Making History Exciting for Every Grade Level
September 5, 2018
Hey Mama,

You know the saying, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”? Well, the same goes for your homeschool. You can learn from other Mamas what did and did not work for their kids—and you can learn how to draw closer to the Lord and lean hard on Him (because He's the only way you're ever gonna make it through each crazy day, am I right?). 

Your kids can also learn from history, if you tell it right. They are little sponges absorbing the exciting stories of nations being formed, philosophies forged, and inventions created. But you have to make history interesting. Not sure how? Read these articles from The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine:

And remember, Mama. . . 

Sometimes you just want to call up a friend, a mom who’s “been there, done that.” Someone who can relate, who won’t cast judgment, who will just listen to your heart. Sometimes you need a shoulder, another mom who has walked the path, whose kids are grown now and doing just fine.

Has your heart ever felt like it was ready to tear in two? Life can be so cruel, so unjust. Friends betray. Kids don’t listen and stomp on your kindness. The enemy is always out to devour, out to prey, out to bring you down.

Another mom . . . a mentor. There are times you could just use one. And maybe you already have that person in your life. If you do, you are so blessed. More blessed than you know.

Fast forward ten years. Maybe fifteen years or more. But fast forward with me for just a minute, OK?

See that daughter of yours? Fifteen or so years from now, she may be married. She may have kids. There will be days her heart is breaking; life is just predictable. History repeats itself, remember? No one is immune to life’s troubles. And the Christian Mama—the one who has children’s hearts to mold—she is a target. The enemy will do what he can to rip up your plans before you can even start them. But back to your daughter, a decade and a half from now, she will have those episodes. THOSE kinds of days where she (like you when you were younger) will need a friend, a mentor, a Godly comrade who can remind her why she does this thing called MOTHERHOOD. A reason to keep going.

That’s you, Mama. You will be her best friend. The one she calls to share the joys and also the tears. You will have the Godly counsel ready to go. You will be armed with TRUTH—truth of God’s words, Christian principles to share. You will be the one she runs to for that Christian counselor, that caring friend. It’s you, Mama.

So for now, keep walking. You stay in God’s Word. Arm yourself with Biblical wisdom so that you can speak into her life when she’s in her twenties and thirties and beyond and calls Mama, her best friend. The one who will steer her right.

Now is the time to study. Now is the time to hide God’s Word in your heart. Now is the time to think about the relationship that will be so INCREDIBLY important a decade from now.

You are building a heritage. You are walking in truth. God has set you right here for this purpose.

His hand is on your head, and He will complete what He has begun in you. Get through these trials. Persevere. Endure. Because you are being prepared for something very, very big, and He will never leave or forsake you . . . or your daughter. And He will be using you greatly in her life.

Teacher. Faithful Mama. That is you.

The final world history study in our Project Passport series has arrived!
Live the lessons with hands-on projects at Home School in the Woods!
Staying Relational   
Dear Friends,

Exciting. History. For many of us, studying history in school was b-o-r-i-n-g. It meant trying desperately to memorize names, dates, and places—kings, battles, and stuff that had no connection to your life. If you were good at memorizing, you might ace the test. But then you promptly forgot almost everything you crammed into your head for the test. Sound familiar?

When it comes teaching our own precious children, though, we want more than this, right? A LOT MORE!! We want them to love learning, to understand history, to grow into adults who have insight for today’s complexities. And we don’t get them there by repeating the boring, dusty facts of history to uninterested children.

Here’s the discovery that can change it all: History is absolutely RIVETING!!!

It is about people in the past who faced great challenges. It’s about choices they made, and the effects of those choices. And, it’s about God working behind the scenes in the midst of it all. When we begin to scratch the surface of history, we find it has the most incredible stories, the most amazing people, and the unending faithfulness of God.

So, how do we go from boring to interesting? From a closed-door, sit-at-your-desk, memorize-the-facts to a wide open door beckoning our children into a love of history? 

Make a change. Instead of “read this, write that, take the test,” move to interactive, engaging activities, like. . .

  • Reading great biographies and historical fiction.
Older students can read on their own, we read to younger students, OR, we read aloud to the whole family. Afterwards, let them narrate the story to you, describe what they enjoyed—or didn’t enjoy—about the story, and how they might have made a different choice if they had lived during that time.

  • Taking our kids on field trips to historic sites or museums. Be sure to prepare your kids ahead of time so they are excited about what they will experience.
Yes, it takes time and effort. But, one great field trip could revolutionize your kids’ thoughts about learning history!

This can be a whole family learning experience, too. Engage your kids afterwards, listening to them describe their favorite part, or looking up answers to the questions they have.

  • Doing hands-on projects—like making maps, doing crafts, playing historic games, or cooking historical food.
Yes, this makes a mess in your kitchen. But, again, especially for hands-on learners, this activity could be the spark that lights a fire of learning! And our part is to light that fire, not begrudge the mess.

  • Structuring a time—like a Family Presentation Night—where we applaud the creativity of our kids as they demonstrate what they’ve learned through fun activities, like puppet shows, Lego architecture, poetry, cartoons, musical compositions, even a choreographed dance!
Celebrate your kids during this time! Let them know that they did a fabulous job, that you are so very proud of them! Critiques of their work can come at another, later time, but in this moment, be their biggest cheerleader!

  • And, finally, the most exciting (and life-changing) thing we can do, as one of my students recently pointed out, is to “study history from a Christian worldview—it has been amazing as I never fail to see God's hand of love and protection even in the darkest of times.”

Discover the stories of God’s faithfulness in history, and then teach them to your children. It’s the best part of history!

Remember, stay relational!


P.S. If my approach to learning resonates with you, please check out History Revealed , a world history curriculum with all of this and more!
The best of Drive Thru History, combined with an online video-streaming world of curriculum, resources, and specials. Join the Adventure today!
“And if I’m elected, I promise to make history exciting for EVERY grade level!!” Sound familiar? These kinds of promises and topics make for good stump speeches, or reading and curriculum advertisements, but they’re just not attainable, sustainable, or possible.

Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run out and buy Diana Waring’s history curriculum —because you should. She is an amazing writer, teacher, and homeschooling mom. Many of your children will love her stuff and the way she makes history come alive. But not every one of your children will be excited about history . . . or math . . . or school.

In fact, I’m pretty convinced that not everything has to be exciting for it to have value. Your kids need to know some history for perspective and to see where we’ve come from and where we’re headed . . . but they don’t have to be excited about it.

My oldest son, Ben (25), loves history and gets excited about Civil War generals, dead presidents, and history trivia. Some of my other children couldn't care less about any historical figure who didn’t make a cameo in the Lego Movie. And as I often say, “That’s OK.”

Now, we still think they need to know some history; so we plug away using The Trail Guide to Learning for our younger kids since it wraps history around some well-told stories that everyone can enjoy.

So, find a history curriculum that YOU like teaching . . . and teach it. Some of your children will get excited about it, but don’t be shocked when some don’t.

If you haven’t listened to our new podcast, The Smiling Homeschooler, you’re missing out on lots of smiling. The purpose is to help YOU and YOUR CHILDREN smile during your homeschool year. So grab a latté, pull up a chair, and join us

Be real,


Have me Speak for FREE - Are you part of a local homeschool group within 100 miles of Milford, IN (map it)? I have some available dates in September and this would be a great time to have me speak at your homeschool group. It won't cost you a dime (just a love offering) . . . but you'll have to act fast! Contact me now if you're interested at (Sorry, this is just for September).

Buy some laughter!! We’re clearing out our single volume Homeschool cartoon books that we no longer sell on our website. Get yours today for $8 & free shipping!!! Hurry, only while supplies last! Click here for Volume ONE, Volume TWO, and Volume FOUR
Intrigue. Betrayal. Conspiracy theories. Greater Parkersburg has a unique history of early pioneers in the Ohio River Valley. Find itineraries and more at 
Danika Cooley
I have to admit, I never really thought about history as exciting when I was growing up. Nothing about dry facts and distant dates seemed like they were worth memorizing.

Do you know what I liked? Stories. I loved stories about people and the world they lived in. I liked stories that helped me understand how people felt, what their day-to-day life was like, and why they made the decisions they did. Stories helped put history into context for me.

When we decided to homeschool our younger children, we decided that we would teach history chronologically from a literature-based approach. Our boys are now in high school, and they've read hundreds of stories about people in history. Some of those stories were fictional and some were biographical, but all of them incorporated real history.

When our children were still very young, I decided I wanted to spend my life writing about the Bible and Christian history. I enjoyed the Christian history we read together so much, and I felt the stories were so important that I committed to write more of them.

Teaching history through literature worked very well for our family. Not only do our boys love history, they know the major dates, people, events, and movements from history. Because they understand history, they have a broader view of subjects like science, theology, economics, and math. For instance, when our boys took economics as a high school elective last year, they were able to apply their understanding of the societal effects of socialism to their new knowledge about economic theory. As a result, their papers displayed a richer grasp of their study of economics. We had some wonderful conversations as well while they were taking the class.

Teaching your kids history through literature is a great way to help broaden their understanding of history. They'll enjoy reading about people from different time periods, and they'll love the way a strong working knowledge of history broadens their understanding of the world around them. As your children age, you can move their reading from primarily historical fiction and narrative biographies to autobiographies, scholarly biographies, and source documents—just don't forget to keep some wonderful literature on their reading list.

Looking for a fun way to teach history? Check out Danika's When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther . She has a FREE When Lightning Struck! Discussion Guide for you. And grab your FREE Prayer Request Cards for Moms! (Ends 9/15/18)

Danika Cooley is an author and homeschool mother of four. Her passion is equipping parents to teach Scripture and Christian history to their families. You can learn more about Danika's popular  Bible Road Trip™  curriculum  and teen historical novel  When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther  at  Thinking Kids .
Are you trying to figure out how to assign separate classes to each of your students within ? Watch this  tutorial  to learn how to use the great Bookmark feature to organize course assignments!

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Have you ever stopped to think that the first airplane flight and man walking on the moon took place less than 70 years apart? How did technology advance that much in so short a time? Or how is it that the first university in the colonies opened only 16 years after the Pilgrims landed? History isn’t dry facts; it’s questions and stories from the past that directly impact today and all our tomorrows. Your membership to includes access to more than 40 history courses for all ages, plus social studies and geography. Courses range from text based to audio lectures, to video courses. 

If you haven’t yet joined, come give us a try! If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us or helping us adapt existing courses for children with special needs, let us know. You can email me at Discover all the courses and resources we offer that can make your homeschool day simpler and less stressful. 

in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of September

I have a tremendous love for old books. There is something about old fabric-covered hardback books that simply draws me. It is as if I can hear them whispering my name, calling me to discover the wisdom of the ages locked within their yellowed pages. When I first received The Hedge of Thorns, my heart leapt. I ran my hands over the cloth covered hardback book and traced the embossed lettering of the title. It just felt important and seemed to scream wisdom.

This book is part of the Lamplighter Rare Collector Series and retails for $15. It is only about a 5x7 and maybe a half inch thick; almost small enough to be easily tucked away into a small purse, but not quite small enough to be considered pocket-sized. Its mere 86 pages makes it an easy afternoon read.

I had to withhold my desire to curl up and read this book in its entirety as we had planned to include it as our next family time read aloud. It only took us five nights, reading two chapters at a time, to work our way through the story. Every night, the kids begged for me to read more. It was difficult for me to say no and stick to it. It was even more difficult for me to avoid reading ahead (which I did do one night).

The Hedge of Thorns was originally written in 1611 by John Carroll. He recounted memories from his own life about the development and growth of his faith and how God places about us all a hedge of thorns not to keep all that is good away from us but to keep us away from the things that are not good for us. It was rewritten by Mark Hamby and published by Lamplighter. It is easy to assume that a story originally written in 1611 may seem historical or fanciful but not necessarily relevant to today, however the timelessness of the story did not disappoint. The story is identified as appropriate for ages 9-14 and although there were parts that seemed to be just a tiny bit beyond our children's understanding (they are six, eight and eleven years old), we found ourselves pausing and sharing about the parallels of the story to our current day and age.

We love books in our house. Finding good books that have an interesting story, yet help build character, are hard to find. That is why we fell in love with the Lamplighter Collection from Lamplighter Publishing.

Jessica’s First Prayer, written by Hesba Stretton, is a lovely story of faith. We follow the small girl Jessica in this story. We are there when she first meets Daniel at his coffee stand, we are there when there are problems at home, and we are there as she learns about God, church, and prayer. We are there when her first prayer is answered.

This book is a great book to have in any Christian home! The writing may be of an older style, but the lesson and the story are so easy to understand that even my Little Miss (five-year-old) was crying at one point in this story. After using this as a read aloud for the kids, I have found it missing off the shelf many times as the kids sneak off with it to read over and over again.

Jessica’s First Prayer is not what one would think it would be, considering her past and present situation, but that prayer made her future the brightest that it could ever be!

As with the other Lamplighter Collection books, this book was a hardcover book that was designed to represent the era in which the story took place. Not only did the children love this story, they fell in love with the simplicity of the book itself.

YOU can WIN these two books for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER: Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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