The promise of "history made fun"is empty if there isn't enough content—Time Travelers History Study provides both. Students gain fairly intimate knowledge of American history and culture through reading exercises, science experiments, paper crafts, games, etc. Everything you need is on a CD-ROM (you'll be printing lots of pages), though you'll need a three-ring binder for yourself, and one for each student. For ease of use, adaptability, and student appeal this history unit study series is hard to beat.
How Do These Work?
Time Travelers is intended for grades 3-8. Each CD-ROM contains one 25-lesson unit study which can typically be used over 5-10 weeks, though you can easily adapt to a different schedule. There's plenty here so you could use these exclusively for history study (especially for younger students), though it's probably a good idea to at least supplement with more reading as certain topics are treated too briefly. Each lesson is thoroughly outlined, from reading assignments and teacher support to student activities and written work.
There are more activities per lesson than most families will be able to get through, but the authors make it easy to choose the ones that will work best with your situation, and to alter the lesson plans accordingly. Students are responsible for keeping a notebook and a Lap Book, and for making a timeline of the period studied. Activities range from cooking authentic foods to making a haversack to penmanship practice to drawing maps to playing era-specific games. Students (or parents, for that matter) are never left to figure assignments or activities out for themselves—detailed instructions are always provided.
Six studies cover New World Explorers, Colonial Life, American Revolution, Early 19th Century, Civil War, and Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression. While students do learn dates and names and their historical context, they will also explore American cultural history through activities designed to illustrate daily life in different eras. Most of these won't require anything beyond a printout and maybe one or two household items, though some may require small purchases of extra materials. Overall, however, you won't be spending much money beyond the initial cost of the CD-ROM, which is already affordably priced.
Our Honest Opinion:
While there are as many approaches to history education as there are curriculum options, Time Travelers History Study manages to bring together many of the best methods for a course that can be used independently, as a supplement, or as a cornerstone for a more comprehensive program. Students learn through reading, listening and doing, a far more holisitic approach than most courses offer. The attention to both "name and date"style knowledge and understanding of cultural history and developments is also fairly unusual for history curriculum, especially for younger students (this is fortunately becoming less the case, but is still somewhat rare). In the end, it's definitely a good idea to supplement these studies beyond what the authors suggest or provide, but if you want your students to love history and to be provided a solid foundation in its study (from an American history perspective), this is a great place to start.
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