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Topic: Need a little feedback please on History/Unit Study

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Subject: Need a little feedback please on History/Unit Study
Date Posted: 11/2/2007 6:36 AM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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Hi.  I just started homeschooling my oldest son this year (youngest is 19 months, but yes I am starting now with him also....lol...just found a cd last night of phonics for babies-----cool!)  Anyway, my question/idea here is this.....you tell me what you think, your interest level, etc.:

I was having a hard time really trying to figure out exactly HOW to teach my son History.  Do I teach it from beginning to end?  Do I teach from the farthest outreaches of the world to where we are on the map, or do I teach from where we are out into the world?  Finally, one day I got SMART and just asked him how HE would like to learn it.  He said "From where we are out into the world", which made good sense, because how else could I really correlate where Australia is if he really has not a good concept of where the state next to us is on the map?? LOL  (He is 7 1/2, by the way).  So now I am working on the US first, doing a state-by-state sort of unit study, going from a list I have compiled from several sources on the 'net, and radiating out from there.  Trying to get as in depth as I can for myself so that if there is a spark of interest somewhere for him, I won't miss it.  But, while I was working on this, I thought, hey, if other homeschool moms are as busy as me with everything in their life they have to do, they might appreciate something that is easy and could possibly be something that their kids could even teach themselves (frankly, my son is quite independant, and a lot of times, I "get on his nerves" hovering over him....lol.)  And I am finding more and more that he learns more if I let him take more responsibility in his work and let him do it his way, instead of forcing "school ways" on him.  So...yada yada, back to the subject at hand.  Also, after doing much digging, and a lot of times having to wait for everything to come in the mail, when I would get so anxious and excited about something that I would want to start it right away, I thought, I could deliver this right over the computer!  Maybe not actual books we used (unless they were now considered public property), but the unit study "book" for each state itself.

I am just putting feelers out to see what other moms out there might be interested in something like this.  If I find enough interest in this, I will be listing my "ebooks" on Ebay, as I am an Ebay nut!  If possible, I would also like to be able to offer not just the unit study, but perhaps the collection of books we used to go along with it, so you could get everything you might need all at one pop without having to dig dig dig for everything.  I know by personal experience that not every book would interest every child, but I thought about going a little deeper and listing the books that I found as references, then letting moms pick and choose the books they wanted, I do the legwork, find all I can for them, then mail out in regular mail all in one package.

Would anybody out there be interested in something like this?  I was going to start with 50 states, and then work outward to cover the whole world.  Does this sound like a good idea?

Let me know your interest.

If enough feedback is given, I will consider taking requests for other states (currently I am working on Tennessee, as that is where we live.)

Thanks :)


Date Posted: 11/2/2007 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2007
Posts: 1,033
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Date Posted: 11/2/2007 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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Ok.  Changes are a-brewin here! LOL  I decided against the book thing when my son's eyes lit up at the idea of getting to "virtually" tour each state online.  I am in process of starting that now, with our home state, Tennessee.  I plan on doing one for each state. Maybe this is a better offering to busy moms like me out there.  Let me know.


Thanks :)



Date Posted: 11/2/2007 8:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/9/2006
Posts: 88
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I have taught a lot of history as my family moved with the military.  I always did studies of the area to which we moved, both the history and geography.  To give my sons a larger framework, I did use the Greenleaf Press suggestion of starting at the beginning and working forward in time utilizing historical fiction and non-fiction such as the Usbourne books.  Over many lunches, I read two books that helped lay a framework in my children's minds:  A Child's History of the World and A Child's Geography of the World by V.M. Hillyer.  These are narratives of the subject, almost as a grandfather would share with a child on his knee. 

I have created plenty of curriculum in my years of home schooling, but I try not to reinvent the wheel if I don't have to.  If you have the time to work up a study program, go for it!  If you are pressed for time, look at the resources already available.   By the way, I've found copies of these Hillyer books from a few dollars up to $50.  Have fun!


The Opal Lady

Date Posted: 11/2/2007 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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Thanks for the advice Opal Lady.  I have purchased the "Story of the World" Part 1 series and was planning on using it with my son (as at the time I was unaware of A Child's History of the World and A Child's Geography of the World).  Those both seem like great books, but are a little out of reach financially speaking right now (lol....***blush blush***).  The main reason I am doing this now is because I had bought another similar series to the above-mentioned one, and realized that it just wasn't for us at this point (being in an area that is deprived of any good bookstores and there again having to wait again for books I would like to have to teach history/geography).  After months of digging on history, geography, social studies, etc., I finally had a "light bulb" moment one day and said "Hey, why don't I just ask HIM what HE wants to learn more about in history right now?"  and this one worked!  Yes, he is only 7, but very gifted for his age.  He can read just about anything you put in front of him, and is continually wanting to dig deeper and deeper.  (That may be my fault, as I always try to answer every "Why" question he has ever had...lol).  So I asked him which way would make more sense to him about learning history/geography/social studies......from the world IN to where we are, or from where we are out into the big ole' world.  He picked from where we are out.  Now, from that point, I dug and dug, cause I just wanted to start out with OK here is Tennessee.....fact fact fact, here is Kentucky....fact, fact, fact......  I tried to find one book that covered it all....then realized...while he CAN read very well, he still will NOT read for very long unless it is interesting to HIM.   Thus, this idea was born :)  I have done web search after web search after web search trying to come up with something like this that was already done for me, but alas, can find nothing.  Frankly, I guess I am just a little burned out at this point of getting a book, getting all excited,thinking I can teach him about this from just this book, then getting the book and getting references to even more books, (which could possibly give me references to even more books) lol.   And I thought...Hey while he's in the mood for it and really interested in it, why not jump on this little ole horsey and ride!!  Who knows where we will end up?  I guess basically right now, I concentrate on the 3 R's as one area (which I use one textbook each for), then when we get to Science (his fav subject), I have one book right now, but thinking it is gonna kinda be a free-for-all in the "electives" (can I call them that?" area.  Thus, the virtual tour of 50 states, as seen thru my son's eyes is being hatched :)  I plan on having plenty of color, not a lot of text, good links to 'net sites (cause let's face the internet is virtually endless in its supply of information).  This way he can take in as much or as little of each area as he wants.  Then, if we need to "dive deeper" as we go along, we will :)

Thanks again :)

Date Posted: 11/3/2007 8:54 AM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2006
Posts: 4,505
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I've been thinking along these lines as well.  Three years ago we drove from Illinois to California and back taking the northern route out, and the southern route back.  My only kids at the time were 5 and 3, so they weren't TOO interested in geography etc then... BUT, we are considering doing it again this summer and my kids are 8, 5, and 2, so I think we can do more.  My daughter is into collections, so I want to collect a state magnet for every state we visit and learn something about each state along the way.  Then next year, I hope we can travel east and pick up more states!  I really think it will be easier this time too, because WiFi is so much more prevalent and we can use that all along the way.  I would be interested in your internet resources for sure!  Let us know what you come up with.


Date Posted: 11/3/2007 9:51 AM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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Thanks Edie!  You guys are making me feel sooo good about this!  Starting out, as you probably well know by now, in a new "create your own curriculum" area gets quite discouraging along the way :)  It's nice to know that there ARE others out there who think like me :)  My way of thinking is this......Why in the world would I want to teach him more about the world FIRST when he needs a very well developed appreciation and understanding of the nation we live in.  And I think the best way and time to teach him just how lucky and special he is to live in a place so wonderful and free is right now.  Maybe if more of us work together like that, teach them that appreciation and worry more about UNITED STATES history (which is very relevant to them in their eyes, after all that IS where they live), and possibly a little less about world history to begin with, they just might grow up to make this country better than what it is now :)  I am still working on Tennessee....lol......my framework is falling out to where I have been finding a lot of good pictures, along with interesting stories that I have been summarizing for him along the way.  I guess I am making it kind of like a virtual "road trip" where we stop along the way, get to know a little about the people or things we are talking about, and then move on to the next thing.  I had thought about adding actual links inside the "tour" to the internet, but then got to thinking that links live and die daily...lol...so I am trying my best to just include the pictures in the actual presentation for each state where possible.  I am planning on including a summary-type thing where if the child/parent wants to know more about what is provided, I WILL give them the link to something interesting and deeper that I have found on the internet.  Also, if that link happens to be dead at some point in time, I will provide the search term I used to find that link, so that you might find other interesting links yourself without too much trouble.  Want it all via the computer....no waiting on textbooks, order lots more textbooks so you can teach what you just spent big bucks for, thinking this was the ONE book you would need to do it........not with history.  Don't get me wrong, that way is great too, but just not for us in the area of history.....Our money will be poured into his passion right now---science :) 

HUGS everybody!!  Will keep you informed on progress!

Date Posted: 11/3/2007 10:16 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2007
Posts: 158
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Edie, for our travels this fall I took a child's road atlas, the book Train of States, and another book with facts about all 50 states.  I then read about each state we crossed and we actually used the kids' atlas to find some of the major roadways.  My children are still very young, but I think it was beneficial for them to actually see the different geography and flora of each state as we read about it. 


Date Posted: 11/4/2007 11:04 PM ET
Member Since: 9/18/2007
Posts: 6
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We are doing a States Unit Study by their induction date into the United States.  Example we started with Delaware and will end with Hawii and Alaska, I can't remember which was really the last state with out looking it up. 

Anyway www.About.com has unit studies with printables for each state.  There are also links to virtual tours, games, and lots of other things.  Might be a good resources. 

I am also having them create the U.S. flag with the study, they put a stripe on the flage for each state that  was one of the original 13 colonies with it's info written on it, and a star for each state with the state name and date it became a state.

We are doing this with another family so the children are working together to create a trivia/board game to go along with the study, they are loving it and it is a great way to review.

Good Luck.

Date Posted: 11/5/2007 6:49 AM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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That flag idea is so cool!  I looked up on www.about.com and that was what I was using as my guide.  I think we're gonna go the route of answering "Why?" on each state's symbols...or study the history of each state's symbols.  I did click one link on there and read it to my son, but it was something copied directly from the state website and when I had gotten finished, my son looked at me and said "Uh, in ENGLISH please?"  I had to laugh cause I was thinking the same when I read it.  Most of the discriptions I have found so far use to many 4-5 syllable words, which while he can read them, would have a hard time understanding.......This might be a good thing though, cause we could practice our dictionary skills, along with looking up synonyms, homonyms, and antonyms for those big words!  There is also another unit study thing on www.easyfunschool.com.  I like that website too.  It has literature unit studies as well on a lot of the classics.  On the history part of our journey, I want to get the answers right before I give to him...cause I already made that mistake and didn't dig deep enough on the history of Tennessee's state name.  Once I saw how much digging I had to do on things, I switched from the easyfunschool list of about 40 things to the about.com list.  Then decided to look up each state's fact list on their individual website and go from there.   I am also going to try the series of Highlights Which Way USA? puzzle books for his geography.   Also, have you guys seen this one or used it....  www.google.earth.com ?  It is sooooo cool (and free too!)  We zoomed right down to our house last night with it!  If you haven't seen it yet (which you probably have as I am usually like the last clueless person on earth...lol) it is a downloadable search-type thing for addresses, etc....only what it does is show the earth from space.  It works somehow with NASA I think.  Then you can type in a location and search.....it will zoom the earth in to your location.  Then, if you want to get closer, you can keep zooming in.  It has really great detail too!  Like I said, we saw our actual house!  You could even see our cars, stacks of wood, etc!  WOW!!  Hope some of these help!  Also, while already digging on this, I found that About.com does a good job starting you out...but if you want to get to see things, like the actual picture of the place Tennessee was named after, you have to do a little more digging.......BTW, the reason I am doing the history of Why on each one.....I noticed that when I looked up most of the state facts, they would answer 4 of the W's of writing, but always seemed to leave out the Why part.....except maybe on the state flag.  And I thought maybe if he could see a picture of WHO actually did the naming and WHY it might stick a little better and be a little more interesting....Let him get to know the person who did it, then find out why it was done.  I would let him do the "scavenger hunt" himself, but he is still only 7 and is in the "hurry up I want it all now and I want it all FAST" in his life!!! LOL  I am teaching patience on things, and he is doing better at that, but this type of scavenger hunt is still a little too involved for him to do on his own yet.

If we do get done with this thing, and it turns out the way I hope it does, if any of you all want to see what I have done to see if you would be interested in using it for yourself, let me know.  I know originally I was going to charge a small fee for it on ebay...but for you all on here...if you are interested, just let me know and I will email you what I have, no charge....... Just let me know how it goes with it, and if you like it or not.....if the kids learn something from using it...that will be payment enough for me from you guys!


Date Posted: 11/5/2007 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2007
Posts: 109
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we are using "story of the world"  which starts with prehistory and moves forward.  My boys like it pretty well.  It covers all parts of the world, but european/american history in more depth than other places.  The activity books that are avialable for it, have ideas for additional reading as well as games, recipes, coloring pages, etc. 

We have a timeline book that we put pictures of many of the people and places we have studied in it  (google image search is great for this).  We wlso include in it things we've learned about from other peroids or contemporary events that mean something to the boys (their births, dr. suess's birth/death, etc.)


I think doing whatever way works well for you is fine.  If you add the timeline then even if you study things out of chronological order, the kids will eventually get the big picture of the scope of time (numbers that large don't mean much to them when the are little anyway.)




Date Posted: 11/5/2007 11:49 AM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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I have Story of the World Part I also.  I started reading on it, but then I ask my son what he wanted to learn more about right now and he said Tennessee, so we are doing that one first.  I really do like the Story of the World to be able to read to him.  I LOVE that timeline book idea!  I have a timeline for geography, but it was only like one sheet of paper and I just couldn't get thru my thick skull how in the world I could keep adding to it and have room, where to put what date, etc...without a whole whole lot of planning ahead....which I just can't do right now!!! LOL  I am so glad I came on here for this!  You guys have really helped me lots and lots and lots! And I am like you, whatever way works best for you and yours is the greatest way in the world for you! :)  I hope I didn't come off sounding snobbish or trying to push my way off on anybody else,....that's definitely NOT my intention :)  I love all these other ways you all have done too!  They all sound soooo cool! 

Again....thank you guys sooooo much!