Homeschool History Curriculum Review: The Story of the World
I have used this elementary homeschool history curriculum for my entire homeschooling journey. (That’s 19 years now).
I found it early on, loved it, and have never left it. It is a fantastic curriculum, full of biographies, activities and just the right mix of all of it. The books are easy to read, yet engaging. All of my children have loved them!
Let’s go through this curriculum, step by step and I’ll try to give a very thorough review for you.
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how this homeschool history curriculum is laid out
There are 4 books in this series that move in chronological order.
For example, in the Ancient Times book, you’ll learn what was going on in China, Africa, Rome and more during that time period. You’ll explore different places, different cultures, and the people that made up those time periods.
It is a fascinating way to read history and makes it come alive! Definitely not your usual homeschool history curriculum!
If you start in 1st or 2nd grade and go through one book every year, you will be in the last book in 5th grade or so.
Each set comes with a chapter book and an activity book. You read a chapter to your children and then do the corresponding activities in the activity book.
The chapter book
The chapter book is the spine, or textbook, to the curriculum, although it’s not a textbook.
It’s an engaging chapter book that spells out historical events in a fun and simple way. The chapters are medium length, but my younger children have never had a problem sitting for them. I give them some Legos or the coloring page from the activity book, and they happily sit and color or play.
They love history and this curriculum is why. It presents the facts in a story form, not worrying about dates and names as much. My kids develop a relationship with the people from history and therefore retain much more.
the activity book
The activity book is laid out in 2 sections: the lesson plans/ activities (in the front) and a student section with coloring pages, maps and templates needed for the activities (in the back of the book).
There are too many activities to do in one week.
Think of it as a buffet and you just pick ones you want to do or that will interest your children. I usually give my kids the corresponding coloring page to color while we read. They almost never finish, but they are engaged. They have a 3 ring binder to keep their coloring in and love to look back through it, like a picture book of history!
Sometimes they will even do their history coloring pages during other read aloud times or for fun if they’re bored.
The activities are simple, easy to follow and use simple materials. You may need to buy supplies, but they are all easy to find.
We’ve done so many fun things with this curriculum!
We’ve made mosaics using plaster of paris, cooked a Moorish meal (that we still use today!), made swords out of paper towel tubes, created gurds (huts), made replicas of the Nile River complete with accurate land elevations, and we’ve mummified a chicken.
All of these are memories of fun and bonding times among our family. My children look back on these days with love and happiness.
And now, I have more than one history buff in the family.
Because of this gentle way of teaching history, they love it and even today are interested in current events and are better citizens because of it.
Some of these activities might seem “old school” or outdated. With the advent of blogs and Pinerest, there is no shortage of history activities, some much more complicated than these.
However, I suggest, if you are considering this curriculum, to think about it differently. How much time can you spend on Pinterest? I know I spend a ton of time!
By using the activity book, you will not get distracted or sucked into the Pinterest wormhole. You can stay focused and be more productive.
Old school activities are still beneficial. Even though our technology has evolved, our brains have not.
Our children will still enjoy the same activities that other children enjoyed 30 years ago. They are still children.
So even if using plaster of paris sounds too old fashioned, give it a try! Your kids may like it more than you think!
One of my children's coloring pages book--3 years in the making
how I plan
Here is a quick run down of how I plan the Story of the World curriculum:
- Go through and pick activities
- Gather supplies
- Find books at library and order them
- Copy coloring pages and templates
I plan out 2-3 weeks of history in advance. The days come so fast, and it’s easier to have it all ready to go, waiting for you, than to be scrambling at the last minute while your kids wait. Or worse, skipping history because you weren’t prepared. (I’ve done it! I know.)
I sit down with the activity book and figure out which activities I want to do. I make a list or mark in the book which ones we’re doing. I consider my children’s interests, what they are good at and what will keep their attention. Once I’ve figured out which activities, I write out a supply list. There is a supply list for each activity, but I like to make a shopping list out of it, so I can easily have it all in one place. Then when I go grocery shopping, I’ll have it. I also “shop” in my house and use what I have first.
Once I have my lists, I’ll gather supplies. First I look in my house and then I’ll go shopping. I can combine this with grocery shopping or other errands. I have a bin in my school room that I keep all of the supplies in and I can just grab it when we do history and everything is right there.
Then I’ll go through the book list and find 3 or 4 books from the library that I want the kids to read. I pick the books and order them all online. My library system will find the books throughout the entire city and bring them to my library of choice and have them ready to go in one bundle. All I have to do is go to the library and check them out! If your library system doesn’t offer this, just pick the books that are the easiest to get at your branch and use those. You can also buy them, if that’s easier, but the library is definitely much cheaper.
I will copy all of the coloring pages and templates I need and put them in my teacher binder. This includes making multiple copies of the same pages if I have more than one child doing history. Then when we sit down, the pages are right there, waiting for me.
Implementing the curriculum
I have done history every day and I’ve done a block scheduling where we do it 2-3 times per week.
It’s up to you.
You will have to find what fits best for your family.
I don’t have a strong opinion either way, we’ve just changed this based on where we are in our family at the time (ie: new baby, just moved, etc).
Usually, this is what we do:
On Monday, I will read the chapter in the book while the kids color. This will take about 15 minutes.
On Tuesday, we do the map work. This takes about 10-15 minutes depending on the ages of the children. We will also review a little bit by talking about what we read yesterday and reading the books I picked up from the library. In total, this takes about 30 min or so.
On Wednesday, we start the activities and take the next 3 days to do them. If we get done early, we are just done with history for the week.
I have also done activities on Fridays only as my kids get older and can accomplish more in less time. Fridays are a good day to these types of fun things.
This homeschool history curriculum is very simple to teach, not intimidating and my kids have loved it.
Drawbacks to this homeschool history curriculum
Like every curricula out there, nothing is perfect. Here are the drawbacks to the Story of the World curriculum.
Not many activities in the last book
The last book, Modern Times, has limited activities. The previous books had several activities per lesson, so it was a challenge for my children to move to a more “grown up” version of this curriculum.
There are activities, but not as many and they aren’t as hands on as in the other books. For the child that likes to write, there will be no problem moving into this activity book.
But if your children are more hands on or are younger, the lack of those types of activities might be a problem.
Many of the books are hard to find at the library. As far as I know, there have not been any updates on this curriculum since I bought it, 15 years ago. This leads to library books being out of print and no longer available.
While this is touted as a classical program, I would disagree with that a bit.
Before I go here, I want to disclose that I am not a classical scholar by any means. I am just a homeschool mom who has done research and has taught with a classical emphasis for several years.
I would say Story Of the World leans more Charlotte Mason than classical. There are narrations in every lesson. The map work definitely has some Charlotte Mason influence as well, especially since it is a more “gentle” approach to geography as Charlotte Mason suggests is best for children.
If this were classical, there would be less narration, more recitation of facts and ideas and more memorization of the map work.
I love Charlotte Mason and use many of her methods in my homeschool (and have for 20 yrs), so I do not see these as flaws in the curriculum by any means. But if you are looking for a strict classical approach to history, this curriculum is not it.
That about wraps up my thoughts on the Story of the World.
Overall, this homeschool history curriculum is fabulous and if you’re on the fence about getting it, I would not hesitate. You won’t regret it.
If you do buy it and it doesn’t fit, it has a high resell rate, meaning it’s in high demand and selling it on Facebook or other such place would not be hard.
Thank you for joining me today!
What’s your favorite history curriculum? Let us know in the comments, or join us in the Facebook group!
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