Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Heritage History

I know some homeschool families that study a particular period in history and then plan some sort of grand finale that includes dressing up for a special thematic meal. I rarely plan ahead enough to get something fancy put together. Instead, I'll rejoice when something special just happens to coincide with what we've studied.

Last weekend, one of Addison's friends hosted a Medieval murder mystery party in honor of his birthday. Coincidentally, Addison has been using Heritage History's British Middle Ages materials for the past little while.

According to their website, "The Heritage Classical Curriculum is a study program based on classical children's history books. it was founded on the belief that well-written, age-appropriate history books could be of such natural interest that with sufficient guidance, many students can actually 'teach themselves' history. The real teachers, of course, are the wonderful authors and learned scholars who produced the collection of histories that we drew upon to create the Heritage History libraries."

Addison chose to study British Middle Ages, and we received both the curriculum CD and the printed Study Guide. The CD contains the illustrated text for 55 books and over a hundred pages of study materials.

The most useful part of the Study Guide for us was the part that gives a Historical Framework. This time period is divided into seven divisions. For each historical division, the Study Guide gives a short overview of the history, a timeline of major events, a list of the wars, and a list of major historical characters. Following the basic information, there is a list of the Heritage History books (or chapters of books) that correspond to that period.

The Study Guide does not include daily lesson plans. It is intended to be flexible and to allow the student to freely explore the topic. This approach annoyed Addison. She's used to a prescribed curriculum and floundered a bit when I told her that her assignment was to simply read for about an hour a day. The materials include record keeping pages, and the student is encouraged to create a history notebook containing timelines, maps, reports, illustrations, notes, etc. I think this approach could be a very effective way to study a particular period of history, it's just not one that excited my eighth grader. She said that she kept worrying that she wasn't learning enough or wasn't learning the right things.

Addison did enjoy the ebooks included in the British Middle Ages materials. She remembered once a few years ago when we had listened to the full version of Robinson Crusoe as an audio book in the car, and it had bored her out of her mind. She enjoyed how the abridged version in Heritage History had most of the major events in the book, but did not bore her with every mundane detail about life on a desert island. I was also surprised to hear that she's now a fan of Beowulf.

Heritage History offers five World History curriculums -- Young Readers, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, and British Emprire. The Curriculum CDs cost $24.99 each and include the electronic books, maps, teaching aids, and the study Guide. The printed study guide for each curriculum is available for an additional $24.99. (Note: the printed guide is offered only as a convenience for families that do not wish to print their own study guide using the files on the CD.) The ebooks included in each curriculum are suitable for a wide range of students from elementary to high school.

If you aren't looking to purchase a complete history curriculum like the one I used, you should still bookmark Heritage History. It's a true goldmine of history information and great literature. They have over 400 classical narrative histories that are free to view online and perhaps thousands of study aids. I found more maps, lists of battles, and historical images than I can ever imagine needing.

If you'd like to hear what the other members of the review crew thought about Heritage History, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.

Disclaimer: I received Heritage History materials as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


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