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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

Social Studies
Free World History Textbooks and Resources
Category: Social Studies
Tags: world history world history textbook ancient history ancient civilizations

The following free textbooks for middle- and high-school learners are available as pdf files that can be downloaded or added to your Google drive. In addition, at the end of this post are a couple of elementary world history readers and additional resources.

Journey Across Time Activity Workbook

Journey Across Time Printable Worksheetswith blank outlines, reading check questions and vocabulary for each chapter.

                    

For both of these textbooks, at the site, click on individual chapters under the book's cover. Click on the cover and you're taken to the companion website. Continue scrolling down the page, and you can download a variety of world history readers such as these: 

 

Hieroglyphic Typewriter 

                

 

World History Human Legacy Study Guide

Scroll down the page for book chapters, Powerpoints and worksheets.

 

Crash Course fill-in-the-blank notes to go with Crash Course World History videos.

Elementary Readers: 

Knights, Castles and Chivalry

 

Renaissance: Patrons, Artists, and Scholars

Download paper dolls to explore world history and fashion through the ages.  At the site, there's clothing for Romeo and Juliet (1500s), Jane Austen t(1800s), the Edwardian Age (1900s) and others. There's also clothing to make dolls for Ancient Egypt and Rome, the Vikings, Asia, and North American Indians. It's all free.  

Quizlet Set to help review world history topics.

 

               

Free Sites for Current Events
Category: Social Studies
Tags: science current events current events articles current events for kids current events in the world

The last time I did current events as a student, I was in grade school, and I remember the ambivalence I felt whenever an assignment came up. I didn’t particularly like reading the newspaper - seemed like whenever I picked up the Daily News, there was a scary, front-page story about someone having been “slain.” The material on the inside pages did little to assuage my lack of enthusiasm. It was always difficult to find something - anything - to cut out, tape to a piece of looseleaf paper, summarize, and take in to school the next day to present to the class.

The presentation was the part of current events that I did like. It was fun to watch the delivery of -- and the teacher’s reaction to -- a variety of topics kids picked: from Louis’ boring political stories, to the more kid-pleasing entertainment news chosen by Ivy. Me? I preferred nature features, and vaguely remember reporting something on whooping cranes, and something else on the two-toed sloth.

As “enlightening” and “entertaining” as current events was in those days, I’m glad my own children have had a completely different experience. For one thing, their responses to the news are much more natural in that we discuss and react to things as they come up from day to day. We don’t call it current events. It’s just another part of what we’re learning that’s ongoing. As a result, my kids are much more aware of what’s going on in the world than I ever was, (which can be both positive and negative). I didn’t really think about the news until I was forced to because of a current events assignment.

Today’s kids also have access to many more sources of news than we did. These sources have articles written with young audiences in mind, and have other engaging features, such as videos, quizzes, polls, and contests to keep things interesting. For us moms, these sites offer ready-made lessons with ideas for discussions and activities that make it really easy to incorporate current events into your school day -- whether you’re looking at international cultures, the latest developments in science and technology, historic events that tie to today’s world, or diverse points of view and global perspectives.

At the end of this article is a list of free current event sites that you may already be familiar with, but I wanted to mention first two sites that stand out:

  • Listenwise: This site offers a collection of audio current events stories, about 3 - 5 minutes in length, selected from public radio, and covering topics in social studies, science, and language arts. Accompanying lesson plans include listening comprehension questions, worksheets, and quizzes. This site can be helpful not only for auditory learners, but for building listening comprehension skills in all types of learners. It’s also a great way to introduce audio as a primary source. Kids can listen to authentic voices from another era, and hear about events from the people who actually experienced them.
  • Do Now: This site works along with two things kids already make abundant use of: smartphones and social media. Posted at the Do Now site are current events stories on civics, science, arts, and pop culture. For each story, there’s a media resource, like a video, a question to respond to, and additional resources for delving more deeply into a topic. Students respond to stories by replying in the Comments section at the site, or on Twitter or other platforms. The idea is to foster discussion and debate. There’s a research component too, as kids are encouraged to support their opinions with authoritative articles or other sources they can link to.

 

More free current events sites:

 

Channel One: Daily news video segments and corresponding activities.

 

Newspapers in Education: Get free access to electronic editions of your local newspaper, plus lesson plans and other resources.

 

Izzit: Sign up for a free account to access current events lesson plans, streaming video, and free educational DVDs.

New York Times Learning Network: Features a Poetry Pairs section that matches up classic and contemporary poems with New York Times articles and photos.

Behind the News: Kids can watch how-to videos on news reporting and submit their own stories. 

Youngzine: Publishes articles written by kids, including original short stories, poems, books, movie reviews, and travelogues.

CNN Student News: Ten-minute video news stories for middle- and high school students.

Scholastic News: New stories from their magazines.

Student News Daily: Has a section on types of media bias.

Smithsonian Tween Tribune: News stories for grades 1 - 12.

Interesting Way to Explore Languages of the World
Category: Social Studies
Tags: world languages languages of the world most spoken languages in the world how many languages are in the world

"What does Xhosa sound like?"

The question came up while my kids and I were reading aloud The Viper’s Nest, Book 7 of The 39 Clues series, which takes place in South Africa. Amid the adventure aspects of the stories, which make for a fun read -- the secret messages, escapes from enemy strongholds, and various close calls the characters experience -- the series also manages to sneak in some history, geography, and cultural information -- tidbits that, if spark an interest, we explore further.

On this particular occasion, my kids’ interest was piqued by two languages that are featured in the story: Afrikaans and Xhosa. My kids are somewhat familiar with Afrikaans because they’ve heard my son’s Boyscout leader (who’s from South Africa) shout at his two boys in Afrikaans plenty of times. But they never heard Xhosa, and were curious about the clicking sounds that are part of that language.

While it's easy enough to do a search on Xhosa or any other language, it's even easier to go to this website I came across that enables you to pull up information and audio files for all the world’s living languages -- nearly 7,000 of 'em. The site, called Langscape, from the University of Maryland’s Language Science Center, presents language information through an interactive map. Zoom in on any spot on the map to see a location's native languages and hear them spoken.

We tried it out with South Africa. We zoomed in and found Afrikaans and Xhosa. Click on the name of the language and a window pops up showing where it’s spoken and latitude/longitude. Scroll down under the map, and see all kinds of other information on the language, including dialects, related languages, and a linguistic sketch which tells you about a language’s grammar and phonemes. Click on the musical notes icon under the map, and you can have fun listening to common words and phrases like, "All the knives are sharp;" "You need five chairs;" and "How does this thing work?" If you want to get even more in depth, there are links to further resources and language experts.

A couple of other cool things about the site: there’s a language ID game where you listen to a language sample and have to identify the language by clicking on a flag. There’s also a 40-page, downloadable K-12 educator’s guide with instructions for using the site, and suggested activities. Some examples:

  • Use the map for a scavenger hunt, and have the kids find out how many speakers French has worldwide; how to say "hello" in Vietnamese; what language is spoken at (6.28, -1.25); etc.
  • Take a language like Spanish or German and compare how it's spoken in different places.
  • Explore Native American populations, comparing where they once lived to their linguistic distribution today. Click on different areas of the map to compare the sounds of different Native American languages.

Great site if you’re working on a nation notebook, or studying a particular language, or including information on languages as part of your other geography and social studies lessons -- or just satisfying a curiosity.

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