Elementary Homeschool History perfect for the younger child to understand.
In the quest to cover a little of everything from a particular time period AND present it at a level that a younger child can understand, most elementary history texts are, well, lacking in the "fascination" department. I found textbooks very dry as a youngster, but in my case, it led me to do a lot of library reading on my own. Susan Wise Bauer attempts to remedy this boredom by presenting a chronological history to elementary students using a classical approach and an engaging narrative.
The Story of the World consists of a text and a curriculum guide each for four eras of history.
The readings in the text provide a base of knowledge for the time period covered, and is augmented by the use of the guide, which contains review questions, suggestions for supplemental readings, recommended literature selections, map activities, coloring pages, as well as an abundance of projects that span history, art, and science that are sure to excite the student.
Homeschool History in a story-like format, great for short attention spans
The text itself serves as the starting point and backbone of each unit. Each chapter covers a particular time period, and is placed in chronological order. For example, in Volume One: Ancient Times, Chapter One begins with "The Earliest People" followed by chapters detailing periods of Egyptian, Sumarian, Jewish, Babylonian, Assyrian, Indian, Chinese, African, Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, Persian, Native American, Roman, Christian, Celt, and Barbarian history. The book goes in strictly chronological order, so one time period of a civilization will be covered, and then a different civilization may be covered, returning to another era of the first civilization later to encompass a significant historical event of that civilization. Each chapter is further split into smaller, more bite-sized amounts that lend themselves well to a short attention spans. History is presented in a story-like format that young readers or listeners will appreciate. The author emphasizes that the book is not intended to give a complete overview of the time period, but rather to give the student a chronological order of major events and an appreciation and understanding of different cultures while presenting it in a way that will foster an enthusiasm and enjoyment of the subject matter. So, while they wont learn the name of every ruler of a civilization, they will absorb highlights from an era along with particularly notable people and events. Parents often comment on exactly how much their children "pick up" from Story of the World, often impressing adults and other children with their historical knowledge! Mythical stories as well as historical fiction-type passages about young children from different cultures are woven into the narrative to stimulate further interest.
When a chapter has been read, you and the students would then turn to the curriculum manual/actvitiy guide. At the beginning of each chapter in the guide, page references are given for four recommended supplements: Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World, The Usborne Book of World History, and the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History. These selections further flesh out the history lessons, particularly for those periods or civilizations where less supplemental reading is available. When all the chapter reading has been accomplished, the next order of business are the reading comprehension-type review questions for each chapter section. Following the questions, the student is asked to summarize the chapter in a few sentences. The author again stresses that important facts be included in this narrative, but not necessarily every one. A few sample narrations are also supplied. The students narrative is then written and can be illustrated with his/her favorite part of the lesson. You may wish to collect these and place them into a loose-leaf binder, to create the students own world history. After these activities have been completed, you may wish to explore the lesson further, using the list of additional history readings and corresponding literature suggestions. Author, publisher, copyright date, and a sentence summary of each book are provided to help you locate these resources.
A hands on approach to history
Now for some real hands-on work! The activities commence with "Map Work," where a map of the appropriate area is supplied, and the student identifies and marks pertinent areas, routes, and features. The geography section is normally followed by a coloring page, highlighting some aspect of the history lesson, or some other word activity. The consumable student pages provided for these "pencil and paper" activities are found at the end of the activity book. These consumable pages may be reproduced by individual families only - not by schools or co-ops. Finally, the chapter closes with a selection of projects to do to really "get into" the featured civilization or time period. These may be arts, crafts, writing, or science projects, or just fun supplemental activities. Most require only common household supplies and art supplies such as paints & paintbrushes, boxes, newspaper and waxed paper, self-drying clay, etc. Several projects are provided for each chapter, covering a wide range of activities. These could include anything from building your own hut to making your own cunieform tablets, mummifying a chicken, brick-making, baking an African or Greek feast, purple dye, an erupting volcano, an olympic wreath, a Native American sand painting, a Roman chariot, making paper, and LOTS more. Some activities are denoted with a "C" to highlight its use as a good co-op or classroom activity. When youve covered the chapter content as much as is desired, move on.
Story of the World test packets and audio CDs
Other supplementals include test packets and audio CDs. Test packets offer some structured review for chapters covered, and the audio CDs allow you to listen to the content of the texts on the road or wherever a CD player is available. The chapters come alive as they are read by Jim Weiss, a professional storyteller. Tracks run from three to five minutes each to make it easier to track your progress or find a specific section.
Basic Packages include soft cover text, activity book and tests. Complete packages include these items plus the audiobook CDs. You can also get a set of the 4 audiobook CDs, all 4 hard-cover texts and all 4 soft-cover texts.
While the breadth of activities and readings may seem overwhelming, keep in mind that not every suggested book needs to be read, and not every single project needs to be completed. (But Mom, cant we embalm the chicken today?) Spend as much time in an era as suits the students, pacing yourself to cover everything that is of interest. The structure of the curriculum makes it especially easy and enjoyable to use with several children in this age range, and Im sure even older kids would love to get in on some activities too! - Jess
Volume 2 picks up where Volume 1 left off, and tells the fascinating story of the "Dark Ages," from the fall of Rome through the Renaissance. Like the preceding book, this story of history doesn't limit itself to a dry, white-bread-without-the-crusts retelling of a primarily European history, instead it is a rich, whole-wheat blend of European, Indian, Chinese, Australian, Arabic, Japanese, Jewish, Mongolian, Turkish, African, Russian, Australian and American history during the period. Fascinating topics abound here, including knights, samurai, Vikings, the rise of Islam, the Crusades, Genghis Khan and the Mongols, the Plague, the Mayans, the Incas, Marin Luther, the Reformation, the discovery of the Americas, and much more. A timeline and an index are included at the back. Revised in 2007, this 2nd edition text is available in hc or pb, and activity book is paperback.