Living Books: Social Studies - MetroFamily Magazine
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Living Books: Social Studies

by Jennifer Geary

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the ability to choose my own scope and sequence for our studies, but unfortunately, I'm still under time restrictions. As much as I love learning about early American history, my 11-year-old son isn't going to want to eat, breathe and live it long enough to dive into all of the resources we have. Even if he did, I've still got to work around outside activities, chores and other family obligations. As a former classroom teacher–all six years spent in the fifth grade–I have (possibly literally) a ton of history books that are absolutely wonderful, but are hard to fit into daily assignments.

Enter the Morning Basket. As I shared last week, we've done this off and on for a while, but like most things in homeschooling, it's changed over the years. Now I'm using this time each morning to add to our different content areas with books and resources that are easier to use in bits and pieces than all at once. This week I'm going to share several of them with you. Right now we're learning about the Constitution and early American history so some of the specific titles may not be what you need right now, but some of these books are part of series that cover many different time periods.

The Founders & The Signers These two books are great accompaniments to a study of the birth of our nation. Each book contains short biographies of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Some people you'll already be familiar with, but there are many men who had an important role in our nation's beginning that most of us don't know anything about. We've been reading through one or two each day and learning all kinds of interesting things!

You Wouldn't Want to Be A…. These books have been a big hit at our house because of the funny pictures and all the interesting facts. The series covers a huge range of topics, from Aztec sacrifices to the Apollo 13.

If You Lived….  Series There are many time periods and topics explored in this series, from life with the Cherokee to the sailing of the Mayflower to the fight for women's right to vote. The books are broken down into questions and answers, so they lend themselves to being read in short chunks.

Picture Books There are so many great picture books out there now about different time periods. I love picture books even for older kids as a quick way to introduce and discuss specific topics more in depth than they're covered in a textbook.  

Biographies Kids love to learn more about specific people, and there are many great biographies out there on all kinds of people, from Presidents to people you've never heard of before! I've loved the Jean Fritz biographies of people like John Hancock and King George III since I was young; Mike Venezia is a favorite with my son.

Dear America & My Name is America These series are written as diary/journal entries written by boys and girls from different time periods.  Though the characters are fictional, there is a good deal of factual information woven into the stories so your kids will be drawn into the story and learn at the same time.

Historical Fiction Chapter Books Of course you can assign chapter books as part of your child's studies or use them as your daily read aloud book, but another option is to read a chapter or so each day during your morning basket time. Some we've really enjoyed lately are Blood on the River and Blue Birds, but you can find more ideas here.

Cobblestone Even as an adult, I really enjoy looking through magazines like Cobblestone because there are all kinds of interesting facts I've never heard before! Have your kids browse through issues related to what you're learning about and let them share what they find interesting with the rest of the family.

You can see there are way more options than you'll ever be able to use, but that's okay. Try out some new things every so often and see what your family enjoys the most. No matter what you choose, you're going to be able to get in more learning without making it seem like so much work, so you're all going to win!  

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