Facebook Image

Living History ~ Originally Printed in FamilyPastime Magazine Summer 2007

It is oft said, “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” All homeschool parents want to inspire their children and figure out a fun way to teach history, but often scratch their heads and wonder “how?” Many of us grew up with dry, boring textbooks filled with facts. We concentrated on American history with a semester of world history thrown in, yet the exciting story of history never quite made sense. WHY history unfolded in the curious path it did was left a mystery. We were not taught how to reason through the great minds of the past and join the Great Conversation, read the literature, study the art, music and culture and see the incredible tapestry woven years before us. So how do we inspire our kids and learn along with them? 

Jump aboard a whole new side of history, from living books to camping out with the Confederates. Our family began with a simple, but hazy, love of history that grew stronger. We devoured living books, read them out loud. The more we read, the more we realized we didn’t know history, and books led to more books, which eventually led us to creating a whole 19th century wardrobe and becoming Civil War living historians, camping in tents, wearing corsets and eventually moving cross country to be closer to history! You can see a bit of it at www.allaboutthewar.com

What made our family crazy about history? We would choose a time period and study the history, literature, art, science and culture of what was happening around the world. Like most local homeschoolers, we were studying HIS-story, the story of God working throughout humanity. We studied the clothes, food and everyday life of an era.

As we learned, we created simple timelines, in notebooks, recording what we were learning. Timelines can include historical figures, wars, books of the day, inventions, scientific and artistic achievements, explorations and more. As we created our timelines, it became easy to see the story of history in context, to see what was happening in China and India, while Europe was exploring, etc. From the Ancients to the Moderns, history quickly transformed from a list of dates and dead men to our favorite subject.

The best thing we ever did was to ditch the textbook route and use “history guides” and living books to study the heartbeat of history. TruthQuest History has created literature based history guides for all grades at www.truthquesthistory.com. You can study ALL of history with these guides and a library card! Similar literature resources include Beautiful Feet Books Guidesat http://www.bfbooks.com.

A Charlotte Mason approach to history, with 12 years of books can be found at http://amblesideonline.org. Classical resources study history in cycles of 4-6 years and include www.veritaspress.com (with great history/CD resources for 1-6), Well Trained Mind www.susanwisebauer.com. An overall fun approach with great CD’s www.dianawaring.com help audio learners, as do the Veritas Press set. All weave history together. Record it on a timeline and your kids have begun a lifelong curiosity toward history!

Nothing transforms kids like the roar of a cannon, the smell of black powder, or the rustle of a pretty dress found at living history events. Reenactments abound in this area, from the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown, Williamsburg, American Revolution, Lewis and Clark, and Civil War, all within a days drive. Try a historical vacation this year!

Parents often have local amnesia when it comes to visiting great historical sites in their own area. Northeast TN is full of great opportunities, right in our backyard, well worth seeing, with year round offerings and great classes. Summers brim with living history reenactments, sheep shearing, festivals and more. Can’t miss local historical sites include:

Add all of the local caverns, the Crooked Road in Bristol, delightful Abingdon, VA and the Biltmore in Asheville, NC and you realize we are at an intersection of history, within an hour of the Tri-Cities area!

I could write ten columns and not begin to cover this area fully – but you get the idea! Try living books, go to living history events, explore museums, and have fun learning about history together! And no, you don’t have to sew a 19th century wardrobe and wear a corset to do this – just have fun in your way!

Copyright 2008. For permission to use, please contact Lisa Baughn

Discover a whole new world with Living History Sites all over the United States! Family friendly, descriptive living history sites full of information your family needs to plan their next history vacation!