This is the class I’m teaching for younger kids. Most of the class is 6-8th grade but there will be quite a few younger siblings (9-10 years old) participating as well. If you haven’t been to the Big History Project (BHP), you should check it out. Its a totally FREE online curriculum. All the articles, videos and even quizzes are on the website. If you sign up as a teacher you can access files that have all the articles for each unit in one place, and different versions of each article for different reading levels. This will be helpful for the younger kids in the class, though I think they’l get plenty of information just by watching the videos.
The Big History Project is literally BIG history, looking at the history of the universe, starting at the beginning, the Big Bang. I’m going to teach this course as a science course, which is not too much of a stretch since it starts with Cosmology and Astronomy and moves on to Earth Science. When we get to the units about people and civilization, my class will be looking at Archaeology and Anthropology.
Since class starts in less than two weeks I told the kids to start watching the videos for Unit 1 and start reading the Origin Stories – origin myths from different cultures. The videos are also on the Big History Project Channel on YouTube. Hank and John Green have also made a Crash Course that goes along with Big History and is included on the BHP official website. Since my class will really be digging into the astronomy part of the big history we’l also be using Crash Course Astronomy.
In the first class the kids will be setting up their composition notebooks, decorating them with duct tape to make them unique and putting in a table of contents. Then we’l make a cosmic calendar and they’l put that in their notebook as well (I’l post some pictures after class). For our second class the kids will pick one origin story (from BHP or another source), and share it with the class, either by telling the story, showing us a video, making a poster or even a stop motion movie with legos – whatever they want to do.
While searching the web for more origin stories I found an iPad app called Big Myth that has 25 animated origin stories (7 are free, but you must pay $3.99 to see all 25). The animation isn’t great but its probably more interesting for the younger kids than just reading text. There’s a website call Big Myth, which has the same 7 videos, so if you don’t have an iPad you can watch the videos there.
Another great FREE online resource is the Mythology & Folklore UN-textbook. This website is a gold mine of folktales and mythology from around the world, compiled by a professor at the University of Oklahoma. I’m actually planning on using this, along with a Great Course on mythology for my 10th grader’s English credit this year – at least for one semester.
The other book that Big History uses, is The Universe Verse, and they have it on their website in bits and pieces spread throughout the different units. This book actually started out on Kickstarter a few years ago and as a backer I got the whole book as a single pdf when it first came out. Its great fun to read, being very reminiscent of Dr. Seus, but filled with great science. Here’s a video of the author reading SOME of the book, its much longer than this clip.
While this class is going on my 7th grader’s transcript as a science class, my 10th grader is using it has a history credit this year. I’l be giving him some extra reading and he’l be helping with the middle school class. As with the Physics class, I plan on posting details and photos about what we do in each Big History class so stay tuned for more.