Teaching with primary source documents

A homeschooling parent can start teaching children of any age about history. Start with history from the beginning and really focus on teaching an understanding to the backbone of America. Incorporating historical documents will lead children to an encouraging way to learn about history.

Historical era documents will range from revolution, expansion, and war to industrialized American development and contemporary America. These documents are arranged by archival number, and the detail within them will portray history and its meaning. These documents are available through audio, image, data, maps, and written documents, so do not hesitate to narrow the search down.

Learning activities

Dress up: Every child likes to explore unfamiliar items. Benefit from these actions by dressing your children up in clothes that people may have worn throughout history.

Chronological thinking: This involves putting events in order, making connections, and finding sequences towards the reasons behind historical events.
Comprehension: Some activity ideas are painting a big picture and identifying national monuments.

Issues of history: A good idea is to discuss the effects of historical decisions that were made.

Discovering history

Even though these documents are right there in front of you, it might be a challenge to uncover their meanings. Since these documents can use a language that a child may not be able to interpret, it is your job to adjust these documents to a simpler mind. Methods to do this would include using notes with clear information on them. This does not mean changing information; instead, it means to simplify—for instance, difficult vocabulary could be better understood by making it appear and sound simpler, or grammar and punctuation fixes could be made. Cropping a document can be used for drawing focus to key parts. This is a good way to develop familiarity with these documents, especially when trying to highlight one particular event in history.
The intentional uses of these documents are not to be confusing; therefore, a child should easily be able to understand and analyze them. Words with definitions, italicized words, and quotes from these resources are key learning parts within these documents.

Happening over time

It can take time to analyze and discover meaning of a historical text. When a history student is able to relay comprehension of meaning and significance of a primary source document, he or she is becoming an historian. Since these documents are in a recognizable format, children are more able to comfortably work with them. As history changes, so do perspectives, and discovering these in picture, printed, and audio formats will lead to questioning and higher-order thinking. Being able to study cause and effect as they pertain to historical events will paint an everlasting picture in a child’s own mind of understanding how to link the past to the present.