Aug 012013

Do you have great ideas for teaching your child social studies in a fun, hands-on way?  See if these options give you any ideas to help social studies ‘stick’ in your child’s mind:Most Social Studies curriculum is text-based. Visually-rich pictorial accounts of events in books can help visual learners process text more effectively.

It is important to use maps as visuals for geography. Showing maps simultaneously, while teaching about countries, helps reinforce locations, geographical features, and important characteristics of each country.

Multi-media presentations provide simultaneous visual and auditory input. There are a large number of history videos available through PBS, like their “Hands-on History” series and other documentary programs.

National Geographic DVDs also cover Ancient Civilizations, Culture & Religion, Exploration, U.S. History, War & Military, and World History. As always, the National Geographic videos provide an exceptionally high quality, visual experience.

Social studies is easy to convert into visual and auditory activities. Hands-on activities can be accomplished through art studies of cultures, going to history museums and historical sites, by creating plays or dramas about historical events, making dioramas, or engaging in reenactments or debates from different countries involved in wars can make learning a realistic experience.

Social studies can be very project based, and learning content from different sides of social issues can help build a solid foundation of understanding.  You may want to visit our Social Studies section to learn about curricula that is great for teaching learning abled kids using multisensory teaching.

multisensory science instruction multisensory learning styles dunn and dunn

Jul 132013

Social Studies for Kids with learning disabilities can be among one of the easiest topics to teach!

You can use hands-on or pretending skills to teach Social Studies for kids. Even if you are a history-hater, you can have fun and easily teach history for kids. (I hate to admit I was a history hater until I got my hands-on teaching skills going 😉 ).

Let me help you Find the fun in teaching Social Studies for kids!

Social Studies is one subject you can easily teach in a multisensory manner. Combine multisensory teaching methods with some of the Social Studies Curriculum for Homeschooling below to engage your child in learning about social studies.

You can study geography, cultures, history, religion, and other topics through a wide variety of hands-on activities. Visiting museums and historical sites, creating skits or plays, dressing up in costumes of the day, cooking food in an “old-fashioned” way, and re-enacting historical events are among the most entertaining ways to teach social studies for kids.

To teach your learning abled kid social studies, simply pick a history program or teaching method that suits your child’s learning style. For example, if your child is an audio-visual learner, watching the History Channel or History Channel’s Classroom DVDs can be an effective way to learn history.

If your child is a kinesthetic or tactile learner, then creating skits, acting out plays and having fun with re-enactments of any event in a traditional history curriculum can really be fun.

The key to easy learning of history and in teaching social studies for kids with learning struggles is to use your child’s learning strengths to his advantage. Memorizing a lot of dates, places, and names is often a struggle for kids with learning disabilities. Therefore, I highly recommend focusing on the bigger picture of what happened and why it happened rather than memorization when it comes to learning social studies.

Good Curriculum Choices in Social Studies for Kids with Learning Disabilities

Check out Hands On History for a truly hands-on social studies for kids program. The topic-based books and projects are sure to engage just about any child in learning about history, geography, and more. The Hands-On History series is a great way to incorporate aspects of history into your child’s learning without having them feel like they are learning history.

Visual History bookssocial studies for kids are excellent to use if your child is a highly visual learner. The colorful images can help your child have a visual reference for the concepts being learned. The images can make a significant difference in your visual learner’s ability to remember and recall information. As far as social studies for kids who are visual learners goes, the Visual History books are a solid choice unless your child prefers an audio component too.

You may find the following two programs helpful as well:

National Geographic Videos / DVDs – National Geographic videos are an excellent resource and I highly recommend them as social studies for kids who love TV or DVDs. We used a LOT of educational National Geographic videos in our homeschooling. Often, you can find the videos or DVDs at your local library, and this is a great option for visual learners. Check out the National Geographic rentals at Netflix if your library doesn’t carry National Geographic.

The History Channel’s Classroom DVDs are an AWESOME social studies for kids who love audio-visual learning. We used the COMPLETE set of American History Classroom DVDs for our high school American History coursework.

Likewise, Discovery Channel has some great programs! My guys LOVE watching the History Channel and Discovery Channel DVDs.

This is just the introductory choices page of social studies for kids, so you will want to check out the Bible Study Curriculum,  the History Curriculum, Geography, and the American Government pages.  For upcoming holidays, you can find great hands-on learning opportunities in the Hands-On Holidays section of this website.

There are many great Homeschool Social Studies programs available through and Social Studies Curricula available through Amazon.comsocial studies for kids.  You can look on either site and read reviews to see which program you think will be the best fit for your child.

Jul 132013

Homeschool History Curriculum Options and Ideas

For children with learning difficulties, history can be one of the most fun subjects to learn. Homeschool History can also be fun for you to teach!

As one of your first options, homeschool history curriculum in the form of “Living Books” can transport your child’s mind to the place and time of the historical events. Experiencing the events through visualization can add meaning that enables your child to remember. Learning history through stories can engage your child in a way that is much more effective than fact memorization.

Another homeschool history curriculum option that makes history ‘come alive’ is through videos. We often checked videos out from our local library. I printed a list from the online card catalog and we systematically checked out each video. Then we checked that particular video off of our homeschool history curriculum list.

Our goal is to have watched every National Geographic history video in our local library system, along with many travel videos. The travel videos let my boys gain visual knowledge about countries around the world.

We also borrowed History Channel Videos as our primary homeschool history curriculum. The History Channel has great documentaries that are rich in visual content.

The two programs I recommend most heavily for daily homeschool history curriculum are **Sonlight and **Beautiful Feet. Both programs provide homeschool history curriculum through literature. Personally, we used Sonlight for its comprehensive approach, but found that Beautiful Feet was very similar in approach and scope. The books used by these programs are often Caldecott or Newberry Award winners, are rich in historical content, and they make reading about history fascinating and enjoyable for your child.

When using Sonlight or Beautiful Feet as your homeschool history curriculum, it is best to use them as read-alouds if your child is not YET a good reader. The Sonlight program, in particular, is a LOT of reading. We bought a subset of the read-alouds (read by the parent) and a subset of the readers (read by the child) for our homeschool history curriculum. We used the readers for practicing reading skills as part of our reading instruction.

I purchased the Sonlight level that was two grade-levels below my son’s chronological grade placement our first year of homeschooling. After we had worked on reading for the first year, I bumped up two grade levels for the following year.

homeschool history curriculum

There are many “hands-on” field trips that can be taken as part of your homeschool history curriculum too. Outings to any historical places in your state or to nearby states, and virtual field trips on the Internet, are all fun options. Tours can make history seem more “real”.

Using multimedia homeschool history curriculum online and hands-on field trips has made History one of our children’s favorite subjects! We LOVED the DK books and visual encyclopedias to learn history in a rich and colorful way. 😉

Jul 132013

American Government Book Choices and OTHER American Government Curriculum Choices for Homeschooling

For a complete high school curriculum in American Government, Thinkwell’s American Government course is a good choice. It is taught through teaching videos on the computer and is much better than even an American Government textbook online!

Thinkwell’s computer-based course includes teaching videos, an American Government Book in the form of a workbook, and is an at-your-own-pace course. This program is among the most ideal for a student who needs extra time and is an audio-visual type of learner. Thinkwell also offers an AP version of their American Government course online if your student is an advanced learner.

Whether your child is accelerated or needs to take his time, your child can work through the lessons and has a calendar year from the date of activation to complete the American Government course. The course also provides immediate feedback for quizzes and exams, so your child will know immediately if he understands the material.

There is no “resetting” of the course if your child is failing. Therefore, you would want to be sure your child is capable of understanding the material before launching into the course. 😉

On the less serious side, but entertaining, engaging, and a FAVORITE of high school students, Standard Deviants American Government is among the easiest curriculum choices. Since teens love the Standard Deviants and find them entertaining, you can avoid battles over learning by choosing these DVDs. While this is not a formal American Government course, as long as your child learns and understands the concepts, that’s what counts. 😉

If you are a Christian, you may like the Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS) Civics course, which is the same as American Government. This course is also a work-at-your-own pace, computer-based program.  The nice thing about this program is as a parent-administrator, you can re-set lessons to allow your student to re-do the lesson if he fails it the first time.  Although we didn’t use SOS for American Government, we did use SOS for other subjects. We always took the “mastery” based approach towards lessons so if my boys made a failing grade, I reset the unit and they re-did the lesson.  Given that learning was the objective, if they hadn’t learned it, they needed to go back and learn.  See the full info below:

Switched-On Schoolhouse Civics By Alpha Omega Publications – Follow your child’s interests, supplement your standard program, and dig deeper into a specific area of study with Switched-On Schoolhouse Electives. With a variety of subjects and grades available, SOS elective students will enjoy the change of pace and the chance to learn more about topics they’re interested in.Your high school students will be voting soon; equip them with a better understanding of the American government, as well as their roles and responsibilities as an American citizen with this SOS Civics elective. Students will learn about the American government; state and local government; worldwide politics; and citizenship responsibility. Includes quizzes and tests.This is a single-semester course. Grades 7-12.

Switched-On Schoolhouse Provides:

  • Quiz & Test Answers: go directly to lessons where material was presented to students.
  • Quiz & Test Scores: students can now see scores immediately.
  • Reusable custom assignments: create one assignment and use in multiple units.
  • Improved lesson plans that display scores and assignments that need grading.
  • “Due Today” icon for students.
  • Reading Log widget and ability to filter by dates.
  • Print a yearly school calendar.
  • New attendance tracker widget.
  • New themes and quarterly updates for multimedia items.

Among the two most popular American Government curriculum offerings are Notgrass American Government (and Economics) as well as Magruder’s American Government. Both of these programs are book-based programs, but they are more engaging than your standard, dry American Government textbook online or in hand. 😉 Both of these programs get great reviews from homeschoolers, and they come highly recommended. We used the Notgrass Literature series and liked them a lot.

Of course, you can find many traditional, secular American Government textbooks from various publishers.  Some of the American Government courses with online lesson access codes.  My boys both took courses with the Aplia online lessons.  One took American Government and Politics Today through Georgia Perimeter College Online.  The other took a course through Marshall Univerisity’s Online College Classes for High School Students program.  Both of my boys liked the courses pretty well and did well using the online lessons and learning format.   When taking the courses through a University, they are NOT at the student’s own pace, and they are taught in a semester rather than over the course of a traditional school year.

As another alternative,  Justice By The People is an interactive curriculum that needs at least two students to complete. A complimentary copy of this program was sent to me for review.   Justice By The People is more suitable for students with kinesthetic learning styles or any student that’d prefer to learn by doing rather than reading..   Although the description says it’s for up to 8th or 9th grade (depending upon which description you read), all high school students I’ve known who’ve done this program seem to enjoy it.

The sales lingo: “The jury has reached a verdict! Justice by the People is a powerful new way to build your students’ language arts skills and understanding of civics. This national standards–based program, created by the Foundation of the American Board of Trial Advocates and Scholastic Inc., underscores the importance of the Sixth and Seventh Amendments to students in grades 5–8. ”

The Description: “This interactive curriculum has been developed to teach students about one of their most important rights as citizens, trial by jury. Knowledge about this right is critical since most of today’s students will be called to serve on juries at some point in their lives. The curriculum’s goal is to help students understand the history and value of their constitutional right to trial by jury. The week-long curriculum, for use in grades 5-9, contains a teacher’s guide with complete lesson plans, a mock trial on videotape, and a CD-ROM trial simulation game. Each interactive lesson in the curriculum challenges students to apply critical thinking and decision-making skills as they experience and explore the roles of attorneys, judges, and jurors in the U.S. justice system. The curriculum begins with five classroom lessons which involve students in such varied hands-on activities as a group decision-making game developed by NASA, a trial by ordeal, a trial by combat, and a video trial of “Gold E. Locks and the Three Bears.” Each lesson ends with an individual assignment designed to reinforce what students have learned and to assist teachers in assessing students’ understanding of key concepts. The culminating activity in the curriculum is a multimedia computer game called “Make Your Case” in which students match wits as opposing attorneys in a simulated movie-like trial.”

Jul 132013

Geography Curriculum Selection: Options for Learning Success

Geography can be a blast to study for any child with a specific learning disability because geography can easily be taught visually while making cultural connections for your child. Picking the right geography curriculum for your child will make it an easy and fun subject to learn.

If your child has difficulty with memorization, do NOT spend a lot of time drilling geographic facts, capitals, populations or other facts into your child’s memory. Your child will survive life without memorizing everything. In today’s world, your child can look up a country’s information almost any time he needs to know it.

Let your child learn to love Geography through a more natural study of Geography. I went on a personal quest to find visual, auditory, and kinesthetic means of teaching Geography for my boys. Geography curriculum outside of pure textbooks is surprisingly difficult to find, but here are some supplemental teaching materials available on the market.

My favorite geography curriculum is clever and creative, and I LOVE it! This geography curriculum is called “Visualize World Geography“. . . and is an IDEAL way for a visual learner to master recognition of countries of the world. Theresa Blain, the author, has created clever illustrations out of each country’s shape. Along with the illustrations, she tells weaves tales–based upon the illustrations. The tales include the names of the countries. The short stories and illustrations combine to make a highly effective, visual, world geography mental map. The book contains most countries, and does not contain the individual states of the United States of America. For recognition of the countries taught in World Geography.. you’d have a difficult time finding a better geography curriculum than Visualize World Geography.

In addition, Theresa has a “Pictography Flag Coloring Book”. This title is most suitable for kinesthetic or visual learners. Unfortunately, the Flags book lacks the clever tales and pictography which are so helpful with memorization in Visualize World Geography. The act of coloring the flags will help visual and kinesthetic learners learn the designs of the flags. The Pictography Flag Coloring Book and Visualize World Geography can both be purchased very affordably.

A great stand-by favorite geography curriculum, which gives a light learning activity, is any Geography game. These geography games come in all kinds–card games, board games, strategy games, etc.

Usaopoly Planet Earth Monopoly is great, but it is no longer manufactured. If you happen to find a collector’s edition, it is your lucky day to find a fun way to study Geography. 😉

Another source of great games for studying geography is the National Geographic line of DVDs, games, etc.. You can find National Geographic items on Amazon and easily use them as your geography curriculum. National Geographic offers SO MANY great hands-on products that will benefit kinesthetic, tactile, visual, and auditory learners. I really feel you can’t go wrong with anything from National Geographic. Through creative use of National Geographic DVDs, world art, and world cooking projects, your child can learn about peoples and cultures of the world.

Great Games and Tools for Geography Curriculum Add-Ons:

10 Days Geography gamesgeography curriculum

GeoBee Challenge Game

A Talking Globe

Comprehensive, and somewhat traditional, Geography Curriculum Options:

If you’re looking for a more traditional geography curriculum, there are several computer-based and online Geography programs you can use.

Switched On Schoolhouse Geography has interactive elements, images and videos. Your child can use the program on your computer. This lets you take your “learning to go” if you have the software installed on a laptop. The main drawback of Switched On Schoolhouse Geography is that some memorization is expected for the exams. However, if you are not expecting your child to memorize, you can let your child use an open book while taking the exams. Doing so can be a reinforcing learning activity if your child has to FIND the country in question through research. Only you can gauge how much you feel your child needs to memorize versus understand how to find the information when needed.

Alpha Omega Publications, which publishes Switched on Schoolhouse above, also has an online offering through their Monarch Online Homeschool courses. The courses are very similar to the Switched On Schoolhouse courses. Through Monarch Online, your child will always be working with the most current versions of the learning platform. If you have smart devices that allow access to the Internet anytime, anywhere, then your child can study this geography curriculum on the go.

Great Apps to Use for Geography Curriculum:

Jul 132013

What Bible Study Tools are Available for Your Non-Reader?

Biblical studies are inherently text-based because they are based upon The Bible. However, there are some great visual, bible study tools available to you.

Finding ready-made visual materials for teaching your visual learner can be difficult. As noted in “Using Multimedia Resources in Teaching the Bible“, the authors point out “Theological education (especially in the Protestant Christian tradition) has largely neglected the pictorial-spacial capacities of the brain.

The emphasis on the primacy of the Word in Protestant circles has magnified the tendency to look with suspicion on the making of images. Nevertheless, visual thinking continues to be the clearest learning ‘channel’ for many people.”

What this means is most bibles are simply text. Few are visual in nature with the exception of kids’ bibles. These days, there are also software and apps that can be used as bible study tools in a more auditory and/or visual way.

There are several illustrated bibles with drawings in them. These visual bibles help convey meaning to young, visual learners, particularly for very young learners. Illustrated bibles are great for any visual learner, because it has been shown “the highest level of recall comes from the simultaneous presentation of corresponding verbal and visual input.” (Dalton & Farmer, 2002). There are many Illustrated Bibles available on make awesome bible study tools. Our favorite is probably the DK Illustrated Family Bible, which contains additional information on history, artifacts, traditions, etc.

For a true multisensory learning experience, which is best for all types of learners, you might want to consider full, multisensory bible study tools. In their multimedia study, Dalton & Farmer found that “caricatures worked better than photographic images for supporting or illustrating ideas and that the more abstract the concept to be communicated, the more cartoon-like the related image needed to be.” This is important because it is the main element that makes the curriculum we use ‘ideal’ for Bible studies. I have found only one bible study tool that is “ideal” — Grapevine Stick Figuring Through the Bible. We used it with our boys and they both enjoyed the program.

A complimentary copy of Grapevine Stick Figuring Through the Bible was sent to me for review. This program provides basic Bible studies through daily reading assignments and plenty of space for the student to draw their “rendition” of the Bible passage in stick-figure form. While my youngest was reluctant to draw in the beginning because he thought he was “not a good drawer”, he has decided it’s fun to come up with entertaining renditions of the Bible verses. The GREAT thing about the Grapevine Studies is through the act of reading, then drawing a meaningful rendition, the child engages his visual and kinesthetic learning styles. This allows the daily concept to be more fully retained, making Grapevine one of the great bible study tools for kinesthetic or tactile learners. While the concept is simple, and illustration is a highly effective way of helping children remember what they’ve read.

The Stick Figuring curriculum comes in several different levels. The various levels add on small levels of higher level thinking. Therefore, a child who is behind in reading ability doesn’t have a problem using the simpler versions. Your child will have fewer, and less intense, questions to answer in consideration of the verses he’s read using the simpler version. The verses appear to be very similar across versions.

Teach Your Children Well: A Christian Guide is an eBook designed to help Christian parents teach their children Christian doctrine, Christian virtues, rightly interpreting the Bible, and guarding against false beliefs. The book provides many word pictures parents can use in teaching these truths. While this is a book, so it’s not much different than using a bible, it is one of the bible study tools that can take advantage of a computer’s text-to-speech function. You can have the computer read aloud to your child.

The authors of the Multimedia Resources study also examined the American Bible Society’s “New Media Bible.” It is targeted towards high school students as one of the bible study tools. While I couldn’t find this resource available on Amazon, I did find McGee’s New Media Kids’ Bible for younger children. I also found several New Media Bible videos on Amazon.

We have also been able to find some great educational videos about Jesus’ life, “Walk Through the Bible” and Biblical times through Discovery Channel DVDs. You can search the Discovery store for “Bible” or “Religion”. As always, the Discovery Channel videos are very colorful and visually “rich”. You’ll also find visually rich **National Geographic DVDs. When you go and land on the main page, search for “religion” and the results will be for videos of some of the biblical lands, Easter, or the Geography of the Bible.

Check Out These Games you can use as Bible Study Tools:

Check Out These APPS you can use as Bible Study Tools:

bible study tools

Check Out These Software Programs you can use as Bible Study Tools:

Check Out These Videos/DVDs you can use as Bible Study Tools:

While it can be difficult to make bible study into a multisensory experience, it can be done using great bible study tools. Some of the best bible study tools include using arts or crafts supplies to create visual representations in a hands on manner, or enacting mini skits to act out scenes. You might not be able to find readily available multimedia representations of the Bible, but your child’s mind is well-equipped to creatively represent the Bible in his own way.

*Dalton, R.W. & Farmer, K.A. (2002) Using Multimedia Resources in Teaching the Bible. Teaching the Bible Today. Interpretation.