History Hacks: Products & Ideas to Make History Come Alive for Your Child

History is one of my favorite subjects to teach and share with my children. There are so many interesting and important conversations that happen as a result of studying the past and examining the lessons that can be learned for the future.

At the University Model School where our children attend, formal history instruction begins in 2nd grade. History is also integrated in kindergarten and first grade, but the primary focus in those grades is on reading, writing, and math (as it should be).

Below I am sharing our family's experience with several history books and curriculum resources. I'd love to hear what history-related products you recommend!

Some of the products in the list below were sent to us to try. Other products are ones that we purchased ourselves or were given by family members and friends. Know that I will always provide both the pros and cons of each featured product. I will also edit this page annually with new remarks to ensure that you hear about products beyond the “honeymoon stage.”

PURE FLIX

Pure Flix history documentaries homeschool

Pure Flix is like Netflix, but with a focus on Christian movies and television shows. The company's mission is to give families access to "wholesome movies and entertainment." Based in Arizona, this company offers a subscription-based service that gives you access to animated titles, documentaries, and inspirational films. Monthly membership is $10.99, which is comparable to Netflix.

If you are looking for a service for family movie nights or other "group watching" events, you will want to be sure that you have one of the following products: Apple TV, Roku Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, or Samsung Smart TV. You can also use Pure Flix on personal devices: iPhone, iPad, Android Phones + Tablets, and Amazon Fire Tablets.

In the past year, Pure Flix has promoted their service to homeschooling families and are expanding their repertoire of educational films and series.

For example, the following history-themed movies/series are available on Pure Flix (and many more!): Monument Men: The Road to Rushmore, Proof Through The Night, Hoover Dam: The Historical Construction, and Our Federal Government. Pure Flix also has a collection of films on the topics of science, nature, and early learning.

The downsides of Pure Flix are that some of the shows are old or of mediocre quality. Additionally, you will find very few titles produced by larger movie studios. For example, if you are looking for "Mary Poppins" or "Monsters Inc," you won't find either of those movies here.

The positives, however, are that there are plentiful titles with messages of truth and redemption. You may also enjoy introducing your children to shows from your childhood (Remember McGee & Me?), along with animated series from well-known Christian producers - Veggie Tales, Torchlighters, Friends and Heroes, etc. The other very important positive is that you are helping to support Christian producers, directors, animators, and studios. As the phrase goes, we vote with our dollars.

STORY OF THE WORLD

Story of the World is a four-book overview of the world's history from "the earliest nomads" to the end of the USSR. Written by well-known curriculum developer Susan Wise Bauer, the series is published by her company (The Well Trained Mind) and is broadly used within the homeschooling curriculum. The series is intended to be read-aloud by parents/teachers to their children/students. Story of the World offers a grand sweeping "story" about the world and, like all history curriculums, misses some essential stories along the way. Overall, however, it does an impressive job when it comes to scope and comprehensiveness. In fact, I am even more impressed when I consider that the entire series is written by one author - which indicates a strong command of history and literature across many genres and time periods.

If you read the (overwhelmingly positive) reviews on Amazon, you will note that the negative reviews tend to say either that the book is overtly religious OR that the books are not religious enough...which just goes to show that you can't please everyone. From our reading, it appears that the text is not necessarily written from a Christian perspective. The first book, for example, makes no mention at all of creation, the flood, etc. Bible stories are included, however, for historical context.

Quick side note: Story of the World books are also available on audio. The narrator is just so-so with a slightly robotic voice. It would be great if SOTW could put out a new edition with music, sound effects, and a more enchanting storyteller.

  • BUY Story of the World books.

VERITAS PRESS HISTORY CARDS & GEOGRAPHY SONGS

Veritas Press has an entire history curriculum for grades K-6, but we especially like the laminated flashcard sets. Put them on a ring for ease of use. Current sets include: Old Testament & Ancient Egypt, Middle Ages, Renaissance, & ReformationExplorers to 1815.

Veritas Press cards are wonderful to use in conjunction with Story of the World because they present history through the lens of the Bible - weaving Biblical accounts with history that is happening at the same time as other major historical events.

Also of note - Veritas Press' history & geography songs are WONDERFUL. Catchy and upbeat - but also unique! We spontaneously burst into various songs from this collection throughout the week.

Veritas Press also sells Bible flashcards (which we have not used or seen) that cover key events: Judges to Kings, Chronicles to Malachi, Gospels, Acts to Revelation.

  • BUY Veritas Press history cards.

Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more of our favorite history products and resources.

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