Every now and then, I just feel the need to share a great curriculum find!
For our first year of homeschooling, we didn’t use a history program. We picked historical subjects of interest and read library books to correspond. Add in a field trip or two and a blog entry and that was history class. We had fun but we both wanted a little more structure for 7th grade.
For the latter part of last year, we added in Draw and Write through History which was a great book but I felt that I really needed to supplement that as well.
By chance, I stumbled upon Susan Wise Bauer’s, The Story of the World, Volume #2: The Middle Ages. I went all out and purchased the activity guide and test book too.
This has been the most exciting history program that we both look forward to each school day. (our homeschool schedule is three days a week, the other two are co-op/field trip days) You could easily do this program in two days to breeze right through it or take all week to thoroughly immerse yourself into each chapter.
We read a chapter per week and I read this book aloud and allow comments and interjections to be added by my son. I also try to change voices as needed to make the story come alive. It is written like a novel and not like other history books that are very “textbook” facts and important dates to memorize.
I then have him complete the map activity and coloring page (I add these right into his history binder/portfolio) that are located in the activity book. Then, depending on the time allowed, we try to complete at least one of the fun activities. So far, we have made a Celt pin out of clay, had a traditional monk’s feast, made a mosaic tile coaster, learned to paint a fresco into wet plaster, and yesterday we created beautiful jade necklaces. I have changed some of the materials in the activities to what I have around the house or have bought items to make the activity completed efficiently.
For our second day I have him look up all the suggested reading in the Kingfisher and Usborne reference books (these books are also a must have book for every homeschool family) and complete any other research online. Most weeks he completes a blog entry on the subject studied. I also go over the review questions orally and he gives me an oral narration of the chapter.
On the last day he finishes up any other activities or writing assignments, and then we have our test. I do the test because I want to see how his retention of the chapter is. This of course is optional, my son loves tests so we do them.
My favorite part of the program is the diversity. We have learned about how Christianity came to Europe, the journey Muhammad made from Mecca to Medina, and how the Grand Canal in China was built – and all in chronological order. This has been a great addition to our timeline entries.
The bottom line is, this book is fun, exciting, and full of excellent high quality activities. I feel that the activity book is a must have item that really complements the book. It has so many great interactive activities that I feel make history come alive and can count as art class too! For extra art credit, we still add in Draw and Write through History which have allowed us to create astounding drawings to add to our history portfolio.