So far we've covered topics such as identifying a family vision, figuring out what your children want to learn, decluttering the school area, and planning a daily rhythm.
But what about history and geography? Don't we need a workbook for that?
Well, actually, no.
We need stories.
Stories do not just develop children’s literacy; they convey values, beliefs, and social norms which shape children’s perceptions of reality.
They give them insight into the life and times of people in history from around the world.
This is what Charlotte Mason said about teaching history through stories-
"The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn 'outlines', or a baby edition of the whole history of England, or of Rome, just as he must cover the geography of all the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age. Let him spend a year of happy intimacy with Alfred, 'the truth teller,' with the Conqueror, with Richard and Saladin, or with Henry V -- Shakespeare's Henry V -- and with his victorious army. Let him know the great people and the common people, the ways of the court and of the crowd. Let him know what other nations were doing while we at home were doing thus and thus. If he comes to think that the people of another age were truer, larger-hearted, simpler minded than ourselves, that the people of some other land were, at one time, at any rate, better than we, why, so much the better for him." Volume 1, p. 280
So when we introduce our children to beautiful stories like Treasures in the Snow (from Kind Kingdom Volume 2, or Old Yeller (from Playful Pioneers Volume 2) we are giving them a chance to linger pleasantly with a single person or a single family in a different place and time. This gives them more insight into the experiences of that person, which sparks thoughtful connections. These stories will stay with your child long after a workbook page is forgotten.
And geography connections are made in the same way. In the Playful Pioneers Volume 2 we read the engaging books from Holling C. Holling that feature American geography. As you read about American lakes and rivers in the form of story, the places stick with you, even the shapes of the Great Lakes become embedded in your mind.
Or as you read a book such as The Good Master from Kind Kingdom Volume 2, the plains of Hungary and the lives of country people in Europe become vivid pictures to your children, which helps them to remember the details of their learning.
Learning won't go in one ear and out the other when you teach with stories. The places and times will be imprinted on your children's hearts and shape their thinking and worldview in a way that a workbook page can never do.
So how do you go about teaching history on a daily basis?
Read living books: We include daily readings in all of the Peaceful Press resources.
Keep a timeline. We draw pictures about what we read on The Peaceful Press Timeline Cards (found here, here, and here) that correspond with our history resource for the year, and then we hang them from a piece of twine hung on our chalkboard. It helps remind us of who we are learning about.
Make a map. Maps help us connect borders and places to understand more about the patterns in history. When we look at the ways that the borders of European countries changed while studying with The Kind Kingdom, we start to understand that conquest is a dark side of history that we still need to be on guard against.
Keep a notebook. As we read about people and study countries, we take time to write and draw about it in our notebook. This "notebooking" style of learning fits in with many philosophies, including Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, and Classical, and eliminates the need for multiple-choice tests while helping our children retain information. We currently use a Strathmore watercolor notebook with a personal watercolor pen and paints, but many families also do their work on loose paper and then bind it as they go.
Do some projects. Every elementary resource from The Peaceful Press includes recipes and projects to help families celebrate what they are learning. When you have a Narnia-themed tea while studying Europe with The Kind Kingdom or a Greek feast while studying World History with The Precious People, you are creating lifelong memories with your children that will help them connect to what they have learned in a deep and meaningful way.
Resources from this post, each link will connect you to a book list for the time period, along with a link to timeline cards.
Our elementary bundles include all the geography, history, science, and social studies you need to prepare your children for high school and college.
Just add math and age-appropriate phonics, spelling, grammar, or writing.
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