History is my absolute favourite subject to teach. I would be lost in this home education experience if it weren’t for the opportunity to ignite minds to delve into the past. And I suppose that’s why this year has been a bit of a let down for me, having left off history for the first year ever since starting to homeschool thirteen years ago. And now that I’ve had my one year of angst, sorting out other academic necessities and special one-to-one plans, I’ve realized the absolute need to get back next year to what we’re all about in our homeschool world: HISTORY!
Three years ago, before leaving the States for our home and native land again, I decided to throw an End of School History Party with some friends.
Normally I stuck with hosting our own little family history party where we dressed up together and did a little talk on the person we were dressed up as for daddy when he came home from work, as you can see below from one of our years (Quite obviously, Napolean, then a Cherokee Indian, Marie Antoinette with her hair of grey yarn, and littlest is Laura Secord.)
But I knew this particular crew of friends would more than welcome the opportunity to gather together to share what they’ve all learned in history that year, and even more fun, dress up as one of the people they learned about.
It was a stifling hot June day in TN (we’re talking 40 C!) but the children (and adults) were all good sports about it, even in some of those dreadfully warm clothes.
We organized chairs on the back deck for the audience, and one by one took turns giving a short talk on one of many individuals we had learned about over the course of the year.
I set our front stage with some of the topics we covered in our Ancients course, beginning with the Creation cycle. The King Tut painting was actually painted by none other than my talented hubby in his college years so it was perfect to set out to represent our Egypt study. And we even had a large print of the Parthenon done up as a back drop for the performers, our first one being sweet little Pochahontas.
It’s a fantastic way to get your home school friends/group together to not only learn from each other, but to have the opportunity to get used to that dreaded one minute speech we were all expected to do growing up. But nicer still, done with friends, it’s really not as dreadful as all that. Here we have a famous French Canadian historical figure, Madeleine de Vercheres, known for holding her families’ fort against the Iroquois at age fourteen. You can read all about her in the novel Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel Brill.
Here we are as mother and daughter, portraying Boadicea the Brit, and one of her two daughters, giving an account of our fight against the Romans.
I suggest, for less outgoing ones, dressing up alongside them and giving the physical moral support on stage, as a huge help to calm the anxious mind. I also found that for the younger children, adding pictorial flash cards of the characters we represented (some with words on the back for help remembering the rehearsed script) were a helpful aid and memory tool. And using an interview style method for presenting is also a great way to engage the younger participants since mum or dad can prompt the information with prepared questions.
This fantastic costume had Squanto giving an account of his help to the pilgrims.
One of our twins chose Queen Tiye, a Nubian who married the pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Her twin brother opted for a wild character, Attila the Hun (if you can see him under all that crazy hair), the fierce barbarian known for descending upon both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.
We also learned that two of our families had studied Pocahontas that year.
And a great lesson from Flora McDonald recounted how she helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to safety during the Jacobite Rebellion.
And oh how creative was this one, actually playing us a song from the Spanish classical guitarist and composer, Fernando Sor!
The tale of Rhodopis, a Greek slave who married a king was retold here by our eldest.
And finally, our last performer had us all guess who we thought she was. I think there were a few guesses she was Queen Elizabeth. Turns out, our already graduated performer, but gracious participant, came as none other than Mary from Downton Abbey. Not exactly historical, but a good deal of fun nonetheless, and a wonderful gown to boot! No pun intended there. But since I’ve mentioned the boot, how do you like my boot display to the right of Lady Mary, representing having studied Ancient Italy?
It’s honestly not a whole lot of work to throw something like this together. Rummage through your clothes and dress up bins, your sheds and garages, or visit your local thrift store, and you’ll be amazed what you can create for costumes. Find a few central themes with pictures or books, family artwork or projects, and items that can represent your topics. Then set these out on display as part of your stage and back drop, and voila, you’ve got a set to work with, and hopefully some willing participants to join in the fun!
Be sure to feed your crew, and provide gallons of lemonade or ice tea if you happen to host on the hottest day of the year like we did.
Thanks, my southern friends, for the fun we had that day, and for engaging in the joy of history with us!