Sunday, January 11, 2015

Outline for Teaching History

Preparation for history lessons:

  • Text options: Usborne Encyclopedia of World History Internet linked or the Encyclopedia or Smithsonian History Year by Year  They can be purchased from Powell's, Better World Books or Amazon in used or new condition. (There is another text Kingfisher History Encyclopedia which I have not used. While that text is also an option, you will need to review the lessons and match up with text.) 
  • World and U.S. poster-sized maps:
  • Globe (optional), this can help foster discussions about realistic relationships between locations. 
  • Purchase or create a timeline. (Pandia Press has one you can purchase. You can find free timelines online that you can print. There is a pdf version of one from the blog Contented at Home.  )
  • U.S. Map (not needed until later) 
Preparation for unit:
  • Purchase books or gather library books for the lesson. 
  • Print out written/printable activities
  • Link to videos and other websites (and double check that they work) 
General unit lessons include:
  1. Read the appropriate history section
  2. Watch one or more videos
  3. Locate the time-frame on the timeline
  4. Locate the area of the world on a world map and/or globe
  5. Complete an activity or two.
Activities are variable, based on the age, interest and ability of the child: 
  • Coloring activity - print out coloring pages or purchase a coloring book on the era if you have enthusiastic colors in your family
  • Draw a picture of people during the era
  • Write a story about the era
  • Read a related story about the era (either chapter books or picture books, see the suggestions or use an alternate one from the library.)
  • Create a movie on the topic. (This is good for kids who have trouble writing. Kids can narrate or with some basic animation apps, create a short video.) 

Philosophy on Teaching History for Elementary-Aged Students

Pre-high school, understanding history is best in general terms. It is a good idea to introduce students to the topic in order to foster discussion on their time-table. Most children will not understand the importance of history until later. The goal of these lessons is for children to get a basic idea of what has happened in the world and when it happened in relationship to their life. Time is a difficult concept to grasp and what happened 2000 years ago is not much different than what happened during any history that pre-dates children's memories.  The best approach is to not worry about memorizing information, as it is to foster discussion and critical thinking about the topics. Do not dwell on the time periods that they may not have questions about or a deep interest in, move along keeping track of the history learned on the timeline and on the wall maps. This will provide opportunities for future discussions. 

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