The homeschool world is full of shiny curriculum…I love it! I love researching it, shopping for it, and opening it all up (it’s like Christmas in July when the boxes start to arrive)! The smell of new books and fresh crayons–it’s the smell of hope and endless possibilities! I’ve definitely chased my fair share of shiny homeschool curriculum over the years…But I’ve also wasted a lot of money! So this year, I promised myself–NO MORE! After 16 years–I know some things about my homeschool style and habits. And one of those things is that I don’t need a packaged history curriculum for the elementary school years! Every year I buy it…and every year I have some buyer’s remorse…This year I’m homeschooling history without a formal curriculum–I should have done this years ago! Let’s talk about how it looks for me and how it can help you too!
Switch to a Morning Basket
I kept hearing and reading all this buzz around “Morning Baskets.” Then I realized the concept of Morning Baskets are essentially how I’ve been starting our homeschool for years. It’s slow, intentional time with my kids before we jump into the meat and potatoes of the day. It’s cozy time on the couch before attacking fractions or spelling words!
I’ve discovered this cozy time is what cultivates a true love of learning–it’s where the lines between home and school blur beautifully.
What it looks like daily for us:
- Bible Story or Lesson
- Read Aloud from History or Science Books
Some days it might also include:
- Art (Take Time for Art integrates art & history lessons beautifully)
- Music Study (This year we’re using A Year of Charlotte Mason Music Lessons)
- Other Family Read-Alouds (Fairy Tales, Fables, Library Books, etc…)
I found that by reading from history or science books daily–I wasn’t following my expensive lesson plans! So this year I decided to embrace the natural flow in our homeschool and ditch a formal history curriculum.
Now we simply homeschool history during our morning time together with great books. Then we talk about what we’re reading–and we become pretty immersed in the topics! (This is a perfect way to teach multiple ages of kids at one time!) We also keep a notebook for narrations throughout the week.
Building Your History Book Lists
I enjoy the Classical Education approach to teaching history, which essentially rotates through major time periods in history so that your child will be exposed to each era at least three times over the course of their K-12 years.
I used to fret over which era we needed to study…The truth is there is no magic to choosing your era of study. I start with my oldest child and begin with Ancient History–and all the younger kiddos study it too. I’ve tried to be precious about this in the past and work backwards from what my oldest child will be studying in high school…That takes some mental gymnastics, and honestly–it really doesn’t matter! I’ve wasted a lot of time worrying about years that were much further down the road…try to focus on the step you’re on!
There are 3 main sources I like to cull my book lists from:
1. The Well-Trained Mind is an amazing book that really fleshes out the classical education approach! I reread it every year! In addition to being a huge inspiration–the book offers many practical resources and explains exactly how to implement a classical approach to education. After each chapter are large book lists for various subjects–including eras of history.
2. Sonlight...I have used Sonlight’s literature-based curriculum often throughout our homeschool journey. I love all the books–but I found myself regularly “off schedule.” So this year I went through their book lists–but I didn’t buy the curriculum. I still use their timeline and timeline figures (we love the stickers)! And some of the books are best purchased through them (I keep a running list to compare prices and check the availability at the library). Get on the mailing list–their catalogs are excellent resources and often contain their extensive books lists! If you decide to use a structured history plan–Sonlight’s is excellent!
Remember, every phase of homeschooling looks a bit different. My 10th grade daughter needs structure and a schedule–so Sonlight’s history and literature programs are perfect for her! She is currently using their American History and American Literature Courses for high school.
3. Tapestry of Grace…Tapestry is one of my Top 12 Favorite Homeschool Curriculums. I used it for many years–and it’s great for teaching multiple children! However, it can be a bit all consuming…and my focus during this particular homeschool season (preschool and 2nd grade…my high school daughter is totally doing her own thing) is on Reading and Math Skills.
Tapestry of Grace has an amazing resource right on their website–their book lists are divided out by Lower Grammar (classical education code for early elementary), Upper Grammar (upper elementary), Dialectic (middle school), and Rhetoric (high school)! You need to know that Year 1 is Ancient History, Year 2 is Middle Ages through Colonial America, Year 3 is the 1800’s, and Year 4 is the 1900’s. Search their book lists here!
Keep it Simple
Everything you’re doing with your elementary kiddos in the subjects of history and science is far more than they would be experiencing in a traditional classroom. I promise. (I use to teach 2nd grade–the teachers are desperately trying to get 20 children reading, writing, and doing math on grade level…there is zero time to delve deeply into the Middle Ages!) So don’t get yourself too wrapped around the axle over these subjects! Let history and science be times of wonder and enchantment in your homeschool!
If you have any questions–please feel free to reach out!
- You may also be interested in my posts: 3 Books That Will Change the Way You Homeschool and Choosing Homeschool Curriculum (it’s got my go-to places for buying curriculum).