History and Literature for Homeschooling and Afterschooling

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What they say about your passions being infectious seems to be true — at least at our house. History and Literature are some of my favorite subjects. My kids love history and literature as well.

The FishBoys have reenacted some of the most important battles in world history, can recount the adventures of Odysseus, and know who made up the Triple Entente during World War One.

(Yeah, we’re total history geeks around here.)

Walking through Time

In our homeschool we integrate the two disciplines, reading and studying our way through the history of the world. This year marks the end of our second cycle through history from the Ancients to Modern Times.

As I’ve mentioned before The Well Trained Mind has been a great guide for me as I navigate these homeschooling waters. And for the first three years of homeschooling, we used their recommended method of history and literature study, using a base text as a spine and then jumping off into more topic-specific works of history and literature. By and large, we used the Usborne Book of World History and The Story of the World series as our spines.

Then we switched to Tapestry of Grace, an integrated unit study program that also moves through history in four year cycles. We used Tapestry for about 4 years. While it is a curriculum that covers literature, history, world view, writing, and art, over the years I’ve come to use it only for our literature and history reading.

Normally, once you buy the Tapestry curriculum for each year (1-4),  it’s good forever and you have everything you need to teach grades K-12 for those subjects.

It’s also quite expensive. We borrowed from a friend one year and then purchased the other three years’ curriculum. This year when it came time to buy curriculum for that year we had borrowed, I opted not to invest the money on what was basically a reading list for us.

So, I find myself circling back and returning to the old school Well-Trained Mind way. We are using the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and The Story of the World 4 as our spines and drawing from the reading list in my first edition copy of The Well-Trained Mind and in The Story of the World Volume 4 workbook. This method is ideal for afterschoolers as its an easy, inexpensive way to cover world history and culture.

Another switch this year is that I’m approaching history and literature from a more “quality over quantity” viewpoint. Rather than rush through all the readings, I’m taking time to read and discuss the 20th century with my boys. It’s producing great discussions amongst our entire family.

Do you have a history or literature resource that you love?

PS. If you’ve got curriculum to share, pop over to The Great Curriculum Swap over at Heavenly Homemakers today.

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  1. My recommendation would be the “History of the World” and “Christianity and Western Civilization” DVD sets produced by Vision Forum. The biblical worldview and historical insights shared by the speakers have been life changing for our family and not only have given us a better understanding of history, but also encouraged us to realize that we too are history makers!

    1. Is Vision Forum’s The History of Christianity and Western Civilization well organized and well laid out? Or is it overwhelming and hard to use? Are there tests you can give? Thanks!

  2. I will look into the story of the world 4 books as my son is a reluctant reader but is very interested in history so I have been encouraging to explore non fiction books vs the more popular fiction books. I let him browse the leftover book sale tables at the library and lo and behold, he picked up all nonfiction – Dday, titanic, a VERY old “how it works” and an old Guinness Book of World Records book. History is not my cup of tea, but I will look into the books you suggest as a way to supplement his public schooling.

  3. One of our all time favorites is The Magic Tree House Series which were rec. by our oldest child’s preschool teacher. We have a treehouse and our kids often pretend they are Jack and Annie off on a “history adventure.” There are over 40 books in the series, but you don’t have to read in an particular order. Maybe just the first one so you get to know the characters.
    We visited Egypt last year and our kids knew all about the Sphinx, pyramids, etc thanks to Jack and Annie. Next year the kids want to visit the east coast and see the battlefields and the Statue of Liberty.
    I love to see our kids enjoying and experiencing history.

  4. Ah, history and literature… I love both subjects! When I was being homeschooled I really enjoyed finding fiction set in the historical time frame I was currently studying. I would love to work that into my children’s curriculum as well someday. (I only have a 7-month-old currently.)

  5. Cindy:
    “The History of Christianity and Western Civilization course comes in a box with an MP3 of audio lectures, a DVD of field reports and a study guide with questions and additonal resources for continued study. The guide does have questions and a test.

    There are many facets of the “History of the World” series. The DVD set does have a study guide. The rest of the series does not. The strength of both of these series is the biblical worldview that is shared by men who have a real passion for their subject!