"Simplify the curriculum." I've heard this many times over the past few years, and sometimes I struggle with what this should look like. Recently, I heard Andrew Pudewa speak at the Texas Home School Coalition Conference and he broke it down like this:
You really just need to teach three things:
- Character - cultivate virtues like service, selflessness, surrender, and sacrifice
- Knowledge - learn stuff like history (to understand the past so you won't repeat it), literature (to understand human nature), and stories of the saints and martyrs (to have examples of people with great character sacrificing for a greater cause)
- Skills - language and math skills, or the trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (mathematics, music, geometry, and astronomy)
This really resonated with me because it clarified where I need to be focusing in the upcoming school year as well as encouraged me in the things I was already doing.
One area of my own education that has always been lacking is history. When I was in school, we played the cram and dump game to pass history. I never was inspired to learn it because it was so overwhelming and I struggled keeping all of the names and dates straight in my head. It's not that I didn't like history, I just didn't like not knowing history.
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When I was gathering books to utilize in Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations, I stumbled across the Industrial Revolution for Kids, and I purchased it. We've been using it this month to finish up our school year, and I have been so impressed by the quality of this resource, I had to find out if there are more of these books! To my surprise there are over 50 titles in the "21 Activities for Kids" series, and many of them were at my local library.
What I love about these books is that they weave stories of people from history in with the historical facts. There are big, beautiful pictures that accompany the stories. Best of all, the activities are fun, engaging, and really help to bring history to life in a fun way that doesn't always include a craft.
Don't get me wrong. I love a good craft, and there are some within the activities, but there are also experiments, recipes, adventures, and challenges that really bring the history to life in a fun and engaging way that doesn't always require loads of materials or time.
I feel like these books are a great way to dig into history without over complicating things with my elementary aged kids. I'm also excited to start gathering these books as a great resource for research for my teens. These would make excellent source texts for IEW writing as well.
The books are information saturated, but filled with great stories that bring history to life. I can't wait to try out some of the other titles!
21 Activities for American History
21 Activities to Get to Know US Presidents
21 Activities Celebrating Famous Artists
21 Activities to Learn State or City History
21 Activities to Investigate Fascinating People in History
21 Activities for Other Studies
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Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.