Pillars of Pine

Pillars of Pine

Friday, May 27, 2011

History: An Alternative Approach

This year, we've taken a slightly different approach to history. Instead of reading from only ancient junior portfolioone source text, we have been using ‘History Portfolios', and reading a variety of different sources. And, we've been making models. Using our own creations as well as using some ‘Usborne Cut-Out Models', our history sessions have taken on a rather ‘visual' appearance, which have made the lessons more interesting, and given them greater variance.

sotw1One of our favourite resources for History remains ‘Story of the World'. However, we struggled a little last year, with my younger ones becoming a little bored with the same approach, week after week. So, this year we returned to the use of ‘History Portfolios'. Even though my youngest girls are now 8, 10 and 12, we chose to use the ‘Junior' versions, as they looked like they would be fun. As it turned out, they were fun - we probably should have included some more narrations, but we wanted to make our history lessons a little less pressured, and somewhat more relaxed. History Portfolios included a recommended ready list, as well as chapters form Story of the World, so all in all, it suited us perfectly.

sample page 011 sample page 111

In addition to the portfolios, we included the use of ‘Usborne Cut-Out Models'. I had this grand idea that it would be fun for us all to complete the models together, but I have to admit, it did not quite work out this way. The Usborne models, while they are wonderful, are not really suited for young children, and so the lessons developed into Mum doing most of the work, while the children coloured, or watched, or headed off to do other things. But, it was good nevertheless. The children watched the models progress, and we were able to chat about the replicas and the eras as they were assembled. Before long, we had quite a collection on display.

Ancient Egypt11To begin with, we made our own. Starting with Egyptian History, we created a pyramid, made a double-crown, and completed a ‘punch-out' book of mummy cases. All the time, we were also working through the history portfolio book, lining up the model-making with each area of study. Then, moving onto Greece, we read the story of the Trojan War, and built the Usborne Trojan Horse. That was most enjoyable! We told wonderful stories about the horse, and what ‘might' have happened if things had taken a different path. Finally it was time to study Rome. The model we selected for Rome was an Amphitheatre, which led to many discussions on Roman Architecture, as well as the Colosseum and the early Christian martyrs.

Pyramid11 trojan horse11

ampitheatre 211 ampitheatre 311

While our curriculum has been a little lacking in written work, we have read, studied pictures, and watched the ‘building' of several famous structures throughout history. This has led to quite an interest in Ancient Times, and the children seem quite open and interested in learning more. They seem to be noticing more when they see images on televisions or in the movies (Hannibal in ‘Night at the Museum' was quite a treat!), and history has certainly been less of chore than usual. Next week, we are moving onto the Middle Ages, and there will be more models to build. However, I will step up the narrations, as we'll be using the ‘Classic History Portfolios' this time. Despite the extra requirement in written work, I hope we'll be able to keep the enthusiasm alive. We shall build a castle, make shields and swords, and no doubt several ‘kings and queens' costumes to use in make-believe games. It should be fun!


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