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.
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.