This year we are studying Ancient History using Diana Waring’s Ancient Civilizations and the Bible. The beginning was a little rocky, but now that we have a system down it is amazing how much we are both learning. It is not your normal history study and I think that is exactly why AJ and I are enjoying it so much!
Before I get into the details let me explain a little bit about the curriculum. It is a chronological history program that appeals to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. It is a Christian worldview and teaches history from the young earth perspective. (If you don’t agree with young earth it is easy to leave out a few things in the first unit and from then on it is not really mentioned) It is not a textbook but a guide to help you and your student learn about history. There is a teacher’s book, a student book, and three different CDs that are referenced throughout the book.
The book is divided into nine chapters.
- Creation and The Flood
- The Rise of Civilizations
- Egypt and the Exodus
- The Children of Israel
- Assyria and Babylon : The Mesopotamian Conquerors
- The Persians and Medes
- Greece and The Hellenists
- The Rise of Rome
- Jesus Christ, Immanuel
Each chapter is studied for four weeks. Week one is the Introduction. It includes things like listening to audio recordings, reading the article, reading verses in the Bible, and discussions. Week two is Exploration and Discovery. In the second week activities include; vocabulary, timelines, and researching a topic of choice. The third week is Hands-On. In the third week there is mapping, art projects, science experiments, cooking, and music suggestions. The final week, week four is Expression. The final week can really be almost anything that shows understanding of the unit. Some possibilities include; art, music, drama, poetry, dance, and even puppetry. Each week there are a variety of options to fit the student’s learning style.
Even though there are only nine units, there is a great deal of information to learn. AJ and I fell in love with this history program at the beginning of the school year, but I wanted to wait until we had completed a few units until I shared my thoughts.
The first unit was full of learning for both of us. In fact it took us a good six weeks to complete. AJ learned all about creation and the flood, and I learned that using a unit study format for history would require some different thinking and planning on my part.
Here are a few pieces of advice, if you are using or thinking about starting Diana Waring’s Ancient Civilizations and the Bible.
Stick to the four week schedule
Before school started I went through the first four units and planned things to a tee. I had decided that since we were doing unit studies for both history and science (more on that in an upcoming post) that I didn’t want to do both subjects daily. I decided that we would do science one week and history the next and rotate them back and forth. In order to do that I would simply push two weeks of learning into one. It sounded easy enough, we would just work longer on the one subject and in the end it would all average out. The time was the same and on paper it looked great. In reality it didn’t work out very well.
Week one has a lot of reading and listening. The articles themselves are between eight to ten pages and then when you add in the Bible reading it can be a lot. For the first unit it is 10 chapters in the Bible and more than 20 additional verses. Spread out over two days the reading is completely doable, but squishing it into one in order to complete two weeks of work into one is hard. It made for a grumpy kid, and a frustrated teacher.
In the end we actually spent three weeks doing the work for weeks one and two because it took way longer than I anticipated. If you need to combine weeks, don’t combine weeks one and two, it is just too much work. In the book Diana gives a few different suggestions on what to do if you don’t want to or can’t spend four weeks on a unit. My advice, stick to the four week schedule if possible. It is set up nicely and if you follow the recommendations in the book the days run a lot smoother!
Don’t over plan
Like I said previously, I planned the first unit to a tee. AJ was going to make a game one day, write a poem on another day, and carve an animal out of soap at another time. I figured it was a good variety and she would have fun. The problem was that she had her own ideas. After the reading for week one there is a list of activities to do to show your understanding, and at the bottom of the list is the option to make up your own choice. To be honest, her idea was better than mine. She didn’t want to make a game, she wanted to make a power point presentation. My child who hates to write created a 10 page slide show all about creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, and the flood. It turned out great!
Week two has a research project where your child researches a topic in greater detail. There is a large list of topics to choose from. In order to make things easier, I picked the topic that I thought AJ would like to learn about. I ordered books from the library ahead of time and had everything planned. Again, she would have picked another topic. My advice is to look ahead to the next unit when you are on week 4 of your current unit. (Or week 3 if you have a slow library.) Have your child pick two or three of the topics that they might want to learn more about and order books from the library on those topics. Then you end up with a variety and when it comes time for the research topic you will be ready. Let your child lead and you may be surprised by what you both learn.
You don’t have to do it all
Don’t worry about the recommended books
It can be hard to find books with a Christian world view at the library, and purchasing all of the recommended books would cost way too much. If you can’t find the recommended books, it is ok. Utilize the internet and even secular materials found at the library. Just search for the topics you need and make sure your child knows that the books may display different beliefs than your own.
Buy the CDs
We didn’t buy the CDs that go along with the curriculum in the beginning. We were on a tight budget and the books were all that we could afford. For the first two units we didn’t have the CDs, but thankfully a family member bought us the main CD as a gift in time for unit three. We got through the first two units fine without the CD, but it really adds so much more information and completes the study. The information on the CDs is different from the information in the book and helps to answer some of the questions. Currently we only have one of the CDs, but I hope to complete the set soon. If at all possible, buy the CDs they really add to the study.
Join the Yahoo Group
There is a Yahoo Group for Diana Waring’s History Revealed series. There you will find so many resources like answer keys for the maps, printable maps, and vocabulary worksheets, and timeline answer keys. This group was a life saver when it came to the mapping. It also has a lot of great ideas about the curriculum.