I’d like to introduce you to one of my all-time favorite curriculums…Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer of Peacehill Press. As a Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unit Study inspired homeschool, Story of the World has been a wonderful fit for our family.
There are four volumes available:
Volume 1: Ancient Times
Volume 2: The Middle Ages
Volume 3: Early Modern Times
Volume 4: The Modern Age
Our family has thoroughly enjoyed each and every one, but to save space – and since all the volumes are similar is style – I will take the time to describe only Volume 1.
Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times and Activity Guide
The Story of the World Volume I: Ancient Times and Activity Guide together are a full-year’s worth of Ancient history instruction for the elementary grades. Recommended for grades 1st through 4th, they cover history from Nomads to the last Roman Emperor.
The Story of the World Volume I: Ancient Times includes 32 chapters of child-friendly stories from many of the most important events in Ancient history. Reading the stories alone would be quite insightful, but using the Activity Guide along with the stories allows for a very thorough learning experience.
Included in the Activity Guide are comprehension questions, hands-on activity ideas, map work ideas with reproducible maps, reproducible coloring pages, supplemental reading lists, cross references to other history books and even review cards.
There is more than enough included in the activity guide that you could go through the program twice and not repeat anything if you didn’t want to. The maps are simple and very easily understood by younger children, and completing the map work also serves as a review of the stories. The coloring pages add a nice visual for better understanding and something for little hands to do during reading time. The hands-on activities include everything from traditional recipes and games to crafts to writing exercises. There are even reproducible board games scattered throughout the Activity Guide! It’s absolutely chock full of ideas!
Most chapters of The Story of the World are broken into two reading sections. After reading one of the sections, it’s recommended that your child be asked the comprehension questions and do the map work that goes with that particular section. Another day, it is recommended that the second reading, comprehension questions and map work be completed. A third day (or more) is recommended to be set aside for additional activities and supplemental reading books. Of course, these are simply recommendations. The program can be used in a variety of ways.
In our homeschool, we would often read both sections in a day. As I read, my children would color the provided coloring page. I would save the questions and map work for the second day, when I would usually read one of the supplemental books, too. On the third day, we would do one or more of the hands-on activities. Our favorite activities involved recipes, but we did many of the crafts as well.
We were able to use the program as a family without any trouble. Obviously, my older daughter was able to do more or go further some of the time, but my younger son wasn’t left behind by any means. They each learn in different ways and this program fit them both very well. Depending on the activities chosen, every learning style can be reached! Oh, and in keeping all of their work in a notebook, we have a wonderful memory book that will be valuable as a review of our year’s worth of Ancient history study!
The Story of the World was written as either a homeschooling or classroom curriculum, with directions included for both. Personally, I think it would be fun to use in a co-op setting.
What a joy it was to study history chronologically and in such an intriguing and hands-on way. My children looked forward to history. Let me tell you, I never looked forward to history as a student!
To hear my children ask if the get to learn history was music to my ears. And, I suppose I’ll admit that I actually learned right along with my children. Learning history chronologically was something I’d never done. I finally have a complete picture in my mind where, once, there were only bits and pieces floating around unconnected. The only two things I wish the program had included were timeline figures and a beginning chapter on Creation.
If you aren’t a hands-on learning type of person, this program may not be your style. On the other hand, even if you only use the maps and coloring sheets, I still believe it’s well worth the money. If you don’t like gathering extra books from the library, gathering supplies for projects or even having to make copies, this program might not be for you. Unless you simply read the stories, there is a little bit of preparation time involved. For my children, the preparation time I spent was worth it. Had my time been cut short for any number of reasons, though, it may have been more than I could’ve handled to do the necessary preparation.
Overall, I still highly recommend The Story of the World, Volume I: Ancient Times and the Activity Guide, as well as the other three volumes. It’s a thorough program that will give your child a good grasp of basic Ancient history. Any curriculum for which my children beg, is a keeper in my eyes!
For those of you who don’t prefer to read aloud, there are audio CD’s available. And for those who prefer tests to be sure your children are retaining the information, there are test books available, too. Click on the links above to see all the products that can be purchased with each volume.
By Cindy West, mom of three, from KY, who loves learning alongside her children! You can find her blogging at Our Journey Westward.