Notebook Your Way Through Your State’s History

June 28, 2022

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Is it necessary to teach state history if you are homeschooling?

You may recall a study of your state’s history during your school years–maybe in 4th grade or middle school. Is it a requirement? Just as each state has its own laws regarding homeschooling, the same goes for what exactly is required to be taught. However, even if it is NOT a requirement, it’s a good idea to teach your state’s history.

Sonlight's 50 States Unit Study

Why teach state history

This question is similar to why we study history at all! We study history for many reasons:

  • Understand the World. Knowing where we came from will help shape where we are going. If we know the good – and the bad – of what came before, the next generation will be better able not to repeat the mistakes previous generations have made. Also, they can build on the foundation that those before have laid.
  • Understand Ourselves. History is not just about dates, names, and events. It is the story of people. To know the stories of people who lived where you now live helps you to understand how you fit in the community.
  • Understand Other People. We often know our own personal histories – where our parents came from and what our ethnic origins are – but to understand people different from ourselves, their ethnicities, and their customs can help us appreciate the diversity in our immediate community.
  • Understand How to Be Decent Citizens. If we can better understand what the issues of the community are, we can also understand how to play a role in it. We need to be informed and develop self-awareness, to adopt responsible public behavior.

Sonlight's 50 States Unit Study

How to teach state history

If we are convinced that the study of state history is important, how do we do it well? I have a confession to make: I hated history as a kid and avoided it in college because all I remember studying is what felt like a random list of facts, people, and dates. I’m sure it was not random, but I had no chronological understanding of various events. I liken my knowledge of history to a kitchen junk drawer – random bits of things all jumbled together with no apparent order.

It wasn’t until I began to homeschool with Sonlight Curriculum that I fell in love with history and wanted to learn more of what was around me. My children and I began to explore parks (both state and national), museums, historical markers, and we attended reenactments of all kinds: pioneer days, civil war, and colonial settlements. Truth be told, our exploration of local history was a bit of a jumbled mess. I regret that we never explored the chronological development of the state we lived in. I wish we would have had a better plan.

The State Unit Study that Sonlight has recently developed would have been perfect. Similar to their Science program where you discover and do things, this unit study is designed to help you discover facts about your state. Notebook pages are provided to record your discoveries.

The package comes with a great title, The 50 States, which will help as students do the activities in the notebooking pages. They will encounter:

  • Key facts about their state
  • Map work
  • State bird, tree, animal, and more
  • Iconography (state flag, seal)
  • Vocabulary
  • Timeline points
  • People groups and key individuals
  • Historical facts through writing assignments
  • Art projects
  • Research (beyond the enclosed book)
  • Opportunities to go on field trips

Ready-to-Go package for busy homeschool moms

I had good intentions to develop my own state history program, but I was busy and a bit spoiled by Sonlight’s well-planned out programs. I didn’t know how I was going to add hours to my day to plan a state study. Consequently, I didn’t do it!

Sonlight’s State Unit Study has weekly lesson plans that can be incorporated into your existing history program. I think it would fit really well with Sonlight’s HBL D, HBL E, or HBL D+E. These levels focus on US History and are the same target audience as the State Unit Study, about grades 3-6.

I can also imagine using parts of the packet to explore other states as well. Maybe do one state per region (northeast, northwest, southwest, southeast, midwest), or all the states in a particular region (all the southeastern states).

If you need to do a gap year for any reason, a study of all 50 states would make a fabulous focus. I would add some historical fiction for some of the states to really get a sense of place.

This would also make a fantastic study for roadschoolers, to get to really know the places they visit. To be on location as you learn the history of a place is the pinnacle of learning. It cements the places to the dates and events.

A look inside Sonlight's 50 States Unit Study

What’s Included in the Unit Study

This year-long unit study covers 36 weeks of weekly activities, completely scheduled for you. You receive the resource book The 50 States, the notebooking pages that you may copy for your personal use, and it all comes at an affordable price.

Have I mentioned that it’s all scheduled for you? You don’t have to decide how much to do each week. It’s spelled out. The easy-to-use format is “open-and-go” and the pacing is quite doable, even if you integrate with your history program. The directions are clear and helpful. The notebooking pages are attractive. When completed, your child will have a wonderful notebook that they created. They will be able to recall what they learned as they flip through their notebook. It has everything I wish I had had when my children were this age.

Sonlight is long known for literature-rich learning and now the unit studies they produce are of excellent quality. A great way to add another dimension to your students’ learning.

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