The Mystery of History: Vol. 2 – Review

The Mystery of History

Bright Ideas Press sent our family two products  “A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers” (you may read my review of that here) and  “The Mystery Of History, Volume 2: The Early Church and the Middle Ages


Mystery of History
is  a multi-level  history program for students from Kindergarten through grade 8.  It focuses on the providence and sovereignty of God as He orders the story of mankind through history.  Incorporating Biblical history along side secular and paying special attention to religious views and how those views affected and shaped each culture,  MOH does a great job of examining all of history through a Biblical world view.  “The Mystery of History: Volume 2”  provides a years worth of History study based on the classical model of education.

MOH is organized into 3 lessons each week for those who want to cover the whole book in a one year time span.  It gives several different schedule suggestions and adaptations for those who are doing the program with only younger  or older students and of course you can use the program however you prefer.

Each MOH lesson covers a significant event or person in history and the program has built in review and drill for the material covered.  The lessons for the second week in Volume 2 are “Nero”, “Martyrs of the Early Church”, and “Josephus”.   Each MOH lesson has several components that work together to provide a comprehensive history program.

Each lesson includes:

  • Pretest – This piques the children’s curiosity, exposes them to some of the information and also shows you what they already know.
  • Reading selection – My children loved Mrs. Hobar’s conversational and exciting writing about the events and people we were studying.
  • Activities – Divided into suggestions for younger students and middle/older students, if we did all of the suggested activities it would take us more than a year to cover this book.  These are hands-on, active activities for younger students, like play acting or creating a craft project.  The activities for the older students focus more on further research and writing but still include some hands-on ideas.  Of course you can use any activity with any age children to suit your needs. 🙂
  • Memory Cards – The children write a synopsis of each lesson and use these cards for review as the year progresses.  This is a great narration type activity, allowing the children to process the information that they learned, pick out the salient points and put it into their own words.

At the end of each week (or every three lessons) MOH includes:

  • Mapping – I love including geography with history, no need to teach it as a completely separate subject.
  • Timeline work – MOH has instructions to create your own timeline along with timeline figures.
  • Review work  in the form of an exercise or a quiz.

MOH also guides your child to create his or her own history notebook and includes a list of supplemental books and resources for further study if desired.

What we thought:

Our family really enjoyed “The Mystery of History”.  We love the Christ centered focus throughout.  The writing is entertaining and enjoyable and her selection of events and people to include mesh well with our family values and ideas.  I also appreciate the layout and how everything works together, integrating review throughout the school year.

The memory cards are a terrific way to evaluate whether the children assimilated the information that they heard during the week.  We had not regularly incorporated that type of review and some of our children improved rapidly in being able to pick out what should be included.  It was obviously a great addition to our program.

I have seen MOH before and think that they have one of the best timeline systems ever.  Our children appreciate being able to create their own timeline figures and it adds another hands-on dimension to review.  If you use their system you have an amazing visual of your history year.  The best part?  The timeline is fold-able, so no visual clutter hanging about the house.  🙂

Here are my hesitations about MOH.  This is the second time that we’ve tried “The Mystery of History” and both times have had the same reaction, I find it difficult to implement.  It is necessary to look ahead to plan and gather supplies, but the book is not laid out in a way that enables me to do that easily.  The supplies needed are on different pages scattered throughout the book and even on the pages  that you find the needed supplies, they aren’t listed out nicely for you, they are buried in the activity directions.

My second negative thought is that while each lesson is a narrative of the events, I prefer to read a lot more about each event (we read aloud a LOT) so that the children understand more of the culture and times.  This possibility is included in the supplemental resources section, but again this is just not as user friendly as I’m accustomed.  There are way more resources than we could cover in a year and without seeing each book or resource, it is difficult for me to pick which ones will be the best, will give us the balance that we want and make a decision as to which ones to purchase.  The resource list gives you the title, author and publisher info, but, for the most part, doesn’t give specifics about what the book covers or the style in which it is written.

Our bottom line:

We love “The Mystery of History”.  The goal, the writing,  the inclusion of hands-on, timeline, map work and review are all superb, but the layout is difficult to navigate and I wish that they had a more usable resource list.  I am taking many of the ideas from MOH (memory cards , timeline, etc.) and incorporating them into our regular history routine.  Next year when our family begins a two year World History study, I plan on using MOH as our spine.  I will use all of the readings and many of the activities in conjunction with the history that we are already planning on studying.  (If you have questions about my plan, feel free to ask.)

The Mystery Of History is one of our  favorite history programs and we can confidently recommend.  If it was formatted differently, it may even be our primary history resource.

Bright Ideas Press offers a variety of homeschool resources.  I also reviewed their wonderful, multi-grade composers study.

You may read more of my reviews on my review page.

Bright Ideas Press sent me a complimentary copy of Mystery of History Vol. 2 to facilitate this review.  I’ve not been otherwise compensated and all opinions expressed are my own.

This post is included in the Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup.

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19 Responses to The Mystery of History: Vol. 2 – Review
  1. […] posts:The Mystery of History: Vol. 2 – ReviewEducational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services – ReviewAmazing Bible Timeline: ReviewGrapevine […]

  2. celee
    November 6, 2009 | 10:06 am

    We’re doing core 6 this year and I bought MOH volume 1 with this same thing in mind. It has ended up being more of a supplement due to the issues you described. I found I wasn’t getting the most out of it and it just didn’t have as much as Story of the World. Although I do not agree with Susan Wise Bauer on everything, I really like the narrative style of Story of the World. I’ll be interested to see how this works for you next year. Maybe if I had spent more time on the front end planning our reading schedule (with supplements), I would have been more pleased.

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  3. Rachel
    November 6, 2009 | 10:52 am

    I love MOH and chose it over Story of the World exactly because of its Christ-centeredness and the way it weaves the Bible through as history – because it IS!

    As far as making the curriculum easier, have you checked out the MOH yahoo group? It’s EXCELLENT and has many, many helpful files exactly for making all the prep work easy.

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    I agree, I much prefer MOH over SOTW. The focus of the two is completely different. That’s why I hope to use MOH rather than SOTW next year with the rest of our curriculum.

    Thanks for the tip Rachel. I’ll have to look into that group next year as we tackle world history again.

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  4. Amy
    November 6, 2009 | 11:21 am

    I’ve heard good things about this…thank you for the review! 🙂

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  5. Marcy
    November 7, 2009 | 9:57 am

    We tried using MOH as spine with core 6 this year, but just could not make it work. Many of same issues you noted. I like the book in and of itself, but I’m used to the SL style and want more. However, the layout is so different I just couldn’t make it line up between the 2 programs. I would love to know your plan.

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    I hoping to be able to plug MOH into Sonlight 6 in place of SOTW. I’m getting concerned about my plan now that others have said it isn’t a smooth fit. I’m wondering if I should try to use it in addition to SOTW. What do you think? Do you think it’s possible with preparation?

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  6. Erin
    November 7, 2009 | 10:54 am

    Thank you for this review! I have been praying about switching curricula next year (long story that I’ll blog about eventually) and MOH was exactly what I felt would best fit our family. Its nice to hear that you recommend it, but also to be aware of the possible difficulties I may find with it, so that I’m not overwhelmed when the time comes!

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    I really can’t say enough that I like where MOH is coming from. I hope that you enjoy it next year.

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  7. celee
    November 11, 2009 | 7:14 am

    It’s only added a few minutes to our daily read aloud time to just add MOH. It reiterates what I usually tell the kids as we read SOTW, anyway. For instance, we read about the Buddha in SOTW and she gives the story of his quest for knowledge then tells about his followers. MOH reminds us that he never claimed to be a god, unlike Christ who did purport to be God. I think you could use it in place of SOTW. I’m just going through the table of contents each day. I actually like the chronological order of MOH better and wish now that I had started with it. As it is, I’m using SOTW as my backbone and skipping around in MOH a bit. We’re not going to be able to fully catch up, but we’re reading two selections of MOH each day right now that tie in with our SOTW. It’s a little redundant using both, but my kids need the repitition and both MOH and SOTW are short compared to textbooks so it doesn’t take too much time. I’ll be interested to see what you do next year.

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  8. celee
    November 14, 2009 | 9:51 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks, because now that I’m using it I really prefer MOH over SOTW. I’m not utilizing the activities right now (how do people have time for all this?), but I really like how MOH integrates what’s going on in Israel (the Bible stories we’re all so familiar with and some we aren’t) with what’s going on in the rest of the world. I’ve been working to do this with SOTW and Sonlight’s Bible reading is not in sync. This has been ok, but I keep reminding the kids, “This is BEFORE David united the two kingdoms” or this is “after the Northern 10 tribes were taken captive by Assyria”, etc. It’s been good exercise for me, but not easy. MOH does make that easier. In the last few days we’ve even left MOH and gone to our Bibles for a better look. Maybe it would be less confusing to substitute MOH for SOTW AND Sonlight’s core 6 Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve LOVED 1 and 2 Chronicles, but it’s not in sync with the rest of our readings so takes a lot of reminding the kids where we’re at. Of course, if I were better about using our timeline it would probably be easier. Just some thoughts. I did order MOH vol 2 today and am looking forward to using it after Christmas. Maybe I’ll try using it without SOTW. (We actually used SOTW last year too so know it pretty well already.) I’ll let you know.

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    I think that you’re idea about substituting MOH for SOTW and Sonlight Bible is excellent, especially when you’re in a time period where Biblical history is taking place. I will have to keep that in mind. I’m so happy that you’re ahead of me, I’m taking notes. 🙂 Keep the suggestions coming!

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  9. Angie723
    January 13, 2010 | 4:06 pm

    I am doing SL 1 with my daughter, but have 3 younger children who will be joining in on the history cycle eventually. I was thinking of replacing our Core 1 spine with either SOTW or MOH. She has listened to and loves the SOTW audio CDs. I was thinking of doing SOTW for now, and then when we get back to Ancients in SL 6, using MOH and younger ones can listen in, too. I guess I am just wondering if MOH is written above her level (she is 6) and would be better to wait. She has a good grasp on OT stories and at this early grammar stage, do they really even need to understand how all the chronology ties together (Bible, world history)? Looking for opinions on what would be a better fit. Thanks!

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    Katie Reply:

    I know it’s been more than a year sense this comment, but I figure if others read the comments section they may want an answer. We’re using MOH VOL 1 and SL core 1 right now with a 7yo, 6yo, and 3 littles. My kids cheer for it, so I don’t think it’s over their heads. They may not get every detail, but they really enjoy it. The younger kid activities are pretty easy to just implement after you read…like squeeze an ice cube in your hand to show how cold the ice age was. I like that as I’m reading it, I can see us using it again when the 7 and 6 year olds are in the middle to older kid section and the 3 littles are in the little kid section. Hope that helps others considering the program!

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  10. Natacha
    May 7, 2010 | 11:34 am

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for your blog. It is the most comprehensive site I have found for homeschooling to date. I am a mom of three from the states who just moved to Canada. My husband and I are planning to homeschool in the fall and your site has been helpful on so many levels. Can’t believe you have the energy to keep up with it while expecting a little one. I will keep coming back to get more ideas and help as I prepare our curriculum and trips etc for the fall. God’s blessings on you and your family—may he continue to supply you and your husband with strength!! :–)

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  11. […] 1 with some of the children and Core 6 with others.    We will be supplementing Sonlight with The Mystery of History, to incorporate more Biblical history.  Do not let the plethora of curriculum scare you.  This […]

  12. Heather
    June 23, 2010 | 10:14 am

    What do you know, Kimberly? I was googling MOH and your review came up! So, I came to visit. I am not really able to find time to read blogs these days, but wanted to say Hi and we are missing you and the fam.

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  13. Julie Hendry
    October 1, 2010 | 2:19 pm

    I’m new to your blog, just found it when I searched SOTW and MOH on Google. But I really liked what you had to say. Thank you. I haven’t read anywhere what your plan for next year is and I’m looking exactly for a plan for World History for elementary grades 4 and 1. If you could share your plan I would appreciate it and perhaps glean from it.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Julie,

    Here is our plan for the 2010 school year, is that what you were hoping to find??

    Thanks!

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