These are my notes from the evening.
Imagination is so important to children, young and old. The power of imagination is a "delight in one's childhood and remains a pleasure in adulthood." When a child uses his imagination, it helps to build the brain to become stronger in all areas.
When teaching history, it is not beneficial to teach just facts. At a young age, history should be presented in literary language to help secure the child's interest in the topic. He will use his imagination and start acting out scenes that he has read (or has been read to him). This is what helps him to remember what was learned.
As he grows older (about 7th grade up) and starts thinking about social and political issues, then history may be studied at a different level. Then discussions can take place about political views and why a group of people may have a certain viewpoint.
According to Andreola, it's a mistake to make children learn an overview of history. It is better to focus on one person or one small period of time and become intimate with it. The goal is for the child to know the thoughts of the person or to be at home in the ways of the period. In learning these small pieces, the child is actually learning about the entire scope of events around that person.
Biographies are good for this. In learning about George Washington, the child will learn all about the beginnings of our country. Or in learning about Harriet Tubman, the entire Underground Railroad will unfold.
For young children (kindergarten - 2nd grade level), you may wish to start with 50 Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin. This is an excellent resource that tells stories about historical figures. The Baldwin Online Children's Literature Project offers many more books that can be downloaded for free.
Having a timeline somewhere in your home is a good idea, but not always practical. A timeline book is a good alternative since it's also portable. Keeping a Book of Centuries in addition to a timeline is good. In the Book of Centuries, you will keep written narrations and drawings or pictures of people and events the child has learned about.
You can get a downloadable Book of Centuries from Tanglewood School Curriculum, Inc. for only $2.25. This provides a good outline and once you purchase it, you can print out all the pages you need as often as you need for your family.
You can also find pages to use in your Book of Centuries from NotebookingPages.com. She has several free pages that you can print out and use.
To get this type of learning into your portfolio is easy. If you keep a Book of Centuries, make photocopies and place the pages in the portfolio.
Be sure to take photographs when learning spills over into play. Those photos can be put on a sheet of paper and the child can write a caption or quick paragraph to be put in the portfolio.
Imagination is key. If they can imagine it, that means they have learned it.
Here are some samples of our timeline book and Book of Centuries.
Front cover of Book of Centuries
218 BC - Hannibal used elephants to attack Rome.