History is storytelling and who doesn't love a good story? Explore history with kids and make the past come alive!
Exploring history with children is one of my favorite things. History is storytelling and most children love stories. History shared in the form of interesting stories makes the past come alive. When you give children an activity to bridge the story with an experience, students remember the lesson and can make connections to how the past influences the future.
One curriculum that stands out for incorporating excellent storytelling, engaging activities, and even map work to help place stories on the globe, is The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. This series comes in four volumes. The volumes are set up to cover a year of history each. If you used all four volumes, you would have four years of history curriculum. History, or Social Studies, is a required area of study for South Carolina schoolchildren.
Each volume has a book for students to read or for you to read with your student. A corresponding audiobook and an activity book are available for each volume. The audiobook is perfect for students who struggle with reading or for families who may want to listen together. My family enjoyed listening to the audiobook in the car. We also enjoyed listening while we worked on activities from the activity guide. The activity guide is full of hands-on ideas, paper dolls of historical figures, games from other cultures, coloring pages of architecture from the ancient world, and much, much more. My children made costumes, built with LEGO’s, made a model of the Nile, and had a wonderful time with this curriculum. Even more impressive is that they remembered the lessons long after the school year was over.
Something I really loved about this curriculum is that all four volumes cover history of people all over the world. You study other cultures and countries as well as your own. The four volumes are broken down into historical time periods.
Story of the World Volume One: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor
Story of the World Volume Two: The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance
Story of the World Volume Three: Early Modern Times: From Elizabeth the First to the Forty-Niners
Story of the World Volume Four: From Victoria’s Empire to the End of the USSR
You can start anywhere, but I highly suggest starting with volume one and teaching history in chronological order. This seems to help children understand the progression of the human experience and how civilizations rise and fall. This curriculum is very easy to follow and is extremely flexible. It can be used with students in a small group, large group, or individual setting. The volumes are written with the elementary student in mind, but with all of the reading lists and activities, you could use this text as a spine and create a program for middle school as well. You can check out the books, the activity guides, and the audiobooks for all four volumes in our library collection. If you want an entire set of the student pages, they can be purchased from the publisher as a download that coordinates with the activity guide.
In my experience, this curriculum provided a robust and well-rounded history program for my children. The variety of activities and suggestions make the curriculum adaptable to a wide variety of learning styles and special needs.
As with any curriculum, you can pick and choose your focus and use what works best for your student. It is worth noting that if a particular chapter interests your child, you can stop and camp out there for deeper study.
This curriculum offers a wide range of options as a survey of world history.
I have often found myself thinking that I wish there was a science curriculum that was as simple to use and as cost effective as this one is for social studies. We enjoyed The Story of the World. Check it out and have fun learning about the past.
Books to Read
The titles below will help you and your child explore history together. Want us to pull books for you? Contact us at 803-799-9084 and request to have books sent to your nearest Richland Library location.