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How do you teach history in first grade?

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Any advice here for teaching history to a child who gets bored by lengthy readings?   SOTW is wonderfully written but it's just not working that well for DS right now.  Also some of the events, names and peoples just go over his head.  So what I've done is focus on one major civilization at a time (Egypt, Greece, etc.), learning about its map location, history,  mythology, famous people, daily life, architecture, etc.  I mention how certain events tie these societies together (e.g. war, conquest, trade) and plan on covering other peoples after that's done.  I also plan on compiling timelines to show how everything flows as a story.  But how do you do it?  I can't imagine spending 60-90 min. on history each time.  It's more like 20 min. of discussion.  DS likes learning about daily life (especially when involving children) and myths the most.

 

Also is it okay to slow down and spend some time on ancient history in 2nd grade (instead of moving on to the Middle Ages) for better coverage?

 

I'm also planning on introducing human geography in 2nd grade, at the same time we'll study physical geography as part of science. 

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For 1st grade history was icing on the cake if time allowed. It usually consisted of short biography stories and a mention of how long ago the person lived. Also some of the "If you lived in ______ times...." series.

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Thanks, TX native.  The "If I Were A Kid" series is good too though kinda rare.   It has titles for Egypt, Rome, Greece and China. 

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I taught for exposure, not for mastery. It's not all going to tie together yet, but you can begin to lay a basic framework that will make more sense later. I felt it was enough for them to see some aspects of culture (art, daily living), read about a few major people and events (not necessarily expecting them to remember them), and to just start to understand the idea that people in different times and different places live and think differently than we do--to broaden their horizons, in other words. 

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I think you are doing fine .

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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You can try the Jim Weiss CDs.  They are story based about different time periods.  It's ok to not cover history formally in 1st (and 2nd, and 3rd...).  I'd say keep SOTW for when they can listen and understand the chapter, but not necessarily until they can remember it from week to week.  It will come back to them as they revisit each subject from time to time.  

 

Other books, if you want a more formal study but aren't quite ready for SOTW :  A Child's History of the World, A Little History of the World, or alternately, focus on geography for the year or two, so that when it comes time for history, they are already familiar with many of the places being discussed.  A children's atlas is great for this.  One of the basic needs for understanding history is understanding that people born in different areas grow up with different cultures, sometimes VERY different cultures, and this can lead to both positive and very negative effects.

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We've done the same as you: one major civilization at a time. 

 

However, history in our house is activity based in the early years, discovery/research based in the upper years.  We start with an activity to begin the story, continue with 1-2 actvities each week, and read/watch in the off time.  For example, Ancient Egypt in our house is coming to a close.  We've:

-created the Nile river valley

-had a crown war

-created animal-headed gods

-made a chicken mummy

-played senet

-built a pyramid

-learned heiroglyphics

-did wall painting

-built a temple out of blocks

Still to do:

-apple head mummy to go on the chicken body.

 

In addition to
-reading a picture book about King Tut's life

-watching a documentary about the Sphynx

-listening to myths by Jim Weiss (while playing with Toob figures of the different gods)

-reading several chapters of SOTW, including The Jewish People (and watching The Technicolor Dreamcoat)

-watched Horrible Histories

-read Ms. Frizzle's Adventures in Egypt

-read How The Sphynx Got To The Museum, to continue the strand of archaeology from our first two units

-venn diagrammed Egypt vs. Mesopotamia

 

 

We won't hit every civilization that SOTW does this year.  Our goal is the major ones, and spending a month slowly going through each:
-Prehistory

-Mesopotamian cultures

-Egypt

-Greece

-India

-China

-Rome

-Review

 

If we have time we're do American cultures as well, if not, we'll do them next year during our Vikings or Explorers units.

ETA: The purpose of the activity is to draw them in.  I tell quite a bit of history as we're building, creating, playing, and then quiz playfully in kind of a Simon-Says or Gotcha kind of way. (Oh, Pharaoh didn't say THAT!  Uh-oh! ;) )

 

Edited by HomeAgain
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Remember: Susan Wise Bauers wrote the time indecztions on request of the publisher.

20 min. Of history is fine in 1st grade.

 

We used SOTW later on the road, and did some social studies in grade 1.

History was limited to ' how the age of your (great) grandparents looked like.'

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We watch Liberty's Kids on repeat in the car. My kids know the American Revolution better than most adults thanks to that show alone. We also visit historical places and learn about the history of wherever we go. We listen to the SOTW audiobook while they go to sleep and in the car (we get a lot of "mileage" out of driving time). We listen to the CC Timeline song at lunch and then whenever something comes up in daily life, I try to draw connections between those things. If they seem especially interested in a SOTW story, we get library books on that subject. This week we'll be doing The Odyssey. Regardless, we get library books on something or another about history every time we go and they read them during mandatory reading time. 

 

So we are super informal about it, but at this point, I think that's ok. We'll be more formal when they are older. And they are getting loads of history and are making lots of connections. Heck, this week my 6yo made the super lame joke: "What did they eat in Babylon? Babalogna." So she knows Babylon is a thing! Success in my book for a 6yo.

 

It is absolutely ok to slow down. A 1st grader is going to remember very little history in the long run, but they will remember liking history. For me, that is the most important at this age. History should be fun, especially in early elementary.

Edited by Meagan S

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What MeaganS said above: "A 1st grader is going to remember very little history in the long run, but they will remember liking history. For me, that is the most important at this age. History should be fun, especially in early elementary."        (OK, I need to figure out how to do that quote in the box thing.)

 

Read aloud together, and don't forget your local history sites!  Local history field trips are what my college kids remember from that age.    

 

Most of us homeschoolers tend to get focused on, say, ancient Egypt, and forget our local historic sites.    When we went to visit relatives in SC, we were able to visit the Cowpens battleground site.   It "made" our Revolutionary War study that year.  It was just so amazing to be where it actually happened!   It gave us a "peg" - what led up to Cowpens, what was the aftermath of Cowpens.  And we were there!   It just all made more sense after that.  (This was when they were in middle school.)   The funny thing was, I grew up near there and had never been to Cowpens!!   See what I mean?   We all tend to ignore the local treasures.

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My 6yo is doing ancients this year, in a kindy/first grade combo sort of year. He is the baby of this family rather than the oldest, so he has had practice sitting quietly for read alouds his whole life. He is combined with his 3rd grade sister using Veritas Press history cards as the spine, with all sorts of extra readers and SOTW mingled throughout. We're in the Old Testament Ancient Egypt cards, so it's focusing on Israelite and Egyptian history with some neighbors gently mixed in. For Sumerians, Babylonians, China, India, and such I scheduled in one week each to set VP aside and just focus on that culture with SOTW, the activity guide, and extra readers.

 

DS6's history lessons look like:

-recalling/reciting the names of every history card we've covered so far (in order), and casually discussing how they're all related as we think of it

-listening to the primary read alouds such as SOTW or short excerpts of several other history spines

-occasionally listens to extra readers and/or DD/3rd will read aloud some of her independent readers to him (mostly just the higher interest stuff here)

-tries orally answering some basic comprehension and thinking questions before DD/3rd rattles off the whole story in precise detail

-completes all the coloring pages and simple activity pages, crafts, dough maps, and such to the best he's able (these are from the VP teacher manual and SOTW activity guide)

 

 

If he does not absorb everything or connect all the dots I'm not stressing or rearranging our history plans. This is merely his first exposure to ancient history and I'm happy to let him feast on what intrigues him. Ancients will be covered again later and in more depth when he's older.

Edited by SilverMoon

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I read Story of the World and we did some projects. My kids narrated what they remembered to me, I wrote it down for them and they illustrated it. Some of it was over their heads and that's okay.

 

We also did History Pockets... my kids like paper projects and it gave them a nice visual of what they had learned. Then we added in some good biographies, picture books, and myths. We probably spent 3 hours total per week.

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Thanks, TX native.  The "If I Were A Kid" series is good too though kinda rare.   It has titles for Egypt, Rome, Greece and China. 

 

Kindle Unlimited has several

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For grade 1 I didn't really cover history in a chronological way.  We did biographies like Leif the Lucky, and things like 50 Famous Stories Retold, and also just good storybooks we found about history.  IIRC I used to try for a history story or a geography story each day.  Some, like the 50 Famous stories, only took about 10 min.

 

ETA: and a big yes to local history sites as someone said above.  We went to Kingston one summer when my dd had just finished Paddle to the Sea for grade 2.  She really enjoyed going to see the canal locks that were in the book, and some people let her go see inside their boat.

Edited by Bluegoat

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That sounds great!  But what book do you use for history projects?   Also what do you do with all that afterward?  I'm sure they end up taking a lot of space unless they're all taken down.

 

How'd you make the chicken mummy?!

 

We've done the same as you: one major civilization at a time. 

 

However, history in our house is activity based in the early years, discovery/research based in the upper years.  We start with an activity to begin the story, continue with 1-2 actvities each week, and read/watch in the off time.  For example, Ancient Egypt in our house is coming to a close.  We've:

-created the Nile river valley

-had a crown war

-created animal-headed gods

-made a chicken mummy

-played senet

-built a pyramid

-learned heiroglyphics

-did wall painting

-built a temple out of blocks

Still to do:

-apple head mummy to go on the chicken body.

 

In addition to
-reading a picture book about King Tut's life

-watching a documentary about the Sphynx

-listening to myths by Jim Weiss (while playing with Toob figures of the different gods)

-reading several chapters of SOTW, including The Jewish People (and watching The Technicolor Dreamcoat)

-watched Horrible Histories

-read Ms. Frizzle's Adventures in Egypt

-read How The Sphynx Got To The Museum, to continue the strand of archaeology from our first two units

-venn diagrammed Egypt vs. Mesopotamia

 

 

We won't hit every civilization that SOTW does this year.  Our goal is the major ones, and spending a month slowly going through each:
-Prehistory

-Mesopotamian cultures

-Egypt

-Greece

-India

-China

-Rome

-Review

 

If we have time we're do American cultures as well, if not, we'll do them next year during our Vikings or Explorers units.

ETA: The purpose of the activity is to draw them in.  I tell quite a bit of history as we're building, creating, playing, and then quiz playfully in kind of a Simon-Says or Gotcha kind of way. (Oh, Pharaoh didn't say THAT!  Uh-oh! ;) )

 

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Oh I forgot to mention.  My DS does love the "Time Compass" videos.  I think its actual title is "History for Kids" or something like that.  It's got like 30 episodes about 15 min. long each.  Really just the right length for kids.  And the animation and dialogue are cute (Caesar says "Don't worry, I'll fix this mess!")   It's free on hoopladigital. Your library might have it.  Just watch them first so you can make sure the content is okay for your little ones.

 

I guess I was worrying about it too much.  I do want DS to memorize some dates and names.  I do have History Pockets too and will give it a try!  Thanks, everyone!

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That sounds great!  But what book do you use for history projects?   Also what do you do with all that afterward?  I'm sure they end up taking a lot of space unless they're all taken down.

 

How'd you make the chicken mummy?!

 

We use the SOTW activity guide for some, for others it is just what I come up with when I'm reading and think "how can I present this more hands on?"

 

And we keep very few of the projects. At the beginning of the year we created an "archaeology box" where we put special projects from each unit.  It's just a shoebox, so very limited space.  The rest I take pictures of and we toss when the unit is done.  A few special pieces of flat artwork goes in an accordion file that has the units labeled on it.  The file also contains maps, language papers, and possibly a few other things.  We don't do a lot that can't be taken apart.  He has blocks and legos, so those were used to make ziggurats during Mesopotamia...and then broken down as soon as we were done.  We did cave art in pre-history, but neither of us cared about keeping a giant piece of crumpled paper.  Our dig was in the center of our backyard so only used tent stakes, string, and small digging/brush tools.

 

 

:) The mummy instructions are in the SOTW guide - it's a long process, about 6 weeks so we started at the beginning of our unit.  We also sped it up some by using a cornish game hen....which coincidentally is the perfect size to have an apple head attached to it. ;)  We'll make a death mask and cover the body this week with linen strips, and complete the burial process on Halloween.

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I'm doing Ancient History Portfolio Junior from Homeschool Journey.  I love these- they go by civilization rather than chronologically.  There are parent instructions in the book including recommended readings from SOTW.  It's just not realistic to do all of SOTW with our schedule but my kids really enjoy the portfolio and still read quite a bit of it.  

 

http://www.homeschooljourney.com/ajContents2.html

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We follow our own slightly modified version of the Core Knowledge sequence pioneered by E.D. Hirsch, with the What Your __ Grader Needs to Know (NTK) books as a spine. (We love them!) To keep things from feeling too disjointed, we do world history in the winter and spring, British history in the summer (my husband is English), and American history in the fall.

 

For any given lesson, I read a few pages from the history section of the NTK book aloud to him, then ask him comprehension/follow-up questions that he must answer in full sentences. It's essentially oral narration as described in The Well-Trained Mind. I write his responses down, and we review old answers from time to time to refresh his memory. Eventually, I plan to print out all of his responses and compile them into a book that he can illustrate (he loves to draw).

 

I also supplement with a variety of books and videos. So, if we're studying Egypt or whatever, we'll read other books on the topic. We haven't done a lot of projects, alas, but there isn't time for everything. He's way into science, so most of our projects end up being science-related.

 

This system has been working really well for us. He loves "reading history," as we call it, and his understanding is good. The Core Knowledge sequence covers both world and American history in roughly equal proportions, which is different from SOTW. Also, n each book, topics are presented in chronological order, but the sequence overall is not strictly chronological like SOTW. SOTW covers some topics that simply aren't addressed in Core Knowledge (at least, not in the early years). On the other hand, I find that Core Knowledge covers topics more in-depth, with a smooth narrative tone, and introduces vocabulary and concepts effectively (e.g., democracy, civilization, citizenship). I do like SOTW, though, and we listen to the discs from time to time. 

 

Here's what is covered in the first few years of Core Knowledge, to give you an idea:

 

KINDERGARTEN

 

World: Maps and Globes, Continents (including cultural and climate/habitat info, not just location)

 

American: The American flag, Native Americans (covering different tribes/cultures), Christopher Columbus, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, Revolutionary War/Fourth of July, Slavery, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Mt. Rushmore

 

FIRST GRADE

 

World: Ice Age/Prehistory, Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, World Religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)

 

American: Pre-Columbian Americas (Maya, Aztecs, Incas, etc.), Spanish explorers, English explorers, Jamestown, Pilgrims, Puritans, Slavery, 13 Colonies, Revolutionary War (more in-depth than K), Benjamin Franklin, Deborah Sampson, Phillis Wheatley, The Louisiana Purchase

 

SECOND GRADE

 

World: Origins of Civilization, Mesopotamia (revisited), The Indus Valley, Hinduism, Buddhism, Ancient China, Japan, Ancient Greece (in-depth, including philosophers, myths, etc.).

 

American: The Constitution, James Madison, The War of 1812, Westward Expansion, Erie Canal, Pioneers, Oregon Trail, California Gold Rush, Indian Removal/Displacement, The Civil War, Immigration and Citizenship, Civil Rights (profiles of Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King, and others).

 

 

 

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I'm not convinced most kids will learn many dates and names from history in the K to grade 2 range. They will pick up names on stories they really enjoy, but not for everything. I mean, you could emphasize it and do a lot of drill, but it might be a lot of time spent for a middling result and it might affect the student's attitude to history.  I'd tend to save that more for grade 4 to 6 or even later. 

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I used Adventures in America (by Elemental History) as a spine, and added supplemental books to it - readers, read alouds, picture books, etc. Each week has two one-page readings - it was just enough to get the framework in place, without going completely over my son's head. We also listened to SOTW in the car, but not on a schedule and not with any additional work.

 

In 2nd grade we read CHOW with the TM (has discussion questions) and that was a nice gentle step up.

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We use VP OTAE. We work on reciting the cards in order. We read the back of the card along with some fun picture books or chapter books. My son then makes an *interactive* journal page. We spend 20 to 30 minutes 3 or 4 times per week. We do not make many projects because my son just hasn't shown that much interest in projects. The one or two times we did do a project, we spent 1.5 hours on history. By the time my 7 year old finishes 1.5 hours of history, he isn't able to focus on anything else. We have to keep it short and sweet.

 

Regarding spending two years on ancients - Veritas Press spends two years on ancients - Old Testament and Ancient Egypt one year and New Testament, Greece, and Rome the next year.

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We've done the same as you: one major civilization at a time. 

 

However, history in our house is activity based in the early years, discovery/research based in the upper years.  We start with an activity to begin the story, continue with 1-2 actvities each week, and read/watch in the off time.  For example, Ancient Egypt in our house is coming to a close.  We've:

-created the Nile river valley

-had a crown war

-created animal-headed gods

-made a chicken mummy

-played senet

-built a pyramid

-learned heiroglyphics

-did wall painting

-built a temple out of blocks

Still to do:

-apple head mummy to go on the chicken body.

 

In addition to

-reading a picture book about King Tut's life

-watching a documentary about the Sphynx

-listening to myths by Jim Weiss (while playing with Toob figures of the different gods)

-reading several chapters of SOTW, including The Jewish People (and watching The Technicolor Dreamcoat)

-watched Horrible Histories

-read Ms. Frizzle's Adventures in Egypt

-read How The Sphynx Got To The Museum, to continue the strand of archaeology from our first two units

-venn diagrammed Egypt vs. Mesopotamia

 

 

We won't hit every civilization that SOTW does this year.  Our goal is the major ones, and spending a month slowly going through each:

-Prehistory

-Mesopotamian cultures

-Egypt

-Greece

-India

-China

-Rome

-Review

 

If we have time we're do American cultures as well, if not, we'll do them next year during our Vikings or Explorers units.

 

ETA: The purpose of the activity is to draw them in.  I tell quite a bit of history as we're building, creating, playing, and then quiz playfully in kind of a Simon-Says or Gotcha kind of way. (Oh, Pharaoh didn't say THAT!  Uh-oh! ;) )

 

O  M  G - can you please adopt my children for your history lessons????

 

I so wish I was "that" mom who could do such amazing projects!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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