I love shopping curriculum. When we started homeschooling years ago, I had so much fun perusing and selecting. I was especially excited about history curriculum. My boys had both told me that they ‘hated social studies’. The reason why was that they had studied essentially the same material from kindergarten through 5th grade. Communities, maps, Native Americans, the colonies, and settlers. Every year.
Because of that, I chose to start our homeschool adventure with a chronological study of history, starting with the ancient world. I was so excited about the curriculum I had chosen. It had positive reviews, lots of activities, and audio discs to accompany each lesson that were said to engage and delight students.
And it ended up being a perfect example of what has become my favorite thing about homeschooling: If something doesn’t work you get to try something else. (We learned this with our math curriculum, too!)
Was This a Mistake?
The first lesson was ok, until I put the audio disc in. Then the eye rolling and giggling began. During the second lesson, the giggling turned to mocking. The third day brought complaining and by the fourth day we were done. I packaged it up, sent it back, and ordered what had been my second choice.
The boys still laugh today if I bring up that curriculum. Their complaint was primarily that they felt the audio discs talked down to them (they were in 4th and 6th grades at the time). They described it as ‘babyish’.
The curriculum we settled on ended up being such a good fit that we used it for several years, and we couldn’t have been happier with it.
The Mystery of History
In a nutshell, what I loved about Mystery of History were the options. With each lesson/topic, the book provides accompanying activities for all ages. All ages!
For example, when students study Napoleon (in Volume IV), a chapter is read and discussed. Then:
- Younger students make a hat that looks like Napoleon.
- Middle aged students use the information they’ve learned about him to write a descriptive acrostic of Napoleon’s name.
- Older students compare/debate quotes by Napoleon and George Washington.
- Many times, more than one activity option is listed, as well, so you have a choice.
We enjoyed the variety of activities, and especially the many that were very hands on.
Here’s a pyramid the boys made, and a cake version of a map of Egypt.
Something else I really appreciated about this history curriculum is that it covers what is going on all over the world so students get a clear picture of the time period, instead of studying events or people in isolation.
Using timelines really helped with this. We had a large wall timeline and used these timeline figures, adding them with each lesson. It was a visual way to track what we were learning.
The boys also kept binders in which they stored projects they’d done, maps created, and assignments completed.
I would recommend The Mystery of History to anyone starting homeschooling, or looking for a change. It is top notch! (As a note: this is a decidedly Christian curriculum, with a definite Biblical worldview).
We worked through the first three volumes, spanning from ancient history through around 1700. At that time, volume four (1700 through the present) had not been completed. I’ve since looked through it and was legitimately saddened that we didn’t get to use it. It looks really great.
Other History Curriculum
In middle school, we worked through Notgrass America the Beautiful (United States history) and liked it. We didn’t read all of the novels that went along with it, but did do several. It’s a solid curriculum and I liked the format.
In high school, both of the boys studied world civilizations and American History more in depth. Our focus in high school has been on preparing for exams that offer college credit, so we’ve used a variety of resources.
What is your favorite homeschool history curriculum?
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