People don’t happen to history: history happens to people. That, dear friends, is the core message behind the website featured on this edition of Friday Favorites.
The folks over at Heritage History have compiled a history curriculum that uses a vast number of engaging historical biographies and delightful tales to teach children all about the events of the past without suffocating their minds with boredom. They base their curriculum off of a large selection of biographies, well-written historical fiction and anecdotal collections of historical events that have entered the public domain.
But I don’t use their curriculum.
What I like to use is the website itself. You see, every book used in their history curriculum is available on their website. And this website is very well organized. You can browse by genre. You can search by author or title. You can search by historical character, by war or by civilization. The table of Contents for the book you are perusing is always available at the left hand side of the screen, making navigation within individual books a breeze.
I first discovered Heritage History in January of 2012, and I fell in love right away. I was midway through kindergarten with Zorro and I wanted him to be the smartest kid alive. (Okay, I still have this wish, but I’ll be quite content if he can just learn to love learning.) I had found the perfect curriculum to teach him history! It would work for all 12 years! I fell in love.
Eventually, my frugal side kicked into gear. After all, my oldest child was still in Kindergarten. I had set a goal of zero curriculum purchases for his first year of school, and I was still researching educational philosophies as I struggled to decide which path I wanted to take. Besides all this, Zorro and Rosie are so very different. How will I know what works for each of them before I’ve tried it? All I knew was that I wanted to have a literature based homeschool.
Then I dicovered Ambleside Online and Charlotte Mason’s writings. I soaked it up like a sponge. Charlotte Mason made so much sense! Every thing she taught could be applied to all of my children, no matter their personalities. That was the key: to work with their personalities and not against them. Heritage History fit perfectly into this plan.
Though I am not currently using the curriculum they offer, I find myself constantly referring back to Heritage History’s website. When the birthday of a famous person rolls around, I take a few moments to stop by Heritage History, locate an appropriate biographical tale and read it to my little ones. I have not needed to purchase or even download the texts for Zorro’s first grade history: the books are already available at Heritage History. Due to the fact that my children are not yet reading on their own, I find that I use the website more than I would use the actual books. It is so easy to search and see all my different options before I decide which story to read.
My children particularly love the illustrations that accompany these books. I often print one out and allow the children to color while I read the story. I have noticed that they remember the story much better as they make associations between it and the pictures they are coloring. The large selection of historical maps is yet another useful tool that I am just beginning to explore.
I have not yet purchased any curriculum from Heritage History. For his first year of school we are using the plan of study laid out for Year 1 at Ambleside Online. But the longer I have researched other history options, the more determined I become that Heritage History is one of the best history courses available, and it is most definitely the one I will have the most fun teaching. And on the day that I do finally purchase curriculum for Zorro, I plan on my first purchase being Heritage History’s Young Readers Collection. Until then, I’ll continue using their website for all my history needs.