Saturday, February 27, 2016

We Designed our Own History Curriculum - Part Two!

In Part One of this series we talked about why we wanted to create our own history curriculum. However, I still had the nagging question of how we were going to do it. I knew that there had to be some organization. After a lot of thought here’s what I did.

1. I made a spreadsheet of all of the books that I had on their level. Since we moved into a smaller apartment a year ago, that meant going to storage and rooting through boxes of books. Thankfully I had all of the homeschool stuff in one area, so it wasn’t difficult. You will probably be a lot more organized and this will be easier for you.

It was a very simple spreadsheet. First I had a column for the person or event. I didn’t always include the full name of the book because that would take a lot of space. If I had two biographies of two books of the same event I might put the last name of the authors in parenthesis). I then had the birth date of the person or the beginning date of the event then the date of death or end of the event. Finally I had a brief description of the person or book. I’m talking very brief such as “First Lady, President, Founding Father, or Famous Ship (Old Ironsides).” I now wish that I had put the years that the famous person was most active. It gets a little confusing to see Stephen Decatur (born in 1779) next to Valley Forge (1777). Stephen Decatur’s famous acts weren’t during the Revolutionary War at all but much later. So, since the list is organized by date of birth or event I sometimes have to sort things out. My final column is just to put a check when we have finished a book. 

2. After making my spreadsheet,  I discovered that I had some gaps so I went looking for a core curriculum to use and also a few supplemental books. I remembered that a few years ago I had reviewed a great company called Heritage History. They put together CD’s of great historical books that are now mostly public domain. I found a great series of books written in the late 1800’s by Mara L Pratt titled "American History Stories". I realize that I will have to find other things to fill in the gap from the late 1800’s on, but Mara Pratt does an excellent job. It’s right on my boy’s level and the text isn’t filled with any political correctness or history revisions. I am very pleased.

3. We began reading and enjoying! We supplement with videos at times when we find them through online sites, at the library or in the store, but our main curriculum is the good books that we put together. Joshua and Jacob love it so much that they want to go to some of the places that we have studied about!

Do you think it would be impossible for you to do the same? Don’t limit yourself! You can do it as well!

1. Start by looking at what you have. I’ll bet you have a lot of good historical novels that you have already purchased. Then start searching used book stores, thrift shops, yard sales and more for books to add to your collection. Are you a big library goer? Check out what they have as well. Don’t know what to look for? There are plenty of sites that have good, living, historic book lists. Sonlight, Beautiful Feet,  and Heritage History. I also reviewed a fantastic resource called "Timeline of Classics" a few months ago that is very helpful.

2. Make a spreadsheet of what you own or is available to you from the library. I used Microsoft Excel, but you could use your favorite program.

3. Choose a core curriculum to fill in the gaps such as “American History Stories” by Mara L Pratt. You can find many for free on Amazon, Project Gutenberg, or other online resources.

4. Begin reading and discussing and enjoying your children!

It really isn’t difficult at all. I know you can do it as well! My kids are loving it and, since you know your kids better than anyone else and, therefore, can pick books that you know they will love, I think your kids will love having their own curriculum as well. Happy Homeschooling!

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