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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ancient History Study

We did a couple of studies of ancient history with my children when they were younger. By ancient history, of course, I mostly mean what most of us in the West mean- Egypt, Greece and Rome, perhaps a smattering of the Phoenicians. It's interesting that when we speak of ancient history, we are not usually thinking of the incredible advances happening in China and other parts of Asia or the rest of Africa beyond Egypt in ancient times.

That said, the Miller and Synge books below are Western, but also do include more information about the eastern part of the world.   The whole history of Asia is well worth reading as well,  but I can only share what I know, not what I aspire to know.

 We used a lot of different books because I am a reforming book gobbler and too often I stuffed the children’s days with dozens of books and subjected them to death by reading over-load; like drinking from a fire hydrant. Don’t do that. I may have made you laugh, and that is what I meant to do, but I am not kidding.

 Of the books we used, these are the ones that stand out to me as being worth repeating if I were to do ancient history with middle school or below again- not that we’d repeat all of these, because remember what I said about subjecting your kids to an avalanche of books and how, DON’T? I meant it. So, I’d choose from some of these- but I would try to gauge the number of books I chose based on what we and/or independent readers could read and narrate from in just under three hours a day.

  This reading from the books mentioned below isn’t all we’d do- we’d still have math, music, foreign language, poetry (In addition to Home and Virgil, we'd read On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer; Ozymandias), copywork and dictation (dictation for year 4 and up), Bible, picture study, geography, etc, and etc. That’s why the reading plan you create from these books would have to be limited in number and spread out such a way that they could complete it in 3 hours or less in a given day. So much will depend on your family dynamics and the reading levels of your kids.

 History spine, choose from: Greenleaf Press– I really love their guides to famous men of Greek and Rome, their Old Testament study guide, and their Egypt study guide. I think most of the supplemental reads are better suited for fun free reads, not as living books for school, but the main study guide and primary text for each one is outstanding.

 Boys’ and Girls’ Herodotus : Being Parts of the History of Herodotus by John S. White- this is very readable, probably for about year 4 and up.

 Olive Beaupre Miller’s history series. These books are fantastic, but you have to be careful with your searches. Many booksellers are careless and will send you the wrong volume. They’ve also been published in a couple of different formats- a 9 volume set, a four volume set that combines volumes under the title Picturesque Tale of Progress and also as Story of Mankind. I prefer the red hardbacks of the shorter set- I personally like the cleaner look, the pages are better quality material so they don’t yellow and tan, and the pictures are more interesting to me, even though they are largely black and white outlines (they do have some nudity, just so you know but you can colour over it). T
Whether you choose the 4 or 9 vol set is a personal preference- I have a good friend whose opinions I respect a lot and she prefers the 9 volume, older Picturesque Tale of Progress.

IF you get the version republished by Dawn Chorus, you want these volumes: Beginnings I starts with ‘Early Man’, including wonderful illustrations of early cave art, followed by excellent coverage of the rise and fall of Egypt. Beginnings II covers Babylonia, the Assyrian empire, and an extensive overview of biblical history from Abraham to the Fall of Jerusalem. Conquests I follows the history of Crete and then Greece, from their rise as political states through to the conquests of Alexander the Great. Conquests II teaches the history of Rome, and includes extensive coverage of early Christianity, including the missionary journeys of Paul and the peaceful conquest of Rome by Christianity. New Nations I covers the Fall of the Roman Empire, and then turns to the Byzantine Empire, the Medieval Church, the Vikings, and the Feudal Age.

 These books are very readable, and full of illustrations and maps, so don’t let their size intimidate you. The text is engaging as well. And you wouldn’t do the entire series- just those volumes that cover ancient history.

 Synge is every bit as engaging as Miller, so you might prefer: On the Shores of the Great Sea (Illustrated) (The Story of the World Book 1)  It's also free online.  Many CM homeschoolers in the Philippines use this one because it has more world history rather than western history and geography only.

 Some people really like Guerber’s: The Story of the Greeks and the companion Story of the Romans 

For Egypt, The Book of Pharoahs

 And some might like Alfred Church’s Carthage, or the Empire of Africa - he has a lot of books you could use for a study of ancient history and he's an engaging writer with meaty ideas and excellent prose. Here's a whole page of his work at Amazon.

 I know choosing is hard, but you must. It’s important not to bury your students in an avalanche of reading (my progeny all are rolling their eyes and saying ‘Now she figures it out!’) . I mainly mention these various possibilities because if you have any of the above, that should be your choice- as I often tell people, the best book you could choose is often the one on your bookshelves already.

History supplement:
The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone 

 A biography or two: (two only if the second one is not by Jacob Abbott, he’s fantastic, but too long to do two of his in a year): Cyrus the Great Makers of History' Darius the Great Makers of History Alexander the Great Makers of History;   History of Julius Caesar...   I really like Jacob Abbott’s biographies. They are long, however, and very deep. So just pick one.

All Times, All Peoples, A World History of Slavery by Milton Meltzer- highly recommended

 Science:Famous Experiments and How to Repeat Them .  I love this book. You MUST do the experiments. And also write Brent Filson a note and beg him to consider republishing this one. Suitable for about 9-12, with some over/under with extra parental help for younger, with more external reading and writing assigned for older.

 This is also a good time to read a good book on the science of archeology, as well as the thought-provoking Motel of the Mysteries by David MaCaulay - but don't do this book with students younger than about sixth grade or 12 or so.  Remember, we do not not want to make cynics of children too young. It does not increase their discernment, it makes them unbecomingly opinioned, arrogant, and judgey far too young.

 Continue nature study as usual in whatever fashion is suitable for your students' ages.

 Literature: Alfred Church’s renditions of: Stories from Virgil, The Iliad for Boys and GirlsThe Aeneid for Boys and GirlsThe Odyssey for Boys and Girls,  Stories from Ancient Rome, Carthage, and others by this author

 Padraic Colum’s retellings are also fantastic. You could mix and match: The Odyssey, or The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy or  The Golden Fleece  (hardback: The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles), or use this multi-volume set.

D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths

 Government/statesmanship: Also continue Plutarch, naturally. I am very pleased with the series by my dear friend Anne White, of course.  Here's the first: The Plutarch Project, Volume One: Marcus Cato the Censor, Philopoemen, and Titus Flamininus (Volume 1)
 By the way, do not let anybody try to tell you the ancient Greeks were all about head knowledge and didn’t care about character.  This is so untrue that it baffles me as to where the notion comes from, and I cannot trust any related information from those who espouse this view.

 Hymn study:Learn about what may be the oldest known Greek Christian notated hymn

 Shakespeare: Julius Caesar (preferred) or  Antony and Cleopatra

 You might also find some choices for biography or statesmanship or supplemental history reading in John Lord’s Beacon Lights of History, free online at Gutenberg.

 For parents: Why Read Plutarch 
 Mortimer Adler: Why read the Great Books? 
Why REad Challenging Older Books?
 Read this summary of an excellent address by the late Daniel Boorstin,  historian par excellence, as well the 12th Librarian of Congress.  He said that trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers. We’re gathering a lot of cut flowers and trying to plant them.

~ …The Greeks said that character is destiny, and the more I read and understand of history, the more convinced I am that they were right.

 Gods, Graves & Scholars: The Story of Archaeology 

 Most of the above are affiliate links. However, you can find many of them free online as well.

How to schedule:
How many weeks long do you plan your study to last?
Add up the number of pages total in the books you choose, divide it by the number of weeks.  That's how much reading your student will have to do each week (plus their other work in other subjects).  Cut back books until you have a fairly well rounded list and a couple hours worth of reading to do in Ancient history studies each day.
It's really much simpler than it sounds.  Let the books do the teaching. Let the narrating do the processing.  Don't overdo it.    God bless!

Made by Wendi!  I put together a couple of ezines, a collection of recipes and some other goodies that I think you'll enjoy.  Take a look below!

$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.

 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.

  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00

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