My Topic Tuesday Approach (and lists of topics)

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By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

This easy shift in how you cover Science, Social Studies and the Arts for your grade schoolers can save you money (you’ll use your library and online resources instead of expensive text books each year) and will help coordinate learning even across grade levels. This can also be adapted for older students.

It’s simple, and it’s fun because it gives your children ownership of the material and a sense of discovery, which a re-hashed textbook can never do.

My list of topics was compiled from various lists and books that cover what kids should learn in different grades. I merged them all into a big list and used it as my pool of ideas. My kids were close in age, so we used one basket which I stocked with slips of paper, like fortune cookie fortunes, with a topic on each slip. But you could easily have a basket for each child if their skills levels vary significantly. I kept a master list and checked off the topics as they were selected from the basket. Each week on Monday, the boys would pick their topic. One might pick ‘composers’ and the other pulled out ‘volcanoes’. Our basket included Science, social studies and art/literature topics. Then first thing Tuesday morning we headed to the library (there are too many Monday holidays when libraries are closed, but really any day would work). The boys each had their topic in hand and set off to search for 15 min to see what they could find – videos, books, magazines. After the 15 min was up, they could ask the children’s librarian for help locating additional relevant material.

Because of the way library computers are all interconnected now, and we didn’t want to have to request a bunch of items and then wait for things to show up, we usually looked up a topic to find out its call numbers, and then headed to that set of shelves to see what was there. We took home the materials we found and studied our topics for the week. The next Monday we chose new topics and Tuesday morning we returned last week’s items and pursued our next learning adventure among the library shelves.

If a topic really generates a lot of interest at your house or seems to have a lot of books to get through, you can hold a topic over for another week or even 2. For us, Ancient Egypt was a topic that required a longer period of exploration and eventually it was even a birthday party theme!

 You can certainly also check online resources and videos on youtube (parent supervision suggested, strongly). Some weeks we ventured to neighboring libraries (I tried to stick to the ones that allowed us to return the materials to our home library) for new territory to explore. This was especially helpful in the winter months when everything familiar seems stale and drab.

Some families have modified this approach to study a person, a place and a thing each week. So they have separate baskets and split the topics accordingly. Whatever works for you is fine. Even though the boys had their own weekly topic- we studied those topics together. With kids of different ages, they will take on the material at their own level.

In addition to learning about their weekly topics, the boys also learned

  • how to use the library,
  • the advantages to studying from multiple sources and different perspectives,
  • and that any topic can be more interesting than it might originally seem, once you dig in.

And I didn’t have to buy a science or social studies text for every grade. The library is a wonderful FREE resource—make good use of yours!

 Here is my topic listing. These are in no particular order (not even alphabetized), and it is in no way comprehensive. You will decide which topics are appropriate for each child at any given age and slip them into the basket. These are simply a pool to choose from. The sense of discovery (like a treasure hunt) has nurtured a love of libraries in my now grown sons. Hope this strategy works as well for you and your kids!


 

Health topics

My Senses-- Eyes

My Senses-- Ears

My Senses-- Taste

My Senses-- Hearing

My Senses-- Touch

How I Breathe/ Respiratory System

How I Eat/ Digestion

How I Move/ Musculatory System

Disabilities

How I See/ Blindness/ Glasses

How I Hear/ Deafness/ Hearing Aids

How I Smell

The Taste of Things

Keeping Healthy

Dental Health

Circulatory System/ Blood

Avoiding Illness

Immunizations

Organs & Organ Systems

Foods & Health/ Nutrition

The Role of Health Care

My Skeleton

Dressing for the weather

Basic First Aid

CPR

Brain & Nervous System

Home Safety

Caring for Others

Anatomy

Genetics

Physiology

Fire Safety

Tornado Safety

Safety with Electricity

Stranger Danger

Death & Dying

Feelings

Hospitals & surgery

Dentistry/ Orthodontia

Sleep & Dreams

History of Medicine

Physical Fitness

Personal Safety- at home and in public

Substance Abuse

Our Water Supply

Our Sewer Systems

Community Health Resources

Bicycle Safety

Water Safety

Puberty and changes

Reproduction

Our Food Supply

Health Professions

Understanding Emotions

Mental Health

Coping with stress & Anxiety

Posture

Healthy Lifestyles

Toxins and poisons

Antibiotics

Tumbling

Running

Jumping

Swimming

Biking

General Exercise

Stretching

Aerobic Exercise

Water Exercise

Martial Arts

Fencing

Golf

Tennis

Racquetball

Basketball

Soccer

Baseball

Kickball

Dodgeball

Horseshoes

Frisbee/ Frisbee golf

Bocci Ball

Catch & Batting Skills

Chess & Checkers

Board Games/ Rules

Card Games

Dice Games

Backgammon

Pool/ Billiards

Darts

Shuffleboard

Collecting

Hobbies & Clubs


Art Topics

Painters

Ballet

Drama/ Plays

Rhyming

Poetry

Colors

Music- Types & Styles

Instruments

Musicians

Opera

Musicals

Sculpture

Museums

Art Fairs

Water Colors

Chalk Art

Abstract Art

Performing Arts

Composers

Renaissance Art

Music of Other Lands

Art of Other Lands

Primitive Art

Pottery

Papier Mache

Textile Arts

Finger Painting

Mosaics

Murals

Photography

Shakespeare

Da Vinci

Michelangelo

Composers

Maurice Sendak

Jack Prelutsky

Shel Silverstein

Bead Crafts

Calligraphy

Drawing

Fabric Arts

Jewelry Making

Leather Crafts

Mask Making

Needle Crafts

Stained Glass

Wood Crafts

Classical Music

Mozart

Bach

Beethoven

Journalism

Sherlock Holmes

Mark Twain

Animation/ Cartooning

Paper Making

Candle Making

Basketry

Puppetry

Stamp Art

Folk Art

Folk Music

Origami

Piano

Guitar

Harmonica

Recorder

Lap Harp

Orchestra

Jazz

Blues

Swing

Dance

Tap

Science Topics

Weather

Water Cycle

Tornadoes

Hurricanes

Earthquakes

Erosion

Plant Life Cycle

Flowers

Trees

Garden Plants

Animals of the Forest/ Woodlands

Animals of the Jungle

Animals of the Desert

Animals of the Mountains

Animals of the Tundra

Animals of the Farm

Animals of the Ocean

The Sun

Nocturnal Animals

How Animals Hide

Animal Defenses

Animal Homes

Animal babies

Pet & Their Needs

Seasons

Dinosaurs

Insects

Moths & Butterflies

Bats

Bees

Lizards & Snakes

Animals in Winter

Wetland Animals

Reptiles

Mammals

Fish

Temperature

Birds

Migration

Volcanoes

Simple Machines

Rocks & Crystals

How Things Are Made

Electricity

Magnetism

Galileo

Newton

Amphibians

Parasites

Stars/ Constellations

Solar System

Planets/ Moons

Sharks

Meteorology

Einstein

Composition of the Earth

Bridges

Microscope

Microscopic World

Astronauts

Archealogy

Botany

Biology

Physics

Chemistry

Astronomy

Geology

Our Environment

Oceanography

Paleontology/ Fossils

Telescopes

Tracks & Tracking

Electronics

Measurement

Robotics

Rocketry/ Flight

Solar Energy

Weights & Measures

Bacteria

Batteries

Fungus/ Mushrooms

Color & Light

Crustaceans

Turtles

Single-Celled Organisms

Inventions

How We Measure Time

Disasters

Atoms & Molecules

Bioluminescence

Using a Compass

Organic Chemistry

Inorganic Chemistry

Marie Curie

Jonas Salk

Edison

Cells

Scientific Method

Alexander Graham Bell

Land Formations

Interrelationship of Animals & Plants

Classification of Living Things

Life in a Pond

Life in a River

Life in a Cave

Solids, Liquids, Gases

Magnets

Life Cycle

Extinct Animals

Food Chains

Climate

Air & Atmosphere

Gravity

Plants of the Desert

Plants of the Woodlands

Plants of the Prairies

Plants of the Sea

Pollution

Conservation

Scientific Method

Wave Energy

Mechanical Energy

Conduction/ Convection

Chemical Systems

Ecology

Microbes

Algae

Recycling

Sound

Heat

Nuclear Energy

Radioactivity

Geothermal Energy

Elements

heredity & Genetics

Laws of Motion

Earth's Movements

Compounds & Mixtures

Periodic Table

Air & Air Pressure

Air Masses & Fronts

Air & Water Pollution

Heat & Fuels

Electricity & Electronics

Atomic Structure

Molecular Theory

Metals

Plastics

Nature & Cause of Disease

Photosynthesis

Protein Synthesis

DNA & RNA

Reproduction & Growth

Human Behavior

Disease & Disease Control


Social Studies Topics

North American Continent

South American Continent

African Continent

European Continent

Asian Continent

Australia

Children of other Lands

Languages

Cultures of other Lands

Foods of other Lands

American Geography- states

Mountains/ Mountain Ranges

Rivers of the World

Deserts of the World

Rain Forests

Coastal Regions

Plains Regions

Arctic Regions

Glaciers

Volcanoes

Oceans

Ice Age

Immigration

Explorers

Countries of our Ancestors

Geography of the Ocean Floor

Egyptian Civilization

Greek Civilization

The Mayans

The Aztecs

The Incas

The Inuits

Nomads

Native American Tribes

Geographic Terms

Primitive People

Pyramids

People of my Community

Map making

Transportation (Early forms)

Transportation (modern)

Mesopotamia

Babylonia

Crete

Persian Empire

Alexander the Great

Byzantine Empire

Jobs People Do

Pirates

Pocahontas

Canada

Mexico

Central American Countries

Growth of Industry

Lewis & Clark

Sacajawea

Joan of Ard

Abe Lincoln

George Washington

Chinese Dynasties

The Franks

The Vikings

Norman Conquests

The Crusades

The Mongol Empire

Ming China

United Nations

Cold War

WWI

WWII

Ottoman Empire

Napoleonic Wars

Depression

Dictators

Economic Systems

Political Systems

Judicial Systems

Our Legislative System

Democracy

Dictatorship

Monarchy

Socialism

Communism

Ben Franklin

Gold Rush

May Flower

Our Holidays

Arabian Nights

Electoral Process

Presidency

State Government

Pioneers

Helen Keller

Louis Braille

Temples & Tombs

Bill of Rights

Declaration of Independence

Boston Tea Party

Buddha

Religions of the World

Our Constitution

Citizenship

Supreme Court

The White House

Colonial Times

Dark Ages

Middle Ages

Magellan

Medieval Knights

Martin Luther King

Marco Polo

Paul Revere

Pearl Harbor

National Parks

Titanic

Statue of Liberty

American Flag

Wright Brothers

Panama Canal

Mythology

Sign Language

Braille Alphabet

Holidays/ Traditions/ Customs

Genealogy

Continental Drift

Explorers

History of MN

Consumers & Producers

Sources of Food & Clothing

History of Communication

Local Geography & Topography

Regions of the US

Reason for Laws

Law Making Process

Time Zones

Earth's Resources

Latitude & Longitude

Revolutionary War

Westward Movement

Relationships among Nations

World Trade

PreHistoric People

Middle Ages

Dark Ages

Renaissance & Reformation

Scientific Revolution

Age of Reason

Industrial Age

Community Govt

Political Parties

Labor & Management

Taxation

The Islamic World

French Revolution

Imperialism

The Cold War

Vietnam War

Civil War & Reconstruction

Struggle for Women's Rights

Civil Rights

Delinquency & Crime

Agriculture in the US

Business & Industry in the US

Propaganda & Public Opinion

Consumer Skills

American Foreign Policy

Family Economics & Management