Thursday, November 17, 2022

Importance of History, Geography, and Social Studies

A Place in Your World

To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been. Children need a sense of their place in the world, starting with their place in the family, their home in the neighborhood, their community’s businesses and stores, the boundaries of their town and their state, and where the neighboring towns, cities, states, and countries lie.

Children will be interested in knowing who started their town and why. Who were the earliest pioneers in their state, and when did their state establish its statehood? Who were the statesmen who worked hard to create the great state that children know as their home state? Who helped establish the United States of America, and where did America’s forefathers come from? Why did the earliest explorers to America leave their countries to travel to a land that was foreign to them? What was life like in the countries that those explorers left? How did life change for them?

As you can see, geography, history, and different cultures and lifestyles all revolve around one another. And they all help to establish a child’s place in this world.

Start with the simplest maps of your child’s neighborhood and broaden into state maps, world maps, and globes to help your child see where he is in this world. You can use storytelling as a way to describe not only his history and his family’s history, but also the history of his town, state, country, and world.

Mapmaking Fun

Children can draw maps, as large as they want, of their backyard, play areas, or the parks they visit. They can label the different spaces and use symbols for trees and paths, playground equipment, picnic tables, buildings, and playhouses. Then mark the routes they often follow, such as the path between the house and play areas, or the trek between the playground and parking lot at your local park.

Broaden their mapmaking skills as your children’s sense of community grows. Have them draw a map of your neighborhood or town, showing your house, the park, the nearby grocery store, gasoline station, the bank, post office, hospital, library, churches, schools, fire and police stations, and other pertinent locations.

Encourage children to decorate and label the maps in creative and colorful ways, then display them on a bulletin board. As they learn about new or different areas in their towns, have them add those locations to their maps.

Use nicely illustrated books about your state to help children learn all it has to offer. Create a basic map of your state and have children mark their town or community on the map. Next, have them locate and label the city that is nearest to their home. Then locate and label the capital of your state.

Now, using interesting books on your state, allow children to select points of interest or places they would like to visit someday, such as a state park, a cave, lake, waterfall, ocean, amusement park, ski resort, raceway, zoo, aquarium, museum, pioneer village, covered bridge, tower, or skyscraper. Have children locate and label those places on your state map. Visit those areas of interest as time and circumstances allow.

When children explore the places they have learned about, their world becomes much more real to them. Do the same with maps of the United States and the world. Although you may not be able to visit all the areas you would like, beautiful travel videos or DVDs can bring distant places right into your home!

Living History

History need not be dull or boring. History was, and is, made by living people, real people, people of the past, and people we may know today. Choose a famous person from the past and be that person. Research him or her; learn what that person was like, what he wore or how she spoke, where the person lived, what life was like when that person was alive, and how the culture or lifestyles differed from others.

Then create that person’s style of clothing from paper or cloth. For instance, if it’s Abraham Lincoln you’re emulating, replicate his stovepipe hat, black jacket, pants, and famous beard. If it’s Sacagawea, make a duplicate of her costume and papoose. Find pictures of famous people by using the Google Images search engine or checking illustrated library books. Then BE that person for a day or a week. Walk in their shoes - or moccasins - for a while!

Historical Biographies

What are some good biographies to read on historical figures? The Who Was Biographies, DK Biographies, and Sterling Biographies cover a wide range of historical figures, such as Davy Crockett, Joan of Arc, Frederick Douglass, Marie Curie, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, Steve Jobs, and more. Use biographies to learn more about each era’s events and lifestyles.

Crafting History

Bring out the craft box, construction paper, craft sticks, glue, markers, pipe cleaners, and begin crafting history. Help children construct medieval castles, Viking boats, the Mayflower, teepees and longhouses, western frontier buildings and wagons, or the White House.

Use illustrated library books on castles, boats, the Wild West, or the White House as guides for replicating the objects and for learning more about each creation.

Make pipe-cleaner people to inhabit the places your children create, then let the stories from long ago unfold. Hands-on activities always serve to raise a child’s level of awareness and help to embed the learning experiences in his mind for years to come. Whenever possible, incorporate hands-on activities into your daily lessons to help bring history alive for your children!

Happy homeschooling!

Friday, November 4, 2022

Fun Language Arts Activities

When learning is fun, children will naturally learn more. But even better, they will remember and retain more of what they learn. Here you’ll see how to thread fun through Language Arts. More subjects, topics, and activities will be added in the next few days.

Language Arts Activities

Language arts encompasses English, reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, composition, literature, drama, and poetry, listening and speaking, and related written or oral activities. Ideas and activities follow.

Reading Activities:

Reading need not be dull! Famous or popular movies are made from books and stories! If your children are not especially interested in reading, try reading movie scripts together, such as Disney movie scripts or family movie scripts featured on Use the scripts to act out the movie, and compare scripts to the book version of the story. Try writing your own scripts, too!

Turn your library visits into story scavenger hunts! Have children find books that will take them to another land, another planet, or an imaginary world. See if they can locate books by particular authors or stories that focus on a particular time period.

Make it fun! If your children are having no luck finding such books, see if you can help. Pull out a few selections from the shelves and point out the colorful pictures or delightful illustrations. Then wonder aloud what might be occurring in the story. Begin reading a few of the pages aloud, and soon their interest will be piqued.

Book suggestions and Reading Lists are available at and The RD (Reader’s Digest) site lists “100 Best Children’s Books of All Time.”

Breathe life into the stories you read together. In addition to discussing the characters and events in the stories, create your own plays or dramatic performances based upon the stories. Or simply take turns reading the lines of the different characters in the voices that seem to reflect their personalities. This often results in fits of giggles and reading fun!

Read to them, share written stories with them, read newspapers aloud, and read information aloud, even if it’s the cereal boxes at breakfast or a sign in the dentist’s waiting room. The key to encouraging children to read is to read, read, read!

Parts of Speech:

Use illustrated books or even comic books to help children become more familiar with nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. After reading the stories, pick out the different parts of speech together. When done on a regular basis with stories children enjoy, you’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll learn the different parts of speech and how long they’ll retain this knowledge.

Here’s a fun activity many children enjoy. They can assign colors to the different parts of speech. Then, with colored construction paper at their fingertips, they can jot down the nouns they find in a story on red construction paper, for instance. They cut up those nouns on red paper and drop them into a jar or box. Then they jot down the verbs from the story on blue construction paper, cut up the verbs, and drop them into the jar or box. They can continue with yellow adjectives, green adverbs, etc., cutting up the words and dropping them into the container.

Later, they can shake up the container and select a red noun, blue verb, yellow adjective, green adverb, and create their own fun or silly sentences. Over time, as they continue to add colorful words to the container, they’ll have quite a collection of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, all color coded and clicking in their mind. And they’ll become much better at spotting the different parts of speech in sentences as they read.

Writing Activities:

Brainstorm new story prompts or creative writing ideas together each day. For instance: What if time ran backward? What if you could read everyone else’s thoughts? What if you had webbed feet and a beak? Describe what your day would be like, or write a story based on your "What if" ideas. Keep a daily writing journal full of your creative thoughts and stories.

As a family, think about a story you’d like to write. Decide on the characters, setting, plot, and storyline. Then have each family member write his or her own version of the story. Read your stories aloud and see how similar or different the stories are.

In today’s digital world of texting, instant messaging, and e-mail, letter- writing is still an important skill. Children can hone those skills by writing letters on a regular basis to friends and families. Remind them to write thank-you notes for gifts or favors, as well. They can also write letters and thank-you notes to famous folks. What might they write to Dr. Seuss? What would they thank him for? What would they write to Pocahontas, or to Lewis and Clark, or to Mark Twain? They can write letters to other favorite authors, actors or actresses, or local heroes.

Spelling and Vocabulary Fun:

Use Scrabble game tiles, magnetic letters, or other types of letter tiles for spelling practice. See who can spell the words the quickest. See who can create the silliest word. Spell out words on each other’s backs with your fingers, and see who is the most ticklish as kids practice their spelling skills!

Spelling lists are available for Kindergarten through Grade 9 at For online spelling and vocabulary, browse spelling and word games at

More subject areas, topics, and activities are coming in the next few days, so check back soon!

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Happy homeschooling!