When my two eldest girls were in high school, we used and loved Diana Waring’s History Alive unit studies. I fully intended to continue to use the same curriculum this year with my seven-year-old son Joel. But I discovered that it was much more involved than he was ready for, and the audio lectures that I loved didn’t hold his interest.
I quickly started searching for another Ancient Civilization unit study program that was more streamlined and easier for young students to understand. Enter The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child (Volume 1, Ancient History). The book is broken down into perfectly sized chapters that are also available on CD (Story of the World Ancient Times Audiobook CD), so that Joel can listen and read along at the same time. The The Story of the World Activity Book has color pages, maps, questions, lists of other books to read, and fun activities and projects that you can do that go along with each chapter. We also have the test booklet.
My son Joel is enjoying the stories and activities, and he does fairly well on the tests. The best part for me is that it is very streamlined and well put together: I don’t have to do a lot of preparation work unless I want to. There are projects that take a lot of planning and execution, but there are always choices.
For example, we really enjoyed making pyramids: We created sugar cube pyramids and included my sister Elizabeth and her girls in the project. We also used clay to make Sumerian cuneiform symbols.
One project I would have liked to do but ran out of time for was mummifying a chicken. There were quite a few steps to that particular project, and it took several weeks to complete, so we had to skip it this year. Maybe some other time!
In my homeschool, I approach history on a rotating basis:
- Year 1: World History – Ancient Civilization
- Year 2: World History – Middle Ages
- Year 3: American History
- Year 4: Modern History
I include geography and government every year: We focus on geography for the first rotation and government for the second rotation. Joel will be in about 6th grade when we come back around to ancient history, and I’m not sure if we will do The Story of the World again, switch to Diana Waring’s History Alive, or possibly do a combination of the two. I really love Ms. Waring’s lectures and how she pulls everything together and shows how history is “His” Story. Her unit studies are much more involved and require more preparation, but they include music, architecture, cooking, science, and more.
If you are looking for a good history curriculum, I highly recommend both of these options.
What curriculum or unit studies have made history “come alive” in your homeschool? Do you use a designed series such as The Story of the World or History Alive, or do you combine sources to create your own lesson plans for history? We’d love to hear about your history success stories, questions and tips, in the comment section below.