World History Topics to Teach your Homeschooler

World History covers a span of topics and it can be challenging to present so many topics in a way that is both informative and engaging. 

Below are the world history topics covered in most courses and some ways that lectures and learning can keep students attentive. 

The Ancient World- 3000 BC to 500 AD

This time period covers 5000 years of pre-history to Rome and the kingdoms of West Africa. 

Topics covered:

  • Studying History
  • Human Origins and the Neolithic Revolution
  • The Fertile Crescent
  • Phoenicia, Assyria, and Persia
  • Early Egypt
  • Egyptian Culture
  • Judaism
  • The Rise of China
  • Indian Dynasties
  • Hinduism and Buddhism
  • Early Greece
  • Athens and Sparta
  • Greece’s Golden Age
  • Alexander’s Empire
  • The Republic of Rome
  • Roman Civilization
  • Christianity
  • The Fall of the Roman Empire

Egyptian Culture seems to be fascinating for many kids, with hieroglyphics, scary mummies, and of course, the pyramids. A great way to teach kids about these impressive architectural wonders is by allowing them to build one of their own! You could first watch a video on how the pyramids were constructed, then give your child the tools to create a miniature work of art. Legos are an obvious choice for those who have buckets sitting around, but you could also work with sugar cubes or toothpicks and marshmallows!

Another way you could make this Historical Era exciting is a project based on the various early religions. A poster project would be a great way to get all of the information out into the open. There are tons of ways you could approach this project. You could start with a large Venn Diagram with a circle for each religion, giving a space in the middle where they can all overlap and connect. Then, you could task your child with placing beliefs, structures, types of figures, and other religion-defining aspects in the different openings of the diagram. Not only will this engage your student, but it will also make it easier to differentiate between the different religions and find what makes them similar or different! Another approach to the poster project idea could be creating mini-posters on pieces of paper for the different religions using only the most important aspects of each. You could add pictures of their temples/important buildings, figures, or leaders as well. Then, combine all of the individual religion pieces on a poster/presentation board to have a collective project about early historical religions!

The modern Olympics are looked forward to by many around the world, but Ancient Olympic Games began roughly around 776 BC. This fascinating topic has so much to offer students learning about Early Greece’s history! You could have students study the different sporting events that took place and then take part in their own version of a pentathlon. In the early days, this consisted of running, discus, javelin, long jump, and wrestling, but you could easily replace the more dangerous events with tasks such as shooting nerf gun targets, jumping rope, or seeing how far they can throw a Frisbee. Not only is this a fun way to teach them about history, but it will also get them outside and moving! If the weather doesn’t permit an outdoor event or you want an indoor idea, another great way to learn about the Olympic Games is through a virtual tour of Ancient Olympia! Using a desktop computer or by downloading the mobile app, your child will be able to experience Ancient Olympia and view different archaic structures with Ancient Olympia: Common Ground

The Medieval World- 5th to 15th Century

This time period covers 10 centuries from the Byzantine Empire and the rise and spread of Islam to Joan of Arc and the Ancient Americas.

  • The Byzantine Empire
  • Rise and Spread of Islam
  • Ottoman and Mughal Empires
  • East and West African Civilizations
  • Imperial China
  • Mongol Empire
  • Ming Dynasty
  • Early Japanese and Korean Civilizations
  • Russia and Eastern Europe
  • Early Middle Ages
  • Feudalism
  • Life in the Early Middle Ages
  • Art and Culture in Medieval Europe
  • Church Authority in Europe
  • Government in England
  • Impact of the Crusades
  • Challenges in Late Medieval Times
  • The Renaissance
  • The Northern Renaissance
  • The Protestant Renaissance
  • The Counter-Reformation
  • Civilizations in North and South America
  • Voyages of Exploration
  • Conquest of the Americas
  • Three Worlds Meet
  • The Struggle for North America

One of the things the Ming Dynasty is best known for is its construction and monuments. In fact, The Great Wall of China is among these accomplishments! The Google Arts and Culture Program has some fantastic resources to learn all about this amazing landmark. There are articles on how and when it was built, in-depth looks at the architecture, secret stories about carvings found in the walls and bricks, stories about each of the beacon towers, dozens of pictures, and of course, a virtual tour! Students will have so much to explore using this website and will be able to get a great look at just how this landmark came to be. If you want to take this one step further, you could have your student take what they have learned from this experience and write a creative piece from the view of someone who worked on building the wall or have them design their own miniature wall using Legos, Play-Doh, or simply drawing what their wall would look like.

The Medieval Age is most commonly known for The Renaissance, and this period can be a blast to learn about. It was full of some of the greatest artists, musicians, and writers of all time, and when learning about The Renaissance, you definitely don’t want to leave those out! For an artistic spin, you could have students recreate a masterpiece by Leonardo DaVinci or try out their sculpting skills like Michaelangelo using Play-Doh. If you have a child who plays an instrument, having them learn a musical piece from this time might be a fun way to include their instrument skills with their learning. For fans of the theater, you could also study some Shakespeare and then attend a live play or watch one online. Whatever route you decide to go in teaching about The Renaissance, there is an exciting and artistic way to learn about this time period! 

The Modern Age- 15th Century- Present

The Modern Age includes the scientific revolution, the rise of absolute monarchies in Europe, Muslim Empires, the Englightenment, revolutions in technology and government through unification movements in Italy and Germany. 

  • Absolute Monarchy in Europe
  • Technology, Science and the Arts
  • The Enlightenment
  • The American Revolution
  • The French Revolution 
  • Napoleon’s Rise and Fall
  • Age of Revolutions
  • Rise of the Nation-State
  • Latin American Revolutions
  • The Industrial Age
  • The Growth of Cities
  • Impact of the Industrial Age
  • Age of Reform
  • New Economic Theories
  • The New Imperialism
  • Spheres of Influence in Muslim Lands
  • India Under British Rule
  • Imperialism in East Asia
  • The Rise of Modern Japan
  • Imperialism in Africa
  • World War I
  • Revolution in Russia
  • Cultural and Intellectual Trends
  • Global Economic Crisis
  • Authoritarianism, Fascism, and Dictators
  • Rise of Hitler
  • WWII 
  • Japan’s Pacific Campaign
  • The Holocaust
  • Victory for the Allies
  • Stalin and the Soviet Union
  • Communism in China
  • The Cold War
  • European Union
  • Modernization in China
  • Indian Independence
  • Challenges of Independence in Asia
  • Decolonization in Africa
  • South Africa and Apartheid
  • Latin American Reform
  • Challenges in South America
  • Israel
  • The Middle East: 1948- present
  • Women’s Rights and Roles
  • Impact of Science and Technology
  • Economic Globalization

With so much going on during this time period, it would definitely help your child to have a timeline to piece everything together! You could approach this task in various ways. First, you could create a timeline yourself so they have a visual as they learn through the material. While this is definitely helpful, your child wouldn’t have a hand in creating the information. The second idea would be to create an ongoing timeline as they learn about each new event. They can then go back and add to this timeline while they are learning. Lastly, you could have them create a timeline at the end of studying this period to review everything they have learned. There is so much happening that they might start to forget when things occurred, and being able to review and look back while they create a timeline can keep the information closer in their memory. The timeline could be created on a poster board or (especially if they will be creating the timeline as they go) you could opt to have them use individual pieces of paper and create a timeline on a wall near their learning space, adding new pieces every time they need more room.

Another huge part of this period is the different wars that you can learn about. World War l, World War ll, and the Cold War all offer the unique opportunity to learn about military and technological advancements, how countries handle conflict, and how specific leaders led during these times. One approach to learning about the different wars is by pairing this historical unit with a literature one. 

Some book ideas that offer interesting perspectives on the events happening during each war are:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
  • A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Countdown by Deborah Wiles

A great way to help your student understand just how far we have come in terms of equality is to focus on women’s rights and roles. If you want to make this topic especially fun for kids, adding a game element might do the trick. You could give your student the task of creating their own board game detailing the process that people went through to ensure that women had the right to vote. Work with them to come up with rules, create the board, and play a round or two with your child. Or, you could have students create their own TV commercial convincing others to join the suffrage movement. This would also help them work on their persuasive skills. Have them do research on the topic, write out a script, and then get the camera rolling for their 30 seconds to one-minute commercial on why you should join the suffrage movement. 

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