History/Social Studies as your core? - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > History/Social Studies as your core?
craft_media_hero's Avatar craft_media_hero 11:51 AM 11-21-2010

Does anyone here use a history or geography program as their core? Wanna talk about it?


Dd commented that she could get really into geography---there's just so much that we could basically work on it every day.


So if you use social studies as a basis for your other subjects in any way, give me ideas.


How could we move to more emphasis on the SS without taking away from our other subjects?

inky leeuhhh's Avatar inky leeuhhh 12:29 PM 11-21-2010

id just try and work that theme into the other subjects. you could make up math word problems relating to social studies/ geography, ect... what grade is your dd?

craft_media_hero's Avatar craft_media_hero 10:00 PM 11-21-2010

That's a good idea.


I think I remember someone on here saying that pretty much their whole program came out of History/SOTW or smth similar?

Nickarolaberry's Avatar Nickarolaberry 08:03 PM 11-23-2010

I think the sonlight program really does this quite well, especially at the older levels (starting around level 3 or 4, can't remember -- but their levels don't necessarily correspond to traditional grade levels, fyi).


I am a trained political scientist (Ph.D.) and history/social studies teacher. So my natural inclination is to build things around history/social studies/civics because honestly that's how I see the world. There is so much science, math, writing/language arts, arts, culture, etc. that can be worked in that way.


At the moment, due to finances, I am teaching full time in a Montessori middle school. I am the 'social studies' teacher for 7th/8th graders but our whole grade level team (math, science, english, social studies) cooperates to structure a program that is unit/theme oriented. We usually start with the history component we are trying to target and work from there. So for example, when we were studying the formation of the US government last year and the separation of powers, etc...we did a "CSI" unit where the kids "found" a "dead body" with evidence planted around it. They then (working in teams) did tons of research and work that included math (measurement, etc.), science (forensics, DNA, trajectory, weapons and their effects on the body, designing a courtroom to be 'built' etc.), social studies (the workings of the judicial system from the level of police work/city gov't through the entire judicial process including how a courtroom looks, how judges are chosen, what every person in the court and penal system would do and their role, and the legislative process as well), and writing ('attorneys' prepared briefs, 'judges' prepared decisions, etc.).


It was an amazing unit and we are trying to emulate that most of the time. In school, it's harder because there are so many people to coordinate. As a homeschooler, you can use such a focal point as the catalyst for so much learning! And you can take field trips, do interviews, etc. with real people as well if you want.


I am going back to homeschooling in the near future, I hope. For us, certainly, history will be our main 'spine'. We will likely use a fairly formal math curriculum just to give *me* more of a comfort zone, but math too can be incorporated.


Good luck!

naturegirl7's Avatar naturegirl7 11:06 AM 11-24-2010

We use history as our core and work out from there. It is where DS's passion is at the moment.


I have SOTW and History Odyssey Ancients. I use them really loosely though and more for inspiration and maps. I pull lots of science into it - learning about period science, doing variou science experiments, etc. I also take it on from a literature based standpoint, so we do lots and lots of reading/language arts. Math is really the only "seperate" study. But depending on their ages, you can pull in cool egyptian math games or something similiar.


We use the Usborne World History ILE and the Usborne Ancient History ILE as our "spines"  - we sit and pour over those for hours, he reads them on his own and drags them around with him cuz he loves it so much. SOTW - honestly the most we use is the Activity Guide and the audio CD. He does have the book, which he reads to himself but we rarely read it aloud together. It is nice little stories - but the meat of it is the Usborne books for us. LOTS of documentaries and videos too - Walking with Dinosaurs/Prehistoric Beasts/Cavemen were HUGE hits here. So have been the various Egypt vids we have watched (thank you Netflix!)


So far, we have done


early prehistory - learning about dinosaurs, ecology, evolution, carnivore vs herbivore, predator vs prey, extinction, natural events such as earthquakes and metorites, climate changes

We did lots of dino projects including a dino dig project he loved, evolution stuff, watched lots of vids, and read lots of extra dino books (including stuff like Magic Tree house and Magic School Bus)


prehistory - dawn of civilization - learning about the evolution of man (LOVE walking with cavemen!). We also made paper "spears" and hunted mammoths (stuffed animals or occasionally the cat LOL). Got leather from the craft store and banged holes into it, threaded leather cord thru to make a "game pouch". Got some plastic stretchy lizards at target and used out play kitchen food too - hidden all over the house so that we could forage and hunt (all going into the game pouch of coarse). built tents/huts out of chairs and blankets. Talked about the benefits of settling down and farming...learned about growing cycles, seasons, plants vs animals. We did plant experiments such as dying carnations (water absorption), planting seeds and watching them grow, collecting and recording rainfall....Also studied the differences between plant and animal cells and made each using jello and fruit for organelles - what a yummy science project that was!


Mesopotamia - lots of reading, building cities and zuggarts out of blocks, art projects - especially clay since they invented the first potters wheel (and then the wheel for carts), making lego cars (first invention of the wheel), seasons and months (first calendar), mythology studies, lit studies (like reading abot Gilgamesh) music (hysterical They Might Be Giants song We're the Mesopotamians - never heard of Arshinbanipal so we had to find out who he was)



I also include language arts as we go - reading lots of supplemental books strengthens language and vocab skills. You could easily do vocab and spelling lists from the various units - especially using something fun like Spelling City online. DS expressed interest in learning about nouns, verbs, etc - So I'd copy key idea pages from SOTW or the Usborne book and we'd diagram sentences for the fun of it. Lots of his creative play and art projects naturally have been related to his learning topics (not due to prompting either!!). SOTW and HO both include coloring pages which we don't use and maps, which we do use. So he is learning ancient geography, the evolution of geography over time due to social changes, and how to read maps.


Personally, it works really really well for us - and it is easier than trying to follow other curriculums or mesh things together. It all relates, and therefore it interests him. I like that he is learning a more holistic approach too. Not many 5yo read about the adventures of Gilgamesh or play act them LOL

craft_media_hero's Avatar craft_media_hero 01:35 PM 11-29-2010

Thanks, mommas! Great ideas . . . I will muddle through this week while dd is away and see if I can move toward a more unit-based approach. The problem is that I don't have a lot of time for prep this year (new baby and work), but maybe if I were able to plan ahead it could work.

kittie313's Avatar kittie313 02:07 PM 11-29-2010

I use History and Geography for the core of our schooling here.  I have a kid who is a history freak, and a science nut as well, and she's my child with learning challenges so we decided to completely throw out the book on how we "should" focus on reading and math and that history and science are extra fun stuff.  We're doing Sonlight core 1 for history, and exploring a bunch of stuff for science.  I've found with my oldest girl that having books that are at her reading level that relate to our topic in history had her wanting to read more, so she's getting more solid in her reading.  With math, well let's put it this way.  On day 1, week 1 of core 1 you read a 2 page spread of a Usborne book (I think its Peoples Of The World, we're doing this book now actually as we're fairly early in the core) that talks about different countries.  You discuss currency, traditions, different flags, travel between different cuntries (including passports), and other things like that.  We spent last week working on just that 2 page spread, and in it we dug in depth about different currencies and doing math to convert different curriences to US money and buying things with money, we looked up how many countries are on each continent, we compared different flags for different countries (including counting stars and stripes on the US flag) and noted specific meanings of certain things on the flags we compared, and we looked up how people in different countries dress, the religions of some countries, and certain traditions that aren't found in America.  DD1 and dd2 learned how to say "hello" in a couple new languages, and we copied a little Arabic and Chinese for fun (their idea).  Math and reading are incorporated into whatever we study in whatever way we can, so dd1 is working on math through cooking and she likes to try and do some of the complex math equations that they do to figure out force and mass and all that on Myth Busters (her favorite tv show) and stuff like that.  DD2 is a completely different kind of kid, so we have a math workbook for her (she's doing Horizons math) and she does a structured sit-down lesson daily because she likes it that way.  DD1 also has Miquon math workbooks and cuisinaire rods to mess with, and we ask her to mess with that stuff daily but its her pace and desire.


For handwriting and such, we incorporate that into science and history also.  DD1 loves to sit and copy parts of books into a notebook, and has been doing that a lot lately on her own.  It helps her handwriting, and reinforces what we read to her if she copies it by hand later.  Uhhhhhhh what else do we do? lol  It is really hard to explain exactly how we work it out, as we just kind of go with dd1's interest in science and history and it just sort of falls into place right now (this is also how we handled our summertime lessons we did this past summer, we did k12 last school year and the start of this year so we've tried the more traditional way of doing schoolwork, this just really works better for us right now)

AAK's Avatar AAK 04:52 PM 12-01-2010

Originally Posted by craft_media_hero View Post

Thanks, mommas! Great ideas . . . I will muddle through this week while dd is away and see if I can move toward a more unit-based approach. The problem is that I don't have a lot of time for prep this year (new baby and work), but maybe if I were able to plan ahead it could work.

Since prep time is at a premium--perhaps plan one or two "units" for this year. . . test the waters with them and see how it goes.  Then, if it is a good fit for your family you can plan next year around this idea.



naturegirl7's Avatar naturegirl7 12:11 PM 12-06-2010

Honestly we haven't not done much in the way of prep work. I don't do ANY prep work really....I had gotten the SOTW AG and also HO Ancients but find I don't really use them much....Except for the maps, ideas on more resources like books or websites...

The Usborne books are our core and do lots of reading from them. Other books like Magic School Bus or Magic Tree House that relate I bring in for extra language arts and for fun. I got the History Pockets Ancients and do those along with the units. Got a great Ancient science experiment book that is broken down into the ancient time periods civilizations. You get all 3 books and you are set really - then just need math :)

We add extra science stuff like Life science just cuz DS is a big science kid. We listen to the SOTW audio books while we play, craft, or drive... And just get out craft stuff to play and learn - like clay and let him create various stuff like clay pots, figures of important people, pyramids, etc...