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Last fall, our second year of homeschool, we finally started studying History in earnest. As I wrote about earlier, choosing a history curriculum was a struggle for us. I finally decided on Story of the World, and am really happy with that choice.
I love how the book is written, interweaving traditional stories and moving from one place to another (Egypt, Mesopotamia, Lower Africa, India, China and back to Egypt), showing the relationships and interactions between different civilizations. And I also love how the writing style draws my son in.
There are question built into many of the passages, and when I'm reading the text these are great for engaging my son as we read (giving us pause places to stop and discuss things we're learning about). Some of these questions are "Do you remember..." questions referring to previous chapters, which helps us review.
But while overall I love this curriculum, there are a few things that could be better. When we first began the passages were rather long for my son. I had to break up the sections into smaller bits, since he has a short attention span for listening to long texts without many pictures. Oh, yes, the lack of pictures was a problem for us...but one which we have been able to remedy with illustrations from library books or pictures found online.
And, unfortunately I learned after we started that the book had a few historical errors. Most of them are small things, simplifications which are understandable in a Children's history text, or matters of interpretation which aren't really errors, just choices some disagree with...but there's some which I felt the need to "edit" in our lessons (that's harder to do if you're listening to the CDS, not reading to your child out of the book like I was). Still, in spite of these problems I'm happy with our choice. My son has enjoyed these lessons and it's made a great spine for teaching history.
I will be posting about our Story of the World lessons soon, and will link those on my other Story of the World post here to make them easy to find. We only got through the first six chapters last years (for various reasons...a late start, intentionally slow progress, illness, etc.). But this year our local Co-op is covering this same volume of Story of the World, and we are excited to be doing this with a group, so I will be sharing what we do there as well. In co-op we will be doing two chapters a week...a very different pace than I originally took with my son! But his attention span has grown a lot this year so I think he'll do ok with it. I look forward to sharing our journey with you all!
Where to Find It/What You Need
The Story of the World textbook can be used alone, but I find that the activities, comprehension questions, consumables, and resource suggestions in the activity book are worthwhile. There is an audio version of the text which I've heard good things about, but don't use personally, and also a test booklet available which some may find helpful. I've seen the best prices for these new at ChristianBook.com and Amazon, unless you want to buy it in digital form (go to Well Trained Mind for that). But, because Story of the World has been around for a while its easy to find used materials for even less on homeschool forums or places like Half.com and Ebay.
Old vs Revised Addition
If you go with used materials, you should note that there is an older and a newer revised version of the materials. The changes to the textbook in the newer version are mostly minor spelling and formatting changes, though there are a few substantive changes (additional paragraphs added, changes to reflect new information gleaned from archeology, etc....though sadly there were not corrections on some of the historical errors I mentioned earlier). There is also improved pictures, an improved index, and the addition of a very helpful "Chronology of Ancient Times" in the apendix . In the Activity Book the consumables in the revised version are much, much better. If you pick up an older activity book used I suggest also buying the pdf of the newer consumables for $7.95 at Well Trained Mind.