Something to Write About, History Edition

Marge Fenelon
Number of pages: 
74 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 

The subtitle of this work is: A Catholic Activity Guide That Blends History, Geography and Composition for Grades 1-8. The book includes directions for a student to put together a book over the course of the school year, which really becomes a story of the study he made of history. This requirement "to produce" is one of the best ways for students to internalize their study.

The directions, written directly to the student, are broken down into three parts: Early American History for grades 1-3, American History - Discovery through Westward Expansion for Grades 4-6, and World History -Ancient Civilizations through Modern Times for Grades 7-8. The student is directed to compile a book which will include maps, illustrations and compositions that he creates while studying the particular time period. Extensive lists of maps and illustrations to be made are included. But the lists of suggested writing activities are the best parts of the book.

Here are a few samples from each section:

Grades 1-3 - Write a prayer to St. Isaac Jogues; pretend you are George Washington at Valley Forge, write a speech to give to your soldiers to encourage them not to give up; make a chart showing three parts of our government and what they do.

Grades 4-6 - Write a newspaper article about the Louisiana purchase; write a two page expository essay comparing the French and Indian War with the Revolutionary War; pretend you are a soldier in the Civil War and write a three page letter to family at home.

Grades 7-8 - Write an expository essay describing Greek government and how it functioned; write a diamante (poem) about the early Christians just after Jesus was buried and before He had risen.

The second best thing about this book are the definitions of literary terms in the appendix. Each kind of essay required in the book is explained, many different kinds of pattern poems are demonstrated, and common literary terms, such as metaphor and personification, are defined. Your child would learn a lot about writing techniques and constructions by using this guide. The bonus is that the types of writing learned by making the history book can be applied in other learning situations.

The author includes samples of student work from each of the grade level sections. These can be valuable especially if a student is "stuck," or doesn't understand the assignment.

The student keeps the maps, illustrations and compositions he creates in a safe place until it is time to put the book together. The student can choose from several suggested methods for binding the book.

Some of the writing activities for Grades 1-3 would be difficult for a 1st grader and some 2nd graders, but they could easily be adapted. A child could dictate his work, or be required to write shorter versions of the assignment. The program is flexible and designed so that you can pick and choose the activities that best fit the child.

This kind of activity is good on many levels. It gives the student practice in needed skills while doing something meaningful (e.g. learning about metaphor by writing it instead of filling in a workbook). It requires the student to extend his thoughts about the facts he learns, moving him to a higher level of thinking. Best of all, he has a record at the end of the year of all that was learned and accomplished. That is very satisfying for a student of any age.

Additional notes: 

This book is also available from the author at:
Marge Fenelon,
3558 E. Cudahy Avenue,
Cudahy, WI 53110-1103.
Phone & Fax 414-769-6742

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