Teaching History and Science with Music

On the hallway bulletin board as you entered my high school band room was a quote by Plato: “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”  The idea is that music is so powerful, it can not only change our moods and inspire us, but it can actually shape our thinking.  We all know that music plants in our memory like nothing else will, and while classical music may not be what you listen to on the radio, it can have a profound effect in your child’s understanding of their lesson.

In our history and science lessons, I try and make the concepts ‘3D’ for my kids.  It’s great to know who the Goths are and their role in the demise of the Roman Empire, but it’s so much more meaningful understand how this people group still affects our lives today through words we use and the architecture of the buildings in our country.  Now when my children see a picture of Notre Dame or some of the buildings in our downtown area, they understand what Gothic means and where it came from.

Nothing makes a lesson jump off the page more than music, especially instrumental pieces that allow your child’s imagination to run wild.  I encourage you to try playing the music after your lesson and then talk with your children about what they felt from the piece.  We often go back and listen again after we discuss the music so they can point out to me the specific parts they liked and understood.  My children often get inspired to act out the scene from the lesson while the music is playing.

Here are my tips to adding music to your lesson:

1. The first few times, play the music after the lesson discussion and tell them what the piece is about.

2. Have your children lay down and close their eyes while they listen. Tell them you want to hear what they imagined after it is done.

3. If you are using several movements from a symphony over a series of lessons, play one of the later movements before your lesson and see if they guess correctly what the piece is about.  You’ll be amazed at how good they become at this!

4. Be sure to tell your children a quick bio on the composer and help them understand when the piece was made.

5. Don’t feel like you have to play the whole movement, 2-3 minutes is usually the length of an elementary attention span.

6. Every so often have your children draw or sculpt while the music is playing to give them a different outlet for their imaginings.


Ideas for music and topics:

Please note that these are affiliate links, and if you choose to download these items I will receive a small commission.  These are some of my favorites that I have used in the past with my children.

These are just a few of my favorites, but with a little research you can find ways to incorporate classical music into your lessons and truly make an impression that will last!

Top Tips for Visual Learners

Is your child a visual learner?  Here are some quick tips and ideas to help your visual child better understand and retain information:


  • Give your child written instructions rather than oral
  • Show your child a picture or painting about the subject to reinforce the material
  • Draw a diagram or write down the example when trying to explain a concept
  • Have your child make or use flash cards for memorization
  • Have them find the country or culture you are discussing on a map or globe
  • Group ideas or concepts together in bullets

Ideas for visual learners

  • Check out a National Geographic or other documentary from the library on your subject for additional reinforcement
  • When reading aloud, have your child sit next to you and read along with you
  • For history and science lessons, be sure to have pictures that go along with your topic
  • Use manipulatives to help explain math concepts
  • For foreign languages, put a picture of the object on the flash card with the word.
  • Use color coding when possible. For example, when teaching the parts of speech, make a worksheet that lists the verbs in purple and the nouns in green.

Where to find books for your homeschool

It’s the time for me when I start planning for next year’s school year.  So where do I find the best deals on text books?  Well, several places.  Here’s a list of my favorite (Notesome of these links are affiliate links and I receive a small commission on items purchased.  These are the sources I use for my personal homeschool books).

New books:

1. Rainbow Resource (rainbowresource.com)  They have a HUGE catalog – like 1,300 pages – of almost any type of educational book available.  With a $150 order you can get free shipping, although right now they have a better deal going on.  This is where I usually get the bulk of our books, and since I have 2 to order for, getting to the $150 mark isn’t hard (unfortunately!)  This year, I also found that their prices were cheaper than Amazon on the items I was looking for.

2. Amazon (amazon.com) Of course we all know Amazon, and love their super saver shipping.  Another bonus is that on many of the textbooks, you have the option to sell them back to Amazon and receive an Amazon gift card for the amount.  Plus, Amazon pays the postage to ship it!

3. Barnes and Noble (bn.com)  Barnes and Noble is also starting to offer a competitive shipping program to Amazon, and their local stores have been revamped to greatly expand the educational section.  You can also qualify for their free educator’s discount card as a homeschooler here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/bn-at-school/educator.asp


Used books:

1. Amazon

2. Ebay (ebay.com)  Although not as safe or easy to use as amazon, you can often get hard to find books as well as some pretty good deals on used books here.  Just be sure to read the description before you buy!

3. Homeschool Forums  My favorite is the Well Trained Mind Forum, which has a for sale board here: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/forumdisplay.php?f=10.  As with anything you buy direct from a person on the internet, be sure to use Paypal and read the descriptions carefully.

4. Local homeschool sales  Look around online to see if your area has a sale/swap for homeschoolers.  They are often held by homeschool co-ops or groups.

Happy Shopping!