Story of The World, Volume 1, Introduction

Story Sunday is a new series on Homeschool Ways – a series about how we learn from Story of the World, Volume 1 in our homeschool.

I will link up regularly to SOTW Blog Roll 2014, which, by the way, offers a number of inspirational blog posts from many other families using this history curriculum. 

We use mostly library books for the suggested reading titles, but we bought the four recommended history encyclopedias. I have a card in three different libraries within our county. Since I don’t want to spend time pulling books off the shelves in three different locations, I learned how to place reserves online. Then, I had to call them to find out if they call me when the books are ready for me at the Circulation Desk.

Mom and son digging for an archaeology study

We dug a hole for our artifacts.

It’s a good thing I called. It turns out that at least one of the libraries has gotten pretty tired with people placing reserves and never picking up the books. They were even questioning if they should remove that option from their website. I assured them that I would show up. 🙂

It’s details like this one that can make homeschooling smooth or bumpy. I like smooth, don’t you? So I communicate as much as I can with all the parties involved.

For the Introduction, I read the whole chapter to my children in one sitting and we built a timeline of their lives – pictures of themselves at different ages, taped on poster board.

I should have read only one section at a time. The Introduction is pretty theoretical, even though Ms. Bauer uses a story line to explain her points. I lost the kids towards the end, but it’s all good. That’s how I can learn where their limitations are.

My daughter is only four – a PreK student or, if you will, a K4 student. As such, she sits with us through the reading time, but I will not require her to build a history notebook. I do print out the coloring pages and maps for her and she likes coloring them.

Archaeology Booklet

I also plan to involve her in our projects, if she is interested. Today, for instance, she came and helped with cleaning the artifacts, the shovels, and the boots – of her own free will. Then she asked me to sit with her “in school” and tell her how things get covered up. So some things do stay with her and she wants reassurance that I will give her attention when she needs to really grasp a new concept.

I am sharing all these details because I really was not sure whether I should start history with a first grader, let alone a K4 student. And yet, I see that their minds are able to grasp things. Since I don’t require perfection, they don’t get stressed out. This history study is more about having fun doing hands-on projects together, while being exposed to names, concepts, vocabulary and a time frame for the world around us.

We read the suggested literature titles at night, before bedtime, during our regular read-aloud routine. They really got into these, because they are picture books.

Bou hauling tools to a dig site, red wagon hitched to his bike

My son hauling tools to the dig site, red wagon hitched to his bike

Next, we got started on the family tree booklet. My son will interview different family members as we have contact with them in the next few weeks. My family lives overseas and we Skype regularly, but you never know when we catch up with each other.

For the review and narration exercises, I printed out a booklet I found on one of the SOTW blogs I mentioned above. Since my son cannot write comfortably yet, I work with him orally and then I write down what he narrates back to me.

He wasn’t as excited about these pen-and-paper exercises as he was about our archaeological dig. We buried some artifacts in our backyard – things which would tell others about our civilization (a spoon, keys, a cell phone battery, a particle board, a pen, a plastic toy).

My son loved digging and burying the “artifacts.” We waited a few days and then we dug them all back up.

So far, I have noticed that he learns best if his whole body is engaged – like digging, riding his bicycle, and towing our red wagon which he filled up with shovels and boundary markers.

But something has to trigger interest before he even gets there. The book that turned the switch on for him was Archaeologists Dig for Clues. It had pictures and he could see what in the world I am talking about. He is very visual, not just kinesthetic.

Boy digging an archaeological site

My son digging at our archaeological site, which I made into a grid with four skewers and yarn.

Last but not least, I realized the importance of repetition, especially for new vocabulary and concepts. He only got the definition of history and archaeology after we repeated it over a few days. So I ordered the SOTW Vol. 1 CDs. We will listen to them in the car as we commute to different activities.

Muddy keys on a blue sieve

The first “artifact” we found: two keys on a ring. This ancient civilization believed houses must be locked to be protected. Fascinating!

On the Facebook group for SOTW Vol. 1 users, many people rave about listening to the CDs and how much it has helped them. Bonus: you get to hear the pronunciation of all these ancient names mentioned in the book. The activity guide includes a great pronunciation guide, but one can never be too sure when it comes to foreign names.

I created a Pinterest Board with all the cool projects I find online and might want to do when the time comes. I will add to it as I study and plan my lessons.

In conclusion, we are excited to delve into the study of history!  How are you tackling history this year in your homeschool?

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2 thoughts on “Story of The World, Volume 1, Introduction

  1. This looks great! I’m not very familiar with SOTW, but what you are describing sounds very attractive. We will be doing Ambleside Online Year 1 this year, which will involve reading a number of “living books” and requiring narration. It’s going to be interesting, as I will have to teach the skill of narration first. I also plan to make a timeline, perhaps like this: (, or maybe more like this: ( Or maybe we will do both. 🙂

    • Yes, I will keep an eye on AO Year 1 too, as I use a lot of their ideas for living books. About the skill of narration, don’t get discouraged if it does not seem like you are making progress in the beginning. We are now in our third week and I can see a bit of progress. We have comprehension questions and the narration comes afterwards. The first week his answers were, “I don’t know.” Now he gives me answers to the questions, but he is not ready to narrate the lesson back. I am happy with the progress though. Anything is better than “I don’t know.” 🙂

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