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This is the 3rd week of the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. This weeks topic is exploring our world with social studies and science. This is one of my favourite topics! I love learning about cultures around the world and how people lived throughout history. This is likely one of the reasons I’ve loved studying genealogy most of my life. This is also a subject area my children love to learn about as well.
One of my favourite curriculum’s for elementary social studies is Five in a Row (FAIR). I mentioned FIAR in my post about language arts the first week of the virtual curriculum fair. FIAR is a very rich social studies program. With each book we study we learn about the country it is set in. I also love the suggestions for learning about how the characters in the stories felt and what the author was trying to teach you.
Another great geography and culture program we use alongside FIAR is Galloping the Globe. Galloping the Globe is intended for grades K to 4 but can easily be stretched to include middle school children. Galloping the Globe is a unit study book organized by continent. Each country has suggested books to read on culture, history and geography. It also includes worksheets and colouring pages, ideas for crafts etc. This is a wonderful resource to use as a unit study outline, but you really do need the other suggested books to fill it out. I do love that many of the fiction books are also used in FIAR.
Story of the World is a history program we really enjoy using and it was one of my first homeschool purchases years ago. Story of the World is based on a 4 year history cycle, but don’t let that stop you from working at your own pace! We have taken longer than a year to work through a book, just because we are having so much fun with it. Along with Story of the World we use their Activity Guides. To me these are what really makes the program grate! For each chapter there are review questions we use as narration starters if the kid’s need some help. It also has great lists of books for further study and we’ve found so many great stories using these books. Then it has many craft and activity suggestions as well as map work. These are all things that help bring history alive for our children who are hands on learners.
Ambleside Online is a free curriculum that is one of our main programs. It has wonderful living history and geography books scheduled. I do have to make adaption to also include our Canadian studies. I blend this with Story of the World so that we get different authors opinions on historical events and can include the hands on activities that SOTW includes. I personally thing the quality of writing is better with the Ambleside selections. By this I mean the narratives really draw you into the story more and are at a higher reading level. For us combining bits of both programs works the best!
To these great programs we love to add great documentaries. Some of our children’s favourites have been a series put out by BBC that includes Wartime Farm. I just love how this series has been done. In each 3 people live for a year in the conditions of that time period. They are very educational, but entertaining enough that the kid’s really stay interested.
What works for us the best is using selected parts of different curriculum like the ones I mentioned above. Each family is different in their needs and I don’t let a suggested schedule in a book lock me in. If we are loving learning about one area of the world, or a time period then we will stay there until we all feel it’s time to move on.
What are your favourite social studies programs?