Year in Review – Ancient History 

 After a year of studying ancient history with my girls, I have to admit I feel deficient in my own education.  What a joy, what a thrill it has been to get acquainted with the heroes, the villains, the great thinkers and leaders, to learn these stories from the past.  Perhaps that’s the key word – STORIES!  They are, afterall, what captures our attention and engages our imagination.  I don’t ever remember history being this interesting!  And I don’t think it’s my age.  Yes, I am older than I was in my junior high world history class and definitely have a greater appreciation for the past than my teenage self had, but even my nine year old daughter keeps commenting on how much she LOVES history!  So, I think we chose wisely last summer when I downloaded Volume 1 of The Story of the World!

While wanting to follow many of the suggestions at Ambleside Online (which covers a different historical time period for each grade level), I was also trying to combine as many subjects for my girls as possible (to make my job easier).   So, I decided to go with The Story of the World and study history together with my first and third graders.  Next year we plan to do Volume 2 which covers the Middle Ages.  The following year will be Volume 3 (Early Modern Times) and then Volume 4 (The Modern Age).  At some point I would like to either do a full year dedicated to Canadian history or incorporate books on that subject that coincide to the time period we are studying as we go.  We did read a few native myths this year from the beginning of a book called The Spirit of Canada: Canada’s Story in Legends, Fiction, Poems, and Songs edited by Barbara Hehner.  Later chapters cover the discovery of the new world, early settlement, and Confederation and might be something we will read when we come to that time period.

Here is what we did on a weekly basis for ancient history this year in our homeschool:

Our local library happened to have the audio CDs for Volume 1 of The Story of the World, read by Jim Weiss, so we would listen and follow along in our e-book on the iPad.  The girls loved reading the chapters this way.  Mamma loved it too since it gave me a break from reading aloud!  Many of the chapters are broken down into a few smaller sections so we would usually stop after each section and the girls would take turns orally narrating.

Then we would unfold our humongo timeline that I made out of bristol board and glue on any timeline figures that coincided to that chapter.  Here is where I got those awesome timeline figures!

Then we would move on to the map work for that week.  This is something I am really glad I incorporated.  My kids know their geography around the Mediterranean like nobody’s business after this year!

 The maps are found in the Activity Book for Volume 1 which can also conveniently be purchased as a pdf download.  As its name suggests, the Activity Book is full of great suggestions for hands on activities!  Many of you are probably way more into projects than I am and I still found the book invaluable for the maps, the lists of suggested books to accompany each chapter, and the coinciding pages for various history encyclopedias.  (We used the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia for reference).  I’m not a real “project-y” kind of person, but we did aim for about one history project per term.  Behold our model of the fertile Nile Delta:


And while learning about calligraphy and book printing in ancient China, we tried our hand at writing a few Chinese characters: 

As for the books listed to go along with each chapter, I would do an online search of our local library, working a few weeks ahead, and reserve any of the books that showed up.  We didn’t always sit down and read these supplemental books together, but it was nice to have them in our Library Basket.  The girls often take books to bed with them in the evenings, and many of these were enjoyed by them on their own time.  The ones we did intentionally read together were (some from the library, some from our personal collection):

  • Archaeologists Dig for Clues by Kate Duke
  • The Great Wall of China by Leonard Everett Fisher
  • Usborne Greek Myths by Heather Amery
  • Fire into Ice – Adventures in Glass Making by James Houston
  • Atlantis – The Legend of a Lost City by Christina Balit
  • Esther’s Story by Diane Wolkstein
  • The Trojan Horse by Warwick Hutton
  • The Great Alexander the Great by Joe Lasker
  • Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne (6 audio book set from library)
  • The Monkey and the Crocodile by Paul Galdone
  • The Parables of Jesus by Tomie dePaola
  • Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda

That wraps up how we used The Story of the World this year.  We didn’t abandon the Ambleside Online suggestions completely, but I will save those books for another post!

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