Review of Story of the World vol. 1-4
What is Story of the World?
Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is a chronological history curriculum that can be used with grades 1-8. The first volume in the series stretches from the first nomads through the last Roman Emperor. The second volume in the series covers the Medieval and Early Renaissance time period. The third volume in the series covers Early Modern Times, and the fourth volume covers the modern age up through the end of the USSR. Each of these volumes has accompanying activity guides, test booklets, and audio CD's. All you need to get going is the book and the activity guide. Each volume will run you about $15 for the textbook and $24 for the activity guide.
The textbooks tell the story of history in a fun, informative way. Each chapter explains the history, and has a clip of literature or mythology accompanying the time period. The activity guides feature suggested reading lists, coloring pages, suggested activities (such as board games, building models, recipes for ethnic foods), and mapwork. While testing books are available, they are not necessary. If you follow the suggestions of the activity book - asking students questions and to write summaries, and have students read books suggested, the retention rate is quite high.
But I Heard Story of the World is for Homeschoolers...
Originally, Susan Wise Bauer created Story of the World for homeschooling families to use. However, the activity guides can be adapted for use in a classroom situation. Tutors, those wishing to teach a small world history class to children, and parents that wish for their children to be more knowledgeable about history - even if they attend public or private school - also can use the curriculum.
After reading a chapter section of the book to the student(s), the goal is to ask the student comprehension questions suggested in the activity guide. Once the comprehension questions have been successfully answered, then the student should be able to repeat back the main point of the chapter section in a few sentences. Depending on the grade level of the students, teachers can write the narration on the board and have students copy the summary down into their notebooks, or students can each write their own summary.
Comprehensive reading lists exist in the activity guides. These lists are great resources for further reading. They suggest both history books and literature books surrounding or related to the time period studied. For example, the first volume has a chapter on Greece. Literary reading accompanying this chapter includes a child's version of The Odyssey.
Students can complete coloring pages along with their narration summaries in order to help history become more alive and personal. Once the coloring page is completed, a map page can be completed. The activity guide contains directions on how each Blackline map can be used to enhance students' knowledge of history and geography and the interrelationship between the two disciplines.
Finally, the books all include activity suggestions. Some activities include building a model pyramid, cooking a Mediterranian feast, making a model Nile River, board games, puppet shows and more.
In all, Story of the World is a great curriculum choice for world history.