Disclosure: Sonlight provided me with a Hands-on History box, and compensated me financially for this post. I have used many Sonlight products in our homeschool prior to reviewing this product. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]
Sonlight is synonymous with literature-based learning. Think Sonlight, and you immediately think excellent books. (The phrase “no more boring textbooks” leads Sonlight’s educational philosophy.) But over the past several years, Sonlight has added more and more hands-on homeschool options to complement the treasure trove of literature.
[Disclosure: Sonlight provided me with a History / Bible / Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 package, and compensated me financially for this post. I have used many Sonlight products in our homeschool prior to reviewing this product. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]
If there’s one thing I’ve excelled at in our homeschool, it’s procrastinating over choosing a US History curriculum.
As a third-culture missionary kid born abroad, teaching US history has never come naturally to me. When I was young, American history seemed worlds away, and even as an adult, I often still feel like an outsider.
I have zero patience for dry legalist curriculum which holds the Founding Fathers on faultless pedestals, doesn’t consider both sides of a story, and ignores the sorrowful brokenness of our nation’s foundations. (Second-generation homeschoolers, you know what I’m talking about!)
But I knew my own kids couldn’t just skip learning the complicated history of our nation. Eventually, we had to dive in. Having spent my early childhood years in a socialist republic without the freedom of speech, religion, or assembly, I’ve learned that no matter how complex US history is to navigate, we must never take such invaluable freedoms for granted. So I needed to find a complete American history curriculum, especially after my own previous unsuccessful attempts to piece together a literature-based US history course always fizzled out.
Does an accurate American history curriculum for kindergarten actually exist?
A good homeschool history curriculum is difficult to find, isn’t it? And US history is particularly hard to teach. I have very little tolerance for oversimplified books which whitewash the complexity of our nation’s beginnings, idolize outward morality, virtue, and character, or put Columbus and Washington on a pedestal of American exceptionalism. But most truly accurate US history books are geared toward a much older audience, and aren’t designed to give a broad sweeping overview to sensitive kindergarteners or first graders. American history is messy, ugly, grim, and often brutal. Teaching true American history to small children — even with picture books — is not easy.
So how do we find accurate US history books which will capture the tender imaginations of precious five- and six-year-olds?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary Hands-On History Project Kit from Sonlight Curriculum in exchange for writing and publishing this post. Aveline’s outfit is compliments of Mabo Clothier. All opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.
Homeschoolers love to talk about the best way to teach homeschool history. Everyone has an opinion, right? If you’re new to homeschooling — actually, even if you’re not! — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Searching Pinterest for hands-on history project ideas, for example, can be like drinking from a firehose. Phew.
I’ve always loved maps — the delicate wandering lines, the stars and circles hovering over city centers, the softly-worn paper folds creating ridges and peaks where the creases bisect latitude and longitude.
Maps, to me, are about more than just distance.
Maps hold stories, and remind me how connected we all are.
We spend the mornings together, side by side, she a constant inquisitive spirit, eager, joyful, full of wonder. We sit at the table together, the sun casting shadows through the curtains and across the stacks of books. Sometimes she slowly exclaims “Wow!” and sometimes she shrieks “Tell me more about it!” But always she wants to know more.
I read, she listens. She reads, I listen.
Voyages and discoveries, light and darkness.
We turn the pages together. We marvel at the lines in the paintings of the masters together. We look up into the vast distance of the galaxies together. We talk of good and evil. We talk of beauty. She asks for more about Moses, more about Joshua, more about Sarah, more about these men and women who walked before. Her voice recites truths, her fingers are just beginning to dance across the piano keys, her little self is flying through books like there is no end to adventure.