“Living history” is infectious and constitutes a deep level of understanding. For our family, history is a family adventure, we immerse ourselves in a variety of time periods, even to point of having joined a local Fife and Drum Corps, attending
local Civil War balls in period costumes, visiting historical sites and attending electronic field trips on the web. Our family library is well stocked with great historical fiction for a wide variety of ages and time periods. When my husband and I are enthusiastic about history it becomes contagious to our children.
It is definitely worth reading Mortimer Alder’s How to Read a Book, especially his section on history. This book will give you excellent, practical ways to teach reading for deeper understanding. In doing so, the student develops the habit of asking questions and seeking the answers, which fosters a love of learning and a deeper knowledge base. This is essential if one wants to eventually be able to speak or write about what they are studying, in addition to being excellent preparation for college work too! Deciding on which historical fiction books to use can be tricky, we hope our suggestions on this on-line review site will help, since we are very selective and carefully read each book we review. New books are added daily, so visit often.
A natural place to improve our writing skills is in the area of history. For those of us not secure in our own ability to teach writing to our children, an excellent resource is Teaching, Writing, Structure and Style and the corresponding History Based Writing Lessons Source Material books (both published by IEW). This program has given us a solid foundation in teaching our children how to, begin outlines, form topic sentences, and organize their ideas in a variety of writing styles, from creative writing to persuasive essays.
Use a good, reliable, Catholic textbook as your framework for the time period you are studying, like From Sea to Shining Sea and Light to the Nations. Round out the study with age-appropriate, well-written, historical fiction or primary sources. Then add on hands-on projects like the ones in the easy to use History Pockets series and History Portfolios. Timelines are important element in giving perspective and overview of the time period you are studying. We worked hard to create our History Worth Remembering Timeline Figures , where the contributions of Catholics throughout time are highlighted.
By following a plan as outlined here, your family will see clearly God’s Divine Providence throughout history while having a ton of fun and knowing that real, sustained skills are being mastered.