This article’s aim is to help you to prepare for teaching homeschool history by giving you some ideas and tips. One reminder: be sure to pick up your home state’s curriculum for history at your state department of education website, which you can find here at the United States Department of Education site: nces.ed.gov
The National Standards and Homeschool History
The national standards for homeschool history can be found at the National Center for History in the Schools website: nchs.ucla.edu. The website is sponsored by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). One of the keys to the standards is looking at the same material in several different ways.
One way in which this happens is through keeping the same five Historical Thinking Standards throughout the K – 12 years. They are:
- Chronological Thinking
- Historical Analysis and Interpretation
- Historical Comprehension
- Historical Issues – Analysis and Decision-Making
- Historical Research Capabilities
Beyond that, the K – 12 years are separated into two bands: K – 4 and 5 – 12. The younger students approach history through four topics, through which they begin by looking at the family, neighborhood, and community, and gradually expand their view to their state or region, the United States, and the World.
You may also wish to review the national education standards for social studies, which are available here: edstandards.org
References for Homeschool History
The references that are most useful for homeschool history vary depending on the topic being studied. Here are some that may be useful at various times in your homeschooling:
- World Almanac
- World Atlas
- US Almanac
- US Atlas
- Hammond Atlas of US History
- Coffee table books showing cultural treasures
- National Geographic Magazine subscription
- A book about all the US presidents
- A book of history timelines
Supplies and Tools for Homeschool History
Here is a list of some useful supplies and/or tools for a homeschool history class.
- Daily newspaper or web access to newspapers (or both)
- News magazines
- Access to television news broadcasts
- Timeline software, e.g. Timeliner® XE
- Tape recorder for interviews
- History flash cards
Projects for Homeschool History
Here are some project ideas and some websites where you can find lists of history projects.
- Create a family history website
- Build a Family Tree
- Do interviews to contribute to an oral history of your family or town
- Create a diorama of an historic event.
- Incorporate an historical event into a work of fiction.
- Collect songs that celebrate historic events.
- Find a work of literature to go with the period of history you’re studying and do a book review of it.
- History Projects for Kids Kidipede – historyforkids.org
- EasyFunSchool History Lessons and Activities: – easyfunschool.com
Web Resources for Homeschool History
- Internet History Sourcebooks Project – fordham.edu
- Center for History and New Media – chnm.gmu.edu
- Oral History Projects – h-net.org
- The Avalon Project Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy – avalon.law.yale.edu
- The History Channel Almanac: This Day in History – history.com
- The History Channel Games on History – history.com
- Historical Newspapers and Databases at Texas A&M Univ – library.tamu.edu
Going practically anywhere can have a history angle, but here are some specific ideas for K – 4 students and 5 – 12 students:
K – 4
- Local businesses that illustrate local economy and how things are made – for example, an orchard and a store that sells the apple cider; a farm and a store that sells the vegetables; a dairy farm, a cheese maker, and a store that sells the cheese and/or restaurants that serve the cheese
- Local government: police, fire, parks and recreation, town offices, library, sewer, animal catcher, etc.
- Local historical society
- Local historic sites
- Local architecture
Grades 5 – 12
- State Government
- Federal Government
- National historic sites
- Library of Congress
- National Historic Landmarks
- National Parks
- Historically important cities
- International governments
- International Landmarks
- US and International Museums