What does the U.S. government have in common with Ancient Rome? Who was Nero? What do heart shaped cookies have to do with St. Valentine? These are just some of the questions answered by the "Mystery of History, Volume II". Bright Ideas Press sent me a copy of this book to review and explore with my kids. (Volume III is pictured below)I was thrilled to get this. I have been searching and trying various programs to try to find a history curriculum to fit. My boys are four years apart, and have very different needs academically. Regardless, in the end, they need to know the same information. There are some classes like language, reading, and math that need to be taught seperately. History, on the other hand, is something that can be shared if it can be made adaptable for each level. "Mystery of History" is exactly the kind of program I've been searching for. The book is designed to be used with students from Kindergarten through 12th grade. There are 28 weeks worth of lessons. Each week contains a pretest, three lessons, review, and excercise or quiz. The lessons all include a short reading and activities. The activities are what make the curriculum customizable. There are some activities recommended for all students, but do include some adaptation for the younger ones. Then each lesson has activities listed that are broken into younger (K-3), middle (4-8), and older (high school) categories. I have been able to do some of the middle activities with my 5th grader, or sometimes I just have them both do the activity for younger students. It is great to have the suggestions and options available. Volume II starts at Pentecost in A.D. 29 and continues to the invention of the printing press in 1456. I love how it integrates Bible and church history in with what was going on in the rest of the world. When I was learning history those were very seperated. We learned about church history at church and world history at school. It is very cool to see them interact with each other, because they are not seperate. For example, Nero was Emporer of Rome during most of Paul's journeys. This curriculum is also not overwhelming. I was able to add books from the library and add some projects to suit our needs. In a book my son was reading he came across a character named Nero who was modeled after the Roman Emporer. I had him write a paragraph to compare and contrast the two "Neros". That is not something he will soon forget.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the timeline. Part of the review activities is to create a timeline to hang on the wall as a visual reminder of what we've studied. Here is a picture of what we've done so far. (Sorry, it's not a very good picture.)
Bright Ideas Press also has tons of other great products for history, geography, and even a bit of science. Mystery of History Volume 2 is available in book form for $49.95. If you prefer, you could get an audio CD for $48.95 and CD-ROM with printables for $19.95. Visit the Bright Ideas website to see all the other products they have available, including Mystery of History Volume 1. I will absolutely be looking at the other volumes when we finish this one. I am also looking forward to going back through it in a few years and doing the projects for older students along with it.