Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hands-On American History in High School

It is that time of year when everyone in the homeschool community is thinking about conventions, books for next year and what has worked this year. I am deep in the planning stages for next year. I will have two 10th graders next year, with one of those students working a few subjects in 11th grade as well. Both of my students are hands-on learners. One of my students spends lots of time out in the world pursuing her desired career and is a bit pinched for study time during parts of the year.  However, she is a good student and works tirelessly to meet my expectations. One student is special needs and can read and write on grade level but really prefers to use his hands and brain for other endeavors. This past year went well and I want next year to be even better. I want to finish our homeschool journey in three years on a high note! So while others I know are moving more and more towards textbooks and early college, we are moving toward a truly hands-on, real-world living education. It is somewhat hard to go against the grain, but that is precisely what I intend to do. It is what my particular kids need. That said, here are my plans for Hands-On American History.

Both of my children walked into high school with a strong working knowledge of American history. No, they do not know the dates of every battle in the Civil War or the names of every single Civil Rights leader, but they do know a great deal about American history, including the timeline of events, many famous leaders of different movements, the presidents and many of their accomplishments, and tons of social events that have shaped our nation. They also know the most important dates and have a working knowledge of how our government works. So I realized I was just going to bore them to death by repeating it all again. What should we do?

Travel... That is the answer I came up with! Now, we are not made out of money and have a very rigorous schedule that keeps us close to home for most of the school year, but I hope to explore America much more in the coming years. If it takes us three years to fill this credit, that is fine with me.My kiddos have seen 32% of America and I hope to add as much as I can to that in the coming years. We just returned from our Deep South tour in which we explored a swamp, the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans, the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery Alabama and rode a steamboat on the Mississippi River. It was fantastic and they learned so much. 

We also live in an area of the country which is steeped in history and are blessed to have relatives who live in the Washington, D.C. area who we have visited often through the children's childhoods. Just this past weekend we visited a small town about 30 minutes from us that we had not explored in years. We visited a small, living history pioneer fort from 1776 and a man-made geyser which was created to greet tourists to the mountains. We also explored a Civil War battlefield. We had some great discussions and reviewed some key points in history in our area.

The kids learned so much that it inspired me to come home and compile a list of all of the small towns around us and what they have to see and do. We should be busy for months exploring the towns on weekends. 

We will still hit the books a bit. I am compiling a list of biographies and a few unit studies to sprinkle into our learning, but mostly we will go out and explore.

Blessings, Dawn


  1. What a blessing you are to your kids for traveling and exploring and giving your kids the world--or at least their country! :) I think it is simply marvelous.

  2. You are welcome to stay with us, if you ever want to in your travels.

  3. I love this idea! What better way to learn about America, it's land, it's people and it's history than by exploring and traveling! Thanks so much for linking up with us at Love to Learn. I am just soaking up all these high school posts as I get to dive in myself next year. Pinned.

  4. As an historian, I love your idea of hands of history. It is more important to know the why, where, and who then memorizing dates of battles. I think that is a fabulous idea! If you head up to MN, let me know.

    I haven't posted much once again. Life has been crazy busy here. I'm working 40 hours per week right now, homeschooling, and finishing up two master's classes. I'm exhausted and so grateful that the classes will end next week. At least I'll have a little break. Have a wonderful week.