Closer Look: History

Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity . . .. But the tale of history forms a very strong bulwark against the stream of time, and checks in some measure its irresistible flow, so that, of all things done in it, as many as history has taken over it secures and binds together, and does not allow them to slip away into the abyss of oblivion. ~~Anna Comnen

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We are history buffs at our house and have always enjoyed learning all we can by reading a variety of biographies, historical fiction, historical accounts, watching movies, plays and television shows. Over the years we have found many other ways to explore history as well, such as exploring genealogy, museums, field trips or just talking to others and hearing their stories.

Just recently we visited one of the largest aviation museums in the country and I know that seeing some of those planes will help me to remember their part in history much more effectively than if I had only read about them. I could never remember the name of the plane my Dad told me he stood next to during WWII when he was stationed as an Army Medic on Tinian. Having now stood under Bockscar myself, I don’t think I will ever forget.

If you are wondering how other home educators help their children learn more about history, here are some articles that share a variety of approaches.


From Anchorage to Nome– Lisa Amstutz

On her seventh birthday, my daughter built a dog sled out of Popsicle sticks to top her birthday cake. This was highly unusual for a girl who normally chooses things like pink ponies or kittens, but not too surprising considering our family’s obsession at the time: the Iditarod Dog Sled Race.

By the time my daughter’s birthday arrived in February, we had already spent a month exploring Alaska. After carefully charting the course, we selected a team and prepared to run the world’s most extreme race–vicariously, of course, courtesy of the Internet and the public library. This just-for-fun unit study ended up having more educational and entertainment value than anything else we did all year.

All About the Family Using Genealogy to Teach History – Dawn Witzke

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> As part of our history studies, we took our genealogical charts in hand and constructed a time line showing when each of his ancestors had lived. Because our time line stretched back as far as the early 1800’s, more questions emerged about the time in which they lived–what things were invented, what clothes they wore, which famous people lived during their time. This finally led us back to what I had originally started out to do, teach history.<!–[endif]–>

Running Through Walls – Cafi Cohen

Find experts for difficult subjects all around you. Ask your friends, neighbors, and relatives for help, and you will find that many enjoy difficult subjects, like writing, math, chemistry, and even foreign languages. Ask for their advice, and many will offer to help. One homeschool mother reports that her teenagers got interested in running through their cousins and got coaching from their uncle, who also works with a high school cross-country team. Another homeschooling moms explains, “We live in town with a population less than 700, and we still find resources galore. Our small church has a jazz musician, an accountant, an artist, and older citizens who have lived history.

The Value of Virtual Expeditions – Judy Aron

We initially found out about this project when the kids were investigating explorers, and Marco Polo in particular. When we heard about this web site, we decided to check it out. My kids were so excited to be a part of a virtual expedition, and quite naturally much of this virtual field trip satisfied many aspects of their not-so-formal studies. This particular web site covered every aspect of the explorers’ experiences including reports on the area’s culture and traditions, history, commerce, and environment as well as individual logs and diaries of the travelers, and their impressions and feelings. These observations were part of the reality of travel, the reason that seeing new places and being there is such a valuable learning experience.

Hands-On Learning- World History Crafts-Kathy Ceceri

Making a sand mandala takes patience and a steady hand, but the results are worth it. And unlike real sand mandalas, our small-scale version is permanent, ready to be displayed on a shelf or hung on a wall. You can use actual mandalas as your inspiration or create your own design. Try to keep in mind the symmetry, interlocking patterns, and contrasting colors Tibetan monks use to express the Buddhist philosophy of wisdom, compassion and peace.

What Marty Really Needed by Sandra Dodd

Here is why Marty wanted a map: He was designing a cowboy-themed role playing game. He wanted to know which towns were around in territorial days, after the railroad came, and how people got between them. It was the same kind of historical research people do to write historical novels or movie screenplays.

Let’s Put On a Show! – Rebecca Rupp

Our kids’ personal in-house performances took many forms. The boys put on plays invented by themselves – in one, I remember, they played a trio of highly articulate snakes and all the action involved squirming about on their bellies. They re-enacted favorite myths, legends, and fairytales. They did comic monologues. They devised puppet shows. Some of this was sparked by family reading – the snakes surfaced just as we finished Rikki-Tikki-Tavi – and was the sort of activity touted in reading resource manuals as an enriching supplement to enhance a book experience, which it was. It also fostered creativity, furthered writing and speaking skills, and interfaced with other subjects of the academic curriculum such as art, music, history, and science. The kids didn’t think of it this way, but I recorded it as such in my homeschool journals, just in case we ever needed to defend our activities in the face of educational authorities.

Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers– Sandra Dodd

Universe-in-a-Drop-of-Water Method: Can one intense interest come to represent or lead to all others? A mom once complained that her son was interested in nothing but World War II. There are college professors and historians who are interested in nothing but World War II. It can become a life’s work. But even a passing interest can touch just about everything – geography, politics, the history and current events of Europe and parts of the Pacific, social history of the 20th century in the United States, military technology, tactics, recruitment and propaganda, poster art/production/distribution, advances in communications, transport of troops and food and supplies, espionage, prejudices, interment camps, segregation, patriotism, music, uniforms, insignia, religion.

The History of a Homeschooling Magazine – Helen Hegener

I missed a lot of school when I was growing up, and the last grade I actually completed was the seventh – barely. My attendance record was shot full of holes, and things went downhill from there. By high school I’d given up on the idea completely and dropped out, preferring to spend my time reading, writing, riding my horses, or just hanging out. Our home was always full of books, encyclopedias, magazines and such, and I was a voracious reader. We travelled extensively, both here in the U.S. and abroad, and my folks made sure we always checked out historical sites, museums, zoos and other local places of interest.  Even without school my young life was full and fascinating and adventurous!

History Resources

Click this link to explore a few more history resources.

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