Homeschool Curriculum Review - The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times
One of the most popular ways to study history in a homeschool setting is to go in order, starting from the beginning. When I decided to take this approach the curriculum that seemed to fit with my children's ages (elementary school) and provide the right amount of information and extra activity ideas was The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. Volume 1: Ancient Times covers the time period "From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor".
If you are looking for a classical approach to homeschooling then The Story of the World curriculum will fit your needs. Susan Wise Bauer is also the author of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home and incorporates those ideas into this history curriculum. One of the reasons I liked The Story of the World is because it covers many countries and cultures of the same time period. Many other history curriculums just pick one area of the world to cover for each time period. I do not think that is a thorough history education and prefer The Story of the World approach that covers many areas during the same time period.
There are three parts of each Story of the World volume, each sold separately. There is the story book, the activity book and the test book. You can use these books on their own, or in combination with each other or other curriculum, or use all three. I found it most effective to use all three books together. Many people, though, use the activity book to supplement other history curriculums. They do this because the activity book is so great.
The activity book is broken into two parts, the parent section and the student section. The parent section is divided by chapter and for each chapter there are review questions for the story book, additional history reading (lists of books you can borrow from your library that go well with each chapter), map work and notebook page instruction, and projects. The student section is where you will find reproducible pages to go along with each chapter - maps, coloring pages, games, or things needed for activities.
I found the activity book to be a wealth of good ideas and information. I will give you an example of the projects and activities that go along with a chapter. I randomly turned to chapter 39 (Rome and the Christians) and the projects that you can pick from are to make Nero's crown, make a salt dough map of Italy, make a secret symbol, make a catacomb, make your own lyre, make Constantine's shield and to make an edible shield cheesecake. So in one chapter you are given ideas for cooking, art, and hands on geography. Other chapters might have games to play, writing ideas, etc. You do not have to do all of the projects, but children do learn better when they can do some hands on stuff.
If you are going to be using just The Story of the World curriculum you will need to purchase some extra books to go along with it. There are four big books that each chapter uses. These books are very good to have, but I don't think you need all four of them. I only have three of the extra books and it has been fine. In the activity book, at the beginning of each chapter it tells you which of these books to read and the pages you need to read from.
Over the past few years I have found The Story of the World curriculum to be very thorough and in depth, but at a level that young children can understand. This year I have added in the test booklet and the kids actually enjoy taking the test at the end of each chapter. I have tried other curriculums and I have this one to be very well done and I would highly recommend it. Please click these links for reviews of Volume 2, Volume 3 and Volume 4.