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Chronological History of the World Unit-Studies for Homeschoolers
We Study History Chronologically
We are secular homeschoolers, and as such we will be studying the progression of evolution, both of our planet Earth, and of humans and all other life-forms over the course of history. This is a history unit that will carry our family through the next four years or more, and one that I am putting together myself, for I haven't found many prepared programs that I both like and can afford.
My Earth History program will work parallel to an Earth Science program that I am also creating for my boys' benefit--and yours, too. This sort of approach, beginning with the history and incorporating the sciences as we go, make it a strait-forward process to teach the children a solid foundation in Earth Sciences, which I hope will give them a greater appreciation for our home-planet.
The resources I list on my Lenses are typically free. Yet, all frugality aside, for a well-rounded unit study in any subject, I believe that you should have, at least one core reference book to work from. And then supplement with books from the library, or--if you are so fortunate--you can always buy those that suit your family's needs. We will be using The Dorling Kindersley's Prehistoric Life, and DK's Smithsonian Earth as our main textual resources; I also found at our library The Kingfisher Book of Evolution, which I've found to be very useful.
The Earth-Studies Units are broken up into two sections thus far (they are currently a work in progress!)--Section 1 covers the Big Bang, Evolution, all of Precambrian Time, and the beginning of the Phanerozoic Eon; Section 2 is available if you just follow the links. There are also several "Kids Investigate" Lenses I've created to accompany the ESU, which offers resources and ideas for the science aspect of your program. Printables for the ESU are available at my website (link is listed below). I hope you will be able to tailor this, just as I have, to suit the various ages in your homeschool, and the needs and interests of your family.
Understanding the Past
is the key to the Future;
Starting at The Very Beginning:
The Big Bang Theory
To save my kids the confusion of jumping around in our history studies, I decided to study it chronologically. NOT easy to do when you have young children--and boys to boot, and one being a reluctant learner--SO, here we are, at the beginning.
This is geared directly toward kids, and provided by the European Space Agency.
This is a wonderful resource that explains what the Big Bang was, and how it is believed to have shaped our universe.
This article, and it's host site, discusses some of the new discoveries scientists are making that reveal our Earth's fascinating history.
This is from the Kidipede archives.
Note: This is a good segment to include a study of the planets and astronomy. Follow this link to this remodelled segment of the ESU, which contains links and resources for an astronomy study:
The Birth of the Universe
This is a very well designed and explained video describing how our universe came to exist.
The Hadean Eon
This is Earth's infancy; She was created when the Sun fairly exploded with nuclear fusion to give off light and heat, and the cloud of gas and dust surrounding the Sun were heated until they were molten. The heavier elements, like iron, sank, to become our planet's core, and the lighter elements rose to the surface.
During this time the planets were bombarded with asteroids, meteoroids, and comets, left-over debris kicking around the new solar system. When the asteroid-showers had ceased, and the planet cooled and hardened, then the geologic time-line of our Earth begins.
Fossils-Facts-and-Finds provides an excellent reference, suitable to a wide age range, I think. Personally, we're using these as our texts, since our history text-book does not cover so early a time-period. I just print them right out, and we read the synopsis together at the start of each new time-period.
Palaeos seems to provide detailed explanations of each time period, a bit heavy for the younger learners, but for those with older students ( or those teaching who need to understand the information better before presenting it to pupils--like me!) this aught to prove useful.
This is short, simple, and concise, go ahead a take a peek.
From Kidipede, this is a nice resource, with a video, too.
An extensive resource from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
This has become a trusted resource for us: Kidipede's Science for Kids.
This section is a great place to include a study of volcanoes and plate tectonics! Check out the companion science-lens for this segment, which includes plenty of links, resources, and ideas for your science studies:
Understanding Our Earth
Studying Earth Sciences
Pagaea was the land-mass that formed the first continent. A single large continent, made by the volcanoes that erupted so voilently during this time period. Later Pangaea would move apart, and over the billions of years, they have become the continents we know today. But they are still moving.
This site is a very good resource for this area of our history unit; I hope you will find it valuable as well.
There are lots of great articles, resources, and links at the American Museum of Natural History.
This is deffinitely worth a peek; the American Museum of Natural History's website just for kids. Articles, resources, and games all geared toward kids. But you don't have to take my word for it!
Geology.com covers the earths history; this is it's page on Pangaea.
A not-so-surprising resource covering pangaea, the geological history of the world, and more.
This is an amazing site, with a vast array of resources. Check it out!
This is a great resource to include in your activities! Take a look for yourself.
Great Stuff on Amazon
When buying books for the Earth-Studies unit, I recommend books not just about the civilizational history of man; look for books about the history of the Earth. These would tend more toward geology, and prehistoric history.
Incorporating Earth Sciences - Using an Earth History Approach
In exploring Earth's History, it is easy to incorporate Earth-Sciences along the way.
Follow your child's natural curiosity and 'investigate' in further detail whatever it is he show interest in. Incorporate science experiments, field trips to natural geological landmarks in your area, was documentaries. Earth is fascinating!
Rocks & Minerals
A long list of resources provided free by the United States Geological Service focus on each of the different earth sciences.
These are earth-science based educational games for kids, provided by Nasa.
How Stuff Works is a great resource that I find myself using a lot. It has a whole earth science section to explore, and even a search engine if you want to find something specific. It's worth a try.
Lots of free science resources here.
This is a really super resource for Earth Science studies.
This is a really terrific resource with all sorts of free power-point presentations related archeology, and lots of other resources to play with. But you don't have to take my word for it; go ahead and take a look!
This is a great resource with free maps, dates, and more to add to your presentation materials.
Mr. Donn provides great resources, and power point presentations; worth a look.
The Archean Eon
3.8--2.5 Billion Years Ago
During this time period, the atmosphere of Earth was toxic. Massive out-gassings of ammonia, methane, and a number of other gases formed a reducing atmosphere, which would be toxic to most life on Earth today.
The first life formed during this time. Our oldest fossils are those of bacteria microfossils, and all life that formed then was bacterial.
Fossil-Facts-and-Finds text on the time-period.
Here's the Palaeos listing for the Archaean time-period.
This is another very straight-forward explanation of the Archean Eon; but you don't have to take my word for it!
From the Kidipede.
It Was HOT!
During the Archean Eon the Earth was 3x hotter than we enjoy it today.
A Brief Visual Time-Line on YouTube
With young learners like mine, shorter is always better. I try to find resources that are geared specifically toward my main pupil, my eldest son, who is a reluctant learner, as well as possessing a number of learning differences that make teaching him a bit challenging for Teacher-Mom. With "Winter", short, sweet, and to the point, works best. If he shows further interest, we eagerly explore in depth.
This is a nice overview for your pupils to view.
Evolution, essentially, is the on-going process of the adaptation of life to suit its habitat over millions of years. It is slow and gradual. At first, life was made up of microscopic, single-celled organisms. Now there are millions of multi-cellular animals and plants all over the globe. Over thousands of years, countless varieties of organisms have appeared, thrived for a time, then vanished, either becoming extinct or changing into new organisms. This on-going process of life, death, and perpetual change is evolution, and it is the fundamental fact that underlies all life.
To discuss or educate our children regarding evolution, is a personal choice each fami
PBS provides the most comprehensive evolution library on the net.
From the University of California Museum of Paleontology, this site has resources, current events, and lesson plans for teachers.
The folks at HowStuffWorks have a whole library of videos that I found useful, and you might as well. Have a peek.
This is a virtual field trip through a museum of geological time and evolution; good for those visual learners.
Charles Darwin was a British scientist who laid the foundations for the theory of evolution and transformed the way we think about the natural world around us. While on a voyage aboard the HMS Beagle serving as the ships naturalist, he studiedgiant fossils, geological features, and--most famously--the finches that led him to the conclusion that made him famous for all-time. No study of evolution would be complete without a look at the scientist who changed our world.
The world's most widely used resource on Darwin. It also provides all of his works free online.
This is the BBC's biography of Darwin, and a few links that should prove useful.
The Proterozoic Era - 2.5 billion to 543 million years ago
Probably the most important events in the history of earth, of life, occurred during the Proterozoic Era. Land-masses formed, and oxygen built up in Earth's atmosphere.
Before this time, oxygen had been released through photosynthesis, but because of chemical sinks, could not accumulate. Once oxygen could exist inside our atmosphere, then protists, eukaryotic algae, and fungi could live here.
From Fossil-Facts-and-Finds, another very good reference of the time.
Provided by the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology
A brief, but efficient look at the era that brought us life on Earth, with links to more in-depth looks at eukaryotists, and more.
Another great resource, this one has a nice look at the geography of Earth during this time period, and a close-up look at some of the life-forms that existed then.
From Kidipede's History for Kids, this is a brief and age=appropriate explanation of the proterozoic eon.
This segment is a good place to include a study of microscopic life! Dig out the microscope and examine all things small as part of your science explorations. Take a look at my accompanying science-lens:
The First Life on Earth
This is very short, but demonstrates to your pupils what the first life on earth looked like.
More Books I Recommend
The Paleozoic Era
570--245 Million Years Ago
The Paleozoic Era is the start of the Phanerozoic Eon, and is divided into six periods: Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. We covered each Period individually, they can be broken down further if you so choose, for more advanced students, but for the younger and junior students, I think going through it this way will be most effective.
From here on in, our family is using DK's Prehistoric Life; The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth.
We also invested in DK's Smithsonian EARTH; The Difinitive Visual Guide.
I have two boys, my eldest (7yo as of 2010) is a highly visual learner, I find myself constantly searching for visual aids, charts, graphs, pictures, photos, etc. These books are beautiful, breathtaking, and chalk-full of detailed scientific information. Two great reference books for your child to grow with--well worth the investment.
This is Fossil-Fact-and-Finds' reference for the period.
This is About.com's entry, scaled down; which should assist you in toning down the material, if you have a young learner like me.
A visual demonstration of the earth's timeline and the formation and shifting of our tectonic plates.
This is really a super series, presented by the BBC, watch just this one, or follow the links to watch all eighteen.
This is a beautiful site with lots of pictures and resources; but you don't have to take my word for it!
This is a fabulous resource, well illustrated with photos, diagrams, and the like, and well explained.
Life During The Paleozoic
Trilobite: Ancestor of the present-day Crab.
The biggest things your kids should take away from your study of the Cambrian Period is the vast explosion of diversification that occurred. In just a few million years animal groups, from worms to fishes, appeared. There was rapid plate movement, as Gondwana assembled, and shallow seas were prevalent. This was an ideal environment for a rapid evolutionary event that saw the birth of plankton, the base of the oceanic food chain, and the 1st wave of new creatures led to the 1st Vertebrates.
Fossil-Facts-and-Finds entry on the Cambrian Period.
This is a link to University of California's Museum of Paleontology and their entry on the Cambrian Period and their various resources.
This is Palaeos' references on the Cambrian Period under the Paleozoic Era; great for more advanced students.
A lengthy article on the Cambrian Period from National Geographic, with various resources available (wallpaper, time-line, various links).
Even if you're not working from DK's Prehistoric Life, this is an ideal segment in which to include a study of Vertebrate vs. Invertebrate, or, for older students, you might think about studying the animal kingdom, classification, and animal phyla.
This is the companion science-lens for this segment:
At my website I have included free downloadable PDF files for a Vertebrate/Invertebrate BINGO, Vertebrate Matching, and Invertebrate Matching worksheets that I made myself. Just click on the link below:
Cambrian Land Forms
Supplementing the Cambrian Segment
The microfossil record from this period shows a world that was increasingly influenced by multicellular animals with a through-gut system. These organisms are called bilaterians. Their earliest remains can often be found as microfossils when Cambrian limestones in which they are preserved are digested in weak acids in a laboratory.
~DK's Prehistoric Life.
Ordovician Period - Time-period Overview
During this time period, the nature of marine faunas changed dramatically. Cambrian faunas were replaced by a more diverse assortment in the mid-Ordovician. Animals, in the form of arthropods first colonized the land. Then, at the end of the Ordovician Period, the first of five major mass-extinction events took place, killing off both flora and fauna, including trilobites, echinoderms, brachiopods, graptolites, bryozoans, and reef builders.
OCEANS & CONTINENTS
In a remarkable reorganization of the continents and ocean basins the rapid plate movement and volcanism of the Cambrian Period continued into the Ordovician Period. There were four major continents: Gondwana, Laurentia, Baltica, and Siberia; and three main oceans called: the Panthalassic Ocean, the Paleo-Tethys Ocean, and the Iapetus Ocean.
The Ordovician landscape was one of barren continents where there were frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. In wide shallow-seas there were extensive coral reefs and diverse marine invertebrate life-forms.
This is a visually appealing resource offered by the American Museum of Natural History, all about life in the ancient oceans, including information about vertebrates and invertebrates in these early seas.
The Ordovician Period began as very warm, with ocean temperatures around 108-degrees Fahrenheit. However, by the end of the early Ordovician a prolonged period of cooling began. Temperatures dropped to around 73-degrees Fahrenheit. Greenhouse conditions became more like those of modern equatorial oceans. It remained this way for a good 25 million years.
A period of rapid temperature decline followed, due to extensive Glaciation close to the end of the Ordovician. It was this intense, and short-lived glaciation event that brought about a mass extinction event.
Reference resource regarding the Ordovician from Palaeos.
From UC Museum of Paleontology is a more simplified reference resource containing links and resources to utilize.
Another good reference from National Geographic.
This link will take you to one of my favorite on-line resources--the Kidipede.
Here's another of my favorite resources, geared toward the younger students, provided by Fossils-Facts-and-Finds.
The Ordovician on YouTube
Invertebrates During the Ordovician
The Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event
The Ordovician was an important evolutionary phase in which the Earth saw the most significant increase in marine life. Compared to the Cambrian Explosion, few new invertebrate body plans were introduced during this period. Yet phased over 25 million years was a profound proliferation and diversification of marine life that was the product of the numerous geological and biological processes and new development of ecosystems that was so prevalent during this age.
Known as the Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event, this was one of the two most important evolutionary events in the history of life on Earth--second only to the Cambrian Explosion.
Images and descriptions of some of the brachiopod species.
Reference and pictures from Fossils-Facts-and-Finds.
A reference resource with some links and images.
Another source from the Fossil Museum.
A really great resource from the BBC Wildlife Finder.
Discusses the nine orders or trilobites; provided by the Fossil Museum.
This is a neat interactive quiz provided by the folks at Animal Planet.
Lesson plans, thematic units, worksheets, printables and more from A to Z Teacher Stuff.
A bunch more activities offered by Teach-nology, from science activities to reading comprehension regarding the ocean; you're sure to find something great to use in your studies!
The Origin of Bones & Scales
During the Ordovician, many organisms increased in size, strength, and speed, though most marine life remained small. The seas saw a major development in vertebrate evolution in the development of bones. This was the first time the Earth had seen bony plates, scales, and teeth.
Bone is composed of calcium phosphate; some scientists have suggested it may have evolved as a way for animals to remove excess phosphorus from the body, perhaps to use the bony skeleton as a reservoir to store the phosphorus, keeping it available to be reabsorbed in the body as it was needed. Phosphorus is important in several physiological processes.
Bony plates and scales could also have evolved as a means of providing protection against predators and parasites, or possibly insulation for electro-receptors.
Silurian Period - 418.7 MYA to 443.7 MYA
Following the Ordovician Extinction Event the Silurian saw rapid recovery of invertebrate faunas, and while some species never recovered, for the most part the Silurian saw even greater diversification of plant and animal life. Huge coral reefs flourished in tropical seas, and new genera of fishes appeared in the oceans and freshwater bodies. The first small, vascular plants began to colonize land and by the end of the Silurian the diversification of plants on land and the creation of new kinds of land ecosystems were well underway.
OCEANS & CONTINENTS
The Silurian Period saw the continents clustered around the equator, with Gondwanaland slowly drifting south. Siberia, Laurentia and Baltica converged at the equator--forging a new supercontinent: Laurussia. Closing ocean basins and rapidly melting ice sheets brought a significant rise in sea levels, which helped to expand the shallow-sea environment for corals and fishes.
The Silurian Period is thought to have been very warm and is even called a "Greenhouse Period", with warm tropical seas, rich with diverse faunas. From the Ordovician's glaciation event there were a number of short-lived glaciation that carried on into this time period, but gradually the ice melted, sea levels rose, and the oceans became warmer.
Science for Silurian
*Still under construction.
Science Study: Shallow Seas
The Mesozoic Era
245--65 Million Years Ago
Known as the Age of Reptiles. During this time period, there was an explosion of new life on the planet. Dinosaurs walked the earth, and the first birds evolved.
And then there was the controversial mass extinction.
Fossil-Facts-and-Finds' excellent reference on the mesozoic time-period.
This site is well written and has beautiful illustrations and photographs (crucial for those, like me, with visual learners).
Mesozoic Era Marine Reptile
The Age of Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs Emerge Supreme
A brief clip of how dinosaurs became the dominant life-form throughout the Cretaceous Period.
What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?
Dinosaur Materials at Amazon - Look for some of these books at your local library!
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (or explanations!) - Use visual aids in your teachings.Click thumbnail to view full-size
65 Million Years Ago to The Present
In the early Cenozoic era, after the dinosaurs became extinct, the number and diversity of mammals exploded. In just 10 million years -- a brief flash of time by geologic standards -- about 130 groups of related species evolved, encompassing some 4,000 different kinds of creatures. These included the first fully aquatic mammals (whales) and flying mammals (bats), as well as rodents and primates.
In Africa, cavemen--or stoneage-man--came into existence. India collided with Asia, resulting in the Himalayan Mountains; and the continents came to look more familiar to present day people.
Fossil-Facts-and-Finds' page on the Cenozoic Era.
PBS' Evolution Library; and a very nice article describing how mammals flourished following the dinosaurs' extinction.
This is a super resource provided by the Denver Museum of Natural History, covering the Ice Age, it's giant creatures, and the Pleistocene age. Take a look.
A nice description of Ice Age creatures, and accompanying pictures, from Enchanted Learning.
Everything you need to explore Ice and Snow.
This is good for those of you, like me, with visual learners.
This is a visual guide depicting the different kinds of icebergs, and descriptions.
Provides by the USGS, this is an overview of all things water-science-related, geared toward teachers; it's a nice resource if your students are so incline to investigate the natural force of Water.