I often hear people say that they think history is boring or their kids can’t stand it because it’s dry and irrelevant. After years of teaching history, I am convinced that people often don’t like a subject because of a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the material. In this post, I want to give you some tips and pointers about how to teach, and enjoy history!
Teaching History with Timelines
One of the most fundamental things you can do while teaching history to develop an appreciation of the importance of history is to create a timeline. There are many ways to do this- in notebooks, on the wall, even by creating a foldable file folder. It can be as simple as drawing a horizontal line across your area and then using tick marks vertically by centuries.
When a historical date, person, or event comes up, write them in where. You can use colored pencils or pens to show an event versus a person, print off small pictures, buy beautiful timeline cards, or create your own. We’ve memorized timeline cards from both Veritas Press and Classical Conversations. They are slightly different and don’t include everything, of course. They each have 180 cards in their complete decks.
I will admit that the first 180 events and people are challenging to nail down. But once you do, you have a great framework to build on, and the next 180 people and events are much easier to memorize. Before you know it, you’ll have hundreds of people, places, and events memorized. This memorization is a simple but profound thing because they have an immediate recall when conversing about ancient, medieval history. For more information, check out this article on how and why to memorize a timeline.
Teaching History with Programs
Choose an engaging history program. We have loved Story of the World, have read the books and listened to the CD’s countless times and have moved on to the History of the World series, all by Susan Wise Bauer. She is a consummate historian and brings in information from around the world. My son’s understanding of the Old Testament blossomed after he read Bauer’s History of the Ancient World (though it is high school level material and not for the faint at heart).
We’ve also loved the Famous Men series by Memoria Press, History of Mystery, Beautiful Feet, various literature units and have read hundreds of historical fiction books. You can find some fantastic history reads through Bethlehem Books, books by G.H.Henty, Veritas Press, and Sunlight catalogs.
Teaching History with Magazines
Find some good magazines that you enjoy that will bring history to your home in bite-sized pieces every month. Some magazines that we have subscribed to regularly include: Biblical Archeology Review (from a secular perspective, but very scholarly and thoughtful discussion) and Artifax (Christian point of view) as well as National Geographic, which we intermittently subscribe too, but we have many, many old copies. Both BAR and Artifax deal with biblical research and archeology, bringing Biblical (and by association Ancient history) research to life in a real, scholarly and exciting way.
Teaching History with Websites
Check out websites that allow you to see what’s happening now in the field of history. Eliat Mezer, in Israel, is doing some ground-breaking (literally) work in Israel, as she unearths Kind David’s temple. If you want to learn about history, and the story of Judaism and Christianity as well, follow her blog. She is an interesting woman who uses the Old Testament to inform her professional life as an archeologist!
Teaching Church History
Speaking of church history (because the point of all history is Truth), Memoria Press’s church history programs for high school are not to be missed. We’ve used their high school program for our Morning Basket time (c’mon, even teens love gathering together to read, discuss and learn!) and we’ve had to really discipline ourselves time-wise or we’ll just spend the day reading, talking, looking up sites on maps and discussing this fascinating, close to our heart subject!
Teaching History with Hands-On Activities
Don’t forget about narration, recitation, and theatrical performance to cement history. Our kids have done numerous historical re-enactments, readings and full-blown plays over from everything from George Washington to Shakespeare. Memorizing information causes you to think deeply about the information and once learned, the person owns those words and ideas. Memorizing is highly overlooked and a teaching tool that I cannot say enough great things about.
True North Homeschool Academy Live on-line History Classes!
You might have noticed by now, but history is significant to our family, and we invest time in learning it. That’s why I am super excited to share our fantastic history courses with you! For spring 2019 check out our brand new Civics course!