Story of the World for a solid start in history

by Jennifer
(New York)

Product:Story of the World Volumes 1-4
Levels Used:Volumes 1-4
Dates Used: 2003-2008

Likes: Susan Wise Bauer has written a chronological history program that is intended for children in grades 1-4 ( or 5). I began using this program when my oldest was in 4th grade and continued on until he finished 8th grade. It was definitely usable by all my children through the last 5 years.

For us, it is important that our history curriculum have a spine or central book. Ms. Bauer has done that in each volume. The reading section for each day was short enough that even my twins could sit and listen when they were still young. I also purchased the spiral bound books which helped me lay open the pages when we were doing map work. My children still pick up these books and read them on their own even though we have finished them.

I also really have liked the activity books that go with each volume. I didn't use all the activities. I probably didn't even use most of the activities, but I really appreciated having a list of additional books that I could pick up at the library to enhance our study.

We made use of the coloring pages and maps each week. By the time my oldest was in 7th-8th grade he started to dislike doing the coloring pages. I felt that the coloring pages helped the children to remember what they were learning about. The younger children enjoyed the coloring pages.

During our time with this curriculum my children learned a true world scope to history instead of a heavy western bent. It probably was not deep enough on American history, but that could be added or enhanced as you work through the curriculum.

Dislikes: At first I disliked that the activity book was in a bound volume. I now know that I can take the book to the local copy store to have them cut the binding and hole punch the pages for a minimal cost. When I purchased Volumes 2-4 I bought the books that were intended for 3-ring binders.

If you are a purist about chronological history you will find that Ms. Bauer takes liberties with this. She does jump around in places, but it helps with the flow of the content as she has written it. I also found some minor errors in her facts, but that was easily remedied by reading some additional books from the library. When we read through the precious few sections that dealt with biblical history we used the Bible to get an accurate account.

I found that I liked volume 4 the least. I did not care for the outlining, and therefore we did not do it. My older children could have done it with no problem, but my younger ones would have had difficulty. Since we did history together this was a bit of an issue. Also the maps did not have as much coloring as the maps in previous volumes, but I amended that by having them color oceans, etc. The children were required to write the names of the countries, oceans, etc. on these maps where in the past they were already written in. This was a bit of an adjustment at first for the younger ones who are still gaining spelling skills. My younger children also missed the coloring pages which are not present in volume 4.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with this history curriculum. It gave my children a solid foundation in history and they enjoyed it. Throughout the use of this program they consistently said that history was one of their favorite school subjects.

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