Homeschool parents, do you want to spice up your homeschool history curriculum?
Teaching historical thinking skills is essential for building comprehension and helping students understand the major events that shaped the world. Unlike traditional history teaching methods that focus on memorizing dates, events, and dead people, historical thinking skills such as analyzing primary sources, evaluating evidence, and understanding context are not only important for understanding history but also for preparing students for the future.
In a world oversaturated with information and media, these skills can prepare students to critically examine evidence and sources, making them better equipped to 'problem solve' information. For homeschooling parents looking to make history more engaging and meaningful for their children, focusing on historical thinking skills is key.
Teaching students how to 'source' is an essential historical thinking skill that not only helps them understand history but also prepares them for the future. In today's world where information is readily available, it's crucial to equip our children with the ability to critically evaluate evidence and understand the context of the sources they are reading.
One effective way to make homeschool history more engaging and fun is by using primary sources. Have your children analyze different primary sources such as letters, diaries, and photographs from the time period you are studying. This allows them to think critically about the information and evidence presented, compare conflicting sources, and develop an understanding of the complexity of history.
It's important to remind your child that history is like detective work and that they are responsible for finding clues to answer the big questions about the past.
For example, what led the colonists to rebel against Britain and fight for independence? By comparing and evaluating different sources, students can gain a deeper understanding of the economic and political issues that contributed to the revolutionary war.
Even younger students can engage with primary sources through modified versions that are more accessible to them. By incorporating primary sources into your homeschool history curriculum, you can make the subject more exciting, challenging, and empowering for your child.
Another thinking skill that is central to history is chronological reasoning. History is just the study of things that happened over time- getting students to understand how those events played out is key. And thats why using timelines consistently is so important! And they can be fun.
Here's a few ways to spice up your traditional timeline:
- Creating illustrative timelines to allow for creativity
- Creating point of view timelines, which show how different groups interpreted the same event, such as how Loyalists and Patriots viewed the events leading up to the American Revolutionary War. This also helps develop the historical thinking skill of historical empathy.
- Creating presidential timelines to aid in periodization by having your child review major events from the first 50 years of US history and categorizing them based on the president in office at the time.
- Creating large chalk timelines on your street or driveway for a fun outdoor activity.
Another effective method for teaching historical thinking skills is by connecting them to current events and real-world issues. For example
- Analyze speeches and articles from historical figures and compare them to those from current political figures.
- Compare historical visuals such as propaganda posters from the past to modern-day advertisements.
- Research a historical event and connect it to a current event to help your child understand change and continuity over time.
- Study the pyramids of Ancient Egypt and connect them to recent archaeological discoveries at the site or their current uses.
Resources for teaching Historical Thinking Skills:
A great resource for teaching historical thinking skills is the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), which offers student-friendly lessons that focus on one skill at a time. Their "Lunchroom Fight" activity is a great way to introduce these skills and get students to really understand what it means to think like a historian!
Another useful resource is my interactive homeschool history video curriculum that focuses on building historical thinking skills. After the video and interactive notesheet students complete an activity that builds skills while learning more about the topic of the video lesson!
To make homeschool history more interesting, exciting and empowering, incorporate activities that focus on building skills rather than just mastering the content.