My schooldays took me through a period where we didn’t learn grammar or multiplication tables…or much British History! So plenty for me to learn alongside LissaLou…
A few principles that underline our history study: Charlotte Mason encouraged a chronological approach and I really appreciate that, rather than the haphazard method of my youth which left me unaware of how (or even that) one period related to another. As Julie Andrews so helpfully sings, we “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”!
Next, you remember that I am a planner, right? Ambleside Online suggests a six year plan that lets you cover world history twice in your school life. Well that seemed a bit long for us, especially as we haven’t made any decision about Secondary education. I preferred the four year plan from Higher Up and Further In particularly as it incorporates Biblical history. Is it just me, or do we sometimes speak of the Bible as something entirely separate from history as a whole? And perhaps it is only me who gets excited at learning that, for example, Nehemiah may have been rebuilding the walls of Jersualem right around the time that Socrates lived, whilst Tiberius was Roman Emperor when Jesus died?
Related to the idea of chronological study is that of not getting too caught up in the dates, rather, getting a feel for the flow of history – where one event stands in relation to another. Higher Up and Further In gave me the wonderful idea of a History Wall Timeline, which has been such a visual aid to all of us, as well as a source of conversation with many guests! As we read about an event or person, LissaLou makes a colourful small picture of it (generally using her own inspiration) which we stick on colour coded card (Orange – Israelites, Green – Greeks, Yellow – Egyptians, Purple – Romans, Blue – British, Red – everything else). The pictures are then hung on string across our living room wall with cute little craft pegs.
The first and second row of our timeline – our wall isn’t long enough!
Apart from looking great, it works in many ways. It is another way of narrating, as the pictures show what struck LissaLou from each particular story. CassCass loves it too – she can often be heard chanting each picture in order, and she can’t wait until it is her turn to do her own version! Occasionally we use it for a quiz with questions like “who came first, Abraham or Joseph?”. Recently we took the whole thing down and the girls had to put it all back in the correct order – they worked together and did a pretty good job! LissaLou and I also had an interesting discussion on what would have been the consequence if this or that person/event on the timeline was removed – shades of Doctor Who!
The main book we use is On the Shores of the Great Sea by MB Synge. It has been a really interesting read but quite challenging for LissaLou to narrate. The most successful chapters have been when she acted it out with the Happyland figures (perfect for the many battle scenes!) or when I interviewed her about events. It finishes with Caesar Augustus and the birth of Jesus, and we have just started the sequel, The Discovery of New Worlds. I was surprised to learn from CassCass that On the Shores was one of her favourite books this year, as I hadn’t even been reading it to her. These children who sit quietly listening in the background when you think they are playing…!
Additional resources we have enjoyed – CassCass loved reading us Tut’s Mummy – Lost and Found and LissaLou loved her Egyptian Treasure Box, especially the board game Senet, which she will happily play time and time again.
Now we have reached the Romans, we have started reading Our Island Story by HE Marshall, which begins with Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain. That is a great read too, though I do keep checking on wikipedia which bits are considered true and which are legend. Last summer we had a wonderful time visiting Hadrian’s Wall, even despite the rain, and I can’t recommend the area highly enough, especially the Roman forts at Vindolanda. We are also hoping for a trip to the Roman museum at St Albans soon – if we pick our day well, there may even be some gladiators there to share with us a few words of wisdom!