Homeschool Curriculum Review - The Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages
We have really been enjoying our history curriculum the past few years. We have been learning all about history, going in order from the very beginning. This is a different approach than most schools take and it really works great for us. I feel like the kids are learning so much. That could be the awesome curriculum we are using though. We are working our way through The Story of the World series. There are four volumes written by Susan Wise Bauer and she starts in ancient times with the nomads and works her way through the mid 20th century. This hub is about Volume 2: The Middle Ages and covers "From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance."
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. 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. This provides the children with a complete view of the world during each time period, not an isolated view.
There are three parts of each Story of the World volume with each being 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.
The activity book is loaded with information and ideas for each chapter and makes finding books to read and things to do easy for the parent. Here is an example of the activities available in chapter 30 India Under the Moghuls. There is a cooking project called Indian Dal (lentils), a game called Elephants and Horses, a craft project (Make Barbur's Garden of Scattered Flowers), and an activity (Gulshan for a Day). You can pick and choose which things you want to do, but remember that many children learn better with hands on things, and this activity book really lends itself to that.
The Story of the World curriculum not only offers lots of hands on learning opportunities, but it also provides you with lists of great books to go along with each chapter. Reading great books is so essential to learning and having a list provided in each chapter (appropriate age ranges are listed) makes finding topic specific, age appropriate and good material very easy for parents. I was able to find books for each chapter through our library.
There are a few books that you will want to own though. The Story of the World uses four large history books to go along with the story book. I don't think you need to purchase all four, as having just three of these extra books has been sufficient for us for years now. Each chapter references pages in these books and if you are looking for a complete curriculum you will want them. There is a test book that goes along with each volume. This is a good way to see how well your children are learning the information at the end of each chapter. My kids enjoy taking the tests and they are short and sweet offering a variety of styles of questions, not just strictly multiple choice.
All in all, I have really liked teaching my kids with The Story of the World history curriculum and have learned a lot myself. My kids have really loved it too. If you are looking for a complete history curriculum or looking to supplement something you are already using, I think this series is a very good choice. Please click these links for reviews of Volume 1, Volume 3 and Volume 4.