Homeschooling History Notes

Homeschooling History Notes

So right now my plan for history is to finish up our reading of Story of the World Volume I. We’re off on an Ancient China rabbit trail right now, reading about the Terra Cotta Warriors and maybe after that the Great Wall. Then we need to finish up reading about the Romans. After that we will start Story of the World Volume II.

I know a lot of people buy the activity books and do maps and worksheets and all that. Last fall knowing I was pregnant and would be dealing with that and having a newborn, I decided to just skip the activity book and read the text, maybe supplement with literature, books from the library and other materials. That seems to have been a good choice. We read a lot of books, watched some videos, went to the MFA. I feel like we did some good digging and exploring. Now I’m wondering if I should skip the activity book again. Will having it make me feel like I need to use it? Or might it have hidden treasures to offer?

I’m considering whether I want to start doing a concurrent study of American history. I know Story of the World adds American history in as one of the threads it considers. But I haven’t looked at the later volumes to see exactly how they do that. I guess I really should get the books and look.

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Meanwhile, here’s a roundup of various resources that have been recommended to me for history. I’m just using this blog post to cache them so I can find them easily in the future and I figured while I was writing them up, I might as well share so that others can use them too.

American History:

bearing has a great book list for American history for elementary school

this is another good list

World History:

Story of the World Netflix Resources, a handy list of various documentaries and films available on Netflix that correlate to The Story of the World.

This would have been very handy to have last fall and winter when I was feeling under the weather. How nice it would have been on cold winter afternoons to plop the kids down to watch a history documentary while I made dinner when it was too dark and cold to play outside. Well, I can definitely use it this winter. If Bella would have liked it then, she’ll still like it now. It’s not like we can only read books and watch things that relate to our current chapters. In fact, we often like to go back and look at resources that cover favorite topics again. When we go to the MFA we always have to go back to the Egyptian galleries. So I can easily see Bella wanting to watch a documentary on Egypt or one on Greece or whatever, even if we’re also moving on to new topics.
Click here to go directly to the database

History of Science:

Suzanne Temple writes about A History based Approach to Scientific Principles with modern application It’s for middle schoolers, so too old for us. But I’m really finding myself drawn to this kind of approach.

Melissa Wiley wrote about The Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim. – See more at: I checked out Story of Science Book I: Aristotle Leads the Way and really liked some things about it but decided it’s one to wait for. We’re not quite ready to tackle it.

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  • A couple of Fr. Roderick’s China podcasts are about the Terra Cotta Warriors. Yall might find them interesting to listen to.

  • I haven’t been at all satisfied with any of the science curriculum I’ve looked at, and I want something that sockets in neatly with a classical curriculum but provides most of what higher education wants from modern (crappy) high school science. So I’m writing my own. I’ll start sending you bits as I finish them, if you’d like.

  • Have either of you seen Natural Science Through the Seasons? It is geared for grades k-8 and I think it’s a really lovely and worthwhile book …

    Amazon link:

    The Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out series of books have been favorites in our family for many years: just about every scince subject you might want is covered, my kids still like them, even though they are “too old” ๐Ÿ™‚

    The John Tiner science books are also **quite** good, and I recommend them — though they are for kids a bit older than yours. Worth looking up anyway, to see if they’d work for you guys in time?

    • Ellie,

      I think I’ve seen it mentioned before, but haven’t seen it.

      We have discovered Let’s Read and Find Out About and have used them quite often. I agree they are spot on.

      I’ll check out the Tiner. Always good to have a list to consult.

  • We have the Story of the World Volumes 1 -3 and their activity books. I do have my limits how many activities I have the time and patience to do. Felicity in particular though LOVES to color, so she especially begs to have as many coloring pages as the book offers. She colors and listens while I read. While she does do the map work on the map for each chapter, once she has done marking it appropriately for what was read, she goes ahead and colors the whole thing. Cecilia is not big into coloring but Felicity loves it. The other advantage to it is that it does provide some extra activity ideas and extra reading suggestions if the girls do take a particular interest in a chapter. So, for example, for chapter 10 on Ancient China, they recommend four books for additional historical reading as well as three literature suggestions (the Story about Ping, The Master Swordsman – The Magic Doorway: Two Legends and Cloud Weavers: Ancient Chinese Legends), instructions for a craft of making your own Ming bowl and the suggestion of making your own pictograms. there is also one coloring page. Obviously only you know how helpful it would be to you and if it would be worth the purchase, but I do have the first 3 if I can help answer any questions at all.

    • Thanks, Katherine. I’ve been supplementing with whatever I can find at the library, but the reading list suggestions might help me target interlibrary loan more effectively. And the maps and coloring pages might be nice. I suppose if I use them for five kids the activity books will probably be worth it. They’re just so much more than the actual book . Several times I have put them in my cart and then deleted them.