At the beginning of the school year, I had the perfect opportunity to create some excitement around a historical fiction piece in our Reading 3 curriculum entitled “Alex the Drummer Boy.”
As I read through the story in anticipation of our reading lessons, I realized that the plot is set against the background of the Battle of Cowpens during the Revolutionary War. We live in Greenville, South Carolina, so the Cowpens battlefield is less than an hour away. Why not go visit the battlefield and experience the real-life setting of this story?
A Journey Back in Time
Our family made the trek up to Cowpens somewhat spontaneously on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We took a walking tour of the battlefield, hiking along the historic road that the soldiers themselves marched on. We stood in the wooded areas and pretended to shoot rifles. We watched a documentary about the famous double envelopment military maneuver that won the battle. We saw soldiers’ uniforms and weapons on display and studied maps that depicted the movements of both the British and American troops. It was an incredible educational experience.
And the learning opportunities didn’t end when we drove back to Greenville. As we read “Alex the Drummer Boy” in our reading book, all of those memories of the battlefield resurfaced. As we read, we were able to consult our battlefield map and the photos we took. We checked out a nonfiction book from the library that told the story of Cowpens in detail. The fictional story of Alex came alive in such a way that for weeks I caught my young daughters acting out the story using a metal popcorn container as a drum and a broomstick for a rifle.
Learning Activities that Build Enthusiasm
You won’t be able to travel to experience firsthand the setting of every story, but—with a little imagination and the help of the internet and other sources—you can find learning activities that build excitement for just about any lesson. Here are a few of my go-to sources for inspiration.
- Teacher’s edition—BJU Press works hard to make learning enjoyable, and most lessons include fun learning activities for introducing or enhancing a lesson.
- Pinterest—My daughters and I recently used the site to learn how to construct a clubhouse using large boxes. It was a great project to go along with our reading of The Case of the Dognapped Cat in reading. I love how you can search for just about any topic and find ideas for crafts, food, games, and so on. (Be sure to follow BJU Press Homeschool!)
- The local library—Books and educational videos allow us to dig deep into any subject. Studying mammals in science? Watch some of Planet Earth to be amazed at God’s creation. Learning about early American history? Do what one of my daughters did—check out the entire shelf of books pertaining to the Revolutionary War, and dig deep into the subject.
- Travel/visitor’s guides—Nothing makes learning exciting like a field trip. Travel brochures and visitor’s guides for your local area are great for discovering educational sites nearby.
As a busy homeschool mom, you probably won’t be able to enhance every lesson with fun activities. But I’ve learned enthusiasm is contagious—if you are enthusiastic about a subject, your child probably will be too. And you’ll be one step closer to inspiring your child for a lifetime of learning.