Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gearing up

I"m going to resist the urge to philosophize, give back story or even to polish my words. This is a forum for sharing ideas about educating our children at home. I'm putting together my 08/09 home instruction plan for the state. New York requires that we teach US history every year, which is funny because after five years in public school my daughter's classmates had never heard of the founding fathers or the revolutionary war and did not recognize me as George Washington in my character day costume, even with clues like "I'm on the 1 dollar bill. I was the general who led the revolutionary war. I was the first president of the United States of America." One student asked, "Are you a person or an animal?" Why do I homeschool? I digress.

The point is we did tons of US history last year especially focusing on the founding of our country since it was our year of founding home school. However, my new plan was to rotate years and focus on US history intensely every 4th year. This year we're studying ancient world history. I really want to study the Sumerians and Mesopotamia and Egypt, etc. so what to do? Finally, the idea struck me that we can read the American Girl series (and other books like Little House, Dear America...). They are excellent and give kids an in context feel for what was going on in politics, technology, music, family life, etc. Real aspects of history for every day people. I think I'll have the kids keep notebooks and we'll collaborate on what the most interesting and meaningful assignments might be, whether it's illustrating scenes from the book, designing period clothing, writing a letter to the main character, re-telling part of the story from another character's point of view, learning popular songs of the day, period cuisine, etc... There are so many options and we'll post our ideas here as we try them out. Whew! Anyway, it's a relief to know that the learning is going to be so fun and easy to integrate into our lives. We've started with Kiersten who immigrates from scandinavia just like our ancestors did. Maybe a trip to Ellis Island is in order...once the tourists leave. ;)