History Detective

Try out this history detective approach for your next history lesson.  Let your kids sleuth out the truth about a historical event. I’m a big believer in keeping a historical framework and teaching the history of the world in the order it happened, but that doesn’t mean my kids have zero choices when it comes to learning.  Each unit we do has all kinds of events that happened during that time period.  I almost always sit down with my kiddos as we start a unit and we glance through it together.  They choose some explorations and books they are interested in and we begin to form a unit.  As my kids get older (I’ve got a middle schooler and a high schooler now), I want them to do more of their own research and independent learning instead of relying so much on our read alouds and discussions.  Don’t get me … click to read more

Draw a Story Starters

My kids' favorite way to do a quick writing practice.

One of the things I’ve been working on with my kids is just getting things down on paper when they are given a writing assignment.  They seem to have these mental blocks where they just stare at the paper. So I made these story starters to use during a timed “writing frenzy”.  Since you draw from four different idea bags, this method gives endless story starters. Before we start writing the kids chose one slip of paper from each of the baggies.  In one baggie is the topic, in another is the problem, in another is an adjective, and in the last is an object.  You can mix the cards around any way you like for your story.  In the cards drawn below, either the mom could be crazy or the math homework could be. The rule for our writing frenzy is that everyone has to write for the entire … click to read more

Design A Postage Stamp

Your kids can design a postage stamp of their very own.  How cool would it be to be a stamp designer? This printable can be used for lots and lots of things.  Here are a few ideas: Design a stamp about a famous person or event you are studying from history. Make a stamp similar to a coat of arms, that represents significant things about a historical person. After learning about a country, design a postage stamp that would highlight something or someone important from the country. Make your postage stamp feature an important invention or inventor. Create a stamp based on your favorite book, author, or character. Make a stamp all about you.  Draw yourself in the center surrounded by things that represent who you are. Design a postage stamp about an important scientist and their contribution. Make your postage stamp feature your favorite subject, or even the job … click to read more

Romantic Music Cards, Part 2

These music cards cover the late Romantic Music period.  The cards are designed to be printed on card stock then used to help kids learn about the music of the greatest composers.  The cards should be used in conjunction with listening to the pieces featured on the cards.  All of the music can easily be found online.  Below we have each of the selections in the art cards embedded as a YouTube video. The late Romantic Period was a continuation of the emotionality and nationalism of the earlier Romantics. Many composers wrote patriotic pieces and used folk songs and tales of their countries as inspiration. The piano and the orchestra remained the most important instruments for musical performances and opera and program music (music that tells a story) were both important through the entire Romantic period. But late Romantics became more and more free with their musical expression. They began … click to read more

Hudson River School Art Cards

We created the printable Hudson River School Art Cards to help you teach your kids about fine art.  This is part of a series of art and music cards we here at Layers of Learning have created.  Each set includes postcard size images of famous paintings paired with a description card about each painting. The Hudson River School was begun in about 1825 by Thomas Cole and his friend Asher Durand in the Hudson River Valley and lasted until around 1900. It was part of the larger Romantic movement that was taking place in Europe, but instead of ruined abbeys being overtaken by trees, the Americans portrayed their cultural heritage, untamed wilderness. The themes of the Hudson River School include the ability to find and commune with the Divine in nature, the value of wild spaces and human interconnectedness with them, and how civilization encroaches on nature. The first generation … click to read more

Romantic Music Cards, Part 1

These printable Romantic Music Cards include portraits of famous composers from the Romantic period along with a card featuring one of the composer’s most famous pieces and a little information about the composer.  We included the composer’s name on the portrait cards, but not on the description cards so that kids can practice matching the composer to their music. We also created a second set of Romantic Music Cards, Part 2 for the later Romantic composers. Romantic Period Music The Romantic period in music is part of the overall Romantic movement that also included art and literature. It was a reaction to the order and precision of previous music and was characterized by emotionality. Many Romantic composers were fascinated with the wonders and power of nature.  Their pieces were composed to depict natural settings and seasons. Further this was the time of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle class. … click to read more

Civil Rights Bus Craft

This is a printable paper craft kids can do to help them learn about the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. Inside the windows of the bus and in the door are some of the most important  leaders of the Civil Rights movement including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Ella Baker. We chose a bus because one of the major tools to gain publicity for the Black Rights cause and force change were the bus boycotts in Montgomery and other cities.  Also, many date the beginning of the Civil Rights movement to the day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus and was arrested for it.  This is not the day that people began working for equality and civil rights, but it was perhaps the day that the movement entered the public eye. Before doing the … click to read more

Romantic Art Cards

These Romantic Art Cards are printable and intended to be a tool to help you teach your kids about fine art.  The more we learn about something the more we see with a trained eye and understand with a trained mind.  The more we understand the more we enjoy the art.  And that is the real purpose of fine art, to bring pleasure and understanding. The Romantic period in art followed the Neoclassical period and preceded the Impressionist movement, spanning from about 1800 to 1850. Romanticism included many different styles and subjects for painting but was unified by a few characteristics, especially emotion, nature, and current events. Romantic artists were trying to evoke feelings in their audience with the paintings they made. Often the subjects were making social or political statements. Even landscape paintings were intended to evoke feelings of regret, longing, or awe to the viewer. The movement was partially … click to read more

Memorize the Presidents Printable Cards

Here are some “Memorize the Presidents Printable Cards”, with names and pictures of the Presidents of the United States in order.  Click here, Presidents of the US Memory Cards, or on the image to open the pdf to print. Print the cards onto heavy paper or card stock then cut them apart.  If you want them to last, laminate them. First practice getting the presidents in order from memory using the cards.  Then work on memorizing the presidents without the cards.  Take away a few cards at a time and say the presidents in order over and over.  In a week you and your kids can have them memorized. Presidential Fact Cards This second set of Presidents of the US Fact cards has one fact about each president.  Kids can match the fact with the correct president.  Work on getting these memorized as well.  We chose something (or two) significant about each … click to read more

Book of Years

We keep a Book of Years and add to it at the end of each history unit.  I love teaching history in the right order, and making a Book of Years has helped us to see the overall context of the world and make connections even more. I made our Book of Years using an oversized 11″ x 14″sketchbook.  We used rubber cement to adhere blue card stock to the cover, and then I printed out some cover art I designed to adhere to the card stock.  Here is our printable  Book of Years Cover if you’d like to use it. Next I used a ruler and measured 3 inches down from the top of each page and drew a light line, then cut along it, leaving it attached at the binding. This allows us to record our timeline along the top pages and our entries in the larger bottom section. … click to read more