Welcome back as we continue our 10 Days of Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Homeschooling!

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We’re ready to get subject specific and Dawn from The Momma Knows is going to get us started with her “Hands OFF” approach to History!


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I love history. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve enjoyed reading about times past. Give me a historical novel and I’m drawn in. Sucked in. I am THERE.

History, or “Social Studies” in school, never interested me as a subject. I had some of the driest text books and some of the most boring history teachers EVER. I would yawn and moan and try to get out of doing my homework… only to rush home and bury my nose in The Three Musketeers, or Little House on the Prairie, or in high school, anything written by James Michener. Just stab me in the eye before you make me read a Social Studies textbook.

I didn’t want to pass this hatred of history on to my kids, so when we began homeschooling I wanted to start out on the right foot. We hit the library, brought home lots of great books on our subjects. We did as many projects and hands-on things as I could handle. We built models, planted seeds, cooked, created dioramas, made swords, and more. 13 Years and several kids later, I find myself running out of steam. Out of ideas. Out of want-to.

I know that kids thrive with hands-on activities, but I struggle with putting them together now. And these boys? They don’t necessarily enjoy the popular trends in homeschooling either! Notebooking? NO WAY. Lapbooks? Sorry. (Confession time: I am so glad they don’t like lapbooks! I love the way they turn out but I can’t stand the prep work.)

We’ve tried lots of different history programs. The conclusion I’ve come to is they are basically all the same. They usually have a text or spine, book list, and activities or questions to answer. Curriculum is a tool, and for me, it needs to fit into MY plans and framework, rather than try to fit MY FAMILY into the curriculum’s framework. There are ways to get kids involved in learning that aren’t “over the top”, Momma-intensive, crawl-through-an-ear-model, if you know what I mean. (Why does that one KONOS activity always get used as an example? We loved doing that one! lol)

The never-ending cutting, gluing, painting, creating MESS just really gets to me sometimes. Other times I just get behind, and that big activity we’d planned snuck up on me… meaning I totally forgot to gather all the supplies we needed. That results in my scrapping the activity because I don’t feel like going to the store to get everything. And sometimes, I just don’t want to do another activity. Homeschool Momma fail, right? So what’s a mind’s-on, hands-off homeschool Momma to do?

Here is what we’ve found that works for us:

Decide how you want to study it, and then follow your plan. We study history chronologically, because it just makes sense to me. We don’t follow the WTM (been there) or Ambleside (done that) or any other “program” way, we just do it. Want to do it in 4, 6, or 8 years? Maybe spend a couple of years on each time period? Do you want to do a survey of world history each year but have a different focus, such as geography, culture, or the arts? Just decide HOW you want to do it and then choose everything else according to that.

Use a book list that has books by topic or historical era. The very best one that I know of is called All Through The Ages by Christine Miller. This is probably the most comprehensive listing of historical literature for kids PK-College level that’s available. Other great resources are catalogs: Beautiful Feet Books and Sonlight are my favorites for history titles by era.

Maps are your friends! My new FAVORITE homeschool tool for geography is this neat little program called WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press. Wonder Maps are arranged by historical time periods or by geographical areas, and they have layers of information which you can include–or NOT. Then you just print your customized maps out for labeling. Passive aggressive hands-on work at it’s best right there! 🙂

Timelines put things into perspective. Until I started using timelines with my kids, I didn’t really understand where all the events fell into place either. A timeline is a visual that really helps kids SEE history the way it unfolded. There is a nice, free one available at Simply Charlotte Mason. Have your kids do the searching for the images to include on your timeline. Sharpen their research skills as they find the best picture they can of Winston Churchill or a viking ship.

Take a trip on the Internet highway. My son is the search engine King. This kid can find anything on the internet! This site, among others, lists lots of online field trips you can see.

Listen to audio books. You can only do so much reading aloud before you lose your voice! One of my favorite curriculum resources is a site called An Old Fashioned Education, and just recently I found another site that has many of the OFE books in audio form, for FREE. Check out Books Should Be Free and click the History link in the sidebar.

There are many ways to homeschool, and while lots of kids thrive with hands-on activities, not all moms do. Find a balance between what your kids want and what you can handle, and go for it! Your kids will thrive, and so will you. 🙂

Dawn is still happily homeschooling after 13 years. She teaches her two sons, 11 & 9, and guides her 17yo daughter through her last year of Running Start at a local community college. She lives in Eastern Washington with her husband, 4 of their 6 kids, and an assortment of barking, squeaking, and clucking critters. She blogs at The Momma Knows. You can also find her on Facebook, she Tweets @Mommaknows, and Pinterest.

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Finding your teaching style and your child’s learning style is important! What changes have you made while teaching history to make learning real, successful, and fun?

Thank you for following along on our journey through 10 Days of Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Homeschooling!

If you’re just now joining in, you can start at the beginning by clicking here.

“The 10 Days” Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects. Visit them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

To find ALL the blogs participating in this run of “The 10 Days” Series, click the image below, a collage of photos for all 28 ladies participating. You’ll be blessed with tips on how to handle bad days, cultivating curiosity, teaching with Legos, and much, much more. Many thanks to iHomeschool Network for organizing this fun blog hop!

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Hey, y’all! I’m Amber and I wear many hats. I drink a ton of coffee and I’m constantly sweeping crumbs off the floor. After 18 years of homeschooling, I’m getting close to graduating my third child and now we are starting over at preschool with our fourth, Lil Miss Mouse. She keeps us young and she’s the main reason for my excessive coffee consumption. Drink up!