Curriculum Disclaimer: This is the first of a few curriculum reviews that I thought I’d type up in the hopes of helping my fellow homeschoolers weed through the many resources available to us. I’ll add Amazon affiliate links, but I won’t review anything I haven’t bought and used with at least one child. In general, you won’t see reviews of whatever is new and shiny here- you will see reviews of time-tested materials that work.
The series of four books covers the entire history of the world and is written to the 1st-4th-grade student. I’ve gone both above and below those grades. I think if you add a history encyclopedia you could use it for 5th-8th grades if you wanted to. I wouldn’t read them twice. If you use them all by fourth grade, you’ll have to fill upper elementary with other selections.
In my situation, I have a 5th-grade student who overheard all of them when he was a baby and preschooler. I was a bit burned out on them (after going through them two times), and as he is a different type learner, and so we concentrated on other areas the last few years. He has jumped into SOTW 3, and we’ll also read SOTW 4 after that. When I was using them, I was just a year behind the publish dates, and they were one of the few secular resources available. In fact, I bought the first edition of Volume 1 in 2001 and the revised edition in 2006. Amazon is so helpful in that regard. Altogether I was reading and re-reading those four volumes for close to a decade. I needed a break.
There are mentions of the Christian Bible in both Volumes 1 and 2, and although I’ve read other reviews that do not count these as secular because of that, I do not. It is easy to explain your families view on the Bible stories, and they are a part of history during that time period. It’s not as if they are labeled Christian History and the moral to every story is Jesus has foretold it. 🙂 Anything that isn’t straight history gets an explanation from me: This is a myth.
Do you need the Activity Book?- Yes.
They are worth their weight in gold. For each chapter, you can find the books that you can check out of the library that coincide with that historical event, crafts, and recipes that are actually workable without a million individual trips to the store. The lower levels have coloring pages included, and you can order level four coloring pages directly from the publisher on pdf.
There are tests and written versions of the review questions available on the Well Trained Mind website. I used the tests more as worksheets because as my child’s only teacher I knew what they did and didn’t grasp from the lesson.
Having done it both ways, I recommend using this on the older age of the spectrum. I find younger kids just get confused with the strange names and countries and waiting a bit makes it less tedious and more enjoyable to dig in deeper as we get inspired.