by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist
You can find the schoolhouse rock videos on youtube (or buy them on dvd). They really area wonderful way to introduce our government (He signed you, Bill, now you’re a law!) and our voting process, the preamble of the constitution, Boston Tea Party and 3 ring government. Watch a video together and then discuss the topic further. Use it as a starting point for deeper learning on these topics. You’re sure to find other online sources on youtube or at your library.
Youtube is also a warehouse of videos that you can use to explore how governments in other countries work, the history of other nations and of course, the history of our own. As a young student, I was frustrated with how disjointed my classes were on topics of history and government. It never seemed like things were shown in their relation to other events or the bigger picture. What was happening in other countries during the same time frame as our major events in the US? As an adult, I became fascinated with documentaries which finally fed my hunger for a deeper look and a broader picture. I used documentaries in my homeschooling with the boys and passed over the dry textbooks with their dry snippets and factoids. Documentaries were so much richer and drew us into the events.
We had also spent some time learning our family history, so we raked about which of our ancestors were alive during different times in history and where they were and what life was like for them. Being able to relate more personally makes a big difference in how we frame these events.
Dear America and My Name is America book series are another way to explore different times in history through the eyes of a child. These historical fiction stories allow you to experience the history of your ancestors and for a short time, you can stand in their shoes. We talked about what it would have been like to live then. What would our days be like? What books and activities would fill our limited free time? What jobs would we have likely pursued in that time?
We learned about the countries of our ancestors and then broadened our attention to countries we had no personal ties with. To begin with your family and widen your circle gradually as you learn is a more cohesive way to build that bigger picture. I enjoyed history as I explored it with my children, something I can’t say about history lessons when I was a child myself.