When I began looking into a history program to use, one name kept popping up again and again: The Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer.
The Story of the World Ancient Times
The Story of the World series follows the classical education scope and sequence for history, dividing it into four cycles.
Four Cycles of Classical History
- Ancients, BC 5000-400 AD
- Medieval/Early Renaissance, 400-1600
- Late Renaissance/Early Modern, 1600-1850
- Modern Times, 1850-Present
I am reviewing the first volume of The Story of the World Ancient Times. It begins with an introduction to history and archaeology and the earliest nomads and proceeds chronologically until the fall of the Roman Empire.
It truly does feel like one is reading a story, not a textbook, when reading Story of the World. The narrative style is very appealing, especially for younger students. I also invested in the accompanying audio CDs, which not only make learning portable, but are very well presented. We sometimes even relisten to chapters we’ve already covered simply because we enjoy listening to them. The suggested age for this book is grades 1 through 4, but students as old as middle school would find it appealing and meaningful.
The Activity Book
The Activity Book is an absolute gem. I can’t imagine going through this book without it.
For each chapter there are:
- review questions
- narration exercises
- encyclopedia cross-references
- literature suggestions
- map work pages
- coloring pages
- project ideas such as crafts, recipes, models, and games
The recommended literature lists alone make this resource worthwhile for me. I’m always looking for living books to read in tandem with the text. The literature is marked as RA (read aloud) or IR (independent reading), and the IR books often have a grade level suggestion as well. These notations make it very easy for me to narrow down which books I will look for or request at my local library.
Other features of the Activity Book:
- Pronunciation guide (which I really should refer to more often)
- Review Cards at the back I only recently discovered the review cards myself, so don’t forget to look for them! These will be great for wrapping up the school year and for when we pick up again in the fall.
In using this curriculum, I have discovered a few drawbacks:
- Because the book is chronological, it often jumps from continent to continent and then back a few chapters later. For older students I don’t think this would be much of a problem, but for students on the younger end of the spectrum it can be a bit confusing. This can be remedied by going through the book out of order. It takes a bit of planning, but is very doable.
- My other problem is that this book has 42 chapters, even though the traditional school year has 36 weeks. Each chapter is so full I found that covering more than one in a week proved to be too daunting. I know that many homeschoolers educate year-round, but it would make my own planning so much easier is Story of the World could manage to squeeze all of ancient history into 36 chapters!
When all is said and done however I, who am not much of a history buff, am really enjoying teaching history, and my daughter proclaims that history is her favorite subject. Actually she says Story of the World is her favorite subject! What better endorsement is there than that?
WHERE TO PURCHASE SOTW MATERIALS
WANT MORE? CHECK OUT ALL THE STORY OF THE WORLD REVIEWS HERE AT THE CURRICULUM CHOICE
Originally published May
For religious reasons I couldn’t choose this curriculum. I wish it was creation based so I could. 🙁
.-= Samantha´s last blog ..Curriculum 2010-2011 =-.
I used Tapestry of Grace Year 1 & 2 which does go from Creation on… Story of the world is a lot less time consuming for parents though, so now I can switch to it without worrying about breaking up the chronology of history.
Thank you so much for this review. I am in the process of researching history programs, and it is really daunting. They all seem to have pros and cons that are very compelling. I do LOVE the idea of having it on audio cd, so SOTW has definitely moved to the top of the list of things to check out at my local curriculum fair.
I added Apples and Jammies to my list of bloggy reads, so I’ll be visiting you there!
.-= Deb´s last blog ..Homeschooling, Part Two =-.
Beth, so glad to see you here – great review!
Samantha, I simply supplemented the account of Creation before I ever jumped into the book. I also chose to leave out a few things that I wasn’t ready to introduce to my children, such as gods and goddesses/mythology. (At the young age of 1st/2nd grade, I didn’t want to confuse them about the One True God by talking about other gods and goddesses.) Making sure to always throw in my own Christian worldview discussions when appropriate made SOTW a wonderful curriculum for our family.
.-= Cindy´s last blog ..Hard-Working Men =-.
Autumn Hughes says
I am supplementing SOTW with Mystery of History.
Do you have a write up on the things you skipped and the things you didn’t? If so, I’d love for you to email that to me.
Our Nifty Notebook says
This does sound very neat. The mythology stuff doesn’t bother me, because it truly is part of the history of the world. In fact, it’s very interesting! I would just explain that’s what those people believed then.
.-= Our Nifty Notebook´s last blog ..Wordful Wednesday: Happy Birthday, Dave! =-.
I was just reading about this program and then my sister, above commenter, just emailed your post to me!
From what I have read, other homeschoolers use it for more than one school year, therefore making the 42 chapters(and their activities and reading!) a lot less daunting- especially for younger learners.
I think the only thing that seems to be missing from this history curriculum is a TIME LINE! Pasting a picture correlating to the story would help little learners keep track of what’s going on chapter to chapter.
I know I would for sure benefit from something visual like that and I’m 33!
This year we used BJU Heritage Studies 1. We completed it without a time line, but I think that in future school years we will need one.
Biblioplan for Families uses this text as one of their spines, along with the Bible and other books. I’m planning to order Biblioplan and already have SOTW. Glad to read another review of the book.
Here is another option for Catholic families.