Aside from some unit studies we have done over the years, we didn’t really have a history ‘curriculum’ at all. But the kids were expressing an interest in learning more, and frankly, I was interested in teaching more. So, I started to explore some options for history.
I had heard some great things about Story of the World and was *this close* to buying it, but a bunch of feedback on some biblical inaccuracies held me back. After a couple of months of hesitation, I discovered and ultimately chose The Mystery of History. I didn’t personally know anyone who had used either, so I was only going on the basis of what I had read. Perhaps the comments on Story of the World were unfounded, but with a the lack of such comments for The Mystery of History, and my desire to remain as biblically accurate as possible, I knew the choice was clear.
We are taking our sweet time working through this book. We don’t do a lesson every week. At some points we don’t do lessons for a few weeks, and then we do a few all at once. But it fits well with my desire to meander through our studies based on our interests and for that it is perfect!
What I bought:
- One BIG book (detachable, reproducible pages)
- The Audio CDs (basically an audio book of the lessons)
- One CD of printables (maps and such)
Major Highlight: The biggest ‘plus’ with this program that it begins with Creation and goes from there. As a product of the traditional school system and a Christian, I grew up knowing both histories, but like many, compartmentalized them. One history was one I learned at church, from my family and by reading my bible. The other I learned at school. I knew they coexisted in reality, but to see them laid out this way has been a real awakening for me. It’s all interwoven in a way I’ve never seen before. Isn’t Stonehenge way more interesting when you realize it was created about 80 years before Abraham?
Here’s my run-down of positives thus far:
- Right off the bat, I REALLY appreciated being able to print the necessary pages for my kids and put them in binders. That’s a cost saver that I really do appreciate, and it allows the kids the ability to mark up their own versions.
Okay, so speaking of ‘marking up,’ when we first started, this is how Caleb highlighted the important parts. His comment: “They’re ALL important parts!” So, like the good teacher-mama I am, I showed him how to really highlight (hence the blue lines among the green).
- I love the audio CD option. The author reads the text herself and speaks with some slang that seems to allow the kids to better relate to her (but thankfully not too much slang). She has a nice, calm voice and speaks with interest and excitement. The kids read along and highlight as they wish.
- What we have done so far has been riveting. Seriously. We all love it.
- The lessons are long enough to incorporate what needs to be there, but short enough to maintain interest. For the topics that really pique the kids’ curiosities, we take little detours to uncover more of what’s interesting to us. (Example: From Ancient Egypt, we watched a great PBS documentary on Netflix about The Great Sphynx. The kids lit up with excitement about what they knew from their MOH studies, shouting out facts toward the television. Cute.)
- The material is suitable for all student ages. The activities are broken into Younger, Middle School and Older students. Rather than pick the age group, I read all the activities and pick the one that is most relevant the student. Or I may allow them to choose from 2 or 3 of them. My 11-year-old has completed activities of all three levels, for example, based on what I think he’d like. The idea is to maintain their interest while learning, so we go with whatever achieves that goal.
(Gabe and his Ziggurat:)
- There is a great pre-test before every set of 3 lessons. We love the ability to do this as a written exercise or verbally, as it’s simply an idea of gauging how much they already know. It’s very helpful as the teacher to know where to fill in the blanks.
- Similarly, there is a regular “What Did you Learn?” quiz to help us mama-teachers determine what parts were missed and might need a recap. In these cases, it’s nice to develop something fun (tactile) to tie to the item missed. It will help for recall.
- I really appreciate that the author says right from the get-go that there is no need to memorize dates, except for a handful of really key historical markers. This keeps it realistic, and focussed on what’s important, because really, isn’t it more about what happened (and in what context) than the exact year?
- There are additional activities to add to the learning. One is a time line (where we create little figures to stick on a board and track the chronology of things). We have been creating our figures but haven’t put them up anywhere, mostly for lack of wall space. (I’m working on a portable option.) The other is a memory box of cards with a few hints about each lesson. This will be a great tool for review and study of the key important dates and monumental points in history. Although we divide up the timeline characters between the children (so we have one master timeline) the kids each have their own memory box of cards. I expect that as we continue through the future levels of this curriculum, they can still use their box as a valuable reference.
- The maps are great! There’s nothing like building a geography lesson into history.
- Of course, there is flexibility in all the materials. Since I’m a rather eclectic homeschooler, I don’t like to follow too rigid a routine to educate my children. We are going along at approximately one-third the pace of what’s suggested in the book, and I’m more than fine with that. In fact, I prefer it.
A flexible schedule provides the ability to ‘chase rabbits’ and have our learning take us down a path that, although off-schedule, allows us to enrich our learning with discoveries and experiences that will stick out in our minds long after the books are closed and back on the shelf.
It’s been a joy!
Here’s my run-down of negatives thus far:
- …*crickets chirping*…
- Nope, can’t come up with any yet.
Oh, what fun we’ve had with this one! I’m excited to finish up the first quarter (probably in the late June). I told you we were taking our sweet time.
This post has been linked to The Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup. Click on over to read more reviews from more moms on more wonderful curriculum options!