This year we are using the very popular Story of the World program within our Learning Circle (we meet weekly with a couple of other families). The process for our history block follows the same simple steps each week.
This assists us, the facilitators to plan effectively and also the children as they know what to expect each and every week during our time spent on history.
We begin in our homes, reading the chapter together aloud.
The Activity guide which you can purchase to use along side The Story of the World has been invaluable. It takes all the hard work out of the planning for you. Each chapter is laid out with Review/Discussion Questions, ideas for further reading, map work, colouring pages and lots of hands on activity ideas.
We begin as a group, discussing the chapter we all read at home. Here we use the questions in the Activity Guide, as the weeks have progressed we've found that the children are discussing more and answering less. Exactly what one of our aims for the group was. They are still answering the questions needed but they are now beginning to discuss the chapter together with their peers, as opposed to just simple answers to the questions asked, building, learning, growing from each other.
During the discussion time we write 'key words' on the white board. At the end of the group discussion the children take notes on the keywords and using the principles they are learning in their writing group using IEW they complete a note booking page that I created, at home during the week that follows.
The younger members of the group complete a colouring page from the activity guide and where appropriate they will write something they can remember about the chapter.
Each child has started a time line, here they add a card to their timeline each week, that in some way relates to the chapter they have been reading. I am trying to prepare the timeline cards several chapters in advance as often it takes awhile to find a suitable image.
The maps are all included in the activity guide and a simple step by step process on completing them is detailed in the guide also. You simply can't go wrong with the mapping process regardless of your own personal geography skills.
That completes the sit down/book work style component of how we are using Story of the World. This normally takes approximately 30 minutes to work through as a group.
Then it's time for the hands on activity. Again the activity guide generally gives you a few different options for creative hands on activities, there are also a myriad of ideas found online if you had the desire to seek them out.
For chapter one we chose our activity from the guide, but supplemented the paints with oil pastels. A simple cave painting recreation. Scrunch a sheet of brown paper into a ball then flatten it out again as best you can, this gives the children a rough, rocky like surface, something similar to a cave wall to draw/paint on.
Whilst drawing on their caves we discussed elements of the chapter and things that the earliest people drew on cave walls and their reasons for doing this. Many people use this program without the hands on activity and whilst you certainly can, I honestly feel that it is during the hands on component that the story truly comes alive. The children are imagining what it might have been like to be there drawing on those cave walls. A fun and important element of the program not to be missed.
Given that the majority of hands on activities from the guide are creations that simply will not lie flat in a notebook I've put together a simple page where the children can photograph their finished piece and adhere it to the page. Here we were able to glue the actual cave drawings to the page itself. These are then added to the children's history notebooks along with their note booking page and map work.
Week by week they are working their way through history and are slowly building their very own Story of the World.
Each family then has the option of delving a little deeper into the particular chapter during the week that follows, with subsequent books, activities and research. The timelines have been designed so that the children can add their own images or pieces of research that they choose to investigate at home.
Now that we are in a routine of sorts and we all know what to expect from the program and our history time together as a group we are seeing the value more and more of working on projects such as these collaboratively.
Do you tackle the subject of history with others? Please let me know if you do, I'd love to hear about how you go about it all.