Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homeschooling + Genealogy = High Interest Learning

So, I'm a girl that posts a lot about art and music. I love it. But, I must admit that I have another love affair of a different sort. History. I can get lost in the sights and sounds of another time period so very quickly. I truly think that my love of history is what sparked my interest in genealogy. Granted, I've taken a long hiatus from my research but I'm back and ready for action. Because I've been working more on it lately it started me thinking... History + Genealogy!

Merriam-Webster's website defines history as:
1. A tale, story
2. a chronological record of significant events (as affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes 
3. a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events
4. a: events that form the subject matter of a history; and
    b: events of the past
Let's review these definitions. A story or tale... History isn't a dry bunch of dusty facts. It's a STORY! It's a tale of living people and the EVENTS that happened during their lives. Understanding these stories and learning about these events helps us EXPLAIN past events and even where we are today. (I know how my family ended up in GA. Do you know how your family ended up where they are today, and why you speak with the particular accent you do rather than another?) These events and explanations together build an entire SUBJECT... the HISTORY of our families, our country, and our world.

So back to my original thought: History + Genealogy! What better way to make history come alive! We've always tied our family history into our studies where it was applicable, but in all honestly I could do a better job. American history is steeped with opportunity to focus on our family's history. Every family has a part, whether it is the immigrant story, the adventure of the Gold Rush, the courage of the Civil Rights Movement, or the bravery and heroics of any number of wars. The various wars that involve the United States throughout history are also good places to incorporate world history. Suppose you find out that Great Uncle Louie loved to tinker in the garage with his latest inventions. Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to tie in the greatest minds of the past such as Tesla, Edison, Carver? Think about how real history will seem when you suddenly have a relative to include among the dry facts and dates. It is also much easier to remember facts and data when you have a hook on which to hang the information. Make Great Uncle Louie that hook!

So, how do you get started? Don't forget, Google is your friend. A quick Google search will return many ideas on how to incorporate genealogy into your homeschool. Here are just a few that I particularly liked for the younger to middle set:

A to Z Home's Cool has a great list of links to enjoy under the title Genealogy For Kids.

Easy Fun School also has a fun Genealogy Mini Unit. It's a great little jumping off point with options for both younger and older students.

Homeschool Learning Network has a free unit study available for Grandparent's Day and Family History. (Lessons #1 and #2 are perfect for an intro into genealogy!)

For my high school-aged daughter I simply drag her along for the ride with me. I'm in the process of setting up the Legacy Family Tree free genealogy software, but once I'm up and running she'll help me search through records online and locally. (I'm getting to sift through mountains of notes and papers in order to make sense of it all... and I love it!) I hope to find a few more connections to Jamestown Colony and other events before we study American history next year. While we won't approach it as the beginning for our unit study we will incorporate it as we find information or as we cover particular chapters in history. I will include biographies as well as maps and source documents wherever possible. How better to understand what life was like during the 1700s in Virginia than to read the letters and will of an ancestor? I know it makes it more real to me. Now, to just figure out how to convince the husband that we need to take a research trip around the great state of Virginia...

Do you love genealogy? Are you actively connecting your family history with your homeschool history assignment? I would love to hear about it! Who knows, maybe I'll write a post about genealogy. After all, it is becoming another "new found" obsession interest and it is on my Big Fat 100 of 2011 list!  :)

And, to give you something fun to think about, has a free two-week trial membership. If you need a bit of entertainment to kick off a new hobby check out the new season of Who Do You Think You Are? I'm a new fan, and let's just say that I've been spending a lot of time watching Season One on! (I have no reason to post these links other than I enjoy them. No reviews, no compensation, no reason... just because...)

History is exciting and a real part of our lives. We are making history ourselves in our own circles and our own communities. It's time to remind ourselves that it surrounds us every day. Go talk to a grandmother or make a family tree. Your kids will thank you for it!

1 comment:

Stacie said...

This is great stuff, Stephanie!

Thanks for posting these ideas. (You know I'm collecting homeschooling ideas where ever they may be found!)

Take care,