Stories shape us.
Think of the favorite stories of your childhood or the favorite stories you have shared with your own children.
As CS Lewis so aptly stated - stories "steal past watchful dragons" to implant in our minds a picture of things worth valuing.
Isn't that why we homeschool? To implant in our children's mind that which is to be valued?
We have a unique opportunity in our homeschools to teach almost EVERYTHING through story - because at the root of all knowledge and greatness are individuals, whose STORIES inspire us to greatness and to deeper understanding.
(Consider a story on the blog, Secret Heroes of WWI, which takes a child's love of horses and inspires them to learn more about World War I.)
Let's examine basic ways to use story with your elementary age homeschool kiddos. Perhaps this will inspire you to incorporate stories in ALL areas of learning, with all ages and types of learners.
But first, let's start with me telling YOU a story.
This is the story of one mother who was deeply committed to the public school system. This mother had even taught in the public school system.
When the day arrived for this mother's oldest child to attend public Kindergarten, however, the mother was a MESS. Something didn't feel right. She cried the whole way home and continued to cry on and off for nearly the next three years until she and her husband finally gave up the ideal of public school and decided to homeschool.
Once this mother began homeschooling she saw the immense power of STORIES and the value in living books. She saw the power in learning stories from older family members and in learning history through story. In short, she became hooked on STORIES and began incorporating them in her homeschool anyway she could.
This is the story of me - and I suspect perhaps of you, too.
Stories are important. They have shaped my children's education, and I am so thankful for that!
Storytelling is the Oldest Form of Teaching
Storytelling has been around since the beginning. Before people could read or write, they could tell stories.
Storytelling bonded the earliest of human communities and gave children answers to the biggest questions of creation, life, and the afterlife. Stories define, shape, control, and make us. Isn't it interesting that not every human culture in the world has been (or is) literate, but every culture tells stories?
Stories are UNIVERSAL.
The Creation Story is the oldest story we know, and so many other engaging stories from the Bible follow. The very first stories I told my children were Bible stories - owning a beautiful Bible story treasury is a must! The Beginner's Bible was a well-loved book on our shelves!
In this way we began to implant the seeds of our faith, and also moral tales of right and wrong, good and evil, and life and death in our children.
Don't forget to search out STORY within your own circle - within your family, church, community, and friends. Sometimes, if you just LISTEN and SEARCH, there are many older people willing to share their stories with our children. These can be perhaps the stories with the most lasting impact.
Story and Elementary Age Children
Story can be used to teach all concepts and subjects.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a jumping off point to get your imagination going and those ideas flowing. These are my children's favorite stories - and the ones I have seen have the biggest impact on our homeschool. You will also find that I'm including specific categories for teaching - the fun picture books that we all have on the shelves probably won't be included here.
Full Disclosure: I have a problem with collecting books! We use the library a lot, but I also invest in books because I find that having them on hand to loan and reference throughout our homeschool tenure has been helpful. I've included Amazon links to all of the books I recommend.
Fables/Folk Tales/Nursery Rhymes/Mythology
We're big fans of treasuries in our house. I had many from when I was a child. It's just a great way to have everything in one place.
Here are some favorite collections to get you started!
Stories to Learn About History
I could go on and on with a list for you.
By far, The Story of the World has been the biggest example of how STORY helps children learn. If you watch the video below I talk about how we've used the written books, audio books, and also notebooking with SOTW.
A simple search for Story of the World Reading Lists (and also books mentioned in the SOTW teacher's guides) will recommend so many wonderful books, so I won't list those here - it would be impossible to include all of the beautiful historical fiction for our younger children!
Two of our favorite series are below. These books definitely engaged my son and daughter.
Many of the books dealing with history will also be found in the other categories below -- because doesn't history encompass so much?
Stories to Learn About Nature/Science
Again, just a sampling to get you started.
We found ourselves completed engrossed in the Burgess Animal Book when my children were young. (You can get this for FREE on Kindle.)
We also loved stories of famous scientists, legends having to do with nature, as well as any types of biographies about astronauts, scientists, etc....
You name it, we generally had a story to go with it. We could also pick up a story at the library and begin learning from that - completely unaware of what we would learn at the outset.
I guess this is a bit of my "unschooling" nature coming out - much fun!
Stories to Learn about MATH
I can't tell you how much FUN these math stories were in our homeschool. I have one child who is very creative and story oriented. For her, learning certain concepts through a story just HAD to be done.
Enjoy these recommendations!
Stories to Learn About PEOPLE
I believe some of the most memorable learning experiences have been when we I have shared biographies with my children... ESPECIALLY biographies of famous figures when THEY were children themselves.
Again, just a few to get you started. These have been our favorites.
Online Resources for Story in the Elementary & Middle Grade Years
In addition to physical books, there are an abundance of online resources for stories. Many of these are podcasts (and if you haven't caught the podcasting bug -- I HAVE -- and it is my favorite way to consume content now!).
A Facebook Live About the Power of Story
I recently did a Facebook Live about the power of story in your homeschool. I hope it can prove helpful and inspirational to you as you seek to incorporate more stories in your children's education.