A Few of My Favorite Things: History

Merry Christmas and welcome to the final edition of "A Few of My Favorite Things" for homeschooling. In this edition I will be covering another favorite subject: history. I will include some of my very favorite history materials. These products have worked very well for my family, and I hope you will find some useful for yours as well.

Last year we used a self-paced online history program from Veritas Press. My daughter was in the second level of American History, 1815 to Present. She loved this program, and I loved that there was minimal teacher input. I actually love teaching history, but sometimes it is helpful and even necessary to have a subject that you don't have to teach. Veritas Press did a fantastic job putting these classes together. I'll list the pros and cons for us:


  • The program did an excellent job of review, and I was greatly impressed with my daughter's retention level. There are many games worked into the program for this purpose as well as the popular memory song and cards.
  • My daughter was always engaged in the lessons. While I sometimes found the "helpers" who were teaching the lessons to be corny or annoying, she was entertained and listening. 
  • This is a very thorough program. Not only does it do a great job of covering the important topics of the time period, it also provides glimpses into every day life.
  • The program has weekly tests and stores the grades so you can monitor your child's understanding and comprehension of lessons covered.
  • I love that more companies are providing self-paced online options. These programs are much more affordable than regular online classes while still providing many of the same benefits. Also, you are able to schedule it yourself instead of having to be on someone else's schedule.
  • Although the games provided excellent review, occasionally they added too much time to the lesson.
  • At times, though not often, games would have glitches that made it difficult to move from that section of the lesson to the next. The program requires completion of each section before moving forward. Veritas Press has wonderful customer service, though, and any issue was quickly resolved.
  • These classes are still expensive even though they are less than regular online options. If you are interested, sign up for the Veritas Press newsletter as they offer significant discounts (generally if you join together with a group) throughout the year. 

This year we are using Sonlight's One Year World History (Core W) to provide an overview of World History before beginning again in Ancient History next year. I have always used Sonlight as a source for books for our library. However, this is the first year we have followed their history program as outlined in their instructor guide. I have to say this style is a perfect fit for my daughter's learning styles. She adores being read to, and Sonlight combines independent readings and read alouds. We have had such a wonderful time with this program, and my only regret is that I didn't try this sooner.

  • As I said, this has been a perfect complement to her learning style and personal preferences. She loves to read and absorbs what is read to her. Consequently, this is one of her favorite parts of the day.
  • I love how Sonlight has lined up sources and books to cover the same topic from different angles. It is so fun to see the light go on for her when she makes these connections.
  • Cuddling up on the couch to read has become one of my favorite parts of the day as well.
  • We have greatly enjoyed almost all of the books selected. It is so nice to have a student who doesn't want to stop reading for the day because she is enjoying the book so much.
  • The instructor guide is very simply laid out and easy to follow.
  • I am not a big fan of reading aloud past the picture book stage. I understand the importance of continuing to read to them after they are reading themselves, and we include this in our day because it is so important. However, if the book is slow and dry I have a very hard time pushing through. Thankfully, we've only had to skip one book. I'm sure it was a fantastic book...but I.could.not.do.it.
  • There is so much reading that it is easy to get overwhelmed if you fall behind...which is sure to happen on occasion. It is important in these times to remember that you are the boss and in control of the schedule instead of it being in control of you.

Lastly, I want to recommend Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World series. We use these in a supplemental way, though many use them as a full history program during the grammar years. I've mentioned before how much we adore Jim Weiss. He narrates the audiobooks for this collection. We listen to them as a family while we are in the car because we enjoy them so much. My husband loves the way she weaves history together using the whole world instead of focusing on one geographic section. It is very interesting to be able to see what was going on in multiple areas during a time period to get a better grasp of why things happened as they did. I try to correlate this program with whatever program we are studying so we can continue to expand what we are already learning. Listening to these cds together has definitely become one of our favorite things.

Thank you so much for joining in for this series. I've enjoyed sharing some of my favorite homeschool materials, and I hope you have found some things to help you in your journey. May your Christmas be a blessed one and your 2014 full of joy and grace.


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