Making Social Studies and History Come Alive

In this final section of the Ideas for Making Social Studies and History Come Alive blog series, I wanted to take the time to add a few modifications and accommodation options to the activities our family has used to bring the whole history experience full circle for everyone.

In this part of the series, Let’s Make it Work – Social Studies Hacks for Different Learning Styles, I spoke about various bingo and scavenger hunt ideas. The same ideas can be applied to the ideas below.

Road Trip Themes:

In Making History Come Alive – Part 3, I wrote about the various history themes our family has engaged in during our past road trips. Additional activities include bingo or scavenger hunts about road signs, 50 states (license plates game), restaurants, and landmarks. This activity can also include a reading and math component by participating in letter and number hunts.

If you know where your family may be stopping along your road trip, you can create

visuals, social stories, check-off lists, or scavenger hunts for items that you

want your child to look for based on the theme or learning skill you choose.

Current Events and Family Trees:

To adapt this activity, the family could put together a scrapbook timeline of the events that have taken place during a child’s life from birth to the present. This is an activity that can continue to be built upon throughout the years.

A family can also create a family tree as a way to connect the past with the present.

Art History, Music History, and Hymn Studies:

Again, timelines are great for studying art, music, and hymns. Can you tell I love timelines?

Although a more hands-off approach, simply listening to classical music and hymns is teeming with learning skills and sensory input. This not only introduces the child(ren) to the different genres of music but also allows for the practice of listening skills. Fun and active options include having kids use an instrument or dance to the tempo of the music; integrating various learning styles.

Art can appeal to kinesthetic and visual learners by simply using arts and crafts that highlight genres, famous artists, or cultures. Art is also great for fine motor and sensory activities as kids engage with art mediums. Through this, a child is not only receiving art instruction, but the child is also receiving practice in pre-writing skills.

Tuttle Twins Projects:

The Tuttle Twins books, as noted in Making History Come Alive – Part 3,  incorporates information about government, laws, citizenship, and economics for toddlers through teens. These books can be used as part of the Good Citizenship requirement set by the Texas Homeschool laws within your own homeschool curriculum.

Our family typically reads the books as a read-aloud. Now, I have a visual learner whose mind wanders if she is not following along. I also have an auditory learner who would seem as if he is not listening because of the movement, fidgeting, and lack of eye contact he is making.

If I don’t allow my visual learner to follow along with me in the book, she gets lost and is not able to comprehend the reading. I have to make sure that she has some type of bookmark that she or I move from line to line as I read to help her maintain focus. Otherwise, she is spending more time figuring out where I am instead of learning.

Yet, if my auditory/kinesthetic learner is required to follow along in the book, he gets lost. He needs to be able to move his body, not just his eyes. Also, he has a visual processing disorder, so for a long time following along was difficult. His eyes did not work together across the page, especially at mid-line. Once at mid-line, his eyes would jump or wiggle and he was lost, which meant that I then had both kids lost for different reasons and learning was not happening. So moms, you know your kids and how they learn best. Utilize their strengths to your and your child’s advantage.

Okay, back to Tuttle Twins. Downloads are available for purchase at Children’s Books that Teach about Freedom | The Tuttle Twins – The Tuttle Twins. The variety of activities and age levels is great so I can pick and choose how I want to reinforce the concept with each child. My kids love the mad libs because they are fun. I love the mad libs because they are also getting grammar and spelling practice. It is a win-win!

Another option for families with children who struggle with writing and/or reading is to watch the Tuttle Twins cartoons. My kiddos (even my 12-year-old) think they are great! Your family can find the videos on The Tuttle Twins Youtube site or through Angel Studios, one of our amazing sponsors.

THSC Good Citizenship Projects:

As mentioned in Making History Come Alive – Part 3, members of the Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC Membership – Join Today – Texas Homeschool) have access to the THSC Good Citizenship curriculum that is available for homeschooled students from 3rd – 12th grade.  The beauty of this curriculum is that it can be revisited from elementary to junior high to high school due to the variation in activities based on the appropriateness of age.

A great field trip idea is Capitol Days in Austin. This occurs during odd years, so stay tuned for the 2023 Capital Days dates and information. During this event, students participate in activities designed to help them learn about the legislative process. This is a great opportunity for all students, but especially those who prefer active learning versus passive learning.

Service projects are also another way for students to actively participate as citizens for the Good Citizenship requirement. This can be through church, sponsoring or supporting someone, participating in a walk for an organization or person, or delivering meals to someone in need.

Theme Units – Great for any child at any learning level!

Themes or units are a great way to integrate all subject areas for any age/grade/developmental level. This type of learning allows students to learn the necessary skills while integrating their interests. For example, pet animals are a great theme that can be revisited at any age as it allows for growth and new learning as the child grows.

In elementary school, the pet theme can be used for graphing favorite pets, reading picture books about pets, learning to care for pets (good citizenship for the win!), writing or narrating about facts learned, etc. In junior high and high school, a student can use the same theme to learn more about the anatomy of animals, job opportunities, research papers on specific animals, etc.

A great theme resource for toddlers, kindergarteners, and other students working at a toddler/kinder level; is A Teaching Mommy. This website has a variety of themes with math, language, science, and Bible activities ready to print and use. Another option is to laminate the pages you would like to use over and over to save paper.

Living Books

In Making History Come Alive – Part 3 I talk more about living books. These books allow a child to engage in some way with history instead of the typical textbook. For younger learners or those on varying learning levels, books such as picture books about the different states, picture books about Texas, picture books about state symbols, and more could be used to accommodate the level of learning of the student. Of course, there are also chapter books, books on CD, and other books that can be used. I was mainly using picture books as an example of how to accommodate for the varying learning levels.

Movies and Movie Scavenger Hunts

Lastly, movie scavenger hunts are a great way to learn and break up the monotony of the week. Kiddos can have a page with a combination of pictures, or words to find during the movie. Another way to incorporate a scavenger hunt is for kiddos to find the pictures, words, or items being identified within the movie throughout the house or in a sensory bin.

Cooking and crafts are another great way to incorporate learning from movies. For example, your family could cook or create something from the culture or time period the movie takes place.

One final note to bring it all together.

If you would like to see other ways to incorporate history, social studies, and geography into your homeschool journey, check out Ideas for Making Social Studies and History Come Alive – Part 1

Are you needing ideas to modify or accommodate activities for Ideas for Making Social Studies and History Come Alive – Part 1, check out Let’s Make it Work – Social Studies Hacks for Different Learning Styles (Part 2 of the History series)

In Making History Come Alive – Part 3, I share more ideas, including how to piece together a theme unit.

A final word of encouragement

Here are my final quotes, thoughts, and resources for encouragement. I have left them for last as they hold a special place in my heart and have encouraged me through my family’s homeschool journey. I pray they will encourage you and strengthen you as well.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

  • Psalm 32:8

I am in no way perfect and take matters into my own hands more often than I care to admit when I should be praying and seeking counsel from Christ instead. This verse helps remind me that I need His counsel daily. With that said, I leave you with this resource from Proverbial Homemaker, which I found in the early days of our journey. I pray you find encouragement through these scriptures as you pray over your homeschool, your kiddos, your planning, hard days, and great days.

“You can struggle for weeks to teach a child to identify colors before they are ready or you can do it in a few moments when they are ready to learn.”

  • Author Unknown

I love this quote! Sometimes as moms we worry about meeting a certain age/grade requirement for skills, yet, when I read this I am reminded that each child is unique and that we can meet each child where they are at and that the child will bloom.

“Education is not the learning of facts but training of the mind to think.”

  • Albert Einstein

This final quote was a game-changer for me as I was transitioning from teaching public school to homeschooling. When I was able to change my way of thinking about what learning and education really is, our homeschool journey became so much more relaxed and has flourished into a beautiful adventure. So mommas and dads, go and enjoy the adventure with your kiddos and watch the spark in their eyes shine! You’ve got this!

Heather Young

Heather Young has been homeschooling since 2013 and joined THSC in 2021 as a Special Needs Specialist for Customer Relations and also a Homeschool Mentor. Her goal is to encourage families through inspirational creativity and a firm foundation in Christ. She enjoys reading, cooking, and exploring history with her two kids and supportive husband of 15 years.