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Middleton07

Starting in the middle with 4th grader

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Hello, friends,

We just finished our first year of homeschooling with our 1st and 3rd grader.  For history, I started at the beginning for both of them by studying the ancients.  For next year (well, next month), we are moving on to the middle ages.  I am planning on having my 4th grader learn about the middle ages, along with my younger one (with some extra work, of course).  My question is about memorization and geography.  We do not have the requirement in our state that he learn a particular subject in history for 4th grade.  Would you have your 4th grader stick with memorization work relating to the historical period that we are learning (middle ages), or have him learn the memorization work recommended in the book (which relate to the modern era) - learn the 50 states, Preamble to the Constitution, etc.  What about geography?  Should we start geography this year and count it as part of his 3 hours of history, or make it an additional time?  I noticed that it recommended that 4th graders spend several weeks studying the history of our state.  Is this still recommended, even if we have not made it to the modern era, yet?  I know this is a lot of questions!  Hahaha!  In a nutshell, how would you tailor this 4th grader's history time?  Thank you!!  

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All things being equal, do what is easiest for you. So if you'd like to keep all the kids together in history, and do memorization, etc...for the middle ages, go ahead!  

Same principle for how to go about doing geography, too. You could integrate it with history, or you could do it separately. What jives with you? 

State history is often easier IME to build around a weekend trip, or field trip near home. But, again, if you'd rather sit down as study your state history as a concrete subject go right ahead ? 

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Lots of people don't follow the 4 year history sequence exactly as written in WTM! Some people do 2 cycles through history instead of 3, building in a geography year and a US History year here and there. We took more of a project approach to state history and just took a few weeks to keep a notebook and explore stuff about our state. We started to work US Geography into our history cycle around 1776 and beyond. They're never going to learn everything there is to know about history, so you might as well just pick what stuff you enjoy in these early years!

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I wouldn't do any memorization of anything except math facts. 

Make WTM work for you.  It is a guide, not a mandate.  The most important thing is that you have it clear in your mind *why* you are having your kids do each thing.  Your own reasons, not just because it says to in the book.  The book doesn't know your children and your situation.

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I would stick with middle ages for everything--memory work, literature, history, etc.  Geography can go either way.  We will be doing some MP geography books next year and also add a bit of historic geography as it comes up in our history lessons.  So a bit of related mapwork and a bit unrelated. 

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I started homeschooling when my girls were just finishing 1st and 3rd grades. We also started with ancient history, using the Story of the World and the Activity guide. Those were such fun years in history for us all. Did you mummify the chicken? My girls insisted that we keep that chicken mummy (the original Bocky) when we moved. The Middle Ages have so many fun projects too. I must have helped make a hundred paper dolls, and so many improvised princess gowns, armor, and cardboard castles. And the Viking funeral in the backyard paddling pool! 

For memorization, what about picking some poems? There are lots of great collections, like Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses or Michael Driscoll, Child's Introduction to Poetry.

For medieval geography, we studied pre-Columbian American Indians. Are you doing earth science along with medieval history? You could look at the physical geology of your region, and cover map skills. My 5th grader used Cynthia Brown, Geology of the Pacific Northwest: Investigate how the Earth was formed with 15 projects (Build It Yourself). There are different versions of the book for each of the different regions of the US.

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