The Story of the World series follows the classical education scope and sequence for history, dividing it into four cycles, beginning with ancient history and progressing to modern times. I am reviewing the first volume of The Story of the World: Ancient Times. It begins with an introduction to history and archaeology and the earliest nomads and proceeds chronologically until the fall of the Roman Empire.
It truly does feel like one is reading a story, not a textbook, when reading Story of the World. The narrative style is very appealing, especially for younger students. I also invested in the accompanying audio CDs, which not only make learning portable, but are very well presented. We sometimes even relisten to chapters we’ve already covered simply because we enjoy listening to them. The suggested age for this book is grades 1 through 4, but students as old as middle school would find it appealing and meaningful.
The Activity Book is an absolute gem. I can’t imagine going through this book without it. For each chapter there are review questions, narration exercises, encyclopedia cross-references, literature suggestions, map work pages, coloring pages, and project ideas such as crafts, recipes, models, and games. The recommended literature lists alone make this resource worthwhile for me. I’m always looking for living books to read in tandem with the text. The literature is marked as RA (read aloud) or IR (independent reading), and the IR books often have a grade level suggestion as well. These notations make it very easy for me to narrow down which books I will look for or request at my local library.
Other features of the Activity Book are a pronunciation guide (which I really should refer to more often) and review cards at the back. I only recently discovered the review cards myself, so don’t forget to look for them! These will be great for wrapping up the school year and for when we pick up again in the fall.
In using this curriculum, I have discovered a few drawbacks. Because the book is chronological, it often jumps from continent to continent and then back a few chapters later. For older students I don’t think this would be much of a problem, but for students on the younger end of the spectrum it can be a bit confusing. This can be remedied by going through the book out of order. It takes a bit of planning, but is very doable. My other problem is that this book has 42 chapters, even though the traditional school year has 36 weeks. Each chapter is so full I found that covering more than one in a week proved to be too daunting. I know that many homeschoolers educate year-round, but it would make my own planning so much easier is Story of the World could manage to squeeze all of ancient history into 36 chapters!
When all is said and done however I, who am not much of a history buff, am really enjoying teaching history, and my daughter proclaims that history is her favorite subject. Actually she says Story of the World is her favorite subject. What better endorsement is there than that?
You can get to know Beth by visiting her blog at Apples and Jammies.