I believe most homeschool veterans would agree, a hands-on approach with lots of supplemental reading in subjects their children are interested in, is the best way to tackle history and science. Depending on what we choose to study, we usually only spend one or two days on science and history during the elementary school years. Here are the curricula and resources that are the best of what we have used in years past.
1) History Links: Integrated Learning for Catholic Families has been an absolute favorite for our family. It is written by two former history teachers who now homeschool. These are fairly inexpensive guides for studying history using a multi-level approach with lots of hands on activities and lists of resources for exploration and additional reading. There are two draw backs to this curriculum. The first being, this series requires some advanced prep work from mom/teacher in order to get the most out of it and secondly this series also requires the homeschool to acquire a certain amount of supplementary materials and resources from the library or favorite suppliers. Our two favorites from this series were the General Studies Unit and the unit on Ancient Israel.
2) Mapping the World by Heart is an extraordinary geography program written by a junior high teacher in Massachusetts. We adapted this curriculum for our homeschool co-op and it was amazing how much the children were able to pick up in such a short time. This program is easy to use and includes lesson plans, black line masters, introductory video, and an excellent website with resources and tips designed especially for homeschools (see link above).
3) Reading Your Way Through History project comes from one of the very first online resources I ever used: Love2learn.net. For avid readers this is a wonderful approach to history in which historical biographies, lives of Saints, and historical fiction are read in a chronological order beginning with Ancient Egypt and following through to current history. The books and resources are divided nicely into a timeline of significant eras. There is also now a link to the Reading Your Way Through History blog, another great homeschool resource with frequent updates on the project.
4)Laura Berquist of Design Your Own Classical Curriculum and Mother of Divine Grace School has teamed with Emmanuel Books to provide some fantastic high school history curricula to homeschool families. She has written several syllabi for different historic eras. Our oldest used the US History, Geography and Literature syllabus last year and loved it. The plan pairs a Catholic history text with lots of extra reading from speeches, biographies, primary sources and historical fictions. The syllabus does not provide any testing but it is fairly writing intensive and that is what I used for deciding a grade in this particular subject.
5) For historical maps, I've come to depend on Knowledge Quest. This is a great homeschool company that specializes in providing blackline maps of world history and timeline materials and resources. We also subscribe to their email updates and can often get great bargains and new ideas via email.
6) The following web sites are several of the online geography resources and games we use just for the fun of geography: Test Your Geography Knowledge; Map Puzzles; GeoBee Challenge; I Like to Learn Geography; and Atlapedia
This blog post has become quite long and so I think I'll save our science favorites for another post. Have fun diving into history!