When people ask me what kind of homeschooler I am, I usually reply that I am trying to cultivate something like Louisa May Alcott’s Plumfield from Little Men. In Alcott’s sequel to Little Women, Jo and her professor husband run a school that draws on a vibrant classical model, but is also infused with a lot of childish free play, hands-on learning, farm life, and a robust library of “living books.” I think of Plumfield as being a natural hybrid of Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Maria Montessori methods. Most importantly, whatever it is, my soul rejoices in that happy mix.
In her 6-volume set, Charlotte Mason clearly articulates the importance of teaching history chronologically and in an engaging way. Charlotte says that history is really the foundation of any good education. I couldn’t agree more.
Listening to the Charlotte Mason podcast, “A Delectable Education,” I was introduced to the idea of doing history “streams.” Playing on their idea and adjusting it to the needs of my family, I have developed a two-stream approach to history that rotates in 4-year cycles. Two days per week, we have lessons in world history. Two days per week, we have lessons in American history. I intend to break history into four large segments that we will study over four years. Because my oldest is currently in 4th grade, that means that I will likely have the opportunity to go through all four segments with him twice.
In our first pass through history, I have chosen resources that are written at an introductory level. Using TAN’s Story of Civilization (extremely similar to Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World) as our world history road map, we will cover Ancient History in our first year. Adjusting again for the needs of my family, Ancient History will include: Prehistoric Man, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel, Ancient Greece, and the Early Roman Empire. I have not decided yet if we will add Early Christianity into this year or save it for next. (I am still discerning the right resources for that critical period of history.)
Along the way, I kept confusing myself about who I was doing this for. The more I worked on this roadmap, the more I wanted this to be useful for others. The more I considered the needs of other homeschoolers, the more I saw a need to include a wide variety of resources. The trouble is that this isn’t for other people. If this is going to be any good for anyone at all, it has to be good for my family. That’s why we do this, right? Our homeschool is a labor of love that we offer to those whom God has stewarded into our care. So, I had to rein myself in. I had to limit the resources to those that could work for me. For that reason, there are a number of good and great resources that are not included in this plan. Even though I own several of the Simply Charlotte Mason history units, I found that they didn’t fit just right for my family. Even though there is much I like about Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World series, we are Catholic and preferred TAN’s The Story of Civilization. There are some Landmark books that I would love to use, but I don’t have access to them, so I mention them but did not schedule them.
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that we can mix and match resources to suit our budget, our needs, and our preferences. I absolutely enjoyed skipping over certain sections of A Picturesque Tale of Progress because I thought that Rosemary Sutcliff or some other resource covered it better. I am sharing my plans in the hopes that they will make it easier for you to mix and match your resources into a plan that works just right for your family. I hope that you will ignore any of my suggestions that are a misfit for you.
At one point, I wanted to share this roadmap in daily lesson plan format. Ultimately I decided that wasn’t a great idea. I am still struggling to discern the best balance for my family in terms of Charlotte Mason’s “short lessons” and my natural desire to get lost in reading out loud. Also, my family are audiobook junkies, so we always have an audiobook going. There is no easy way to map that, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be very useful to others. Instead, I have laid out ancient history in seven main units: Prehistoric Man, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel, Ancient Greece, Early Rome, Rise of Christendom, and End of the Roman Empire. Inside each unit, I have broken that period of time into meaningful chunks or large lessons. When you look at Ancient Egypt, you will see 5 lesson groups: Early Days, Two Lands, Pyramid Building, Powerful Nobles, Great Empire, and Decline of Egypt. I thought that by breaking them into large lessons, families could mix and match those lessons in whatever way best suits their style and schedule. It is my hope that none of the resources are dependent on any of the other resources – that families can use some or all without feeling like they are missing a lynchpin resource.
My goal is to be able to do this with all 4 years of world history and all 4 years of American history.
Here is my general outline for Ancient History
Here is my large lesson plan for Ancient History*
Here is a link to several living book series organized chronologically.**
*Note: I did not do any lesson plans for Prehistoric Man. In my family, we just read from A Picturesque Tale of Progress. I considered that this particular part of history is very worldview specific and I opted to leave it entirely up to the discretion of each family.
**This list will grow to include Landmark, Signature, We Were There, Vision, and Credo books.
Resources included in this plan:
- A Picturesque Tale of Progress by Olive Beaupre Miller (the woman who crafted My Book House) – I read this aloud during Morning Symposium. While there is MUCH about this series that I love, it does have some challenges. If you are a literal 7 day creation family, this may not be a good fit for you. Also, there is a lot of art that includes partial nudity. Some families use a sharpie or InkJoy pen to improve the art.
- Story of Civilization by TAN Homeschool (This lines up almost identically with Story of the World.) – I use the streaming videos from the TAN Homeschool site during Morning Symposium, and the textbook in audio from Audible at lunch.
- The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon – I use the audiobook from Audible at lunch.
- Landmark Books – I read these aloud during Morning Symposium; some may be assigned for independent reading. A handful of Landmark books are available in audio.
- Signature Books – I read these aloud during Morning Symposium; some may be assigned for independent reading.
- We Were There Books – I think that these will be assigned as independent reading.
- Bethlehem Books – I read these aloud during Morning Symposium; some may be assigned for independent reading.
- Vision Books – I read these aloud during Morning Symposium; some may be assigned for independent reading.
- Credo/Catholic Digest Books – I read these aloud during Morning Symposium; some may be assigned for independent reading.
- Some Recommendations from the Ambleside Online list – I read these aloud during Morning Symposium; some may be assigned for independent reading.