Saturday, 21 January 2017

History, Living Books and the Imagination

Welcome to Week Four of the Virtual Curriculum Fair 2017. More information about the Virtual Curriculum Fair can be found here. This week's theme is Exploring our World: Social Studies and the Exploratory Sciences. My post is about history.
The previous week's posts are Starting the Day Well, a Poetry Feast and Maths: a Subject in Progress.

This year has been an unusual year for history. We have officially been studying Early Modern times (from the time of James I until the mid-nineteenth century) but this isn't where the real learning has happened. The real learning has been about a much earlier time and has been precipitated by children's literature. Younger Daughter loves early history and has spent much of the autumn learning about Roman times with the help of Caroline Lawrence's books: The Roman Mysteries and the two new Roman Quests. 

This has led to

  • a trip to a Roman site where we met Caroline Lawrence 
  • a day of Roman activities
  • Roman cooking 
  • dressing up as a character from the Roman Mysteries for an archaeology club Christmas party. This involved research into Roman clothing and hair styles
  • learning about Roman numerals
  • writing a book review
  • having more background to reading the book of Acts.
  • an interest in Latin and the roots of words.
  • many discussions on topics from geography to Roman morality to the Emperor cult to Christians in Roman times. We have used these books as read alouds which I think is important in terms of learning and being able to talk about the contents.
This isn't the first year that the history learning has really been sparked by living books. 

What is a living book? It is a book which inspires interest in a subject. It is usually written by one person rather than a committee. That person has an enthusiasm for their subject so pulls the reader in. The term was coined by the famous Victorian educator, Charlotte Mason.

For the previous two years, we used the Veritas Self Paced history and the literature suggested with this programme. These books, and the programme, which my daughter loved, led to the first phase of interest in early history. We read 
  • Detectives in Togas
  • Hostage Lands
  • Black Ships before Troy
  • Lysis goes to the Play
  • Theras and his town
  • A Trojan horse
and more.

Last year, we used the Veritas list again and studied the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation. Books again, captured the imagination and led to a successful year in history learning. 

This year, we changed curriculum. The new curriculum does have literature suggestions but so many that I was rather overwhelmed. I had a few books lined up but  these just haven't managed to capture the imagination in the way that the Roman Mysteries have. At the end of the year, I suspect that my children will have gained more knowledge and perhaps more importantly, enthusiasm for learning about the Romans that for the period 1610 to 1850. 

The moral for next year, is that I need to find a few living books that capture the imagination. Once the children are spending their free time thinking about the Victorians, World War One and World War Two, they will learn almost whatever I do. In the meantime, we will probably visit a villa or two and read more Roman stories.

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Exploring Our World this week:

Notebooking Our Way through History by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Studying the Where and How by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays
The History of Our Mysterious Struggle With History by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Social Science, Science and Exploring our World - Our Path by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Learning History Through Fiction by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
History in Our Homeschool by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Exploring Our World Through History And Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Bringing History to Life! by Yvie @ Gypsy Road
History, Living Books and the Imagination by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Exploring our world comes in many different forms. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Bible, History and Geography by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Beyond the Books - Social Studies and Science by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Exploring the World with Living Books by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
High School History & Science without Textbooks by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Exploring the World Starting with Canada by Annette @ A Net in Time
Visit The World Through Video by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Nature Study is Our Favorite Way to Do Science by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully
What A Wonderful World by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
The Time we got Lost in the Woods by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acres

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterestInstagram or e-mail.


  1. That is so cool that you can just hop over to some Roman sites. :) We love living books around here, too. We just purged a bunch of "twaddle" recently. Somehow, it just collects.

  2. I love it when they follow a passion and learn outside of the "curriculum." Thank you for sharing your daughter's studies of ancient Rome. :)

  3. so you need more books to help the current study work better, and studying Roman culture was a great study. It's good to know what worked well so that you can work towards it again. :)

  4. Living books is something that I have loved for some time, but now the kids love them as well! What a fun list of hands on ideas that help make learning fun!

  5. Isn't it great to see where their interests will take you!?