"These are super, Christian homeschooling resources." -- The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
The Mystery of History - Volume One: Creation to the Resurrection
By Linda Lacour Hobar
If you are a family that is interested in studying history in an in-depth, Bible-centered, chronological fashion, let me recommend to you The Mystery of History, published by Bright Ideas Press. This 472-page volume is packed with information, projects, and suggestions to make history a favorite part of your family's school day.
For families that have several different ages all studying history together, this is a great book. Each lesson includes recommendations for younger, middle, and older grade students. Mrs. Hobar has a good balance between accommodating the developmental needs of each stage while still challenging each child to do all he or she can.
This is a text designed with a 36-week school year in mind. Each week includes a pre-test, three lessons, a review, and an exercise or quiz. Topics start with Creation and include the Sumerians, the Israelites in slavery, King Tut, Homer, Ancient Native Americans, Buddha, the Peloponnesian War, the Han Dynasty, and Jesus' death and resurrection.
Take, for example, week 21. The three lessons are Ezekiel; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; and Buddha. I was particularly interested in how Buddha would be taught since the book is written from a Christian worldview. I was very impressed. Rather than talking down about the false beliefs in this religion, there is a brief and compassionate description of the life of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) and why he came to the conclusions he did. As Mrs. Hobar says, "The study of other religions in the world should not make the Christian uncomfortable. It should remind us that people are desperate to find peace in their lives." This is how I want my children learning about people from other cultures and faiths.
Another significant part of this study is the keeping of a timeline. I am often frustrated by timeline instructions because we have next-to-no wall space in our home. How can I make a timeline that will be used, and keep it from getting smashed into the back of the closet? Mrs. Hobar has an excellent solution - using a foldable sewing board. This is not very expensive and creates a portable, collapsible and durable timeline option.
Memory cards are another part of the weekly routine. The front of each card has the title of the lesson as given in the Contents. The back gives details of the volume, important dates, and a very, very brief summary of the lesson. The children can use these in many ways to memorize key names and dates or to see the flow of events in history. They are easily filed in a card box or a small, card-sized binder.
One of the greatest things about The Mystery of History is Mrs. Hobar's writing style. She does not talk down to children and does a great job of communicating confidence in their ability to learn. As mentioned before, she treats other cultures and faiths with respect without compromising her strong Christian faith. Above all, she obviously loves history! Her enthusiasm, and attention to fascinating aspects in history, can easily make a love of history contagious for our children as they work through her book.
To order The Mystery of History, or to see the many other things offered by Bright Ideas Press, see their website at www.BrightIdeasPress.com. Do you have budding historians, or students that are more reluctant? Are you hoping someone will help you with your planning, and that they will understand that you have many ages to teach simultaneously? Mrs. Hobar is the woman you have hoped for, and The Mystery of History is an investment you will not regret!
-- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
The Mystery of History Volume II
By: Linda Lacour Hobar
Bright Ideas Press
PO Box 333
Cheswold, DE 19936
This time, Linda Hobar and Bright Ideas Press had twins! The Mystery of History Volume II is twice the size of the first volume, but every bit as wonderful. In fact, it is even better.
The Mystery of History Volume II has 84 lessons, versus Volume I's 108, but the lessons are longer and written at a slightly higher grade level. Each lesson has vocabulary words in bold letters so you can pick them out easily.
Let me describe the components of The Mystery of History curriculum for those of you not familiar with the series.
Each book is divided into quarters, which start out with a summary to introduce the time period and the lessons to come. Quarters are further divided into weeks with three lessons per week. To whet you and your students' appetites for the upcoming topics, there are pretests to see what you already know.
Every lesson has a list of corresponding activities broken down by age groups. Volume II has more activities to choose from than Volume I.
At the end of a week's study, you take time out to review by making memory cards for the lessons and do timeline and mapping work. The book includes detailed instructions for making a "Wall of Time" to use for your timeline. It is an ingenious idea. In order to complete the SomeWHERE in Time (mapping) activities, you'll need a historical atlas.
On alternating weeks there is either an exercise or a quiz to complete. Because these are cumulative in nature, they help your students retain what they learned earlier in the year.
After you have completed a quarter or a semester, there are quarterly worksheets or semester tests to examine what your students know.
Although The Mystery of History Volume II is all you need to study the early church and the Middle Ages, there is a list in the back of supplemental books to enrich your studies. Also included are maps needed for map work, activity supplements and patterns, and a list of supplies needed for each week's activities.
All in all The Mystery of History Volume II is a thorough Christ-centered history curriculum for grades 4 through 8. It can be adjusted lower for your younger students and adapted for your high schoolers.
--Product Review by: Dawn King, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Student History Notebook
By Maggie Hogan
Bright Ideas Press
The Student History Notebook of America, by Maggie Hogan, is a softbound notebook for documenting any study of America. It is appropriate for children from first grade through twelfth grade. The 100+ pages include lots of writing space, maps and a timeline. The maps are terrific! Sample journal pages are included along with a detailed resource section and a teacher's guide. The cover is very durable and will hold up to daily use by most students.