This will be the first in a series of posts on the curricula we’ve discovered that works for us!
We are currently in our second year of using Mystery of History as the spine for our history studies. After spending the fall of Miss M’s Kindergarten year reading a fairly boring early elementary history text, I knew I wanted to look for something different. While I have been intrigued by curricula that put the focus on literature, I really wanted a spine that was interesting enough and informative enough to stand alone if we didn’t get to other readings. I also was looking for something that would allow for a study of ancient, medieval and potentially some of Renaissance world history at a 1st-2nd grade level.
I decided that Mystery of History (MOH) would be a good fit for us, because it fits those criteria, and has the added bonus of coming from a Bible-believing Christian perspective. MOH can give a very good introduction to world history just through reading the text. This curriculum can really hit at any ability level (or time availability level!), with timeline suggestions, quizzes, suggested activities for each lesson for three different age groups, and suggestions of additional reading, videos or websites for nearly every lesson.
Miss M and I studied Volume 1 of MOH last year — Creation to Christ. While we diligently kept up a timeline for most of the year, we gave it up about 3/4 of the way through, when our printer started having trouble with the thick paper I had chosen for the timeline. I still have a bunch of colored in timeline figures floating around in my house somewhere that never got glued on to anything. Lame, I know. We didn’t do very many extra readings or suggested activities, but Miss M seemed to enjoy most of the chapters of the text, often asking me to read “another chapter, please?!?!”. The author, Linda Hobar, does a great job of making history interesting and relating it to a Christian perspective.
Having made a projected history/geography schedule for the upcoming years for our family, I decided I wanted to do American History when Miss M is in 3rd and 4th grade. So, what to do with 2nd grade? I decided we would go through all of MOH volume 2 (Early church through the Middle ages) and part of MOH volume 3 (The Renaissance), aiming to get up to the point in Vol. 3 where most American History curricula would pick up time-wise.
We started MOH 2 last July, reading 4 lessons per week through the 1st quarter of the book, then dropping down to 3 lessons per week to allow for more supplemental reading once we reached the Dark Ages/Middle Ages. Why the different paces? Honestly, because I love the Middle Ages (my favorite time period in history!). I decided not to even try a timeline this year — Miss M doesn’t seem to miss it, and we’ll try a timeline again when we study these time periods when she is older.
We’re on track to finish Volume 2 in mid-February. We’ll read 3 chapters per week of Volume 3 through May, and then most likely take a break from history for the summer. I’m still undecided about what materials we’ll use in our study of American history next fall.
Mystery of History is a great curriculum choice for families looking for world history from a Christian perspective. It can fit with the classical model of a four year history cycle (though the 4th volume is still in development), or it can be used flexibly with longer or shorter history cycles.
If you decide to use Mystery of History for your history studies, here are some resources to check out:
Mystery of History Yahoo Groups for Vol 1, Vol. 2, and Vol 3. (Great discussion and lots of resources in the files to help with timelines and lesson planning)
I made a planning chart for our studies this year, including supplemental readings and listening (we didn’t quite do all of what I planned so far, in case you were wondering). Get the file at Google Docs. I’ll be adding planned readings for Volume 3 sometime in the next couple weeks.
I also made a list at World Cat of some of the supplemental books I planned for this year (again, we did end up skipping a few of these). Again, I haven’t added books corresponding to Volume 3 yet. If you aren’t familiar with WorldCat it is a resource well worth checking out — WorldCat searches for books in libraries around the nation. Set a favorite library, and you will quickly be able see if your local library holds a particular item, or if you will be able to get it from a nearby library using InterLibrary Loan.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this curriculum. I’ve been wondering about it. We went with Story of the World, because I was told that MoH would be too old for my kids, but it sounds like you guys are doing just fine with it. I’m considering making a switch, or using both in the future. I really like the hands on activities that are suggested with SotW (I can count these as art and sometimes science!) Are there good activities with MoH? In the samples I’ve been able to view online it seemed more like research and writing activities. Or is there a separate activity book? We’ve really enjoyed SotW, but it sounds like MoH is even more Christ-centered and I’m super interested in finding out more. Thanks!
I would estimate that at least half and maybe more of the lessons have some kind of a hands on activity suggestion. The activities are divided into sections for younger and older learners, and of course the suggestions for younger learners are more hands-on than those for older kids. We honestly don’t get too into those hands on activities — if we add anything, it’s almost always additional read alouds. Someone I follow on Pinterest has a board with additional activity ideas to go along with volume 1, so I think there are more ideas to be found.
MOH is definitely very Christ centered, and i love how she weaves Biblical history with world history in Vol 1 particularly. If you do start with Vol 1, be sure to get the updated edition, because it has more of those activities for younger learners and more book suggestions than the older edition, or so I am told.