When you’re homeschooling multiple kids in the K-8 range, social studies is a completely enjoyable subject that you don’t need to overthink! Kids are naturally curious about the world around them, and there are plenty of simple (and inexpensive) resources that you can use every year. So if you’ve been overwhelmed at the thought of buying social studies curriculum for and organizing lesson plans for multiple kids, then let me show you a super simple plan you can use. Social studies should be enjoyable for the whole family – not overwhelming.
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My homeschool style is eclectic, so if textbooks work for your crew, then get some; if hands-on meshes well with your family style, then use it. Basically, I love the minimalist approach when I can, because who has time for consulting a thick teacher’s manual every morning just to get school started? I also tried to do as much together in the K-8 years as I could. As a homeschool family living on one income, inexpensive or reusable resources are my favorite.
What does social studies exactly mean? Don’t I just need to teach history? Well, yes, your homeschool should include history studies, but social studies includes civics, economics, and geography.
Here is a list of resources or projects that you can use with your K-8 homeschoolers. Pick one or several things to do each year. After a few years, you could go back and repeat a project because your kids will be older, and you may have new younger siblings in the homeschool mix at that point.
Trail Guide to World Geography
This curriculum requires no advanced prep from mom, but is also adequate for 3 different levels of students in your homeschool. Buy once and use year after year for excellent geography instruction. Includes information on building a geography notebook. Also includes a literature unit to “Around the World in 80 Days.” You could use this all year, or even just one semester.
Trail Guide to U.S. Geography
Add a bit of U.S. Geography into your studies this year with another multi-levelled one-book curriculum for your whole family. You will learn how to create a U.S. Geography notebook as your students study 2 states each week. An optional literature unit is included with this study.
Mystery of History or Story of the World
Instead of using a dry textbook that’s written for a specific grade level, I recommend that you purchase one multi-age chronological history spine, like the Mystery of History or Story of the World. We’ve used both and I can recommend them highly if you’d like a narrative approach that teaches history chronologically. Both also include audio file options if you’d like to hear others read the lesson and stories. You can purchase supplemental material if you’d like, but we’ve just purchased the main books for each stage of history and then once we’ve been through them all, we start back at the beginning at a higher level (kids are older), or it might be brand new for a few of your youngest kids.
GeoBear Project or Flat Stanley
When I was a middle school social studies teacher, one of the most fun projects my students participated in was the GeoBear Project. If you’ve ever read the Flat Stanley books, then you have an idea of what we did. Instead of sending a Flat Stanley around the world, each student chose a stuffed animal “GeoBear” that they sent off on world adventures with a journal, a bag for souvenirs, and a tag explaining the project and an address to send postcards. My public school classes enjoyed tracking the progress of our GeoBears around the world. They travelled with friends, U.S. military personnel, and relatives. They went to almost every continent and we received lots of postcards and souvenirs. Of course, use your judgment with giving out an address, or you could even use a P.O. box for this purpose. You can download a few GeoBear instruction sheets HERE.
I created an Ultimate YouTube Playlist for World Geography for my high schoolers, and you can find it in my members-only resource library. However, you might be able to use some of the videos for your K-8 crowd as well.
In addition, here are some Video Response Assignment Bundle to go along with the playlist and to include in a social studies notebook.
Finally, since geography includes more than just finding a location on a map, I created a Themes of Geography Project Bundle for middle and high schoolers. It walks students through 30 hands-on projects that encompass themes like culture, region, human-environment interaction, and more.
If you’d like BOTH of these Geography Bundles, grab my limited time bundle deal HERE.
Timelines have been an excellent way to visually and tactilely document our chronological history studies.
Pro-tip: Use a cardboard seamstress cutting board that will naturally fold for easy stow-away. It’s fun for kids to retell the history stories as they look at their timeline.
As the kids get older and want to create personal timelines, you can use notebooks for continuous timelines and narration.
Presidential elections are great times to break from normal history studies and learn about the electoral process and study civics. Your kids can watch videos about the branches of government and the election process while creating notebooks or posters of their studies. Definitely take your kids with you when you vote. Your older kids can volunteer to work on a local campaign. If you’re looking for specific unit studies, then make sure to check out the next two resources. Even adding one unit study per year is a great idea.
Online Unit Studies with Techie Homeschool Mom
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Here are the benefits of choosing a couple of these resources and teaching all your homeschoolers in K-8 together:
- one time curriculum purchase for all your kids through all their K-8 years
- chronological history spine and add elements of geography, civics, and economics into your studies
- relevant as you can choose unit studies to rabbit trail into interesting topics or current events