My obsession with wanting to teach history creatively stems from a quote I read by H.G. Wells. He said that the narrow history teaching of our school days was mainly an uninspiring and partially forgotten list of national kings or presidents.
Avoiding uninspiring lists and meeting the challenge of dodging inside-the-box history curriculum has not always been easy. So I was tickled to get my hands on: What Every Child Needs to Know About Western Civilization by BrimWood Press.
I will just tell you now that I won’t hide my obvious preference for this curriculum because not only does it fill a much needed niche in the homeschooling community, but it is so much more than a history curriculum. More on that in a minute.
As I glanced through all the fascinating and detailed pictures along with reading how to use the program, I admit to some swooning. The BrimWood press bundle I received included:
- 1 Guide: What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization.
- 1 Calendar Quest which is a historical narrative.
- 1 Color the Western World.
I am especially giddy about this curriculum because it is the first one that I have used that covers history in broad strokes. How broad? Well, in just 14 lessons you cover 5,000 years. I had to read that twice. I might add there are 2 more lessons, but one is an introduction and one is a review. Details can be fascinating, but they can get in the way too. That is one point I liked right away about What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization. Not all details are necessary to understanding and grasping the full picture. Sometimes it just does not matter. I think kids know that too.
Having covered history through unit studies, through a four year cycle and through the eyes of individuals that lived in each time period, I couldn’t wait to get started teaching history through the story of how the calendar came to us which is how What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization teaches. Clever.
As the fictional characters, Lindsie and Evan travel through time in a refrigerator box, Tiny eagerly tuned in as characters that contributed significant events in history were introduced. Strangely enough Father Time always seems to be around to explain about how a seven day week came to us or how the constellations were located in the sky.
It didn’t hurt either that Mr. Awesome joined us for this review and read aloud to us. I highly recommend using your highschooler for a read aloud if you have one.
I am especially glad though that Mr. Awesome did join us for this review because it allowed me to evaluate how extensive it was for a highschooler even though this curriculum is geared toward a 5th – 8th grade level. With the additional activities listed in the manual that include research, questions concerning worldview, introduction to the traits of each civilization and the contributions made by each civilization, I certainly think that a novice or highschooler could use the manual to discover them. Too, if you had a highschooler who is burned out on history, then using the manual can breathe life back into your day because of the wide scope that it covers.
As for the reader or Calendar Quest, it is written to an elementary age child. However, there were some characters along Lindsie and Evan’s trek that Mr. Awesome and I had obscurely heard of. Discovering those vague history characters was an unexpected benefit of Mr. Awesome reading to Tiny. Mr. Awesome claimed the reader was too young for him and it was, but then again, it is right on grade level like the publisher claims for using with a younger child. Tiny enjoyed the humor in the reader and I found a way for my older child to join us.
What I love about What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization.
Like I mentioned before, it is so much more than a history program. Listing both the history features that I loved and the other things, I don’t want to miss giving you any nifty detail.
- I find the lesson plan layout very useful. You know my obsession with expecting a lot from a teacher’s manual and how some manuals are nothing more than an answer sheet. This is an excellent and well organized manual or guide with practical tips. You see exactly how to cover each lesson.
- One more significant point about this manual is that it is BOTH teacher and student guide. It is to be used with ALL of your children. Thank you BrimWood Press for understanding that we are teaching multiple ages of children and that we try to avoid insanity by not using 3 or 4 different teacher’s manuals. Use this one manual for multiple ages of children. By the way when I find a curriculum like this that I can use with multiple ages of children, I try to divide the price by the number of children using it so I can see what I am actually paying for each child per year. Then divide it again into half because it is both teacher manual and student manual to get a true cost. That is how I arrive at the value of a curriculum that I use with multiple children.
- I’m not done yet with the manual because it is so comprehensive and I have to tell you about the layout. The first page of the lesson has a box called Teacher Preview and another one called Objectives. Oh YES – I am in organization bliss! Give me a purpose for the lesson and I have a direction for the day.
- Here is another sweet bite on this program because you know I said it was so much more than a history program. It has geography and a snip of language arts too. This especially feeds my desire to teach out of the box because I can include any subject I want to and apply those subjects when I teach about a topic. It makes it so much more meaningful to include details when they are wanted.
- The next part of the lesson is called History in a Nutshell. It includes information on the significant contributions of that time period along with instructions on coloring the stickers for the younger kids that are included in this curriculum. Information on filling out the 14 Hats of History which are the 14 time periods you are striving to memorize is included in this section. Several lessons include helpful background information of that time period. You do not have to research extra information if you do not want to because it is included. This part appeals to me so that I can determine if those foundational pegs or key events are covered when teaching that time period. This part is the reason I see this manual being practical too for the first time history teacher or student who finds history boring and wants just the general sweeping ideas.
- Between the stickers and Color the Western World coloring book there is plenty to choose from for both your younger and older children.
- Key events that you add on the back of the cards and details that you fill in on the front of each card as you go along helps to solidify the timeline of history. We followed along in each lesson plan as you are encouraged by the curriculum to try to put your hats in chronological order. By using both the front and back of the card, your kids come away with a fresh, unique and overall picture of history. Certainly, a doable goal to memorize all 14 time periods. This is a refreshing change from all the details that you may be teaching when using a four year history cycle curriculum.
I won’t be giving up my copy of What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization any time soon as I plan on using this for years to come. It is a keeper in my home and I plan on going over it again both as a standalone history curriculum and to use as a review tool. My boys still need to see the flow of history and a way to tie it all together. I tend to be organized overboard when it comes to details because we love history, but I restrained myself from delving into them like the curriculum suggested because it defeats the purpose of what I am trying to do. Don’t pitch your slow moving curriculum, just use What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization when you want to take it up a notch.
Thank you BrimWood Press as I confess my absolute love and bias for a one of kind history program.
Where to Buy What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization and Product Facts at a Glance.
Website: BrimWood Press.
Price: By the bundle $65.00 or individually and the prices are as follows: What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization Manual $35.00; Calendar Quest $14.00 and Color the Western World $18.00. There is a small savings on the bundle price.
Ages: 5th – 8th grade, but I see a practical use for highschoolers who struggle with history.
Type of Product: Physical product.
Customer Service: My products came exactly when it was promised and any questions I had were promptly answered.
All prices are correct as of the date of this blog post.
Hugs and love ya,