Thursday, November 05, 2015

All the history!

I love history. All the history!
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Book of Kells,  Gospel of John
There is very little that has happened over time that does not hold a special fascination for me. Some time periods are more powerful and moving than others, but history is a passion for me. When I read a history book, I often wonder what wondrous library resources the author had the privilege of reading. Were they able to spend hours pouring over books at the British Library? Did they get to hold an ancient manuscript? What would it feel like to cradle a book in your arms that was written by monks over 1,000 years ago? More than that, what was it like to live over 1,000 years ago? I turn to historical fiction for a taste of that. Do you?

We just wrapped up a wonderful Time Travelers: Explorers lapbook study from one of my very favorite homeschool companies, Home School in the Woods. Amy Pak is the author of this delightful series, and as usual, she knocks it out of the park. The kids enjoyed putting together a lapbook that detailed the study of 12 explorers, geography mapwork for their journeys, various nautical navigation equipment, identified the parts of a ship, five reasons for exploration, and so many other things. It was great fun.

What blows me away is that the explorers, for all their faults and mistakes, were astonishingly brave. This was the way the world looked to them. (Click to enlarge.)

Ptolemy's Map, 1482
It is hard to decipher this map, but essentially, before the earliest explorers faced the dangers of the ocean waters, this was all they knew of the world. So little is actually on this map! Can you imagine leaving your family, and all that you knew to be true in the world, and sailing west? or south? The land mass in the lower left of the map is the very top of Africa, and of course the Americas were not even known to these folks. It is amazing to think of what was still unknown in the 1400's.

It is these facts that astonish me. What do we not know today? What are we missing in our world?

We are heading into one of the most powerful time periods for me, the Renaissance and Reformation. So much beauty and talent, and so much turbulence in a time of great faith. We just studied John Hus this week in our BiblioPlan text. He was one of the bravest Reformation heroes you will ever study! What a stand he made for God's truth, and for God's word! If you don't know who John Hus is, click through to our church's newsletter, and scroll to page three, and read about this astonishing man. You might find yourself wondering as I did, would you stand as firm as he did, and suffer his agonizing death for your faith?

It is humbling, isn't it? This is one of the reasons I feel it is so terribly important NOT to skip out on studying history. History is the lifeblood of the present, for what happened in the past paves the way for the future.

I can't wait to dive into this! We will be using the Artists Activity Pak and combining it with the Project Passport: Renaissance and Reformation study in addition to BiblioPlan. We are also currently reading, The Shakespeare Stealer, out loud. Up next on our historical fiction read-alouds is Danika Cooley's new book, When Lightening Struck! The Story of Martin Luther. The kids will be creating their own art too.

I asked them this week if making lapbooks was something they enjoyed, and all of them responded with a, "Yes!" These lapbooks help make history live for the kids. They bring small bits of it into focus for them. Diving into the past with the kids of the present - it is a real honest joy for me.

What is a joy for you?

Today's post is in part, for fun, part for the love of history, and in part to join up with my friends over at Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude.

Come and Blog Through the Alphabet with us!


Megan Russell said...

History is fascinating, and it seems you have a passion for it! That's awesome! I have heard of Homeschool in the Woods, but never used it!

Meg Falciani said...

I think history is my most favorite subject to teach -- and learn. I've learned more American history in the past year teaching Luke than I have in the rest of my life. I think I love the psychology of it - trying to figure out why people did things the way they did.

Thank you so much for joining up at ABC Blogging!

Kate said...

Meg, I know exactly what you mean. I love it. I could just teach history with geography and be a happy camper! :D

Thanks for hosting it!


Jackie in TN said...

Kate, thank you for sharing this post! Since you use both BP and Homeschool in the Woods, how do you fit it all in? I would love to add the Amy Pak goodies, but wonder if it will be too much with BP? We are in Year 3 currently. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. ;-)

Kate said...


I do use both, but I don't do it all for all of the kids, if that makes sense. I have a lot of the HSitW products, and we do some of the lapbook options, and some of the notebook options (depending on the age of the child). I have my older kids reading BiblioPlan, and they do the Cool Histories from BiblioPlan. I also sometimes have them doing Notebooking pages that come from these guys: (who I really like, and discovered this year: http://www.undertheskyblog.com/2015/09/amazing-free-notebooking-pages.html)

I have all the kids listening to the lecture I give, and all the kids do map work to cover geography. I believe in doing geography in the context of history so it makes more sense, and this really does it. Then, right after I do the lecture/teaching time, I do the portions of the lapbook sections that I want the younger ones to do. We can't do all of it - there is just so much good stuff! :D However, the younger kids really love it. (I asked to make sure! lol) I do it over the course of many weeks, and don't stress about it too much. Some weeks we do more than others. I love the text of BiblioPlan as it covers so much, but I know the younger ones are not grasping it all, so I try to do the lapbook crafts that pertain to what I focus on. That way, they have something they keep, and worked on throughout the time period we are studying.

I also change things if I need to. When we did the Explorers study, I did not have the time to do the Spanish Doubloons the way she instructed, so I used Sculpey clay that the kids got to fashion into their own doubloon, and we baked it. It was done in a much shorter amount of time, and we had the same sort of thing. I am a firm believer in making things work for YOU.

I wish I had started doing these in this way much earlier, honestly. The younger ones remember things I did not think they would because we have done something physical with it, following the lecture. :) (I also do read-alouds of historical fiction to make the time period come alive. It is my favorite part of homeschooling!)

I will be doing year 3 next year. If I recall, HSitW has some really great Time Travelers, and we will use at least a few of them. I have done the Colonial, and honestly, that's SUCH a good one. There are so many doable crafts that bring the time period to life. I am on the end of my homeschooling journey, and I don't know where you are, but doing the physical things in history - getting your hands dirty, and creating with your kids - these are the things that stick with them and they remember. I really encourage moms to be flexible, and do the fun stuff while your kids have the interest. My oldest two in homeschool (16 and 14) don't have a lot of interest in lapbooking anymore, but my 13 year old does, and the younger ones in our co-op really do. Grab that time while you can!

:) I hope this helps.


Jackie in TN said...

Hi Kate! How is your school year with BP coming along? I would love to hear how Year 2 ended up, and if you're moving on to Year 3. Hope you are abundantly blessed this new year, God bless!

Kate said...


Year 2 ended well! Sorry it took so long to respond to you. :) I just posted a review of Year 4. I don't have Year 3, but Year 4 is awesome! :)

Year 2 was probably my favorite so far - so much rich detail of SO many things. Love BiblioPlan!


Jackie in TN said...

Yes Kate, I just read your excellent post!