Monday, February 6, 2012

Ancient Greece...

Hey homeschoolers!  Today, I'm talking history curriculum.  I thought we would give Sonlight a try, and as I'd heard such great things from friends, I had very high hopes and expectations.  I was both ecstatic and sorely disappointed by the Core W curriculum.

Sigh...I love the layout and overall approach, but absolutely cannot stand the two primary texts.  The curriculum is supposed to be geared towards ages 12 and 13 - JP is 13 - but the two primary texts?  They are clearly meant for younger children.  So, we will be dispensing with those, and following some of the main lesson plans and curriculum map, while also making changes and adjustments as we see fit.  I only bought the two main texts (which are being sent back), and the instructor's guide as our local library has all of the other books listed.  We also won't be following the Bible study portion, nor will we be using the poetry segment.  I was looking to Sonlight strictly for history, not for religion except as it is part of history (and by that, I mean we will cover most world religions, including the Christianity and the Bible, Judaism and the Torah, Islam and the Koran, Buddhism, Hinduism, and much more).  For poetry, well, that is my specialty area, so I have designed my own poetry curriculum.

Anyhow, when I got Sonlight's Core W instructor's manual, we were already well into Ancient Greece.  I considered backing up to the beginning of the Core W curriculum, but decided instead to just pick up with Ancient Greece, and continue using our current materials.  When we have exhausted our current materials, I will add in the books, map activities, and so on from the Core W plan.  If we like it, then we'll just do the same as we move along - use the Core W as a guide, and add in our own materials.  Core W is supposed to be a one year curriculum, but I plan to stretch it into two years as it doesn't go as in depth as I would like, so we will be supplementing like crazy as we go along!

I wanted to share with you some of the materials and resources that we are using to cover Ancient Greece.  So far, we are using the following in addition to many of the texts from Sonlight's Core W:

BOOKS WE ARE USING THUS FAR (an upcoming library trip will likely expand this list greatly!):
  • National Geographic's Visual History of the World
  • The Time's Complete History of the World
  • D'Aulaire's Greek Myths
  • Tales of the Greek Heroes
  • The Odyssey (Penguin Classics edition)
  • Empires: The Greeks - Crucible of Civilization (A PBS three episodes documentary about Ancient Greece, available streaming from Netflix)
  • Several History Channel documentaries covering Alexander the Great, The Odyssey, Clash of the Gods, and the Battle at Marathon.  Note that some of these episodes are quite violent and graphic.  If you have younger kids, or kids sensitive to monsters and violence, either skip these or preview them for appropriateness. ***A little tip:  A very annoying ad loads when you go to this page.  As fast as you can, hover your mouse over the top right corner of the page.  As the ad is loading you will see "Close" with a little box to click on.  Click it FAST or the ad will load entirely, taking you to some other website for the product - I think some sort of web security software or something.  If you don't get it closed fast enough, it is hard to get back to the documentaries page.  Lame, I know...***
  • Short clips and videos at - these are typically anywhere from 2 to 10 minute videos, and many are actually clips from larger videos and documentaries, but they are great if you are short on time, or your child has a short attention span.
  • BBC Primary History - readings, photos, quizzes and more
  • Mr. Donn - Power Point presentations, lesson plans, and more

A glimpse at The Met's Percy Jackson guide
I also wanted to take a moment to show you why we love the National Geographic and The Time's history books we are using.  They are amazing!  These are definitely middle school and high school level texts, so if you have younger kids, you might prefer the two books that are part of Sonlight's Core W - the Core W main texts were just too simplistic for our needs.

Anyhow, check out these pictures...the maps and illustrations in both the National Geographic and The Time's history texts are incredible!  They both feature in depth text, numerous maps, historical rendering, timelines, and far more!
A page from National Geographic's Visual History of the World

A sample of the maps from the New York Time's Time's Complete History of the World

Check back in a week or so for pictures from our trip The Met!

I am already planning our transition to our Ancient Rome unit study, which will include watching "Spartacus" (the original movie featuring Kirk Douglas), and the more modern film "300."


  1. Thanks for stopping by Stephanie's Mommy Brain today! If you ever make it to Texas I highly recommend San Antonio. There's lots of fun stuff for you and your son to do downtown. We actually live in Rhode Island are were there to visit my in-laws.

    I gave Sonlight a try when my oldest was in K. Just couldn't do it! I felt overwhelmed by all the different things to read and do. I've finally learned that I (and my kids) most enjoy doing history unit studies based on literature. We just started a Little House in the Big Woods study and are having fun with that.

  2. Thanks for all of these wonderful resources! We are studying Egypt right now & I am bookmarking these for down the road.


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