Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday fodder...

or the things of curriculum that I seek to fill my sons' heads. This post is part of Fiddledeedee's Curriculum Round Up 2010.

Our state curriculum fair happens the first weekend of May. Since we start school in June, we are usually done by March. By May, I am more than ready for fresh material. The boys have been working on most of their new material the last several weeks.

One change that we made this year was with History. I started homeschooling the boys the middle of the oldest two's third grade year. My youngest was in Kindergarten and he basically came along for the ride. It was December. I was in the middle of a Bible study teaching year. And I now had three brains reporting to me for academic filling.

This was no time to reinvent the wheel so I stuck with the Veritas Press Curriculum that their school had used. We completed the series this past year, and had no real complaints with it. Veritas Press does a great job of combining historical fiction and non-fiction literature with their history. Our library is full to bursting as proof of all the great books we now own. Next on the schedule with Veritas Press is Omnibus. A program that I would love to do but did not think it would be possible given this year's time and life commitments.

I had to make the history decision that I had successfully put off for almost 3 years. After some research, we landed with Mystery of History by Linda Hobar. She is a homeschooling mom which usually means she thinks like me versus a curriculum director. Meaning, what will work to keep the interest of this child, will keep me from losing my mind, and will cover the material with accuracy and completion.

We are using MOH Volume III which covers the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Growth of Nations. I had decided to repeat this section of history for the boys because when we went through it with VP, there were so many more things we wanted to explore in the Reformation but ran out of time.

The book is set out into four quarters of seven weeks each. I sat down a couple of weeks ago and using a large index card mapped out the activities, off of the Companion Activities CD-Rom, that we would do with each week's three lessons. I also went ahead and printed off our pretests, exercises, maps and quizzes. My plan is to re-evaluate at the end of our first quarter and see what I need to change, exclude or include.

Things I like about MOH.

1. Hobar covers persons in history that VP did not. For example, the artists of the Renaissance receive a deeper treatment and story. This has allowed us to use some Charlotte Mason styled art study techniques.

2. Most of the supplemental books that she recommends with her lessons I have been able to easily find in our public library through the inter-library loan system. I am supplementing our living history books from my VP lists of books we did not cover the first time around.

3. Hobar includes geography just like I had wanted VP to but it did not. Each lesson has a geography focus of map, outline and labeling exercise so that the boys can see where the events took place. I like this so much that the geography curriculum that I bought to add to this, I am not going to use until middle of the year as review.

4. Hobar's set up allows for easy and frequent review through her memory cards system and exercises.

Things that I am not sure about yet or just not my favorite things:

1. The timeline. I have timeline guilt. I read how great the timelines are. How necessary the timelines are. And so on. But timelines sounds in my head like crafts. And I am skeered of crafts. I haven't ruled this out completely because guilt is powerful, but so far, no timeline is gracing our schoolroom walls.

2. I wish that I had purchased the Companion Activity Guide, book form, as well as the CD-Rom. The CD allows for easy printing, but there is a lot of switchback navigation on it whereas the book would allow me to see more of the whole picture. Maybe this will improve as I become more familiar with the CD.

3. I like that the activities are divided into younger, middle and older children. However, some of the older children activities are requiring adaptation for my boys because they are not things that interest them particularly. This is probably just my boys though and I would still recommend MOH, particularly for the middle school crowd.


  1. Hi Elle!

    I'm going to love bringing real books into our history study this year. The Mystery of History sounds awesome. Our kids have been enjoying Drive Thru History as well. We've been able to TiVo it, and I want to find more episodes on DVD. I'm with you on the timeline thing, girlfriend. At convention a couple of weeks ago, I broke down and bought a small manageable one from Geography Matters. It is one that I have to commit an entire room, or even a whole wall to. :)

    Thanks for joining the Curriculum Round-up!!!!!!

  2. I'm glad to hear that about the CD. I am going to be using vol. 3 this year. You know, I AM crafty, and so is my daughter, but our timeline is NOT how Linda Hobar does it. It made me twitch too much. Mine is in a book. Blogged here:

    That was 3rd grade. This year in 4th she was totally independent with the timeline stuff and we also bought precut gingerbread men. She really likes reviewing with the timeline. I'm not trying to talking you into it or anything. :)