This is our second year of using Story of the World Series: by Susan Wise Bauer, at the beginning of this year for my eight and five year old. Here is our review of this Social Studies Series:
The stories that are in the book are easy to read and are in simple fiction format. Susan takes the time to include important vocabulary, but not at the expense of the understanding of your child. I also like the pictures that are in the textbook. They are kid friendly and point out the important parts of the text.
I love the activity book. Each chapter includes encyclopedia cross references, review questions, narration exercise, additional history reading, corresponding literature, map work, coloring page(s), and project(s). We do the map activity before the beginning of each chapter. This allows my children to understand what region of the world we are learning about. I also use the coloring pages for them to color while I am reading. Sometimes I want to read a little more from the story book and their attention span is just not there yet. They tend to sit a lot longer for me if they are coloring. I love the list of books that correspond with each chapter. We like to go to the library the weekend before a new chapter and get some books that relate to the topic, that we will be reading about in our Story of The World book. Finally, my favorite thing about the activity book is the list of projects. You might be creating a crown when you read about Egypt, a paper coat to resemble Joseph’s colorful coat, or a Mohenjo-Dara dwelling out of clay. My kids love all of the projects that we have made and look forward to them.
I like how the author also talks about creating a time line with your kids. We decided to use all of their coloring pages and maps to create a timeline around our school room. We tape them up along the top of the wall to create a timeline. Some other people use a big cork board and smaller pictures to create their timeline. Whatever method you use, creating a timeline helps your child to visualize what they have learned in Social Studies for the year. I refer to the timeline quite often before we read a new chapter to review what we have learned so far.
I like how the program is created for four years and then you cover the same material, but at a different level. For example, in first grade you start learning about 1,500 B.C. to 400 A.D. Then in second grade you learn about 400 A.D. to 1600 A.D. You continue learning about world history all the way till present day in fourth grade. Then in fifth grade you start to learn about 1,500 B.C. to 400 A.D. but at a higher level. Then in ninth grade, they learn about the same time period but at a much higher level. So by the time that they are in ninth grade, they will have learned about the same time period twice before and will be able to discuss, defend and apply their knowledge in a whole new way.
The only complaint that I have against this social studies curriculum is that there is a lot of material to cover in one year.
I highly recommend the Story of The World curriculum for your 1-8 grader. This series is meant to be used with 1-4 graders but, can be used with older kids depending on their level of understanding of ancient history.