I have spent more time researching history curricula than anything in the world. The problem is there are so many fantastic options and my perfectionist nature fears missing anything! But that is another story for another post! Before we began homeschooling, I had already been researching curricula for years. Before E started kindergarten I read The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, and so much of it resonated with me. The problems of traditional education and the benefits of classical education. I am not a true classical educator in the truest sense of the word, but I do have strong classical leanings. :) For one, studying history chronologically makes sense to me. After a geography/missionary study in K, we ventured into the Ancients using Story of the World and the Activity Guide for first grade.
It didn't take me very long to realize that SOTW alone was not going to do it for us. While studying a major time of Biblical history, the few Biblical references in SOTW were thrown in and honestly some were not very true to Biblical history at all. I think it is a wonderful text and serves its purpose. However, I knew I wanted more for our study of the ancients. I ordered the Veritas Press curriculum for Old Testament Ancient Egypt and New Testament Greece and Rome. I certainly would not have used it as is with a first grader, but the VP history cards and song certainly brought the Biblical history in. I really liked the VP cards/song aspect, but honestly it fell by the wayside and we rarely got to it.
Looking back, history was my biggest regret of the year. We have a large 3 ring binder full of notebooking pages, coloring pages, maps, projects, and a ginormous reading log, but honestly, I don't think E could tell you much of anything we studied. I do recognize that the grammar stage history cycle is for exposure, but to spend an entire year studying something with little to no retention is enough for me to switch gears. E was not a fan of SOTW and neither was I. For first grade I felt it was too rushed, too many chapters to cover, too much information. In retrospect, I would have used the VP cards as my spine, memorized the timeline song, read great literature to go along with the cards and used SOTW if and when we didn't have extra books on hand for that particular card. The projects we did were a hit, and the SOTW activity guide was a great resource!
I spent a lot of time picking books to go along with our history study and that was the highlight of our year! E and C love read alouds and we read some great books! I love that we read about Alexander the Great, the Gilgamesh Trilogy, and the Trojan War. We studied mummies, made Starburst pyramids, had an archeological dig, carved cuneiform tablets, painted African cave paintings, painted papyrus and more! There were definitely some great moments in our history studies this year!
I am learning so much about how I like to teach, how E learns, what works, and what doesn't. For second grade, we are switching gears and using Sonlight Core C (with a Well Trained Mind flavor). :) I am hoping this will help with the fact that E says she "hates history." It was a difficult choice for me to "leave" the four year classical cycle to do something else, but my main goal in these early years is to develop a love of learning. I am hoping Sonlight will help us achieve that in history! I know the greatest change will not be the curriculum, but me. Particularly taking time to stop and enjoy what we are studying, and being ok with it if we don't "finish." I want to enjoy rabbit trails and dig deeper into less topics. I am looking forward to next year!