I’d like to introduce you to one of my all-time favorite curriculum choices for homeschool history…The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. As a Charlotte Mason, Classical, and Unit Study-inspired homeschool, The Story of the World has been a wonderful fit for our family.
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The Story of the World History Curriculum
There are four volumes of The Story of the World series which cover ancient through modern world history.
Volume 1: Ancient Times
Volume 2: The Middle Ages
Volume 3: Early Modern Times
Volume 4: The Modern Age
Our family has thoroughly enjoyed each and every one, but to save space – and since all the volumes are similar is style – I will take the time to describe only Volume 1.
History Stories for Children
The Story of the World Volume I: Ancient Times includes 32 chapters of child-friendly stories from many of the most important events in Ancient history – from Nomads to the last Roman Emperor. Reading the stories alone (or listening to the audio versions) can be quite insightful, but using the Activity Guide along with the stories allows for a very thorough learning experience.
History Activities for Children
Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times Activity Guide includes comprehension questions, hands-on activity ideas, map work ideas with reproducible maps, reproducible coloring pages, supplemental reading lists, cross references to other history books, and even review flash cards.
There is more than enough included in the activity guide that you could go through the program twice and not repeat anything if you don’t want to.
- The maps are simple and very easily understood by younger children. Completing the map work also serves as a review of the stories.
- The coloring pages add a nice visual for better understanding and something for little hands to do during reading time.
- The hands-on activities include everything from traditional recipes and games to crafts to writing exercises.
- There are even reproducible board games scattered throughout the Activity Guide.
It’s absolutely chock full of ideas!
(I have used these books with children as old as 7th grade with great success, too! Additionally, I have often stretched the curriculum out to last more than one year (usually about 1 1/2 years) by adding in lots of the additional reading suggestions to dig deeper into learning about specific events or people.)
How We Use The Story of the World
Most chapters of The Story of the World are broken into two reading sections. After reading one of the sections, it’s recommended that your child be asked the comprehension questions, and do the map work that goes with that particular section.
Another day, it is recommended that the second reading, comprehension questions, and map work be completed.
A third day (or more) is recommended to be set aside for additional activities and supplemental reading books. Of course, these are simply recommendations. The program can be used in a variety of ways.
With younger students, I typically follow the method mentioned above. But with older students, we sometimes read both sections in a day. As I read, my children color the provided coloring page. I save the questions and map work for the second day, when I usually read one of the supplemental books, too. On the third day, we do one or more of the hands-on activities. Our favorite activities usually involve recipes, but we complete many of the crafts as well.
The Story of the World with Multiple Ages
We have always been able to use the program as a family without any trouble. Obviously, older children are able to do more or go further some of the time, but younger children aren’t left behind by any means.
In homes where each child learns in different ways, this program can easily meet everyone’s needs and learning styles.
When you keep all of the coloring pages, maps, and other activities organized into a notebook, you will have a wonderful memory book that is also valuable as a review of Ancient history.
The Story of the World in Group Settings
The curriculum was written to easily be used in homeschool or classroom settings. While we have never used it in our homeschool co-op, I think it would be great fun to do with others.
Chronological History Aids Understanding
What a joy it has been to study history chronologically and in such an intriguing and hands-on way. My children have always looked forward to history studies in The Story of the World. I promise you that I never looked forward to history as a student! Did you? To hear my children ask if they get to learn history has been music to my ears.
I suppose I’ll admit that I have actually learned right alongside my children. Learning history chronologically was something I’d never done. I finally have a complete picture in my mind where, once, there were only bits and pieces floating around unconnected.
There are only two things I wish the program included. One is a set of timeline figures to use in solidifying the chronology in our timeline notebooks.
The other is a beginning chapter on Creation. The series jumps right into early nomadic people with no mention at all of the origin of the earth.
Is The Story of the World Right for Your Homeschool?
If you don’t like learning history through literature and would prefer a text-book style with pictures, this curriculum is probably not for you.
If you or your children don’t enjoy hands-on learning, the Activity Guide may not be your style. On the other hand, if you choose to only use the maps and coloring sheets, I still believe it’s well worth the money.
If you don’t like gathering extra books from the library, gathering supplies for projects or even having to make copies, the Activity Guide might not be for you either.
Remember, though, you simply read the stories. For my children, the limited preparation time and “extra activities” beyond the readings have been well worth it.
The Story of the World, Volume I: Ancient Times AND its Activity Guide AND each of the other three volumes and their corresponding activity guides have been a JOY to use in our homeschool!
It’s a thorough program that gives children a good grasp of basic world history. Not to mention, any curriculum for which my children beg, is a keeper in my eyes!
For those who prefer tests to be sure your children are retaining the information, there are test books available, too.
Written by Cindy West, mom of three, from KY, who loves learning alongside her children! You can find her blog and curriculum at Our Journey Westward.