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Ideas for Theme Presentation for Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS)

by Beverley Paine, Nov 2020

It's easy to fall into buying and using student workbooks with the children reading text and then writing answers or drawing pictures to show that they've understood and learned the material. History and Geography can get a little tedious and boring if that's all we do.

We mixed it up a little, added plenty of excursions to interesting places. In fact, I don't think any outing, even to the shops, was devoid of informal and spontaneous chatting about some aspect of the trip that could easily tick boxes (outcomes) within the HASS curriculum. Most of our children's learning was either hands on activities or through conversation. It's amazing the range of topics we'd cover in a day. And I learned to not push the 'learning' aspect, not to overtly teach what I thought they should know, but follow their lead and feed their curiosity.

In the home there is lots we can do to make those dull and often tedious worksheets and lessons a bit more interesting. Yes, it takes a bit more work, organising and planning, and sometimes we spend more time looking for the materials to use than it takes to complete the activity! But it is worth it.

And I found that getting involved and making my own whatever it was modelled valuable practical and technical skills to the child. A criticism of home educators and teachers is that we often do the work for our children - cutting, sticky taping, gluing, painting, etc. It definitely looks like that is what we are doing. And the kids like the finished product because it meets their expectations as all too often, especially when they are very young, their attempts look nothing like the picture in the book, video or their imagination. My experience says that it doesn't matter, unless your child protests and wants to do it completely on their own. You working alongside them, demonstrating these skills, helps to pass on those skills. My kids would sometimes appear with a finished project that used skills I know I didn't teach them or hadn't seen them use before, yet they'd become competent.

One way we can make learning in HASS more interesting (for ourselves as well as the children) is through 'making' and 'creating'. Have a look at this list for some ideas when working on particular themes:

  • create an atmospheric corner or area specifically for that topic
  • bark painting (make your own paint, use different barks, make your own paintbrushes, etc)
  • make or play board or card games (we did this when studying Indonesia and tropical islands)
  • make books (explore different ways to make books - some families use Lapbooking, which is a fun approach to recording learning when doing unit studies)
  • create a Powerpoint slideshow, or YouTube video, or eBook
  • dioramas are fun and can be big or small, simple or detailed
  • present information using collage
  • create a comic strip, this could be on paper or digital
  • make a radio 'show' or 'podcast'
  • create a 'stop go' animation
  • arrange relevant resources and materials in a tray or box - create a 'learning centre' for your topic
  • make costumes and / or masks, either for yourselves or for toys
  • create a poster, mural, fabric wall hanging, or a map exploring different techniques and materials for each
  • complete a time line and display it
  • develop a flow chart to present information
  • explore and draw graphs to present information
  • make models - this can be huge fun, using materials from recycled packaging to small toys, LEGO and other construction toys
  • borrow books and magazines on the topic from the library and place in a basket in a spot accessible to the kids, 'strew' them around the room for casual interaction while the topic is 'hot'
  • display made objects on shelves
  • use old photo and picture frames to present information, reuse for new topics

I am sure you can add more ideas to this list! Have fun learning!

 

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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