Resources for Teaching Religion

This post is sponsored by the Arda. Opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.
American History is a deep and varied subject. One advantage to homeschooling is getting to choose which aspects of history we want to emphasize.
teaching religion

Teaching Religion History in Your Homeschool

No matter what religious convictions your family has (or doesn’t have), the role that religion plays in our country cannot be denied. And as Christians, we know we want to study this rich and fascinating history of fellow believers while we study the history of our country. But how do we add this to our studies? And how can we sort through all the information available?

I especially want to address this aspect of history and how religious beliefs influenced the early history of America as my children reach high school.

A Free Resource for Teaching American Religious History

The Arda (The Association of Religion Data Archives) began in 1997 as an archive for researchers interested in American religion but it has grown into much more. Now, in addition to their research hub, you can also find extensive teaching tools including lesson plans, interactive timelines, quick stats, dictionaries, surveys and quizzes, and more. And all of these resources are free!

The ARDA also explains how to cite their page in papers or reports. I’ve noticed that students today tend to have difficulty knowing how to make proper citations in their nonfiction writing so I appreciate this site explaining how to do things correctly.

baptist history timeline from the ardaTimelines for Teaching  the History of American Religion

I think the timelines available on the ARDA are the most interesting feature. You can choose to look at timelines by dates, names, or biographies. There are interactive timelines available for Baptist History and Catholic History in America. These timelines are probably most valuable for Jr. or Sr. High students. They can search certain events or people, depending on what they need to study or write about.

If you are looking for elective credits for your high school age child, using these free lesson plans and teaching guide might be a great option for credit. If your child is particularly interested he or she could dive into the college lesson plans, too.

Don’t fall for the misconception that a timeline is only valuable for the younger grades. Putting together a timeline is a useful project at any age. To see when something happened in relation to other events is how a student begins to make sense of history.

Current News and Views About Religion

The ARDA has a page called “press room”, where you and your students can find up to date information about religion in America and around the world. If you have your high school student keep up with current events, this could be a valuable resource too.

There are surveys where your students can compare how they are different or similar to other respondents around the world.

And the ARDA has a Youtube channel, too. This is a chance for a student to see and hear the services of many different religious types. Of course, this should be used with discretion, but if you’ve ever wondered what goes on in other faith traditions, this is an interesting peek in.

Do remember that these are all free to you. There is no cost for the website or any of the tools they offer.

Other Resources for Teaching Baptist History

If your students aren’t quite old enough to use the ARDA themselves, we have come across a few other resources for passing on our faith to our children. These are books are not free, but I do want to share them with my fellow Baptists:

The Baptist Primer is an illustrated introduction to Baptist History and Distinctives. This is a picture book approach, laid out alphabetically. The book is engaging and the teacher’s packet was a good resource. My husband (a Baptist pastor) has actually used this in our church’s children’s ministry.

Our family uses the Truth and Grace memory books to teach our children. These could be called “Baptist Catechism” but Baptists tend to be wary of that terminology. (Note: there are three books and we’ve primarily used the first and simplest. We have altered a few questions as necessary.)

The selections in This Day in Baptist History: 366 Daily Devotions Drawn from the Baptist Heritageare short enough to be read aloud as a family. This could also be a good addition to a homeschool “morning basket”.

Ultimately, we know that passing on our faith is a parent’s responsibility, and not the church’s or school’s.

Have you visited the ARDA or used any of their resources in your homeschool?

You can also find out more about the ARDA on Twitter and Facebook.

resources for teaching religion

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