People displeased with SOTW - what do you use instead? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 03-26-2011, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We just started using Story of the World, and I admit, we are having lots of fun with it.  But I am not a history buff.  It is my weakest point.  A friend directed me to read the one star reviews about SOTW on Amazon and I was shocked; it seems that many people who do know a lot about history are appalled at Bauer's inaccuracies, lack of coherence, and her mish-mash combination of myth and historical fact.  Now I'm concerned that I'm using a poor quality history resource. 

 

On the other hand, my children love learning about the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians.  We've been encorporating lots of hands on activities into our lessons and I've been using other sources to supplement Bauer's book.  Still though I feel like I don't know myself when I come upon wrong information which needs correction.

 

Can anybody point me in the direction of a higher quality history resource which is both chronological and is appropriate for seven year old and five year old children?  I feel like I could research time periods individually if I had more time, but right now it seems like I'm barely keeping my head above water (in terms of homeschooling); we also have a 6 month old baby. 

 

Thanks!

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#2 of 13 Old 03-26-2011, 07:49 PM
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Mystery of History is similar and people also really love it! It is Biblically based, not sure if that jives with you or not. Those that want a more Biblically sound history curriculum similar to STOW often choose Mystery of History.

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#3 of 13 Old 03-27-2011, 12:06 AM
 
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I plan to use STOW in a few years and read those reviews too. Here is my take on this, I doubt I will be able to EVER find any non-fiction historical book that will be 100% accurate at any given time. This is why I plan to use other resources, with SOTW. To get a whole picture view of the time period from multiple resources/views. What ever subject we are reading about, I will look up that subject at the library and bring home a few books to read along with SOTW. I am doing that now with our current American History. You will see some differences when you use more than one resource, and it is up to you and/or your children to decide which is more accurate. Also, you should keep in mind that SOTW is from christian point of view, so some things might have that slant.

I am not a History buff either, I do like history and do read about history a lot , but I'm not the kind of person that necessarily remembers it years later smile.gif. But I know generally what happened, just not the specifics/dates.

I have heard the same complaints about Mystery of History too and every other history book honestly. I think if you are enjoying it, than enjoy it! I'm sure you'll go over this history many times using other resources to iron out those details. If you are truly concerned, than I would pick up the encyclopedia and other books they recommend. Or browse your local library for some choices!

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#4 of 13 Old 03-27-2011, 05:12 AM
 
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I think the way around this is to use multiple factual sources in addition to fictional ones. I edit on the fly as I read anything she asserts as factual when it comes to bible stories (as there are a number of places those are implied to be factual rather than mythological stories in STOW1)

We use encyclopedias, lots of DVDs from sources like the History Channel, BBC etc, and then we talk about the differences and conflicting information we find.

 

We use the activity guide as a jumping off point for hands on stuff although I often find better activities for my kids in other books from the library.

 

History by its very nature contains elements of bias in it. For our family I am less concerned overall with the kids ability to remember content and more concerned with their ability to think criticially and to find information on their own and so we use STOW as a basis for those skills.

 

hth

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#5 of 13 Old 03-27-2011, 09:31 AM
 
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We used STOW as well, and I really liked it, though as was mentioned before, it does have some inaccuracies.  We definately supplemented with other sources such as the Usborn Encyclopedia of history (we usually have this open at the same time as STOW for the awesome pictures), and various books borrowed from the library.  But nearly all books have some bias and possibly inaccuracies.  I also love The Story of Science series by Joy Hakim, though I found inaccuracies there as well.  It's all about teaching kids to become critical thinkers.

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#6 of 13 Old 03-27-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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We're going to be using SOTW with Mosaic.  I like that it combined both the SOTW and the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History so that things are balanced a bit.  I appreciate that April has already done most of the planning out for me in Mosaic (she only has years 1 and 2 done and won't be doing any others as far as I understand) and as an extra bonus it's free.  She also includes map work, timeline work, read-alouds, poetry and memory work, an introduction to World Religions, and plenty of activities.

 

I agree with Karenwith4, I think you'll be hard pressed to find history for which bias played no role.  It's not like we're talking about science here - we're talking about the experience of life in the past as told by numerous people through out time that then also understood it through their own perspective on the world.  There will be a great deal that will be left out, people in the past whose voice's and perspectives will not be heard, etc.

 

Ultimately, though, I wouldn't worry about it too much.  You are just talking about the very first trip through history.  If you plan on continuing in this vein then you'll go over the Ancients again in grades 5 and 9 where you'll undoubtedly use more advanced and/or varied resources.

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#7 of 13 Old 03-27-2011, 05:32 PM
 
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I think SOTW is great. It does use fiction stories to tell things. Like the story of two children who are nomads. Obviously we have no clue if 2 children thousands of years ago did those things, but it could have happened. The story is meant to paint a picture of what life was like back then.

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#8 of 13 Old 03-28-2011, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That all makes sense.  History is not science, and I'm not going to be able to find a non-biased source.  I think I'm just feeling a little panicky because I've never been able to deeply understand history myself - maybe because I have more of a scientific outlook on events in the world, and I have a hard time absorbing historical "facts" as significant, simply because they are biased.  I liked Karenwith4's point that it's really more important to teach children how to be critical thinkers and how to look across various sources rather than to just give them the historical information.  So with that in mind, here's my new plan: We're sticking with SOTW, and I'm going to use more supplementary material for each section and cross check SOTW's information.  I ordered the Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World, and I've been looking through National Geographics and other books so we won't be stuck with only one source.

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#9 of 13 Old 03-29-2011, 09:42 AM
 
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One reason I like SOTW in spite of it's biases is that it is one of the *very* few curricula for elementary age children that addresses WORLD history.  I would definitely use some of the additional reading selections in the Activity Book, however, including the indicated pages in reference books at the very start of each chapter (in the activity book).  We have used the Usborne Internet Linked History Encyclopedia.  We've found a few fun computer games through the internet links.  By getting one of the "spine" reference books, you don't have to run to the library for each and every chapter, and you'll find enough "inconsistancies" to give your kids the idea that history is not always a matter of settled fact.  (The same is true of science, btw, especially more recent science.)  As they get older, you can talk more and more about that.  My 10 y.o. dd has gone all the way through SOTW and is now beginning her second round through history with History Odyssey level 2.  This program has biases as well, but by now, she is well aware that there always another perspective.  It helps to point out how current events can have several "sides" and that this remains true even after time has sorted out some of the uncertainties.

 

 


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#10 of 13 Old 03-30-2011, 08:38 AM
 
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Hiya.

 

We are a homeschooling family but our dd is only just entering kindy, so I haven't approached studying history with her yet, but I wanted to offer my perspective as a medievalist who deeply loves studying history.  I think the absolute most important thing you can do to encourage an appreciation for history is to approach it from a fictional perspective.  I remember being a child and wanting to know what it would have been like to live "back when":  what did they eat, how did they dress, what chores did they do?  Kids are often drawn to the minutiae of daily life, and actually, as a social historian, so am I!  I haven't previewed SOTW yet myself but I have heard that it is very hands-on with activities and encourages this type of approach.  I actually am very against "fact-based history" until high school age.  I think before then it is really rather pointless and does a lot to create a distaste for history.  It's also difficult to pinpoint facts, anyway, because even among historians there is huge disagreement over the meaning of sources.  I know that Susan Bauer is a Christian and so presents Biblical history as historical fact, but I can say that even from a secular viewpoint, much of Old Testament history has been substantiated through archaeological means.  For instance, fairly recently scholars have unearthed Egyptian hierglyphics that discuss Joseph, the Hebrew son of Jacob who was sold into slavery in Egypt and then rose to prominence in Pharoah's court.  I was just reading a paper the other day discussing the historicity of the crossing of the Red Sea along with the archaeological evidence that Egyptian chariot wheels have been found in the location where Hebrew markers have been found, marking the spots of the crossing.  Myth is so often in the eye of the beholder, actually.  For instance, let's take Joan of Arc.  Joan of Arc lived an extraordinary life in the early 15th century.  As an illiterate, teenage peasant, and a female at that, she became the commander-in-chief of the national army of France, and her military campaigns are well-documented.  The facts of her life seem other-worldly, mythical, and yet we have a huge body of factual evidence to prove otherwise:  We have the transcript of her original trial as well as her posthumous trial of Reconciliation, as well as first-hand accounts of her life from people who knew her.  If these sources were not extant, would we believe that Joan of Arc existed?  And would it matter if we did not?  My point really is that so much of "history" is actually quite fluid, which in many ways makes it more interesting and can spark some interesting projects and discussions as your children grow older (I would not recommend pointing this out to younger children, who are so often made uncomfortable by ambiguity).  For younger children, any resource that discusses the daily lives of people in different places and periods and offers either fictional first-hand narratives or primary sourced stories from that culture will provide the best foundation, at least in my opinion.  Starting in late middle school or early high school, I think history works best to work from as many primary resources as you can to create your own picture of history with perhaps a world civ text to use as an outline.  However, this is more investigative and would be rather inappropriate in the elementary years.  It seems to me that you could use SOTW as a basic text with activities and then get a few other resources from your local library, which sounds like what you're planning to do anyway.  There is also a good popular archaeological journal called Biblical Archaeology Review, which has fascinating details about current archaology within Israel with lots of details and pictures that would be helpful to children studying the ancient Hebrews, and it is very inexpensive if I remember correctly.  However, all periodicals--including National Geographic and the one I listed above--all have their own agendas and biases, as well.  In the end, I agree with previous posters who said that you are really trying just to present a cross-section of a culture from a part of history, not trying to tease out facts, at least not at this age.  That takes a lot of pressure off.


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#11 of 13 Old 03-30-2011, 03:06 PM
 
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We're about to start History Odyssey.  You can get the first several lessons for free, online, to try it out.  It uses the Usborne World History book as one of its spines.  It also uses SOTW, but I think that it is balanced with other books.  I wasn't comfortable using SOTW as my main souce, but I think I'll be happy to use it with mix of books to give some perspective.

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#12 of 13 Old 04-06-2011, 05:48 PM
 
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I am on the back half of using the Mosaic 1 curriculum. She actually has another possible spine - A Little History of the World to replace SOTW. The problem with her curriculum is that the map vendor she recommended changed a lot of the maps, so there are a few maps that are no longer in the map set, and a bunch of maps dealing with Israel, and various other events in the Bible. I had a hard time finding the exact books, since I really didn't want to buy all the books, but substituted books from the library. My 6yo likes both SOTW and the Encyclopedia of World History, it's actually her favorite subject right now! We were doing Egypt around Halloween, so she became an Egyptian servant. When we do the medieval ages, I'm going to get passes for the local renaissance festival and dress up in different status outfits each week. For me history is about the way people lived. I want her to learn the context, why people moved around, what they believed in, why they fought. Dates are kind of general for us right now, we're in the BCE eras, so there's so much more time to cover.

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Originally Posted by pampered_mom View Post

We're going to be using SOTW with Mosaic.  I like that it combined both the SOTW and the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History so that things are balanced a bit.  I appreciate that April has already done most of the planning out for me in Mosaic (she only has years 1 and 2 done and won't be doing any others as far as I understand) and as an extra bonus it's free.  She also includes map work, timeline work, read-alouds, poetry and memory work, an introduction to World Religions, and plenty of activities.

 

Ultimately, though, I wouldn't worry about it too much.  You are just talking about the very first trip through history.  If you plan on continuing in this vein then you'll go over the Ancients again in grades 5 and 9 where you'll undoubtedly use more advanced and/or varied resources.



 

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#13 of 13 Old 04-06-2011, 07:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudswinger View Post

I am on the back half of using the Mosaic 1 curriculum. She actually has another possible spine - A Little History of the World to replace SOTW. The problem with her curriculum is that the map vendor she recommended changed a lot of the maps, so there are a few maps that are no longer in the map set, and a bunch of maps dealing with Israel, and various other events in the Bible. I had a hard time finding the exact books, since I really didn't want to buy all the books, but substituted books from the library. My 6yo likes both SOTW and the Encyclopedia of World History, it's actually her favorite subject right now! 

Yes, you are right, there is an alternate spine, but I was less than impressed with it than I was with SOTW.  Oh, and good point about the maps.  It's tough to find resources that trend more secular for these sorts of things. Finding an alternate source of maps is high on my list of things to do before now and Fall.  As for sourcing the books...used has been a real budget saver for me.  The free Amazon Mom Prime membership I get from buying diapers for my youngest has helped me scoop up a lot of good deals on books with free shipping.
 

 

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