History Curriculum Suggestions for a 7 Year Old

I’m looking for history curriculum, and was wondering if you (anyone reading) would mind sharing how well the curriculum you use would match with what I’m looking for. I know I may not be able to find things perfectly. (Telling how it doesn’t helps me rule things out too…thanks!)

A bit about my 7 year old and history…

  1. Has trouble paying attention through long sections of text.
  2. He’s more interested in the people in a story than the story itself (always wants to talk to the people or animals in any book I read him).
  3. Does not care for coloring much.
  4. Does not write very much…getting a little better, but really, really have to struggle to get him to write anything on his own.
  5. Likes projects (painting/crafting).
  6. Likes to draw.
  7. Likes to pretend. (And I would love to find something with like puppets or make-believe play incorporated).
  8. Has trouble paying attention through long sections of text.
  9. Enjoys watching videos on educational subjects.

I want a good program that doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of history, but handles them gently. I’m ok with a secular or religious curriculum (I feel comfortable adding the Christian perspective myself–but it’s nice if it’s there). Though I think my son would do well looking at history through historical characters, I’m turned off by curriculums that create “hero worship” over historical characters (especially when they whitewash those characters, or with American History treat patriotism like a religion and whitewash US history). I like the idea of real books. I LOVE the idea of anything incorporating pretend play.;

I plan my own curriculum, so I’m not sure if what I did would help. However, I have this on one of my Pinterest boards. Ticia (the blogger) has tons of great ideas for hands on history.

Also check out educatinglaytons and homegrown learners for ideas on using Legos for teaching history.

If you’re looking for simple biographies, check out the Picture Book biography series by David Adler.


I tried planning my own history lessons and it did not go well. I love history and have trouble compressing it. I probably will be supplementing whatever I use though so what you gave me is excellent! My son loves legos.

Perhaps you can look into Story of the World? It has extremely short sections that you can read - maybe 2 or 3 pages at most per day? Also you can buy an the activity book to go along with it - it does have coloring pages, but you can skip those, of course :slight_smile: It also has tons of other activities. Like in book #1 - when you learn about nomads - it has the activity to go outside and use what you find to build a hut. Or in the Egyptian section you can made a “false beard” or build a pyramid using blocks / your own bricks you made / or legos. Maybe it would be a good fit with all the activity suggestions they have. And again, you can always just skip the things that your son doesn’t enjoy - I hope this helps. :smile:

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We have story of the world. However I’m not into planning the activities so right now e have the audio’s we just listen to. They make great listening while in the car. My 7 year old daughter loves the stories.

Hey sgrrrbear. I looked into Story of the World because I like the idea of teaching through story. He can handle 20 page book on a subject he really likes with a paragraph or two on each page, but they have to have pictures on every page (and I’ve heard Story of the World stories don’t have pictures, or only have one black and white one at the beginning). Two or three pages would be really hard for him without pictures . It’s hard to even get through a paragraph of me reading to him if there’s nothing to look at (when I’ve read stuff to him before with no pictures he just doesn’t remember it…it’s like he zones out). When I asked about Story of the World on another forum, and shared about my son, they suggested I wait a couple years.

It does not have pictures - that is true. Well - I don’t really know what to suggest. If he likes looking at pictures - the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia is a great recourse - lots of pictures - but not really a lot of people stories. And not a curriculum - But if he enjoys pictures it might be a starting off point for digging further into something. America the Beautiful is from Timberdoodle - and has tons of pictures - but I think that history would be better for an older child. Sorry I am of no help :frowning:

No, you’re actually very helpful. I think I really need to see the curriculum. Maybe someone nearby us has it. Maybe I could provide my own pictures.

We use TruthQuest right now which is very much based on library books written by people who had an interest in each particular topic/person rather than spine books that cover a variety of topics, and my children now 6 and 8 really enjoy it. They do have lapbooks/binders to do (which you can do or not do) and we also look up projects to do on the internet as well. I do like making the history lapbooks/binders (we pick and choose which parts of the binders we want to do/build on as we go) because my kids like to look back over what they’ve learned and it is a great reminder because they are young and forget quickly!

One other thing I found helpful to do when reading a history story to my child (before I used picture books) was to draw the story on the chalkboard using stick figures/images! I thought this was so simple but my child (my now 8 year old) is NOT an auditory learner and she literally learned nothing from listening to a story. Nothing! It took me awhile to figure out what was going on. As soon as I started drawing out the story as I went (and I am NO artist!) she literally said to me the first day we did this, “Mommy! Now I don’t hate history anymore!” lol! We did this with Adventures in America (an Elementary History curriculum put out by Elemental Science that you can find here.) That was during her Kindergarten year :slight_smile: I hope this is helpful!

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I will also say that one of the main things I love about TruthQuest is that it challenges teachers/children from the beginning levels to ask the questions:

  1. What did this person/these people believe about God?
  2. How did this belief affect their actions/the course of history?

These can be hard questions to ask especially when dealing with early American history; those answers aren’t always warm and fuzzy. Historical characters that we often look up to (and even honor with national holidays) did some things that they thought were right in the name of their faith that today we might question. This has opened up some great conversations with our children (even as young as they are) where we’ve been able to gently ask them, “Do you think this was okay?” or “Why do you think they did that?” or “Why might they have thought that was okay to do even though they believed in God and thought they were following Him?”

It’s neat to see their realization that a person’s belief system and how they view the world around them can cause them to act in a certain way (sometimes good and sometimes not good)–this is setting them up to understand not just history but also the world today.

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Sonlight. They use real books to bring history alive. The books that they choose give both sides of the story. There is always plenty of opportunity for discussion. My kids have always gone into free play off of what we are reading at the time. They really get into the books.

@goldenecho have you looked into A Beka? The second grade History book has short portions of text and illustrations in every page. No coloring, not a lot of writing requiered, some fun projects but not so many, you could add your own hands-on activities. My son also has trouble paying attention but he loves this book. We finished it some moths ago but he likes to reread it just for pleasure.
The second grade level is all about American history, the third grade book is a collection of biographies of historical characters. If you are looking for history of the world they will not be useful.
There are some sample pages http://www.abeka.com/ABekaOnline/BookDescription.aspx?sbn=95818

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Thank you so much. That is a GREAT idea about drawing stick figures! I am definitely going to try that next time there’s a passage I want my child to hear.

Thanks for sharing about Truth Quest. That wrestling about why Christians from the past could do things that seem so wrong today…that’s really what I’m looking for in a Christian curriculum (to deal with those questions in stead of glossing over them).

I like the idea of using Library books too…how does that work? Do they give you a list and let you choose from the books on it, or are certain books essential (ie, if you’re library doesn’t have them you would need to buy them).

I hadn’t looked at A Beka for that, though a friend suggested it for some other subjects. I will ask her more about the history.

@goldenecho That’s what I loved about Truth Quest as well–not glossing over those difficult questions! It’s been challenging to open up those discussions with my kids but eye-opening as well! I think we’re all learning a lot!

They give extensive lists in the teacher guides of which library books to look for as well as which grade levels each book is appropriate for (i.e. Grades 2-4 or Grades 3-5 etc.) Our library has some of them, and when they don’t, I just search by the topic and choose other books along the same topics/lines. What I’ve found to work really well is to look on Amazon for the topic of children’s book and then click “Look Inside” the book on Amazon to see how age-appropriate a certain book would be and to sample the content that way. Then, once I see a book there that I like, I go to my library Web site and try to request it there or through inter-library loan. It takes a little work and in-advance prep work, but since we don’t do many subjects this way, I am okay with it taking this work, and also because we’re learning so much through this method!

They also recommend a few “spine” resources that will cover many of the subjects if you want to buy those (such as one volume of Story of the World and A Child’s History of the World etc.) so I purchased those on ebay so we’d have something to refer to on weeks when library books weren’t available or when I was behind on checking things out. Also, the Teacher Guide includes narratives you can read to your child at the beginning of each new topic to introduce the subject matter so we use those too. I hope this information is helpful! The TruthQuest Web site has great samples of their teacher guides and student pages I think (from what I remember when I was considering it last year) so you might want to check there. I read their philosophy and that’s what really drew me to their approach to history!

And a tip on the chalk board stick figures–try a colored pack of chalk for a dollar from Walmart or anywhere! It makes a fun difference! Also, window markers (also from Walmart) are LOTS of fun! Put a piece of white paper on the outside of your window (tape it to the outside) and then draw the picture on the inside of the window so that it looks like you’re drawing it on the outside piece of white paper :slight_smile: Those are other fun things we’ve done! My kiddos LOVE window markers and they are remarkably easy to clean up! I was pleasantly surprised! I’ve also taped coloring pictures from the story topic to the outside of the window and let them color them using window markers from the inside of the window while I told the story :slight_smile:

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I have a 6 almost 7 year old who sounds a lot like your son. We tried Story of the World this year and didn’t have much success with it. I didn’t feel like he was really learning much. I think we are going to take a break from it next year, second grade, and try again in a few years.

I’m going to look into this. I think I might have heard Truth Quest mentioned before, but never looked into it, but I’m checking this out for sure! Thanks!

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@DeannaForgard Let me know if you have any questions :slight_smile: We are finishing our first year with it and it has gone really well!

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I’ve just briefly looked at their site so far, but one thing I’m wondering if it works to have Grades 1-4 in the Younger Student guides and Grades 5-12 in the other guides but taught together. Does that make sense? What I mean is I would probably use it so that children in Grades 1-4 are lumped together in the same guide while the ones in Grades 5 & up would be lumped together in the upper guides. How well would this approach work?