Saturday, May 31, 2014

Social Studies

A couple of days ago, Brandy Vencel, Ambleside Online board member and Afterthoughtsblog author, asked if my research (here and here) into Charlotte Mason's writings on history would influence my teaching 4th grade Social Studies in a public school setting. The answer is yes.

I should probably start with some of what I already do in my classroom (for Social Studies):

1)I use the California History district mandated textbook.

2)We each keep a Book of Centuries, which some of the kids love and listed it as one of their favorite things we did this year, and some of the kids groan when I tell them to get it out.

3)We do Geography Fridays, using Wynn Kapit's geography coloring book, focusing on a different area of the world each month.

4)I read aloud biographies of historical figures that focus on admirable qualities, using the Valuetales series

5)Students do written narrations of some of the biographies - and they remember EVERYTHING!

But what about next year? (This year isn't even over - it ends Thursday for the kids, and Friday for the teachers - and I'm already thinking about next year. A couple of days ago, I received a BACK TO SCHOOL catalogue from a school supply store - in MAY!)

Next year, in addition to what I'm doing, I want to:

1)create and put up a simple timeline with maybe 15 key events (including "prehistory = before writing," when the automobile was invented, when the internet was available to the public, etc.) each printed on an 8 1/2 x 11 page with an image

2)supplement the district mandated textbook with life stories of key California figures (such as Levi Strauss here and hereJunipero Serra, William Mullholland, John Sutter, James Marshall, Biddy Mason, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo here and here and Mariano Vallejo), telling the story of California through people

3)to simplify lesson objectives to a)interest students so they won't forget, b)establish relations with the past, and c)focus on people's admirable actions and qualities

That's what I've got for now, but it's still only May (for a few more hours anyway)...


  1. This is so great! I love that you are doing a BoC...and that you are having them narrate. So many teachers seem to frustrated by all the state requirements, to the point where they seem unwilling to think outside that box. I think you are proving that it can be done, and done well! :)

    1. Thank you. :)

      You're right. There are so many state requirements. Some teachers are set in their ways, but I think, for many, it's not so much an unwillingness to think outside the box as it is fear.

    2. What is there to fear? I mean this as an honest question; I am ignorant. :)

  2. Hi Brandy :)
    Here is the start of an answer to your question: