Do you buy a full history curriculum or create your own? We have done both in our homeschool depending on how much prep work I want to put into it that particular year. The benefit of creating your own history curriculum is your children can choose the topics. Then, they will be much more engaged in the topic and learn more. And, if you follow these simple steps, the prep work really won’t take that long.
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Pick Your Topic and Set Time Limits
Pick a topic to study such as ancient Egypt, the Revolutionary War, African Kingdoms, or Native Americans. Then, think of how much time you want to spend on this topic. You may want to leave this open ended and follow your children’s interests. Or you may have a goal such as studying all the ancient civilizations in one year or covering American history in two years and want to set a limited time to study each topic.
Find History Living Books
Living books are conversational or narrative books that pull you in to the subject. They are NOT text books full of dry facts. You can pick one book and base your study off of that or pick multiple books about the topic.
For younger kids, the Magic Tree House series is great. Check out: Teaching History with Magic Tree House Books.
For older elementary aged children, the Who Was…, Where Was…, What Was… series is great for learning about history. Check out these two book lists:
Other favorite series for studying history include the I Survived series, the American Girl books, and the Interactive History Adventure books. Or you pick a historical fiction book such as Johnny Tremain, The Sign of the Beaver, or Esperanza Rising.
Use a History Unit Study
Using a unit study about the topic someone else created can be a great way to save time and learn a lot. While a unit study isn’t always necessary, they can be a lot of fun. Searching your topic and “unit study” on Pinterest or on Teachers Pays Teachers can pull up lots of possibilities.
Some other good places to find homeschool unit studies include:
These are unit studies are for 2nd-5th grades and are based upon the I Survived book series. Each study takes about 6 weeks and covers a variety of subjects adding more than just history to your homeschool.
If you are looking for unit studies online, this is a great place to start. Everything you need including videos are embedded in the online platform so your children (or you!) won’t get sidetracked while completing them. Examples of studies include: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and Famous Inventors. These are appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students and take about 20-30 hours to complete.
These unit studies cover a variety of topics and most of them are for K-4th grade with some being appropriate for older ages, too. They typically take 1-2 weeks to complete with some taking longer. Some contain lapbooks and cover other subjects in addition to history such as science, spelling, vocabulary, and more.
Add in Other History Activities
Pick some of the activities from below and add them to your study depending on what you like to do in your homeschool.
Create a Timeline
Timelines are great to help children visualize when events happened. Read Using History Timelines in Your Homeschool for lots of ideas and a FREE printable to help you get started.
Play History Games
History games are a fun way to practice what you have learned and cement it in your memory better. Sometimes you can find games for sale on your particular topic such as those listed in 7 Fun History Games for Kids. Or you can create your own as I outlined in DIY History Games for Kids.
Studying and making art associated with a particular time period or culture is a fun, meaningful hands on method of learning! Pinterest of course will have plenty of ideas. If you are looking for a structured art curriculum that is based in history, then check out our review of Take Time for Art: Middle Ages Art Curriculum.
Go on History Field Trip
See if you can find a museum, historical home or other interesting place to visit about the topic you are studying. Many areas have living history museums that can bring your topic to life. Read How to Plan a Family Field Trip to get the most out of your field trip.
Structured Homeschool History Curriculum
Maybe you have read all of this and are thinking that you just want to buy a structured curriculum! Here are ones we recommend:
Story of the World: Christian-based program that can be as simple as a read aloud with a coloring page or you can incorporate the suggested art projects, games, and related books.
History Odyssey: Secular-based history programs for every age. I really like the middle school levels as they teach students how to consult primary and secondary sources, research topics, and take notes, preparing them well for high school.
The Mystery of History: Christian-based program that can be used with children of all ages. Within each lesson, there are different activities for elementary, middle and high school students. If you are homeschooling children of a variety of ages, this could be a great program.
What are you favorite activities for learning about history?