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First off, I need to have a true confession time here. While I personally love to learn more about our world, there are plenty of times in our homeschooling adventure that social studies and science take a back seat to the more ‘core’ subjects of language arts and math. We do fit some of it in, but there are times when I feel like we miss so much possible expansion of understanding because it gets short changed. And, sometimes, we table books and partake on educational videos on History and Discovery.
Learning History Together
One thing that I’ve done of the years is to group all of the boys together to learn history or social studies. It makes it much easier to actually do the work when I do not have to plan separate things for each boy.
Story of the World is the product we’ve primarily used, having just finished the 4th book this past year.
The series provides not only history in a more ‘living books’ format, but they help bring the times alive with brief stories in many of the chapters. It is a quick survey for world history that might even surprise parents with some of the facts not often in a regular school textbook. While the actual ‘text’ (aka book) is written for younger grades to understand, in the activity book to really expand the studies for older students. I also expanded the work for my older boys the past few years using the chapter test packet to help measure what the boys were retaining (which sometimes was less than I would have expected.)
With three boys all needing to use one book, I also purchased the audio CDs. When we were doing Volume 1 in a small co-op setting back in Ohio, I had been doing most of the reading aloud. Having the audiobook freed up my vocal chords and allowed for us to do history in the car or while I prepped dinner in the adjoining kitchen and the boys colored sheets from the activity book.
While you don’t have to go in order for this series, I’d recommend saving Volume 4 for older elementary kids. The material covers so many wars that the material could be upsetting for a younger child. D didn’t have any difficulty with the text, but even the activity book was geared more towards an older student. I did not have him (as a 2nd grader) do the tests or even the outlines supplied in the activity book. For him, it was more about listening to the text and talking about it with me.
I have also used the social studies recommended by Catholic Heritage Curricula. I adore their program, but tabled it in recent years for the family approach.
I do want to have R work through the American History book that P did during his 5th grade year as well as the intro to world history one that P started in 6th grade and was tabled for a co-op learning experience covering the middle ages. I purchased a lapbook for that American History text from In the Hands of the Child to use when we do study it again as I find the boys prefer that method of recording their learning compared to some of the worksheets or testing methods I’ve employed in the past.
This year, we are back to doing social studies by grade level. And, I find that it just isn’t going as well as the family approach to learning. So, I’m thinking the younger boys will do some Alaska history alongside their big brother who needs it for graduation requirements. Even if they work at different levels, I figure having the same topics has to be beneficial for this sometimes frazzled homeschool mama.
Science Investigations of the Natural World
Our mainstay of learning science has been hands on experiences. Nature studies are a fantastic way to learn about the natural world around us.
We’ve also done a unit studies type of approach using lapbooks from In the Hands of a Child that fit with a child’s interest. Just this fall, R and D decided to learn a bit more about earth science with Rodney Rockhound’s Rocks & Minerals (for younger elementary) and Rocks & Minerals (for upper elementary.) Library books and videos helped to expand the study some.
For a while in the past 2 years, D and R also learned some science about the natural world through a series titled Science in the Library. We haven’t gone much this year, though, as they feel ‘too old’ for the sessions as most of the other kids attending now are preschoolers.
**************************************************************************** This post is being linked up with other homeschoolers as part of the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds.
Visit other responders tackling the topic of Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science. This theme can include history, geography, world cultures, worldview, biology, botany, geology, etc., etc., etc.
- Science and Worldview by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings
- Nature Study as Science by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic
- Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 3- Social Studies and more Science by Leah Courtney @ The Courtney Six Homeschool Family
- Curriculum Fair–Exploring Our World by Angie @ Petra School
- Paths of Exploration by Jen @ Forever, For Always
- Learning Geography at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama
- Mapping Out Our Social Studies by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
- The Fascinating World Around Us by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family
- More Heart of Dakota Praises by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
- Our History by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool
- Playful US Geography for First Grade by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots
- Heart of Dakota-The Fine Details-Part 3 History by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles
- Exploring Our World Through History & Science by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning
- Two History Must-haves by Letha @ justpitchingmytent
- Learning About The World Around Us by Laura O from AK
- Social Studies and Science – What do we do? by Joelle @ Homechooling for His Glory
- History Chronologically and with Living Books by Debbie @ Debbie’s Digest
- Why History? by MissMOE @ Homeschooling While Living the Life of Easier
- Exploring Our World by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy