Castle / Macaulay
Accompany Lord Kevin to his newly-acquired lands in northwest Wales. The rebellious Welsh do not recognize the authority of the English king, so a castle will be necessary to stake his claim on the land. A Caldecott Honor book.
David Macaulay, illustrator and storyteller par excellance, takes us through the planning, construction, and ensuing battle at the castle sight in Castle. A similar concept is employed in each of these books, interweaving an interesting story with historically accurate information and detailed drawings. Use them alone or with a unit study like the Greenleaf Guides. Topnotch!
From 500 A.D. to 1530 A.D., this literature approach to history takes students through the medieval period via some of the best classic and historic literature available. Students read works by classic authors such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Sir Walter Scott. They learn about heroic figures of the time like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Joan of Arc, Luther, Saladin and more. This one-year course has been revised and the publishers have broken the study into two guides; one for intermediate/junior high grades, and one for high school. The guides are now full-color. The Intermediate/Junior High guide features 35 weekly lessons with reading assignments, mapping activities, research and discussion topics, hands-on and craft suggestions, vocabulary lists and more.
Imagine a classically-based history course where your child reads great history books and period-related literature, keeps a running timeline of the period studied, writes outlines and summaries of important people and events, completes history-related map work, and does all of this without extensive planning on mom's part. Although it may sound too good to be true, luckily for you it's not! Author Kathleen Desmarais has done an awesome job of combining an excellent variety of resources and activities and presenting it all in a very straight-forward, professional way that takes the stress of lesson planning off of you and puts the accountability and expectations squarely on your history student.
History Odyssey is basically a series of study guides, with one guide covering one era of history (Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern, or Modern) in one year. There are three levels to the program, so if you completed the whole series, you would cycle through world history three times - once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school education. The first level is intended for grades 1-4, the second level for grades 5-8, and the third level for grades 9-12. There will be twelve guides when the series is complete; currently, there are still several guides in production. The guides are loose-leaf and 3-hole punched, designed to be placed in a binder. You'll probably want a thick one; students will be adding a lot of material!
Although the same eras in history are covered in each level, the expectations on the student become more sophisticated, following the classical education progression. In Level 1 (the grammar stage), students are encouraged to approach history as a great story as they read (or are read to) and complete map work, History Pockets activities, copywork, and coloring pages. This level will require more attention from the parent than the two upper levels. Depending on the reading ability of the child, some reading selections may need to be read aloud or read together. There will also be copies to make and supplies to gather for each lesson. Level 2 (the logic stage) introduces the timeline, outlining as a writing skill, research, and independent writing assignments. Students are expected to read all assignments on their own, and critical thinking and analysis are emphasized through the assignments. Parental involvement should be reduced at this level, as parents should be only checking the quality of each day's work and making sure that it has all been done. By Level 3 (the rhetoric stage), students will be reading much more demanding history selections (including classic literature) and will be writing plenty of expository, descriptive, narrative and persuasive essays. Research, timeline work, and map work are continued from Level 2 but are more in-depth at this level. For each level, history, geography, and writing are strongly represented. Although the writing practice is extensive, you will probably want to be using a separate course in English and writing.
Now that you're familiar with the basics of the course, let's look at the lessons. Lessons are presented to the student in a checklist-type format. All assignments, including reading, timeline, writing, and others are listed for each lesson with a box to check when the task is complete. In Level 1, lessons are structured a bit differently, in that there is some parent preparation (highlighted in gray), a "main lesson" of assignments, and then several "additional activities" listed. Lessons typically include a mix of readings from resource books, map work, timeline work (in the upper two levels), and writing assignments/copywork to be added to the student's master binder. Exceptions may be lessons which ask the student to begin reading a required book. In this case, a recommended time frame is given in which the book should be read, and follow-up writing assignments may be listed. Occasionally websites may be listed to check out more information, but these are not absolutely necessary to the course if you are not able to visit them. Following the lessons, you'll find worksheets referred to in the lessons, outline maps used in map activities, and several appendices. Although the guide is not reproducible, the author does give permission to copy the maps and worksheets for your family's use only.
There are several important aspects of this course. First of all, with the exception of Level 1, there is little parent preparation. A "Letter to Parents" at the beginning of the guide explains the course, while the "How to Use This Guide" lists required resources and other necessary supplies, describes the organization of the student's binder, and briefly discusses several aspects of the program. For the upper two levels, parents will be primarily making sure the necessary books and resources are on hand and ensuring that each lesson's work has been done and is complete. This leads to my next point, which is that at the end of this course, the student will not have "completed a workbook," but will have compiled their own meaty notebook with all their work from the course. Instruction is given at the very beginning of the course on how to organize the student's notebook, and from that point on, the student will be putting all of their work into the binder. The binder will be not only a tremendous keepsake but a collection of all work done in the course. Finally, the timeline is a very important tool used in Levels 2 and 3 of History Odyssey. This can be made by you, or you may choose to purchase Pandia Press's very attractive Classical History Timeline, which is described below. Events and people studied are added to the timeline throughout the course, and when they're finished with the guide, the timeline can be folded up and included in the student's binder.
One bonus to the course is that they use well-known resources and literature that you may already own! Level 1 heavily uses Story of the World books, A Child's History of the World and History Pockets. My sample of Middle Ages Level 2 lists the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Story of Mankind, Usborne Internet-Linked Viking World, The Door in the Wall, Tales from Shakespeare, Beowulf: A New Telling, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Castle (by David Macaulay), The Canterbury Tales, and many more. Check out the lists of resources beneath each History Odyssey Guide below - I'm sure you'll see many familiar
These homeschool history staples have been around for quite a few years now and remain popular as a flexible, "unit study"-like program that covers history chronologically and in-depth, using excellent supplemental resources. For most historical periods covered, there is a Famous Men book and a Greenleaf Guide. (For Old Testament and Ancient Egypt, readings are found in other sources, including the Bible and supplemental resources.) Famous Men books are reprinted from the original editions (1904) and include the original preface as well as a new preface. These volumes feature stories and black-and-white illustrations on the featured men. The content of Famous Men of Rome and Famous Men of Greece are very similar to the originals, while Famous Men of the Middle Ages includes new chapters by Rob Shearer.
The corresponding Greenleaf Guide holds reading assignments from Famous Men and the supplemental resources. vocabulary lists, pronunciation guides, comprehension questions for the Famous Men stories, a chronological overview of that period of history, a graphic timeline, key dates for the time period, suggested hands-on activities and more. Think of the guide as the lesson plans/teacher resources, and the Famous Men and study package books as the texts for each study. Emphasis is on people and hands-on activities as you study history chronologically in depth. Instead of breezing through all of world history in a year and getting only a smattering of information, use these guides and study packages to really learn about the time periods; with special emphasis on people and cultures. The studies are also Biblically-based and use Biblical standards to evaluate historical figures and events.
We have created complete and supplemental packages for each time period in the Greenleaf series. Items in the supplemental packages are specifically recommended in the Greenleaf Guides, so you will need to have the accompanying books to get the most out of each guide. Each study package has enough material to last a school year (or less if used daily. Please note that items are also available separately.