Whether you homeschool or place your kids in a traditional school, history is one subject that always seem to get a bad reputation! The most common complaint I hear from kids and from homeschooling parents is that it’s boring. Most curricula rely mainly on a very wordy textbook and simply suggest reading, discussion, and thought questions for daily work, with maybe a film or a project thrown in for additional activity. Snooze.
A couple in California noticed this problem too and decided to address it. The De Gree family—John, a twenty-year teaching veteran, and his wife Zdenka, a veteran homeschooling mom to their seven children—“realized a great need in American society to promote independent and critical thinking through primary source analysis and thoughtful discussion of history.” So they joined their creative forces, pulling from John’s teaching expertise and Zdenka’s childhood learning experience and came up with some really cool ways to learn while you play!
The Classical Historian offers an award-winning, complete one-year history curriculum, as well as separate books and other products that really engages students and kicks boredom to the curb. I got to review their Medieval History Memory Game, which retails for $14.95.
The Classical Historian’s Medieval History Memory Game is a box set of 64 tiles (32 pairs) that have images of a variety of historical events dating to the medieval time period. Pictures include a monastery, Charlemagne, a Sahara Desert caravan, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, an Aztec shaman, a Samurai, and many more. The game allows for a couple different play options. First is a simple memory game in which all the tiles are laid out upside-down in 8 rows and 8 columns. Children then take turns finding matching pairs. In the end, the one who has the most pairs wins. A second variation is for the parent/teacher to lay out the 4 pairs of word tiles (The Americas, Far East, Arabia, and Europe) right side-up and arrange the appropriate picture tiles in each category. (Yes, there is a cheat sheet!) Have the students study the order for a few moments and then mix them up and have the student properly regroup them. Kids can challenge each other in this version by racing the clock to see who gets the most correct tiles in the shortest amount of time.
You can take the game to another level—or plus it, in Disney terms—by using the tiles as a starting point to delve more deeply into each topic. For example, find some that have a common theme, like the warrior images of a Crusader, a Mongolian warrior, a Viking warrior, and a Samurai. Study what or who it was they were battling, the cause they were defending, their methods and strategies of war, their successes or failures, their geographical regions, etc. Or perhaps choose the art images of Michelangelo’s Pieta and Sistine Chapel painting, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, and the mosaic of Mary and Jesus. Study the artists as well as their art forms. Maybe you could explore the architecture images of the various cathedrals, the Mayan pyramid, a mosque, Machu Picchu, and a castle, or group them by geographical region according to the four word tile pairs and create an entire unit study for each category.
The Classical Historian bills the Medieval Memory Game as two-games-in-one, but it’s really much, much more! With so many possibilities, this product is a great way for the whole family to learn while they play!
Visit www.classicalhistorian.com to view their complete product line or to purchase the Medieval Memory Game or other materials for your family.
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