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Teaching History as the Hub of All Other Subjects

  • September 1, 2016
  • By Donielle

For all of my homeschool teaching years I have taken the chronological approach to teaching history.  Before I had children, when I was teaching my siblings, I was drawn to the idea that history should be taught in the order it happened.  As a child I always had trouble figuring out the timeline of history.  Everything seemed to me to have happened “back then”.  So when I read The Well Trained Mind (see my review here:

306708: The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, Revised and Updated Third EditionThe Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, Revised and Updated Third Edition
By Susan Wise Bauer & Jessie Wise / WW Norton

I loved the way the Wise’s structured literature, reading and science around the events they were studying, chronologically, in history.

In kindergarten, with my oldest, I began to familiarize her with history gently through celebration of holidays, using American Holi-days.  Reading and writing are far more important subjects in early learning.  Then, in first grade while solidifying reading and writing skills (she picked these things up early) we began studying geography, the map, and the countries

Vikings at EPCOT

Vikings at EPCOT

and cultures that populate our world.  We had fun trying new foods, cutting out Brides Around the World Paper Dolls, coloring the Seven Wonders of the World, and thoroughly exploring EPCOT World Showcase.

With that foundation we began chronological history in second grade, starting with ancient history and using Volume 1: The Ancient Times, Story of the World.  The supplemental Activity Book, Vol 1: The Ancient Times, Story of the World provided lots of hand on projects for my craft maniacs.  We worked our way through all four volumes of Story of the World.  Then, when my oldest was in sixth grade, we switched to The Mystery of History Seriesstill written in an interesting narrative style, but geared more toward middle grades, though our younger kids still listen along and enjoy.  We are currently working through volume 3.

Since I teach history in co-op, I have designed a reading and literature book list to go along with each era we study. We purchase our books from or, after browsing their amazing book lists.  Each grammar stage (approximately 2nd – 6th grade) student presents a book report to the co-op several times a years, dressing as a character from the book,

Study France by eating macarons!

Study France by eating macarons!

creating a diorama, cooking a dish or crafting a related project.  There is great value in practicing public speaking in a safe, encouraging environment.  Our dialectic stage students (approximately 7th to 9th grade, but more on what those terms mean soon) write their essays on the history-based literature we are studying using Lost Tools of Writing, a writing curriculum for middle and upper grades that we have really enjoyed.  

Science can also work off of your chronological history base as scientific discoveries roughly correlate ancient history with astronomy, biology with medieval and renaissance history, exploration, enlightenment, reformation with chemistry and modern history with physics.  I find science integration of less consequence, but the correlations to the discoveries are interesting to note.

Geography goes right along with history, so it is easy to integrate the areas studied with those referenced in our history book.  For example, we are reading the book Explorers Who Got Lost to go along with the study of Christopher Columbus in our history books.  We pulled out the atlas and traced his route and even folded the map to see what Columbus thought the world looked like!

Since the grammar stage is a key time for memorization, we memorize a timeline using Veritas Press cards: Veritas Press History Cards: Old Testament and Ancient EgyptVeritas Press History Cards: New Testament, Greece, and RomeVeritas Press History Cards: Middle Ages, Renaissance, and ReformationVeritas Press History Cards: Explorers to 1815Veritas Press History Cards: 1815 to Present Monroe Doctrine to Present Day America.  Classical Conversations also has a great timeline. has great history sentences for memorization.  We use a combination of history sentences and lists such as the U.S. presidents, famous speeches, the royal houses of England and some poetry for weekly memorization.  We use silly songs often, because we never seem to forget those!

Using history as the hub for the rest of our curriculum gives a cohesive, integrated feel to our school year.  When everything flows together and what we read in history remind us of what we read in literature and what we wrote about in writing – the information has a lot better chance of sticking!  It reinforces the history concepts that we have learned by utilizing them many other subject areas.  Have a happy history hub!

By Donielle, September 1, 2016
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