I have a problem. I live in Canada where history is different from what most traditional curriculum (written in the US) teaches. There are very few options for Canadians, the main one being Donna Ward, who has put together complete packages to help cover topics that are supposed to be taught up here in the Northern part of North America. Having tried a few of the kits in the past, I was familiar with Donna Ward’s resources and yet was determined to use them in our homeschool in a different way. I decided to pull from what she had put together and create an epic looping schedule to teach all my children together… Homeschool On style!
What is fun about this plan is that I am going to give it to you completely free so you can join me (sign up at the bottom)! Because we are schooling through the summer, I created a 40-week schedule to give us space to take time off for vacations, winter break, and sickness that will surely come up. You could join me and do this in 1 year, meeting all your learning outcomes for all your kids in K-5 in just 1 year OR you could adapt it and do 20 weeks a year–making it a 2 year program. This would allow you to alternate your social studies and science if you don’t want to do them both each day. This plan will cover government, geography, First Nations history and current news, Immigration, Biographies (famous Canadians to note) and community/early elementary content.
How it works…
In a nutshell, I wanted to cover what I knew needed to be taught, but in the style that we have fallen in love with. I also didn’t want to focus too deeply on one topic and overwhelm my kids. Instead, I wanted to switch it up with different topics and books so that the kids (and let’s face it, myself) didn’t get bored with the same discussions over and over. Enter… looping! An ingenious idea of moving through a regular rotation of books or resources or lessons in a relaxed, continuous loop! The only thing we are doing daily is current events in our afternoon tea time basket along with daily geography in our afternoon loop. Read more about what we are using for curriculum this year. We are doing this loop as part of our morning basket each day and it really does take no more than 8-15 minutes (depending on the conversations).
Now I had to figure out what the outcomes were (here in BC is where I based it off of) and how I could meet all the big ideas in each grade from K-5. The books I chose were ones that I could read in no more than 10 minutes a day, met the outcomes I was going for, and were engaging. WOW, Coming to Canada and the Displacement of Native Peoples are my favorite books of everything we have. They are phenomenal books that spark lots of great big juicy conversations over in our home 😉 The best part is that Donna has put together a super simple package for you guys where you can see all the listings for the books or purchase the “Follow Along with Homeschool On” package for only $273 (save $25 by bundling them together, not to mention your time!).
Daily Geography and Current Events
Where the bulk of our Canadian social studies is happening over in our morning basket each day, we are also doing Canadian geography daily in our afternoon tea time loop as well as incorporating current events into our afternoon rotation (about once a week). This allows us to go a bit more in depth about things happening in our world and how they effect us, plus the daily geography is fast and effective. We got little map books from Donna but they won’t last us too long at this rate (doing one page per day).
When they are done, I will be using the map disc from Home School in the Woods and printing off the Canada map daily that they can fill in until we have our Country, provinces and capitals mastered. After that we will move on to the countries of the world map in our map disc. For this I just print off the blank map, the kids use an atlas or globe to label 3-5 new things and then next day they try to do those by memory and add some more. Simple, fast, and it works!
First Item in our Canadian Social Studies Loop: Immigration
A topic that has to be discussed especially in the higher elementary grades, it is important to me that my children understand the issues of immigration that we face as a country. I want them to know the stories, the hardship, what it means to be a refugee vs. an immigrant, etc. I want them to have empathy, to see the scope of the big picture and that there aren’t easy answers. Our immigration day we alternate between three books: Coming to Canada, Immigration and a Refugees Journey from the DR of Congo. I use a loop for the topic we cover but I can use my schedule to look at the pages we should be reading to complete most of these books (we won’t complete all of Coming to Canada this year).
Second Item in our Canadian Social Studies Loop: First Nations
First Nations topics and history are ones that are threaded into many grades as far as what they should know. I chose The Displacement of Native Peoples (hard read, brings up lots of hard questions from the kids, but SO good!), Wisdom and Gifts, Native Homes, and Life in a Longhouse Village. These should give us a good overview of lifestyle, history, and issues that effect us today. Regardless of the day of the week, we do this in our morning basket loop after we have read our reading from our immigration looping day. See how easy this is?
Third Item in our Canadian Social Studies Loop: Government and Geography
This is the only part of our loop that I wanted to do in units just so that we don’t forget what we are learning. The first 14 weeks we will be doing an online government module along with reading in our “Who Runs this Country anyways”. Because this will only come up about once a week, I wanted to make sure that we had it in a lump so the kids can retain it… hopefully? The online module prompts you to read in the book, Who runs this country, anyway? And then you work through some little online slides with information and quizzes. It is a great way to reinforce what you have learned though I do find the reading a bit long for our 10 minute goal. Because of this, you could very easily break up the modules into 2 week segments meaning it would take 28 weeks to complete that in your course.
If you do decide to give yourself 2 weeks per module, you wouldn’t have time to do WOW Canada, which might be fine. Instead you might make the third item in your loop governance and then pop your WOW resource to your afternoon basket (if you were doing something similar to me) and read to the kids while they do their mapwork each day. Learning is tricky like that, you can do it anywhere 😉
Fourth Item in our Canadian Social Studies Loop: Biographies
Donna has this amazing package published by Scholastic of Canadian biographies. They are short chapters of different famous Canadians who made a difference in our country. The titles are Canadian heroes, artists, inventors, leaders, pioneers, greats, and explorers. They have pictures and are short enough to fit into my 10 minute goal window (win-win). They take us to about week 35 so we decided to do our last book on Terry Fox. The Scholastic books have a story about him, but I think we’ll do a fun little unit at the end and do a walk around the city or something in our homeschool ‘Terry Fox run’!
Last Item in our Canadian Social Studies Loop: Early Elementary
Outcomes (these are just what kids need to know in the school system) for K-2 here in Canada are a little different for K-2. Social studies starts with family (different types of family, family tree), then moves to their home, neighbourhood and community and out from there. We start with the child and branch out like ripples in the water. So I needed to make sure that I was incorporating something for my younger two students that were more focused on this. My grade 1 daughter is doing My Story 1 this year, which is PERFECT because it starts with family (we made a family tree) and then neighbourhoods and communities and will branch to world geography after that. It is PHENOMENAL, my grade 4 son is doing it along with her (coupon code REBECCASFRIEND). The books I chose from Donna Ward were ones that were particularly geared towards these topics.
Another free resource that you can use to add to this section (you’ll notice that the early elementary loop ends a bit earlier, this is to give you room to add in something else for either more into the family or more into the child themselves) is my free All About Me printable book. It is a free little workbook with coloring and simple writing where they create a family tree, and write little facts about them and fits perfectly with the early K-1 outcomes.
What do I have to show for our learning?
One of the things we are incorporating this year is the story of our homeschool, basically a homeschool portfolio bullet journal style. I show you inside of it over on our curriculum reveal post, but it is a great way to have the kids record what they are learning that day. Another thing we are hoping to incorporate is creating our own projects to go along with the big ideas for each of the grades from 1-5. We will likely do this by creating our own family lap book and having the kids do a little presentation on what they learned about for each topic. One simple way to do this would be to have them create a little flip book, chart, or note for each main point that was covered or that interested them and then just put those together into a little folder at the end of the unit. This is a great way of not only keeping track, but having something to show for your support teacher if you have one.
I don’t have a resource for you, but this can be super simple to do. You can see the BC outcomes for social studies here and the big ideas are at the top of each grade. But in the end, having good discussion, letting your kids explain it over dinner and giving them time to process the information by not overwhelming them with worksheets is going to have them absorbing TONS of information about our country.
Want to join me?
You can find a custom listing for “Homeschool On Follow Along” over on Donna’s site. Put your name and email in the box below to join my newsletter (I only send it out about once a week, and it’s full of great info) and you’ll get an email with your download link automatically (check your junk or spam if you don’t see it). Print off your schedule and put it in the front of your binder so that you know what you should be reading/when and you’re set to go!
If you want to tweak this program to fit your interests or gaps or anything else, do it! The listing on Donna’s site gives direct links to all the books in the package so you can pick and choose what suits you best! I just wanted to share what we were doing this year, how it works, and give you some inspiration to make Canadian Social Studies work for you and your homeschool style. It really can be this flexible, this short, and this easy!
Post your pics!
If you’re a fellow Canadian, post your journey through the Homeschool On Follow Along Canadian Social Studies plan on Instagram! Just tag me in your posts and I’ll go and check them out. Use hashtag #homeschoolonSS and we can search that to follow one another and see what we are all doing to tweak this schedule to fit us! PLUS if you have ideas for projects or activities to have something to show for what you are working, share them with the rest of us in the comments below!