History for Grade Schoolers

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By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

Personalizing history is the key to making it meaningful and not just a litany of names and dates. You might begin by learning the story of your own ancestors. When did they come to this country? What was going on in the world at that time? What was life like for them in their homeland and then here?

The book series Dear America and My Name is America have stories about children in different times in America’s history.  Your library will have a large collection of them. Rainbow Resources lists the story titles in chronological order in their catalog. You can try to find stories that might parallel that of your ancestors.

If you want to learn about the history of MN, the Little House books and TV program brings home the idea of the pioneers moving west and setting up homesteads and some of the difficulties they faced. You can also visit the historical sites and modern day towns that are mentioned in them.

For older grade schoolers, Choosing Your Way Through America’s Past is a series that tells stories with diverging options. Choose option 1 by turning to page 9, for option 2 you must turn to page 13, etc. A fun way to explore history with your own input into events as they unfold in the stories. (we found these books through Rainbowresource.com)

The Waltons television series paints a picture of life during the depression era. And Netflix should have plenty of documentaries to further your history studies into nearly any era of world history.

We also liked the Story of Us by Joy Hakim for American History. But no curriculum can tell the whole story. Be sure to talk about the different viewpoints you will find depending on who’s telling the account. You might get one version of events from a person who lived through it in their journal or autobiography, and another from a researcher recounting events from the historical evidence. And still different information in a biography than what you read in the same person’s autobiography. Multiple sources will give you the widest interpretation. It’s important to understand this with regard to most things in life. And just because the versions are different, it doesn’t mean that anyone is lying. Just that their experiences varied and so did their perspective on the events.