Friday, September 23, 2011

Story of the World (SOTW): Introduction

I like that most of the chapters in SOTW are easily broken up into two parts.  We will be studying history twice a week and science twice, so this easily fits into our schedule.  We did the introduction over two days this week.  In the introductory chapter we learned about what history is, what archaeology is, and how we can find out about the lives of people who lived long ago without talking to them or interviewing them.

After listening to the first half of the chapter, we made a family timeline and recorded major events from the year 1900 through 2011.  I just taped a bunch of papers together and made the line with a marker, then the boys helped me figure out where to mark birthdays, marriages, etc. We're planning to hang this in the schoolroom and add to it as we grow!  I also showed them how we could take a "piece" of the timeline and break it down into smaller parts, such as a timeline just for 2011 broken into months.

We are also going to make lapbooks for each chapter.  Fortunately, I had found and saved this awesome lapbook for SOTW Volume 1 a while ago.  Instead of putting our components on file folders, we're putting them into a blank spiral bound book.  It will be much easier to store!!  Below you can see the cover of my oldest son's book.  We just printed out the cover page and glued it to the front of the blank book.

For Chapter 0 (the introduction!), we added a pocket about "What is History?"  I just had my first grader do the pocket.  However, for my fourth grader, I had him do the pocket with pictures and then write a short paragraph about what he learned about "what is history?".  We then folded his little "report" and added it to the pocket.  His lapbook pages are shown in the next two photos.

For the second part of the chapter we learned about what archaeologists do and we had our own dig!!  This is an idea from the Activity Guide, but I loved seeing how Satori and her mom did a similar dig over at Satori Smiles.  Below are photos from our dig.

I mixed up sand, cornstarch, and water to make the sand hold together a bit more than it would otherwise.  Then I put it into a metal cake pan (after I'd put a bunch of "artifacts" into the bottom of the pan) and marked off a grid with pieces of string.  I showed the boys how archaeologists excavate one area at a time.  Luckily, we took a field trip a few weeks ago to a real dig site and I was able to show them a photo of an area marked off into a grid with trenches.  If it weren't for the wonderful flexibility of homeschooling, they probably wouldn't have had a real-life experience like that to tie into their learning.  

We "excavated" into a colander to be sure we didn't miss any little pieces.

When we found something, we put it into a baggie and labeled the bag with the coordinates of the square we'd found it in.

I had made up a grid worksheet for each of them to record their finds.  They had these on clipboards and it was all very official and very fun!! regrets about staying up until after midnight to get this activity prepped.  It was totally worth it!!  You can see my 4th grader's grid below.


  1. I love your story! Thanks for sharing!

  2. You are so creative! Love everything!

  3. Hello,
    I read this idea and loved it. Today my kids and I did this with Chicken bones, they had a blast!
    Here is a website that I used with this activity,
    Thank you so much for this idea, it was great!!!!

  4. Well put and organized! Thank you for sharing!

  5. thanks for the dig project idea! We did our own version today - really fun! will post about it soon.