Thursday, June 27, 2013

{Review} The Classical Historian

Have you been struggling to find a great history program for your student?  Is history boring while trying to learn facts about different event?  Do you struggle in teaching and analyzing history?  Do you struggle in teaching how to write and discuss different opinions of history?  Then you need to check out The Classical Historian.

I personally have taught history using another company and their resources which almost always uses living books.  The Classical Historian doesn’t use living books or text books.  This company uses products created by John De Gree and his wife, Zdenka along with a few other resources.  Mr. De Gree realized that there was a need in America to promote independent and critical thinking through analysis and discussion of history.  

Taken from The Classical Historian website:

For young students, The Classical Historian teaches basic facts through history flash cards, and fun and educational games. Children ages 3-11 love to memorize and play games. They also love repetition, and are most comfortable when the educational lessons rely on games with clear rules. Older students, ages 12-18, enjoy to argue, like to analyze, and are eager to express themselves. The Classical Historian uses these natural aspects of the young student to promote the academic study of history. The aim of the study of history is discover not only what happened, but to strive to understand why it happened.

The Classical Historian uses a five step program to teach history.  The first step is the “Grammar of History.”  Steps two through five are the “Dialectic and Rhetoric of History”:  
          1. The Grammar of History 
          2. The Tools of the Historian
          3. Research
          4. The Socratic Discussion
          5. Analytical Essays

You can read more about the De Gree’s mission statement and the research behind the structure of their curriculum here.  

We received Take a Stand! Ancient Civilizations Student's Edition, Ancient Civilizations One Year Guide, and Teaching the Socratic Discussion DVD Curriculum which all work together for students in grades 6-8.  You would still need World History Detective, Ancient and Medieval Civilizations, Book I and Global History and Geography, Readings and Documents to complete a year of study.   The other item we received was the Ancient History Go Fish Game which is not required but makes learning history more fun.  In fact, the card games offered at TheClassical Historian are great for any age pre-k through high school.


Personally, I struggled through the Ancient History curriculum trying to figure out exactly how it all worked together.  The more time I spent (uninterrupted) and was able to read through the guide and follow along with the accompanying books, it made more sense to me.  It goes into great detail on how to write short and longer essays as well as discussing your view points with others.  I love the research that Mr. De Gree has the student do for “homework” as this facilitates a greater understanding for the information needed to write and discuss.  We currently use a curriculum with Legs that is less hands-on for the parent due to time constraints and the fact that we want Legs (14) to learn time management and the need to be self-reliant as she gets older.  The Classical Historian is definitely not hands-off except for the homework assignments but I can definitely see where it could be beneficial in our home for the great writing and discussion lessons.  The parent would need to spend some time before the school year and some each week preparing the lessons.  This is not a open-and-go curriculum.

Our favorite item we received was the Ancient History Go Fish Game.  We have played Go Fish several times and even Chubbles (5) was able to play and win.  She was learning without even knowing it while having fun.  Collect the Cards was a favorite of Dude (10) and Lil Red (8) who are both pretty competitive.  The clues are read straight from the cards and others had to try to guess the location.  This not only reinforced the history events and locations it was also another way for reading skills to be practiced which was a bonus.  The set of playing cards also included instructions for two more games called Continents Game and Chronology Game.  These last two games are a little more difficult and even the adults in the house were stumped during a few rounds.  It looks like we all need to beef up our history memory a little bit.

The Classical Historian company also offers Medieval and American History card games like the set we received and memory card sets as well.  For grades 6-8, The Classical Historian offers curriculum for Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Civilizations and American History.  If you are looking for curriculum for grades 9-12, The Classical Historian offers Modern American History, Modern World History and American Government & Economics.

Pros: The card games are really fun and easy to implement into your schedule already.  I love that all ages in my house can enjoy the games and learn while having fun.  The history curriculum covers writing and discussing fully.  There is no doubt that a student would finish a year of the curriculum with a great background for writing which would prepare them for college.

Cons: The two biggest cons I can find with this program is that this is not a hands-off curriculum for the teacher.  It definitely involves the teacher each day/lesson.  The cost may be another factor for some families but some the books might be able to be found at used book stores or libraries.

This review is a part of Mosaic Reviews: A medley of review perspectives.  To see other perspectives, please visit here after June 28th.

This is my last review with Mosaic Reviews.  If you are interested in being a part of their team, leave me a comment and I will send you the information.  It is a great team to work with and I highly recommend it!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

{Review} How Do We Know God Is Really There?

 This review product was quite a surprise to me.  I was not sure my older three would really get anything out of it and I was certain that the book was too old for you baby.  I was completely wrong!  This book has made us all thing in a way that we most likely would not have in our faith.
Apologia is the publisher of “How Do We Know God Is Really There?” and is written by Melissa Cain Travis and illustrated by Christopher Voss.  It has a great kid-like feel with pictures that look as though a kid colored them.  The story is easy to read to any age also.

I took the time to read the book by myself first and I initially thought that my two middle kiddos would listen but then go on with what they normally do and say.  I was almost certain it would be too much for my youngest to understand and that would not pertain to my oldest.  Boy was I wrong!

Lil Red (8) and Dude (10) really understood what the book was saying and they have since brought it up while we are involved in other activities so I know they are thinking about it.  Chubbles (5) enjoyed the pictures the most and has even asked if we can get out Legs’ telescope to look at the moon and stars.  What surprised me most was what the book has done for Legs’ and her faith.

“How Do We Know God Is Really There?” has helped Legs support her belief in God’s creation and use that to support a rather deep discussion with her pen pal who is admits to being an atheisist.  I have heard most of the information shared and I have to say that their discussion is so much “deeper” than any I have had with any adult about my faith.  I love how Legs’ has such a deep love and understanding of our God and this book was blessing to her.

You can get your own copy of “How Do We Know God is Really There?” from Apologia for $16.00 here.

Pros: This book is an easy read and very colorful.  It is published by Apologia Press, Inc. would publishes great resources for homeschoolers as well as other products like devotions.  This book looks to be best for the elementary age group but as you can see from my experience, it affects younger and older as well as adults.

Cons: It was a little difficult to wrap my mind around the concept of how the author explained the planets and space in relation to God’s existence but that is probably because as adults we most likely already have an opinion and we are not as open-minded as children.

This review is part of Mosaic Reviews: A medley of review perspectives.  To see other perspectives, please visit here after June 21st.

The next review will be The Classic Historian.