History is fascinating! What fun to explore other time periods, meet exciting people, and watch historic events unfold.
Immersion is a great way to learn and remember history. Simply immerse yourself in the time period by listening to the music, tasting the food, looking at the art, creating some of the crafts, and digging deeper into the people who made things happen, the places where they happened, and the events that did happen.
History immersion is made quite easy with history labs. We added history labs to our historical studies years ago, inspired by Diana Waring.
As a homeschool mom, my goal was to "travel back in time" for a visit. We cooked, baked, crafted, created, and enjoyed all kinds of things from whatever time period we studied. Studying pre-American Hawaii, we made a paper mache volcano and hosted a luau. Investigating Ancient Rome, we dressed in Togas, ate lying down, and had a Roman slave sale. Learning about Archaeology, we had our own archaeological dig after we created the different artifacts for each different layers of our tell.
When I was asked to teach history at a homeschool co-op, I decided to have discussion time followed by history labs. The children read at home and we discussed the time period together in a relaxed way, often laughing and doing some "imagine if" kind of thinking. The labs became an instant hit, so I kept doing them. Soon, I realized that the best part was that for most history labs, all ages could do the lab together. I loved that! We loved learning together as a family.
I'm not sure which we love more about history: historical literature or history labs. Let me tell you a little about history labs you can do in your homeschool or homeschool co-op.
History is exciting!
History is full of drama, intrigue, and stories.
Studying history is important to know the past, to understand our heritage, so we can plan for the future.
It breaks my heart to see some children and teens learn history in a dry, dreary way so that they end up hating the subject.
How we teach history can often determine if our students will enjoy learning about the past.
My children all love history! I think it's because we had so much fun learning history together.
Let me share how we learn history the fun way!
Travel Back in Time
Her dear "Lotus Buds of Dohnavur" called her "Amma" which means mother in India. Amy Carmichael rescued children from miserable lives as slaves in Hindu temples, living each day to serve her beloved Savior and to spread His love around India.
Amy Carmichael was born into a godly Christian home in Ireland. But she wasn't completely happy. You see, she wanted blue eyes, but no matter how hard she prayed, those brown eyes would not go away. Years later, as she moved throughout the nation of India rescuing children, she would be grateful for her brown eyes. Blue eyes would have made it hard to hide herself in the crowd.
Amy had a life-changing event with Jesus when she was fifteen and from that time on, a passion burned within her soul to reach the lost and stir believers to greater passion for Christ. She started Bible studies for mill worker girls.
Everybody loves a hero! As Christians, we are blessed with a long line of men and women who followed Jesus with all their hearts, making a difference in the world around them!
What a heritage we have!
Apostle Paul, Athanasius, St. Augustine, Pope Gregory, Caedmon, St. Frances, St. Patrick, John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Lady Jane Grey, John Knox, William Wilberforce, John Newton, Lottie Moon, Amy Carmichael, George Mueller, David Livingstone, Billy Graham, Edith Schaeffer, Jim Eliot, and Brother Andrew come to my mind. They were mighty men and women who changed the world!
From the early Christians who risked their lives to serve Christ to missionaries in the 21st Century who are reaching unreached people groups in the 10/40 Window, there are so many Christian heroes I want my children to learn about. I came up with a really fun idea to teach my children about church history in celebratory way!
We started having Heroes for Jesus Parties. My children loved them! As they got older, they started playing the Christian heroes themselves at the Heroes for Jesus Party.
Would you like to have your own Heroes for Jesus Party?
Adam and Seth had died. The earth was filling up. Wicked deeds and sinister plots abounded. The Lord was sad He had made mankind. He would need to start over. Only one man and his family on the entire planet was seeking to live for Him. He would destroy the earth, but save Noah and his family. God gave instructions to Noah and this righteous family built a huge ship. While the men worked on the ark, Noah preached to anyone who would listen. He begged people to turn away from their sin and follow God.
In the midst of an evil world, God had a hero.
Centuries later, in the evil city of Ur where men worshiped demons and lived for pleasure, God called a man out, to follow Him. He wanted to start a nation and through that nation bring a Messiah. Abraham walked with God. He left his family home with his wife and nephew to live in the land his descendants would inhabit.
In a wicked world, one man stood alone to serve his God.
Edith Schaeffer, a twentieth century heroine for Christ, wrote two of my favorite books: L'Abri and The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I love her style, her love for Jesus, and her wisdom. She was one smart lady. And she devoted her life to husband, children, home, and fulfilling the Great Commission. She is a personal heroine and example to me.
Edith Seville Schaeffer (1914-2013) was born in Wenzhou, China to missionary parents who worked with China Inland Mission. Her Chinese name, given to her by her parents, was Mei Fuh, or “Beautiful Happiness.”
Years later, while Edith was in college, she was attending her Presbyterian Church when a visiting Unitarian pastor gave a sermon against Jesus, the deity of Christ, and the Bible. She was outraged and prepared to set him straight publicly. Before she could speak, another young man stood up and said, “My name is Frances Schaeffer and I Know Jesus is the Son of God.” The young man shared his testimony and gave clear evidence for why the Bible is trustworthy. Edith added more to his statement, defending the faith. The couple got married three years later.
While Frances was in seminary, Edith sewed wedding gowns and men’s suits to bring in extra money. After graduation, Edith pastored alongside her husband for three years. A growing concern for the invading liberalism invading mainline denominations rose in their hearts. The years after World War II were fraught with turmoil, confusion, liberal theology, and doubt. Francis and Edith went to Switzerland as missionaries and founded L’Abri Fellowship, a place to learn about the grace and truth found in Christ.
"The dates just swirl around in my head," my daughter complained.
"Well, I don't need you to memorize them. Just know how they fit together--what happened in the same general time period," I comforted her.
When she gave me an exasperated look, I knew we had to get out a timeline, or better yet, make one.
Timelines are wonderful!
One of our favorite events each year is our Heroes for Jesus Party.
We gather together to celebrate Christian heroes from the past who have been world changers. We move from station to station to meet this year's heroes, listen to their monologues, and play a game or do an activity. Everyone has a blast!
Would you like to visit Lottie Moon's station. Here we go!
"Come on in, ya'll and sit down," "Lottie" greets us. A young single woman in the church is dressed up as a southern belle from the 1800's. She tells her story. It was hard enough to get on the mission field in those days as a single woman. Once she managed to get to China, people didn't want to hear what she had to say.
What could she do?
She started baking cookies!
Cookies? Yes, you read that right.
Spider Man: Homecoming is in theaters as I write this. In the movie, young Peter Parker returns home to Aunt May in Queens. Peter must balance his "normal" life as a student with learning to use his "Spidy Powers" with Tony Stark, Iron Man, helping him adjust. Music and special effects are said to be top-notch. Everyone's excited to see this movie. (Not me, I confess. I'm not an adventure-movie gal.)
Yes, another Super-Hero movie based on Marvel Comics.
Spider Man was introduced to the world in 1962 through a comic book, the first teenager non-sidekick Super-Hero. Peter Parker, an orphaned teenager who lives with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in NYC is bitten by a genetically-modified spider. Along with super strength, Peter receives the ability to cling to walls and ceilings. His response: to defend innocent citizens and catch bad guys. Spider Man of the 1960's upholds the law. He has a strong moral compass. The same could be said of Batman, Superman, and the other Super-Heroes that children read about in comics or watched on television.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and we see similarities. Super-Heroes still have amazing powers and they rescue people. Good always triumphed over evil.
There are some differences, though.
Pope Gregory (circa 540-604) was born after the Roman Empire had collapsed, but had a illustrious family history and was born into a noble family. He was the great-great grandfather was Pope Felix III (serving before popes took vows of celibacy) and his father was a senator and Prefect of Rome. He had aunts that were nuns and his parents joined the cloisters later in their lives.
Gregory grew up in a very wealthy family. They owned lavish homes on the island of Sicily, providing a comfortable income. Gregory excelled at his studies, especially law. He became a Prefect of Rome. That meant he was the chief administrator of the city. He was responsible for police, public works, administration, and finances. It was a hard job and Gregory excelled.
After his father died, he had the family villa in Rome converted to a monastery, San Gregorio Magno al Celio. You can visit it today if you go to Italy. Gregory became a monk and lived a quiet life of contemplation and prayer. These were the happiest years of Gregory’s life. During these years, he spent hours and hours studying the Scriptures in great detail. He devoted himself to fasting to the point that it affected his health.
Monk Gregory dressed simply and gave up all his worldly possessions. He lived a simple life and planned to do so the rest of his life. That was not to be.
Born to a devout peasant family in Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic), John Huss, or Jan Hus, (1369-1415) was ordained in a priest in 1401. He taught at Charles University and preached at Bethlehem Chapel in Prague.
A follower of John Wycliffe of England, John meticulously copied Wycliffe’s works that found their way to Bohemia. This was, of course before the printing press was invented. Like Wycliffe, he emphasized the Bible as central to life and doctrine for the church. He lived of life of purity and devotion to Jesus.
John Huss could not figure out why Jesus washed the disciples feet, but folks kissed the pope’s feet. Or why Jesus walked barefoot and had no home to call his own, but the pope lived in luxury, wearing fine clothes. He was also horrified that the pope and other high church officials were indulging in sexual immorality.
The archbishop of Prague told Pastor Huss to stop preaching and burn all Wycliffe’s books. Huss refused and began to preach against indulgences. Not surprisingly, the pope excommunicated John. However, that wasn’t all—the pope excommunicated the entire city so no-one could receive the sacraments. People were upset! Hus left Prague, but continued to preach out in churches that invited him, as well as outside in fields. Common peasants flocked to hear him preach.
I just finished reading a book about the early Christians who risked their lives to follow Jesus. Wow! It was a great story.
I went back in time to the Roman Empire to meet Christians who were living in a pagan culture, yet serving Christ with godly lives. I enjoyed meeting these brothers and sisters in the Lord: the old soldier, the elder of the church, the beautiful young girls, and the "bad guy" who was destined for something better.
I loved their faith and devotion to Jesus and one another.
Arrested because they refused to sacrifice to the Emperor, I was nervous about their fate, but challenged and inspired by their bravery.
You will enjoy Sent to the Lions by A. J. Church about early Christians who paid the price to follow Jesus.
Did you know that Jesus fixed breakfast for his disciples after He had risen from the dead?
I love this story!
You see, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, and John were all together hanging out. It had been a crazy few weeks. Jesus had washed their feet, been arrested, tried, and convicted. They were devastated. Then the news had come while they were hiding out, fearful that they were the next ones to be executed.
News had come of His Resurrection from the ladies. Then Jesus appeared among them. He was alive!
However, things had been so hard. Thomas had doubted. Peter had denied Jesus three times. And here they were hanging out.
"I'm going fishing!" Peter declared to his friends.
"We'll go, too," the others decided. So they all went out fishing.
They fished all night and caught nothing. They were tired, discourage, weary, maybe afraid. As they pulled the boat up on the shore, a man called out, "Children, do you have any fish."
"No," they replied.
"Well, cast your net over on the right side of the boat and you will find a catch," the stranger replied.
“Appealing!” I thought, glancing at 41: A Portrait Of My Father by President George W. Bush. Only twice in history has a son followed his father to the Presidency. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams both served one term in the White House early in our nation’s history. The twentieth century saw President George Herbert Walker Bush elected in 1988 and his son George W. Bush elected in 2000. The elder President Bush served one term and his son served two terms.
When the elder President Bush was in the White House, including his time as President Reagan’s second-in-command, I had so much affection for him. Finally, I figured out that he reminded me of my grandfather. My own grandfather Harry Leon King was kind and loving, without ever drawing attention to his good deeds. He quietly lived his faith and made lifelong friends wherever he went. Their home was full of people who came to visit from all over the world. Like President Bush, he was a faithful attendee at the local Episcopal Church. What I admired about both men was their integrity and loyalty. Both men placed high value on relationships. So I was eager to read this book about the self-effacing politician who reminded me of my grandfather.
"That's where we met," Gramps pointed to the steps of the English building. He was picking me up from college to bring me home for the weekend.
"Tell me all about it." I smiled. I had heard that story many times before, but I loved hearing it again. It involved dance cards which I thought was so romantic.
I attended the same college that my grandparents, mother, aunt, and sister attended. Not only did I get my nursing degree, I learned so much about history from all the spontaneous stories that were shared throughout my four years of college.
One of my favorite stories from my father is how he rode his pony down First Street on V-E Day. There was an impromptu parade and so much joy. My mother's parents grew victory gardens and bought war bonds.
My roommate's father help to conquer Okinawa in World War II. My father-in-law was part of the occupying force in Japan. Both had many stories to tell.