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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Classical Historian Review.....Look at History in a New Way

Everyone in my house (except me) loves History.  They will watch, read, and study just about anything in History they can.  I am interested in History but have always found it to be the most boring subject to learn and for me the most difficult to teach.  I was excited to review some products from The Classical Historian.

The first product (and our favorite) was the Ancient History Go Fish game. The Classical Historian gives you instructions on how to play four different games with this one set; go fish, collect the cards, Continents game, and the chronology game.   Ancient History is my middle schooler’s favorite so he loved these.  Often he would just sit and read them.  The best part about this game is anyone can play it…age is not a limitation.  It contains four cards for each topic….the topics being; Prehistory, Ancient Hebrews, Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Native American Homes, Rivers of Early Civilizations, Political Leaders, Seven Continents, Ancient Asia, Ancient Greece, Roman Republic, and the Roman Empire.  The cards are great…..the pictures are nice, they are color-coded, easy to read and STURDY (this is a must in this house)!!  It is well worth the price at only $11.95.  We really enjoyed this game from the little ones all the way up to Mom and Dad and will definitely be purchasing several of their other games for our future studies.  The Classical Historian card games are a fun, easy way for students (and parents) to add lots of History facts into their eager brains. Their other game options include; Medieval and American History go fish games along with Ancient, Medieval and American memory games.

Next up was their high school level Modern American History course.  The course materials include; The Socratic Discussion in History textbook, Take A Stand Modern American History reading, writing and discussion book, 32 week teacher’s guide, DVD set, and a free standing reading book (this item was not part of my review but it is included in the curriculum purchase).  The Classical Historian uses a five step program to teach History.

1.      The Grammar of History

2.      The Tools of the Historian

3.      Research

4.      The Socratic Discussion

5.      Analytical Essays  

They also use the method of teaching with age-appropriate lessons following and an idea by Dorothy Sayers from the 1940’s, she wrote that a student’s educational life can be separated into three phases; Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric.  So using The Classical Historian curriculum the students learn as follows…”In the Grammar stage of History, students ages 3-11 memorize facts such as dates, events and biographies.  In the Logic stage, ages 12-14, students learn the tools of the historian: how to analyze history and the basics of writing and speaking.  In the Rhetoric stage, 14 and older, students work on perfecting oral and written expression.”  I had a good group of boys to try this out on; my rising 7th grader home for the summer, an 8th grader doing some catch- up homeschooling for 9th grade next year and another 9th grader who popped in to visit a few times.  I was super excited about this product because it came with the DVD’s that taught the lessons (letting Mom off the hook) plus sometimes the kids like to hear someone else talk besides me (I have no idea why;-) ).  When I first opened the box and glanced through the materials I was a bit overwhelmed but later that evening when I had time to sit down and read the first part of the teacher’s guide and watch the instructional DVD it all came together nicely.  I LOVE the 32 week teacher’s guide, it tells you step by step what to do and how to do it, it was extremely easy to just open and go.  I also liked both of the textbooks as did the boys.  They were easy to follow, clear with instructions and made them think a little differently than typical in History studies.  Our least favorite part of this curriculum was probably the DVD set which caught us all by surprise.   I love the concept but for the price $179.99 ( this price is for the set not just the DVDs and you can purchase items individually if desired) I was disappointed.  I felt like the quality of the DVDs in general was poor.  It was very mundane to sit and watch the lessons but they did keep them short so it wasn’t unbearable, I definitely saw a few ways that could have been done a little more enthusiastically with minimal effort.  We had issues with playing the DVDs themselves, they were in great condition but still froze up or skipped on more than one occasion.  All in all while I loved the teaching method this curriculum set uses and the material it covers I would not purchase it without a major improvement in the DVD portion of the program.  I will add I hope they do improve it because if that happens I will jump at the chance to use this when my younger ones reach the right ages.  The Classical Historian’s other curriculum options include; Ancient, Middle and American for grades 6-8 and Modern World and Government Econ for grades 9-12.




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