We have learned about the Forbidden City and the Treaty of Waitangi. We have studied the Fall of Rome and the Rise of Islam. We have met Leif Erikson, Gandhi and Alexander the Great. Cuneiform tablets have been inscribed, and Chinese letters carefully drawn in ink. A Gingerbread Parthenon has been constructed and consumed, as has a medieval castle made of cake. We have started from the earliest times, and in the next few weeks we will study events that have happened during my lifetime. We have visited every area of the world- from Russia to Argentina, from Japan to France.
The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is a narrative history for children written in four volumes- Ancient Times, The Middle Ages, Early Modern Times and The Modern Age. There is an accompanying activity book for each volume, which contains review questions, ideas for activities, extensive reading suggestions and maps to fill in.
One volume can be completed in a year (though we started early so took two years to do Ancient Times). Each volume is progressively harder, so that the later books are aimed at older children. All of them can be adapted for different ages, or used with multiple ages. The last volume has been a stretch for my nearly 8 year old, and could be used by much older children.
In each session, I will read one section aloud. I then work through the review questions in the activity book with them to check that they have been paying attention. After that, each child will sum up in a few sentences the key ideas of the passage. As suggested by Susan Wise Bauer, for young children I write these down for them. For slightly older children, I write out their summary for them to copy out neatly (I still do this for my 7 year old). Older children should be able to summarise the passage on their own.
At the end of each chapter, we complete the map together (these are brilliant), and perhaps do a colouring page or another activity.
The Story of the World has been a fantastic resource. It is thorough, well-written and gives a great sense of the scope of history throughout the world. It is also easy to use (a big plus for me) and can be done with relatively little preparation. The fact that it can be purchased easily in the UK (from Amazon) is also a bonus. In addition, it is also great fun- we have lots of wonderful memories of what we have learned and activities we have done.
So, what will do once we have finished? Start again at the beginning, of course. I will teach all four children together next time- a new challenge. They are already discussing which ancient monuments we should make out of gingerbread.