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The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition Paperback – April 17, 2006
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“This may well be the best multi-age read aloud narrative of world history yet to have been written.”
- Homeschooling in Japan
About the Author
Susan Wise Bauer is a writer, teacher, and historian. Her books include The Story of Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, the History of the World series (W. W. Norton) and the Story of the World series (Well-Trained Mind Press). She has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William & Mary in Virginia, as well as an M.A. in seventeenth-century literature and a Master of Divinity in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature. For fifteen years, she taught literature and composition at the College of William and Mary. She lives in Virginia.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is our first year homeschooling our 4th grade daughter and we met and grilled many of the homeschool mothers in our area on their system of teaching. One of them recommended the Wise/Bauer book "The Well-Trained Mind" which seemed to be a very good fit for both my teaching style and our daughter's learning style. "The Well-Trained Mind" recommends, of course, this series of books for teaching history. But what a lot of people are missing, I think, is that Volume 1 is meant for 1st grade, Volume 2 for 2nd grade, etc. These 4 volumes are also meant to be the first of 3 levels of teaching history as the child goes through his/her 12 years of education. In other words, these four volumes are laying the groundwork for what's to come. It's not a be-all end-all history course.
The reason my approach is different is because I'm using this series of books to catch my daughter up to where a well-educated child should be by the 4th grade. Up through to the end of 3rd grade in the public school system, the only exposure she'd had to history is to the timespan just before and just after the American revolutionary war. So we had a lot of ground to cover. But I didn't want it to turn into a grind for her, so I took the authors' intentions to heart and I'm using this series to form a groundwork for a basic understanding of history.
So what I'm doing is covering all four volumes in 1 year. That works out to a little over 2 months per volume or 4 chapters (for Volume 1) per week. I skipped the activity book but did buy the workbook with the quizzes. We've read to our daughter since she was a baby and she still loves to be read to, so for the 1-hour class (which I hold twice a week) I read 2 chapters to her, discussing what we're reading as I go along. She loves it and the book is easy to read from. Before class starts, I give her 2 quizzes from the 2 chapters read in the previous class. She gets about as many questions right as I would and it's just to help reinforce what I've read to her.
So all the complaints about inaccuracies in the book and the author's religious slant (which I didn't find and I was looking for), they don't matter. What really matters is that my daughter enjoys learning about history (it's her favorite class) and she's building a foundation that can be built on in later years.
In addition to this series and its workbooks, I also picked up "The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia." Once a week I give her homework to read assigned pages from this book to reinforce or, perhaps, to give a different point of view on what she's just learned.
All history books will turn up people who will disagree with the content, will find inaccuracies in the material, or won't agree with the author's point of view. But, guess what? It doesn't matter. Your child is still young and you are filling in a background in history that his/her public school peers will never have.
Susan Wise Bauer uses an easier to read writing style with Vol. 1, but by Vol. 4 the reader is exposed to more information and more intense themes. For this reason, I believe a 1st or 2nd grader would enjoy Vol. #1 but an older child may find it a bit childish. Respectively, 4th graders would enjoy the 4th volume as it is written at a higher grade level and provides a greater amount of information.
I highly recommend purchasing the activity books as well. They are a must as they not only provide questions and answers for each chapter, corresponding pages in Kingfisher and Usborne Encyclopedias (I believe he newer publications no longer use the Kingfisher as it is no longer published), and a list of books for further reading; but maps and other hands on activities are included as well. There are numerous activities to pick and a parent can find those to fit the personality and learning style of the student. The activity books for the first Volumes are geared toward younger students (coloring pages, etc.) but the 4th Volume has the student learning how to outline, completing a timeline and doing more map work (2 maps per chapter instead of the one).
The test books are not necessary, but provide the parent with a way to verify the student's retention. Tests for the early volumes consist of multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank and 1 essay. By the 4th volume the tests are more intense: gone are the multiple choice and true/false questions and instead the tests are almost solely essay, a few fill-in-the-blank and placing events in chronological order. One problem I did notice with the test books is they do not always correlate with the questions and answers in the activity books. Many times the questions in the activity books would focus on a certain topic, but the student would be tested on something else. (To be fair the information is covered in the text book.)
Bauer has attempted to provide ancient through modern history in 4 volumes written at the elementary grade levels. Therefore, some events in history are skipped entirely and other events are covered briefly; but all together the amount of information presented is quite impressive.
Consequently, this is a good beginning history curriculum for grades 1-4 which children will enjoy and, more importantly, retain.
In conclusion, for those who want an all encompassing curriculum, that takes little prep time on the parents part; or those that want to follow the Trivium, this series may be for you.