If you’ve ever put together a jigsaw puzzle you most likely separated out all of the edge pieces, putting those together first. Once the frame of the picture is there it is much easier to see where each piece fits inside the whole. History can be taught in the same way.
This post will outline how to teach history with the puzzle method and list several of our favorite resources to use for success in homeschool history, especially if your child is a visual or tactile learner.
Teaching history with the puzzle method
This post contains affiliate links and is in collaboration with Grapevine Studies, who provided compensation and digital materials. All ideas and opinions are my own. Full disclosure here.
Puzzles and the Brain
Putting puzzles together is good for kids' brain development, hand-eye coordination, thinking skills, etc. When we look at history as a puzzle, we can also develop some of those skills, and more:
The puzzle method of teaching history applies the framework process of solving the jigsaw puzzle to the historic learning process. The premise being that if one can see the “big picture” it is easier to understand the events within that picture and how they work together in whole of history, whether secular or religious.
The puzzle method of teaching history
First, you need to start with the “big picture” for whatever era in history you’re about to study. Give your child an overview of all that happened. This may be by looking at your timeline, flipping through your favorite history encyclopedia, watching a short documentary on YouTube or the History Channel that summarizes the major events or people or, comparing Bible to secular history timelines, or any combination of these things.
Once you have the frame of the events in your mind, it’s so much easier to understand how this or that isolated event fits with the rest and affects the whole of history.
Next, as you study each person or event, you can add their “piece to the puzzle” both in your mind and on a timeline with greater understanding.
If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
If you are teaching multiple children and/or ages together, you can do the overview together, and then assign each one a different person, event or story to study and report on to the group. This allows for
- Independent work
- Proof of learning the material as demonstrated in teaching it to others
- Speech and teaching skill development
- A sense of importance and belonging to the group – as each one’s piece is an important contribution to the group
- A sense of pride and authority in the topic – as they know more about their topic than the others
Our favorite resources for teaching history with the puzzle method
Grapevine Studies is an excellent resource for teaching Bible history to children and adults. Our entire family enjoys their materials and lessons and it fits in well with our secular history studies. They include timelines for students to fill in with stick figure drawings of each person and event, as well as lesson and activity pages. Our visual and tactile learners love this! The photos below are from our Moses study. As we read through the Bible each day privately (kids using the audio Bible app), we look at our timelines and then follow up with Grapevine Studies lessons, and review sheets. Check out their resources here.
We love using a timeline book (or printable pages) as well as figure sets that we can print small and paste them in our timeline book, or print them large and hang them on our wall timeline each time we cover a person or event in our studies. We can record both Bible and secular history together this way and see where they overlap and intersect.
3. Notebooking Pages
We don’t “do notebooking” on a daily basis, but I love creating pages for when it’s time to do those independent studies and reports. Having a page with boxes, questions and/or visual cues helps my kids organize their thoughts and it doesn’t look as scary as a big empty page.
4. Other favorite resources include:
- The library
- YouTube (under supervision)
- Audible – for audiobooks about the people and events we’re studying (There is also Mystery of History or Story of the World audio history)
- Puzzlemaker – so they can make their own puzzles with the history we learned
- Role play – acting out the stories (sometimes we record these and put them together for our own summary of the history era)
Do you take each event as it comes in your curriculum or do you use the Jigsaw Puzzle method to teach history? Share your experience below. And don’t forget to check out Grapevine Studies!