YMB #111 Teaching History without a Curriculum: A Conversation with Amy Sloan

Sometimes history texts can be a little dry and uninspiring, but what can homeschoolers do to bring history to life? My guest Amy Sloan eschews the textbooks altogether and simply uses real living books to teach history to her kids. Worried about how to make it happen? Amy breaks down how to do it, where to find the books, and some of the benefits that can come from taking a more interesting approach to history.

Pam:

And instead, when I’m thinking about a book, like thinking about as an adult books by David McCullough, write his biography of John Adams. I know many people have either read or watched the mini series, a book like that an adult will come and they will read. And while it’s nonfiction, it’s written in this way, that connects you to the story and it connects you to the people involved.

And so I think that’s a really big difference when I’m setting, you know, my idea about studying history against textbooks. I’m really trying to set up this distinction between something written by committee that’s just dry and boring and doesn’t engage your whole self at all, with something that’s written in a narrative style. 

This is Your Morning Basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day. 

Hello and welcome to Episode 111 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host. And I am so happy that you’re joining me here today. Well, today on the podcast, we’re talking about a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I have always loved and been fascinated with the study of history, even though for years and years, when I was in school, it wasn’t all that exciting.

Read Full Transcript

Did anybody else have a coach for a high school history teacher who made you copy pages out of the book? Yup. That was totally our assignment at least once a week. But despite that, good stories always helped me to be a lover of history. And that's what we're going to be chatting about on today's episode of the podcast.
My good friend, Amy Sloan from Humility and Doxology is here, and she's going to be chatting with us about how she teaches history in her homeschool without using a textbook at all. Now, one of the resources that Amy and I chat about using today is actually our history Morning Time plans over at Your Morning Basket. We make history Morning Time plans that help you to bring together the art, music, stories, and events that have to do with history and wrap them all up into one beautiful Morning Time, along with these really fabulous history book lists. And so if this is something you're interested in, you can go check them out at Pambarnhill.com/shop.
Now don't stop listening because Amy has so many other great resources for you including a special offer on her masterclass, all about teaching history without a textbook. So let's get into the interview right now.
Amy Sloan is a wife and a homeschool mom of five. She's a second generation homeschooler giving her children a restfully classical education. You can hear Amy talk with other homeschool educators on her Homeschool Conversations Podcast, and you can find her booklists and printable poetry and textbook free history resources humilityanddoxology.com.
Now, if you are a long time, Your Morning Basket listener, you may remember Amy from episode 64, all about a mom's practical view of how to do memory work and your homeschool. And we're having Amy back because she was fabulous on that episode. And we know we've got a, she's got some awesome things to say about teaching history without a textbook. So Amy, welcome.
Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.
We are so excited to have you back that memory work podcast was one of my favorite episodes because it was just chock-full of practical advice for moms about a topic that, you know, people say we should do, you should be doing memory work and you actually showed us how it could be done. So we're glad to have you here again.
Well, I'm glad that was an encouragement. Yeah, definitely one of my favorite topics to talk about.
I know that that like textbook free history is another favorite topic. And before we dive off into that, tell me a little bit about yourself and your kids and your homeschool.
Sure. So my husband and I are both second generation homeschoolers and my children are ranging currently in age from six to 16. So we have everything from the beginning of the elementary years, all the way up through a junior in high school and our family lives in North Carolina. We start the day with our Morning Time and our memory work and enjoy lots of books, read alouds together and adventures and end the day with family devotions. And that's pretty much the flow of our family life.
I love it. I love it. And yeah, you have you been doing Morning Time the whole time you've homeschooled?
No, actually this was something that I started. Oh, I mean maybe like nine or 10 years ago now. So near the beginning, or maybe not nine, I don't know, nine or eight. It was one of those things where the first few years I had all these ideals in my head of these things that I wanted to include in our homeschool. And so I would, you know, get to the important quote-unquote things. First we do our math and we do these other things and then I would just be tired and wouldn't have time or energy to get to those things I thought was important.
So it was when I started hearing from people like Sarah Mackenzie and you, these ideas about you're allowed to start first thing with these beautiful, beautiful parts of your homeschool. I was like, really I'm allowed to do that? And just putting it right there at the beginning really made such a huge change. And so now there's things that I always said where my priorities are actually able to fit into the reality of our very full homeschool life.
I love that. I love that so much. And I think that was one of the things for us too, was like, you've always said you wanted to do these things and now you're never finding time for them. And so just like, I think just reaching out and grabbing what you want and saying, you know what, we're going to put this first and do it first. And it does. It makes all the difference in the world.
Well, let's talk a little bit about history. Why does teaching history look like in your homeschool?
Well, for this, I really have to give a lot of credit to my own homeschool experience growing up. So when I look back on history, I know that for many people they're like, oh, that was so boring. It was just lists of dates and dead people and battles. And they just sort of dreaded that topic and in their own school life. But when I look back on history learning, it was filled with, you know, read alouds and discussion and field trips, activities. And so it felt like the people we were reading about were real people.
And I had this connection and this excitement, it was sort of like reading like an adventure story only it just happened to be true. And so, because that was something I had loved so much, I really wanted to communicate that in the same way to my own children. So for us from the very beginning history has been a really huge and important part of our homeschool day.
And it's something I've been able to do with many ages at the same time and not with a textbook or a workbook that's from grade to grade, but it involves a lot of read aloud and discussion and just really connecting with these people of the past, learning to love them as my neighbors much in the same way we want our children to love their neighbor now, and to understand the people with whom they're in contact in their daily life. I think it's really important for them to have that same idea as they look at the people in the past.
Okay. So I like that ideal. And I like the idea of using real people as opposed to dates and things like that. But why do we, like, why not a textbook? Why can't we do that with a textbook?
Okay. Well here is also my second generation a homeschooler coming out so, I was looking over some of these questions. I was like, I want to make sure people know. I mean, they can do whatever works best for their own homeschool. I definitely get, can get a little bit irritated with, you know, some of the things online where it's like, this is the only right way to homeschool. So just with that caveat, I am not saying this is the only way in which one can profitably and joyfully study history. So, but this is just my experience.
So when I think about history textbooks, when I've looked at them in my local homeschool bookstore, or I've seen them on the shelves at friend's houses and I flipped through, they tend to be very sort of lists of facts approach. They aren't engaging. Like I would never read them for fun. They feel like something you're literally just doing for school. And I mean that in a negative way, not in a, like, this is a joyful homeschool moment.
And instead when I'm thinking about a book, like thinking as an adult, books, by David McCullough, write his biography of John Adams, I know many people have either read or watched the mini series, a book like that an adult will come and they will read. And while it's nonfiction, it's written in this way, that connects you to the story and it connects you to the people involved.
And so I think that's a really big difference when I'm setting, you know, my idea about studying history against textbooks. I'm really trying to set up at this distinction between something written by committee that's just dry and boring and doesn't engage your, your whole self at all with something that's written in a narrative style. And that doesn't mean it's fiction or a story, but it's written in that kind of narrative style that connects you with the events that makes them real to you. So you really feel a connection.
I think another thing that I see as a difference with using a traditional textbook and this a textbook free approach is that with a textbook, it's really easy to sort of think, okay, well this is Western Civ 1, right? Like I open up at the front of the book and that's when this time period started and I closed the book at the end and that time period is over. And one of the things I really try to communicate to my own children is that, you know, no one woke up one morning and said, ah, it's the Middle Ages. And then they went to sleep and the next morning, and they're like, ah, it's now the Renaissance, right? These events where we're slow and gradual, and they're impacting one another people and ideas all around the world at the same time, it's this long, slow growing process. These were real people just like you and me. Right? They were just living there very ordinary, to them, lives. And yet as we look back and see how all of these things were impacting one another, like we see this bigger picture, this bigger story, sort of like the whole tapestry at once. And with a textbook, it's just sort of more like, and here's this thread and here's that thread as if they're disconnected and not part of the same picture.
And so teaching without the textbook and using more of those living resources allows you to weave everything together a little more?
That has definitely been my experience. Yes.
Awesome. Okay. So I think it sounds great, you know, let's okay. Let's put away the textbook and let's just read some really, really good books instead, but without using a textbook, how do you know what to teach? Especially if you feel like your own history, knowledge is kind of weak.
So this can be definitely a struggle. It kind of goes along with the same question of like, how do I know where to start? Like what time period of history or what topic of history to start? And the answer might be different for different people. I prefer to study chronologically that works well in our family. One, because I really do like seeing causes and effects and the implications of one person's decision down through the generations.
I love being able to communicate that to my kids when we study chronologically, but certainly there are other ways to, to study history as well. I just think it takes away decision fatigue. So I'll just share my, you know, what I do in my homeschool, but you do, you. So I just sort of start at the beginning and love to pick a book.
That is what I call like the history spine. If I had to pick like 50 different books to read through the school year, that would feel a little overwhelming to me. So I prefer finding one that's a little longer that's nonfiction that takes this sort of overarching big picture perspective. So once we've used in our family have been the famous men series. I actually have the old books from Greenleaf press that my mom used with my brother and I, when I was growing up. I also really love the Genevieve Foster books. And one of the things I love about her books is she's bringing in the stories of people literally around the world at the same time period. So one chapter you're reading about something happening in Spain. The next chapters are happening in Africa, a few chapters later, something in Japan.
So you're really getting this picture that all of these things are occurring at the same time. So when you pick, you know, one of these great books and there are plenty of great Booklist resources around with that spine, you just sort of start there. And then as you're reading aloud, there will be, say a topic that you're like, oh, this is interesting. Let's explore this a little bit more. Like let's learn a little bit more about the spice trade. And that's when I dig out my trusty library card and go keyword search at the library and bring home a bunch of extra picture books or biographies. And that's also with the supplemental reading where I include historical fiction. So I think that's a really important part of studying history without a textbook, but I don't like to have the fiction be sort of the primary way we're studying history. I prefer to have the non-fiction book as our read aloud, and then the historical fiction, the picture books, you know, the science and art and music of the time period, sort of coming along to supplement the main history spine.
Okay. So I was going to ask that too. I know that the books that you mentioned, like the great men series, and this would be like Great Men of Rome, Great men of was there great men of Greec? I know there was Great Men of the Middle Ages.
Yeah. Famous Men of Greece, Famous men from the Middle Ages. And then there was one written by a different author followed up later. That's actually famous men of the Renaissance and reformation too
Right. And Greenleaf press used to publish those. And I know that memoria press actually publishes those now. We've actually used some of those. And then the Genevieve Foster books as well, we did Augusta Caesar's World, which was you, you would think, well, it's just all wrong, but you're, you're exactly right. It was lots of different places throughout the known world at that time. And then also on our shelf is like George Washington's World. And they're covering things that are going on in Europe and, and all of these other places. But these are definitely word dense while they're written on an elementary level. There were dense chapter books, if you will.
So you actually do use picture books as well. Yes. So what has worked well in our family, especially with this sort of ten year age span is after our sort of regular Morning Time routine, I will get out our history read aloud. And that's where I'll just spend about 15 to 20 minutes reading aloud from the history spine. And that time has changed depending on our, you know, the ages of kids, if I had a toddler or a baby or, you know, other needs of the family. And so that's the time where I really focus on that all together learning. And because I limit it by time, not by a certain number of pages, it just feels less stressful, like, and not like, oh no, we didn't get to the right chapter today. We're behind. I just don't like feeling behind. So I'd rather just say, Hey, we're going to read for about 15 minutes. And then with the picture books or the art study, or, you know, a science topic that goes along with what we're studying, those are going to be things I'm going to give to children at the appropriate grade level that either I'll read aloud with them later on, or they'll read on their own. I should also mention too, here, since I did mention them the Morning Time. And we've talked about that before and memory work, it does kind of connect because one of the things I love doing with our memory work is to bring in things that relate to what we're studying in history. So it might be an original source from the time period, something like the first few lines of the Iliad, if we're studying ancient Greece or the declaration of independence, if we're studying American history or it might also be a poem about the time period like Ozymandias or something like that. So they're really all these subtle ways. You can take whatever you're learning in history and find ways to apply it all throughout the homeschool day without feeling like you're adding to the burden of your to-do list.
I love that. Yeah. We actually memorized the preamble to the constitution this year. We're studying American history and the declaration, the first part of the declaration is on my list. We just haven't tackled it yet. I like to throw like a little bit of poetry and scripture in between the, the longer historical documents. So, well, you mentioned something that I wanted to touch upon because you do have a six year old all the way up to a 16 year old. So does your 16 year old do anything in addition to what you are doing as a family for history?
Our high schoolers have used some lecture, a lecture series by Dr. George Grant as part of their history learning. And so that's been a huge part of their high school history and with what's actually a humanities. So it's like literature and history and art and philosophy sort of all intertwined together.
So they do a lot of that on their own and then have discussion time and things like that with me. But one of the things I love is that the topic or the time period they're studying is the same as the time period that I'm deep diving with the younger kids. And so we're in one sense, we all have that sort of shared vocabulary. Like we can all sort of be talking about the same types of things through the day. And so it doesn't feel like we're in disparate areas. Like we still have common ground.
I love that. Yeah. And this is very similar to how we do history in our house and that we are together for a certain amount of reading with our spine in Morning Time. And then, you know, the older kids, because, you know, my kids are a little closer in age than yours. So the stuff we do together is age appropriate for that middle schooler and up. And then the older kids have something additional that they do at a later time of day. But we still have that common, that common discussion thread through the stuff that we're reading in Morning Time. So I love that.
Well, if somebody is interested in teaching history in this way, where do you go about finding the books? Where do you go about finding the spines and the additional great picture books that you've been alluding to?
Wow. I would be remiss if I didn't say you should come over to humilityanddoxology.com. I love to make book lists for various time periods and topics, so you can come see me. I know you also have a lot of Morning Time resources that are, you have some that are history geared, don't you Pam?
Oh, totally. Yeah. Four year history cycle boarding time plans with a lot of book lists in there as well.
Yeah. Ambleside online, I know is not a Booklist, but I mean, you can also go find great books recommended on their
It’s not a book list, but it has a book list
That's right. It has a good book list with it. And also if there's a particular curriculum provider that you often respect or look up to, a lot of times what I'll do is like go on their website, go on websites of curriculum providers that I trust and look through some of their recommended resources. So I'm not actually buying the curriculum from them, but it can really be a useful tool to fill my, my library hold list.
Yeah. Yeah. And if I can, can I mention a couple of things, please? Of course, we've got our Morning Time plans, which are four year history cycle based, but then also read aloud revival. What I love about their book list is they really do focus on the books that are good for reading out loud. And sometimes that even means that the books are a little bit shorter if you're looking for kids with like a certain attention spans. And so sometimes they will break their books down into certain history periods.
And then another fabulous resource is IEW’s Timeline of Classics and it's it's classic world literature, and it's all arranged chronologically. And then they break it out for you by grade level. So they say like, this book is appropriate for your high school or this one is more appropriate for middle school. And this, you know, these are the books that are appropriate for early elementary school. And it's just a really fabulous resource as well.
That sounds amazing. I'll have to check that out.
Yeah. So many good resources. So, you know, honestly, I think for moms who are interested in teaching this way, it's a lot more about feeling confident that I could do this than it is finding good books. The good books are out there.
Oh, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. So how do you deal with something like outdated language and older books?
Because we mentioned a couple of resources that has more classic style books and, and as the world has changed, some of the language has gotten a little outdated. So what do you do about things like that? Well, the good thing is when I'm reading aloud the spine, I can either make edits on the fly as need be, which I do on occasion.
Or sometimes I'll just use that as an opportunity to stop and take a pause and just talk about why things have changed over time. What does this show about the worldview or the culture in which the author of the book lived, right? Not just the people about whom he or she is writing, but the author themselves. And I try to do that in a really gracious way because I think that just like we want our children to learn, to understand and, you know, come with humility as they look at the people of the past. We want them to come with that same desire to understand and listen to the authors of the history books. Another thing that I think is really important is to read widely. So a lot of times I think our instinct is to be like, oh dear, there's something concerning in this book or that book. So I'm going to like, limit my book list. I'm going to narrow it down. And I prefer to expand my book list. So I try to read things that are older and a lot that are newer because they have different blind spots. It's not like one is necessarily always more accurate than the other, just by virtue of their age. I think, you know, some homeschool circles, they only want to read old books. Right. And others it's like, no, we're going to only read the new books. And I'm like, well, how about if we read both and they will help us get actually a fuller view of what was really going on because our own culture has its own blind spots. Right. And unfortunately we can't read books from the future, like CS Lewis said, so we have to stick with books from the past, to kind of help us balance out our, our approach. But yeah, I'm not afraid to, to edit or to just sort of read something to my kids and be like, okay, let's talk about why we wouldn't want to use these terms. Or talke about people this way now.
Right. And I love that what you said about balance. You know, like if, if we really get myopic and narrow and only look at modern books, then we're really going to be missing some, some things of great value from the past that maybe we wouldn't include 100% of every single word from it, but there's still some value there. But if we only read the old stuff, then we're going to miss out on some of the value of the newer things as well. And so I think it's, I love that approach to, just to balance it all out balance is a great word.
And just to remind my kids that we're talking about humans, like these are human beings who are flawed, whether it's the people we're reading about in the past or the authors of the books. I think that's so important not to idolize people of the past any more than it is to demonize them, but to talk about them as being human. Like, this is an essentially human experience where you have people who seem to be these great, you know, great heroes. And then we read about these other things they did. And we're like, how can this possibly be?
Or on the flip side, you're, you're learning about someone who's terrible. And you're like, oh, but they actually did this one good thing. Like what? And just to be able to talk to the kids about like, this is human nature, I think is, is really valuable. And not just as we look back at history, but as we look at our, our current culture as well.
Yeah. And I, I think it's like, that's the thing we need to realize too, is that we can see our own flaws and we should see our own flaws. I mean, you know, like we can not ignore our own flaws and say, well, we're just so much better than somebody from the past because we have flaws too. And it'll be interesting to see how history judges us when it's all said and done.
So I love like this humanities kind of approach this, this humanist actually kind of approach that you have to teaching history because it is all about the flawed human being, no matter where they fall on the historical timeline.
And as a Christian, it's something that's even bigger than that because I see God as the author of this story. Right? Yeah. So history really, as this adventure story with these characters, but I see that there is an author and he is working his Providence throughout history too. So we don't just see that when we read the Bible, which is full of stories, right? It's mostly story, in fact. And so we think about that as we read the Bible, I'm like, oh yeah, we see God at work, but I want my kids to see that that's also happening in the story that is being written all around us too.
That is so true. Yeah. He doesn't just stay in the Bible, he's in the world as well.
So what encouragement do you have for a mom who is nervous about the idea of teaching history without a textbook? We had to say, you can do this. And in fact it may be something that ends up becoming your favorite part of the homeschool day. So start, you know, start small. Don't try to get 27,000 books and do all the hands on activities. Just pick one topic that you're already interested in, or maybe it's something you've always wanted to learn a little bit more about. And just start there, start small. Kind of like you encourage with Morning Basket things, right, Pam. It's good to just sort of start small and, and develop that sense of like, oh, this is the kind of thing we do every day. And then you can gradually add on in the future if you wish to. But I think mom's enthusiasm is really the secret sauce of homeschooling a lot of times. So for the mom, who's nervous, I would say don't try to pick like the perfect history, you know, topics. Certainly don't go on a Facebook homeschool Group and Ask, what should I do for history? You'll, you'll go crazy. You know, just pick one thing, just pick a book and read it out loud with your kids and talk about it.
Yeah. And I wanted to point out, and I am trying to remember the lady's name who taught me this little trick. And guys, when I find it, I'll put it in the show notes for this episode, but there's, she actually wrote an article. I want to say, Shelly is her name. And I can't remember her last name, but she actually wrote an article and we included it with her permission in Plan your Year. But her idea for teaching homeschool subjects without a textbook was to actually get a textbook and look at the table of contents and see all the things that they covered in there.
And then go and find books about each one of those topics. And so if you were like, I can't do this, how, you know, how in the world can I teach history without using the textbook, I'm going to miss something or I'm going to forget something that is the perfect way to do it. Because now you have a list of things as a jumping off point that you can study with your kids. And I just thought that was a genius idea.
That's A great tip.
Yeah. Yeah. And then what do you think, Amy, because I'm totally going off script now, what do you think about if your oldest is six or seven? Like where do you dive in there?
Well, I think it will definitely depend on the child. You know, I just, again, as all things I would say, Hey, well, it depends, but I remember something actually really fun that my own mom did with me when I was about five or six. And I did that, at least with my older children. I probably dropped the ball with my littlest guy, honestly, but this was to make a timeline of my own life.
And so it's hard sometimes for young children to really understand like the way time works and how things are placed on a timeline. And so you can actually at five or six years old, get like a big piece of butcher paper and make a little timeline and just put on there. Things like mommy and daddy, met and mommy and daddy getting married. And, you know, Joey is born and like, ask your kid, like what's something important that's happened in your life. And it may be like that time. I got a lollipop at the dentist and you don't put that on the timeline and sort of help them understand the way time works that way. I think that can just be a really great way to get that framework in their head first for them to be thinking historically, and then just get some fun picture books, you know, and, and just read together. I don't think you have to do anything super formal or intense at that age. You want them to be filled with wonder and delight and to want to learn more about these people in the past.
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's the thing too about where it starts with kids this age particularly is really, really focusing on the people more than the events, but really, really like who these people were and what they did. So as you're expanding on this and you know, we're going to have some moms who are like, okay, I can read my kid these books, but how can I be sure they're learning anything, you know, where's the test. What would you say to that mom?
That is such a great question. So one of the things that we do in our family is we teach our kids to keep reading journals. So I don't worry about this at all. When we're talking about a kid who's like kindergarten, first grade, second grade, then we just are having conversations and I'll ask them questions and they'll tell me something they remember that they, you know, read in the book or watched on the documentary or whatever. So I don't worry about it at all in those little, those beginning years.
Can you give me an example of one of those questions, Yeah. Am I be something like something very factual, it could be like, Hmm. Who was the king of, or where did that king, what country was he a king of or something very basic like that? Or it might be like, oh, did you notice a similarity between the story we read today? And then when we read yesterday, like, what did the Kings do that were similar? Or who would you want to be? If, if you were one of the characters that we read about today in this story or something like that, similar questions that you would ask with like a fictional story.
And then as they get older, I teach them how to keep reading journals. And so that sort of becomes the way that we keep track of what they're learning when they're third grade or so again, depending on the kid, but it'll be something simple, like copying out keywords from their reading, or maybe copying a diagram or a picture from the book that they've read. And then as they get older, my middle school and high schoolers are writing from a paragraph to a page three to five times a week about the things that they're reading. And so that kind of tells me that they're paying attention, that you're actually getting something from what, from what they're learning, you know. Charlotte, Mason, homeschoolers talk about narration. So it's same kind of idea. It's just transitioning from oral narration to the written form. And that's the main way I do it up until high school. I actually do give my high schoolers an exam and some weekly quizzes and a lot of them are actually focused on some ideas or philosophies of the time, along with, you know, more again, factual details, of dates and stuff like that.
I love it. I love it. And it all kind of works together. You know, it grows and it all kind of works together, but it's not all answering questions at the end of the chapter when you're seven or eight years old.
Exactly. I can think of few things that would make it more dull.
And that is the truth. That is the truth. Well, if you would like more information about how to teach history without a textbook, you are in luck because Amy's Sloan has a masterclass for you and she has a special offer. So Amy tell everybody how they can get that.
Yes, I would love to give you 30% off my textbook free history masterclass. So if you head over to humilityanddoxology.com/shop, you can find that in there and use code Pam and get 30% off.
I love that. And then we'll also include a link to that on the show notes for this episode and Amy and I both just really want to encourage you to ditch those textbooks and make history more engaging and more exciting at your house.
So Amy, thanks so much for coming on and showing us how to do that. Thanks for having me, Pam. And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the resources, the great book list or Amy's masterclass, all that we chatted about on today's episode of the podcast, you can find them pambarnhill.com/YMB111.
So we're going to have links to all of those resources over there for you. So do go check those out and check out Amy's masterclass for that special coupon code as well. Now I will be back again in a couple of weeks with a very special episode, we have a brand new book, all about Morning Time that is coming out. We want to tell you all about the book where you can get your hands on a copy.
It's absolutely beautiful. It's called Gather: Exploring the Wonder Wisdom and Worship of Learning at Home. And it is a photography book, and we think you're going to be so inspired by this one. I'm going to be joined by my good friend, Heather Tully, who was the photographer for the book. And then also Brittany Bailey, who was the mom of one,
the families who we featured in the gatherer book. They're going to both be here talking to me all about how can we see the fruit of Morning Time, or how can we trust that there will be fruit with our Morning Time efforts long before our kids are grown and gone. And it's going to be a wonderful topic. We're going to dive into a little bit about what's inside the book, what it's about, but also this topic that I think is important to moms, all of our hard work, is it worth it? How can we see the fruit of this ahead of the time that our kids are grown? So join me for that very special interview until then keep seeking truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Teaching History Without a Curriculum

One of the benefits of using a textbook free approach to studying history is the focus on the actual people of history. You can really come to understand the humanness of history by getting to know the stories of these historical figures and see them as people, living their ordinary lives, just like us.

Instead of studying historical periods in isolation, using a living books approach, you are able to see many threads of history and how they weave together.

A great way to go about it is to pick a longer non-fiction history spine and supplement with picture books, biographies, and other resources. You can also choose art, music, and literature that corresponds with that historical period to give a fuller picture.

If you are interested in teaching history this way, start small. Pick a historical topic that interests you and find a few resources. Then, grow from there.

Find what you want to hear:

  • [4:11] meet Amy Sloan
  • [6:04] history in Amy’s homeschool
  • [11:10] knowing what to teach
  • [19:17] resources for finding the books you want
  • [21:49] dealing with outdated language in older books
  • [26:43] encouragement for moms who want to do this
  • [28:56] history with 6-7 year olds

Leave a rating or review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really is a blessing — and it’s easy!

  1. Click on this link to go to the podcast main page.
  2. Click on Listen on Apple Podcasts under the podcast name.
  3. Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! 

Thanks for your reviews

  • Life Affirming
    by Logandinco66 from United States

    This podcast is amazing and has helped me so much as recovering perfectionist homeschooling mama! Pam gives so much great insight into so many aspects of life and focusing on homeschooling.

  • Life giving!
    by lapatita5 from United States

    This podcast has been so great. It’s so practical and encouraging without being overly preachy or narrow. It gives ideas in a take-what-fits kind of way. I have used many of the recommended resources and ideas mentioned and been inspired by many others. Even the episodes that I found less relevant to me specifically, often had tidbits that I could use. Pam’s podcasts, books, and resources have been a godsend to me in my beginning years of homeschooling, helping me discover my own way to teach my kids in a way that prioritizes what is most important to us.

  • You've made my school year!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam, My children are almost 11 and 13 and I never sent this review in! I found it sitting here. This is testimony that I am still so blessed by this podcast years later. So here it is: I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6

  • Love the show!
    by Startup Travis from United States

    Love your content and the guests you have visiting the show! I am a huge believer in using the morning hours well. Thank you for your direction and products!

  • Enjoy the podcast & some thoughts…
    by rufocused from United States

    I enjoy listening to tips on starting and using morning time as I am just starting it this year. We have kind of done it in the past, but when you only have one child you tend to just call it bible, story time, etc… but now that my second one is old enough to join we’re going to have more of a true morning time. I did notice Pam mentioned CNN ten in one episode. CNN can be pretty liberal biased in the main news, I’m not sure if they curb that in the “CNN ten”, but thought I would mention the Daily Wire, which is from a conservative viewpoint (and often covers indoctrination in public schools) and could be fun to compare and contrast with CNN. Our family also recently discovered Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family which has a very Christian perspective, which has been refreshing as news can be so depressing sometimes! Just thought I’d throw that out there… but really do appreciate the perspectives and insights of these women who have been doing this for awhile!

  • Very helpful and pleasant to listen to.
    by Heather homeschooler from United States

    I have listened to many episodes of this podcast and have highly recommended it to others. It has been a wonderful source of inspiration and encouragement. Pam has a great voice and presence and I love that she does not interrupt or talk over her guests. Thank you for your hard work!

  • Always insightful!!
    by method_money from Canada

    Pam always has great great guests who bring great insights and encouragement! I so appreciate her down to earth style and ability to ask great questions! Keep up the great work!!

  • A wildly encouraging and equipping podcast for homeschool families.
    by Eryn Lynum from United States

    As a homeshool mama of four (Ages 2-9), Pam's podcast has been an increidble encouragement to me. Not only that, but I have discovered so many helpful resources for focusing on what is lovely and true during our homeschool days. I love that it is not overwhelming in nature, but instead a gentle help for moving forward one day at a time in our homeschooling adventure.

  • Best podcast for homeschooling/variety of topics
    by Bethetal from United States

    I love this podcast for so many reasons. (1) Pam is friendly, funny, humble and kind (2) She covers a multitude of topics (one at a time)- I have learned about nature notebooks, classical music study, narration, living books, Shakespeare and so much more. Whenever I have a question about a new (to me)HS term or practice, I come here to listen to Pam interview someone about it. Her interviewees have all been all-in on their respective areas of interest/expertise and I love the way she interviews/asks questions to really let the guests shine as they speak. I have changed the structure of my homeschool, found books for my kids and me, purchased materials, and found inspiration due to this podcast and I can’t recommend it enough! This podcast has shaped my homeschool in so many positive ways, most of which I probably can’t even articulate yet, as the changes have been done inside of me. Thanks, Pam!

  • Great!!!
    by Eloblah from United States

    I love the variety of things that are talked about on this show for homeschooling - things that I would never even think about including or doing - with easy ways to do them. Very much recommend this podcast

  • New home schooling mom
    by A prit from United States

    I am listening to the past episodes and loving it. This podcast has helped me develop my own homeschool. So many ideas!! I love morning time so much, we do a nightly family time so my husband and public school attending son. We do all the things instead of watching tv, playing ps4, and YouTube. My kids hang around me every evening asking if we are doing family time. I can tell they love it but don’t want to admit it.

  • Morning Time Magic!
    by DrewSteadman from United States

    I am so excited Pam is back to her morning time focus for 2020. Our homeschool has been shaped by the rich ideas and practical wisdom shared here.

  • Yay! Morning time is back!
    by Homeschooler in Germany from United States

    I was so happy and excited to learn that Pam is shifting her focus back to Morning Time for 2020! I’ve missed the morning time exclusive podcast and can’t wait to hear her back in my earbuds.

  • So excited for 2020!
    by JCrutchf from United States

    I absolutely LOVE this podcast and was so disappointed when I realized you were not actively producing it! I’m NOW relieved to know there is a whole year of episodes ahead! I’m beginning my homeschool journey with 4 little ones very close in age and my style falls somewhere in the Classical and Charlotte Mason. I found your podcast by chance via Instagram recommendation as I was doing research on “morning menus.” Your content is beautifully philosophical but at a level most parents will be able to grasp and appreciate. Filled with truth, beauty, and goodness! Your episodes fill me up and leave me feeling inspired personally and in regards to my children’s education. Everything is so good! Please don’t stop producing ever again! I’ll be grateful forever!

  • So glad Your Morning is back!!!
    by alissajohn2020 from United States

    So glad to have the morning basket podcast back! Thank you for bringing it back!!

  • So good I ran out of gas.
    by JoanieHummel from United States

    This podcast is awesome! It was recommended to me a few years ago by a very wise and experienced homeschool mom but I didn’t start listening until I saw it come up a few more times on Facebook, recommended in various groups (in particular, episode number 41). I wish I had picked it up years ago! So much great information, I’m learning so much! Be careful though, I was so interested listening to this podcast that I didn’t notice how low my gas tank was getting! I ran out of gas and as I write this review I’m stranded on the side of the road waiting for a friend to come rescue me! Happy listening!

  • Knowledge Goldmine
    by A.J. Edwards from United States

    I’ve just been eating up every episode of this brilliant podcast over the past few months. The guests are stellar and Pam’s interview style is wonderful. She gets each guest to the meat and potatoes of their topic but it’s anything but a plain meal. This is a feast for the homeschool mom’s mind. I know I’ll be revisiting many of my favorite episodes again and again. Feeling so inspired by each guest!

  • Myths and fairytale truths for homeschoolers
    by Allierhn from United States

    Mind blown! I’m listening to the myth podcast and it’s absolutely perfect. It is answering so many questions I’ve struggled with my whole life. It helps me to view our curriculum and informs my teaching so much more.

  • Super Helpful!
    by Jennlee C from United States

    I can’t speak highly enough about this podcast. It has been a huge inspiration and a practical help to my homeschool! Thank you so much Pam Barnhill and everyone else who contributes to this. It has been an amazing blessing to me and my children… And possibly generations to come!

  • Practical Inspiration
    by Mamato3activeboys from Australia

    Not only am I inspired by each episode of this podcast but I have actually put so many of the ideas into practice in our own morning time. Such a huge help as I seek to inspire my non-stop boys to truth, goodness and beauty. We are now memorising poetry as they jump on the trampoline and they love Shakespeare. That's a parenting win in my book!

  • So many great ideas!
    by Parent 98765 from Malaysia

    Thank you, Pam! I’m now bursting with inspiration and can’t wait to start our 2019 school year with a strong morning time routine.

  • Joy
    by Ancon76 from United States

    My heart is enriched and I can’t wait to learn more.

  • Just what I was looking for!
    by Joey5176 from United States

    I was looking for morning basket ideas—simple ones. These podcasts are giving me a picture of a good morning basket.

  • Wow!! What amazing nuggets of knowledge
    by HeRo84 from United States

    This is truly life changing information for me as a homeschool mother. Thank you Pam for this amazing series.

  • Love it!