encyclopedia as my "spine" - that is, to use its pages as a guideline for planning out a (more or less) chronoligical series of topics to study. Within the 91 pages devoted to the The Medieval World I will find my starting points for each week's history lesson. And this is what I'm working on today:
From here I come away with a week-by-week outline of what we'll be studying and when. For instance, when will we learn about knights? When will we make Rose (cathedral) Windows? And when will we listen to Robin Hood? This outline will tell me once it's complete (with a little wiggle room of course). And when it is complete, it will get filed in my Lesson Planner - basically a 3-ring binder where I keep all the home education information and outlines for the year. I start a new one each year, along with a new set of files. Then comes the real work - the fine-tuning of each week's study - with the resources and activities that will bring the lessons alive. And to do this, I'll look in all my favorite places - the library, Amazon, Google, 4Real and so on.
All of that is the what and the when - now for the how. The facts presented in the encylopedia are just a jumping off point. I would like most of the boys' learning to come from, and through, living books - excellent historical fiction and non-fiction books on various medieval topics - as well as lots of hands-on activities, audiobooks, music, art study and field trips. Some things will be geared toward the 2nd grader, some things will challenge the 6th grader, some things will be meant for all to enjoy.
One way we'll do that is to keep a History Notebook. By the end of the year each of us will have a three-ring binder filled with our history work - a timeline, copywork, maps, art activities, photos and descriptions of projects, online research, coloring pages, recipes we tried, places we visited, book reports and such.
Now, a companion to our history notebook, will be our European Geography and Cultures Notebook. I'll post more about that when I can - for now, the lunchtime dishes, clean laundry, and the (non-napping) 4yo are all calling my name ...
Such is the life of a homeschooling mother! :)