Category Archives: History

Mystery of History

Mystery of History Review

If you’ve been following our adventures lately, you know that we have made the switch to unschool. So you’re probably wondering why an unschooler would be doing a review of a curriculum product.

Well, I will be honest with you – I was offered the opportunity to review Mystery of History before we made the switch, and we did start using it before then. I will also tell you that Mystery of History is the only curriculum that we are still using – even as unschoolers.

The great thing about the textbook is that you really can personalize it to fit your family and your goals.

Each week begins with a Pre-Test designed to give your kids confidence. My kids always enjoy seeing how much they already know. We just do this orally as a group.

What we especially LOVE: Easy one to two page summaries of a time period that usually focuses in on one person {three a week}. If this summary ignites an interest, then I find us a more in-depth biography, historical fiction, or other non-fiction resource. If not, then we appreciate the glimpse into another life, another culture and then move on.

After each summary, there are Exercises offered for further exploration – usually 3 to 4 options – that are divided into appropriate age range suggestions.

There is also a review activity for each week – and every other week, this review is a quiz that reviews ALL of the material from the beginning of the semester.

One of my favorite features of the program is the Memory Cards. Each child makes one card to represent each chapter that are then put into index card binders. In this way, you have a mobile time line that a quick flip through will remind you of the order of events. {And, if your family enjoys more time line work, there are suggestions each week for building onto a more elaborate time line).

I also really appreciate that there are only TWELVE dates that are recommended for memorization. I love that the author shares my belief that it is much more important to enjoy the flow of history rather than learn a lot of dates.

This book could easily be used on its own for a year or longer as your history resource.

If you combine it with Illuminations, you will have an amazing powerhouse that will cover your history, literature, and Bible readings seamlessly (pretty much everything except math). This could easily fit into any Classical, Charlotte Mason, or Unit Studies program.

When I first read the product description of Illuminations, I thought that it was only a schedule and book list. Boy was I wrong! Also included in this superb resource are the Study Guides to go along with all of the literature selections. Wow!

It also includes copywork, a spelling curriculum, AND more graphic organizers than you can imagine. (You will need to purchase other textbooks to be able to use the other parts of the program.) What’s great is that the graphic organizers are used for the literature assignments which makes a great jumping off point to learn how to use them effectively.

If your family is looking for a new history program (or one to get started), then I highly recommend Mystery of History. I am looking forward to enjoying their products for many years to come.

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Mystery of History 1 from Bright Ideas Press to facilitate this review. All opinions are my honest and unbiased review. I also participated in a BETA test of Illuminations for which I did receive a gift for my feedback. The links within the post are affiliate links. If you purchase products through them, I will receive a small commission.

Golden Goblet

Gold Unit Study {also for Tweens and Teens!}

Don’t you just love those happy accidents where several books align and nicely complement each other?

We are currently reading The Golden Goblet as our family read-aloud which has a lot of information about how gold is poured and molded into shapes and used in different ways. Our study guide from Bright Ideas Press has been guiding us through the vocabulary words, so the kids and I have a pretty good grasp on how the gold-working process works.

And, as luck would have it, an audiobook that had been on hold forever finally came into the library. The Ballad of Lucy Whipple is about a family that moves out west to take part in the California Gold Rush – from the viewpoint of a girl, no less! So, as we were enthralled with the story, we were being exposed to another facet of gold.

The Golden Goblet also has a lot of great analogies and word play fun {which the study guide also helps point out along the way}, and the imagery in Lucy Whipple is just beautiful. Karen Cushman really has a way with words, and Christina Moore is a fabulous reader – we always enjoy her books!

To wrap up this accidental unit study, we’ve now got Stampede for Gold: The Story of the Klondike Rush on hold from the library. It is supposed to be full of eyewitness accounts of this lesser known gold rush. Maybe too grim for the younger kids, but I’m sure there are other options out there that are a little softer.

I love that through these historical fiction books, we’ve covered three of the most gold focused time periods in history. {Or at least the three that I think of…} And, both Golden Goblet and Lucy Whipple were exciting enough to captivate my 11 and 13 year olds. For younger children, you should be aware that both of these books deal with tough issues. For specifics, please feel free to contact me {via comment, Gmail, twitter, or Facebook}, and I would be happy to help.

What about you – have you had any “accidental unit studies”? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that should you purchase the product, I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support of our homeschool!

The Day that Changed Everything


by Danny Hahlbohm
available for Sale from Art.com for $7.99 plus shipping.

I’ve been putting off writing this post – I admit it – but not because I didn’t want to write it – but because I want to make sure that I honor those lost on that horrific day.

I heard about the first plane while dropping my daughter off at Pre-k.  By the time I got home, the 2nd plane had hit – and, at that moment I knew that 2 planes was NO accident.  Actually, I take that back – I had an initial thought that something was wrong with the flight electonics – that something was transmitting an incorrect flight path.  It actually wasn’t until the Pentagon that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was planned &something very very bad was happening.

My “baby” was truly a baby then – he was 6 mos old.  I think about that whenever we talk about how long it’s been.  I think about the fact that that day truly changed EVERYTHING.  He would never grow up in the same America that I grew up in.  I knew that instinctively then – all I wanted to do was pick my daughter up from preschool and seclude ourselves at home. But, I didn’t.  I did however watch in horror as the buildings came down – I remember thinking “This can’t be real” – surely, they are just showing us what could happen and doing what news people do.  But, no – this was really happening.

I remember, as stories came out about Flight 93, how amazed I was at the bravery of those on board. The fact that they were willing to sacrifice themselves for others – they did something that was HARD and met the danger head on instead of waiting for the inevitable to happen.

Out of the wreckage, I was encouraged by Americans coming together – even through the shock, fear, and misery – we reached out to our friends and neighbors – and, yes even perfect strangers.  Why? Because we are Americans! Whatever your background, we are united together by a unique history – we are part of a nation that was founded on God – FIRST.  And that, my friends is what makes all the difference.

10 years ago we experienced an event that would change our culture forever – but today I am thinking of those LIVES that were changed forever.  Those who lost a loved one or may have been injured themselves.  They are who I am praying for today and I pray that we all will always remember THEM as well on this day, the day that changed everything.

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History Grand Master Plan

I have been working on my goals for the kids in their history and humanities education. DD is going into 5th grade next year, so it seems that it is time to bring in a more tied together curriculum. Up until now, we have been reading stories and just filling them up with names, places, and events. Plus, it’s time to start over at Genesis again, so what better place to start with a new curriculum. I have no doubt that I could come up with a curriculum if I put my mind to it, but it seems like if there is something out there that is a good fit for us, why not use it….

For the next three years, we have decided to use Diana Waring’s History Revealed. I have listened to her audio What in the World’s Going on Here? and her love for history is truly infectious. Just listen to her introduction, and you’ll see what I mean. I think this is a good next step, because she really tells the story of history in a nice interlinking way with it all coming down to that it is really God’s story about his pursuit for our hearts. This curriculum is really geared for 5th grade and up, but she has a lower elementary activity book that is also available which I will use with DS.

After that, DD will be going into 8th grade, and we will switch to Tapestry of Grace. While you’re there, be sure to check out their Map of the Humanities. I find that I can just sit and look at this amazing map that they have created marveling at how everything intertwines. I feel that this curriculum’s real strength is in the logic and rhetoric stages which is why I have decided to wait to use them. The product looks amazing, but I want to instill a little more love of the subject before we really dig in so deep.

This plan will get us to DD’s Senior year, and at that point she may be ready for some college classes. DS will be going into 10th, and I will probably try to combine the two programs somewhat for his benefit. That way he can be exposed to the Story at an older age, but we’ll also pull some of the Rhetoric assignments from the Tapestry. I am so excited to have an overall game plan so that I am not constantly looking for the next step. I’m coming up with similiar plans for the other subjects as well, and I will post as I get them completed.