You don’t need to be a homeschooler to need or want good reference materials at home for your kids. When we were kids, this often meant an expensive and heavy set of encyclopedias that are out of date as soon as they are published. Today we are lucky enough for it to mean a good collection of internet bookmarks.
Having homeschooled for almost six years now, I’ve got an impressive collection of bookmarks. One site that was recently updated and contains just about everything you need to know about American History is Smithsonian’s History Explorer. Attached to the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., the site contains lessons, activities, multimedia, images, and plenty of other material including teacher resources (read: parent resources!).
Look on the site for structured learning activities with your kids, or set your kids free to explore on their own, to discover both well-known and little-known facts, events, and trends in the history of the United States.
You can search for resources by grade, resource type, historical era, and school subject. For those concerned with such things, it also shows how everything aligns with national educational standards. Some of the resources are lesson plans and materials in .pdf files. Others are interactive exhibitions (e.g., a letter from George Washington from 1785). There are also a wide variety of item images along with an explanation of what you are seeing.
Smithsonian’s newly updated History Explorer website contains all or most of what you would need for your American history lessons. And because it’s from the Smithsonian, our free national museum, the resources are free. Using primary sources is a great way for people to learn, and this site is full of them. Take advantage of this excellent resource. It’s like visiting an interactive museum from home!