View Full Version : Story of the World......more questions

05-09-2004, 10:54 AM
Hello all you SOTW ladies! (and those just checking out the thread! :D )....

I had spoken to some of you on abcteach about history resources. I was very interested in using the Usborne History and Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. The Story of the World by Wise Bauer seems to go right along with the method I would like to use with my kids (reading to them aloud and doing correlating projects) while my young precocious son could dig more deeply at will using the two refernce books I mentioned.

Anyway, here is my question: Is the material in SOTW, book and activity guide, worth the extra $$$$, or would the Usborne and Kingfisher deliver the same information and thus be more cost effective? My concern lies in the fact that I have been reading mixed reviews on the quality of the SOTW materials, and I am especially concerned that the quality of the maps and drawings are laughable. I have checked out the site and viewed a sample from the book that disappointed me somewhat, so I am not going on hearsay alone. We have many other Kingfisher reference books and they have alot of hands-on activities included so I wonder if their History Encyclopedia contains activities as well. One reviewer suggested looking through the entire book before purchasing, as they were extremely disappointed in the cost vs. actual value of the resource.

I am trusting you guys to give me some honest feedback since nobody I know uses these books for me to go take a look at. Sorry to bug you ladies about this again.....I am wanting to be certain (at least have an extremely well-informed opinion) before purchasing.:confused:

05-09-2004, 11:12 AM
I borrowed SOTW from the library, and wasn't all that impressed. This was just the book, not the activity book, etc. DH decided against using it, because he wanted something with a distinctly Christian world-view. He felt very strongly about wanting this in our history and science.

05-09-2004, 04:52 PM
Maybe it depends on the level that you are teaching.

I like the SOTW book because it gives a short story about the *time & people*. You can then use the USB World History & Kingfisher History Enc. for a more colorful view and more details.

The activity book is nice. I was a little surprised that some of the maps are hand drawn but...at the time it's almost refreshing. Makes it seem a little more personal. I would order the activity book because she really pulls it all together there. The pages for the different resources are all listed. :D I would also order the child workpages pack. Not sure what she list it as. I've been tearing mine out of the activity book and making copies and....blah!

I haven't started feeding it to ds yet. I've been doing my homework because I am EXTREMELY weak in history. I've been skimming/reading the SOTW while using the stairmaster at the gym. So..while it's not a quality read....I'm getting it and figure out that the way it's written will be perfect for us. By the way ds turned 5 in Feb and begun 1st grade Calvert around Feb-Mar.

Hope that helps.

05-09-2004, 05:20 PM
The activity book is fairly scripted and basic and in my opinion a little too surface level for a precocious child. I seldom have ten seconds of peace after I stop reading as the kids are instantly recanting what was read, starting discussions and heading to other books for more information. That is not to say that anything in the book could not be extended. Some of the projects may appeal to your son. My boys liked making the hunter's game bags as they like the sewing machine. They gave them as gifts and turned out so well. The mapping activities are very basic and would take your son a mere minutes to complete. If he likes colouring he may enjoy the pages for that. I mainly use the books as read alouds while we are on the road somewhere and have time in between activities. I think they make a great read aloud and I am glad that it is something that appeals to all three kids here. I think it depends on how you do things educational speaking. If you are fairly into doing school at home and actually do "teaching" sessions and assign work then it may fit nicely.

Overall I like the activity book as it puts some ideas together that I don't have to come up with. Any bit of "non-thinking" time for me is appreciated. I could scan you a few pages of the activity book if you are interested.


05-09-2004, 07:30 PM
Thanks all, especially Michelle who seems to have a good grasp of what some of my needs are--and thanks for the scanning of pages offer.....we'll see if I need it.

My son HATES to color premade pictures, as does dd. Hand-drawn maps would drive us nuts (yeah, ds and I are sticklers for informational detail). I didn't assign anything except math when we homeschooled previously. I was looking at SOTW because it seemed to cover history in a format that lends itself to my kids' learning style--read aloud or together, dig as deeply as desired into the subject, hands-on activities, geography relevant to the subject matter, and approach material in a chronological order to better understand the "bigger picture".

I never assign "busy work" :p . My kids keep plenty busy for me, thanks.;) My son reads reference books more than anything, except the Hobbit, which we are reading together (and he still gets out the dictionary after we've read our chapter or so). Lots of things for me to consider....blah, blah, blah. I will definitely be purchasing the Usborne and Kingfisher books, and probably SOTW and activity books. From the sounds of it, the activities and references make it valuable, even if we don't ever use the other resources included.

Thanks again everyone! More comments would be welcomed, as I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to more info to clog my brain! :eek:

05-10-2004, 05:56 AM
You could always use the maps in SOTW activity book as a model for him to draw on his own. That way you'd have the ones you needed handy, and he wouldn't be cmplaining about just doing "busy work"....

05-10-2004, 05:05 PM
Hey Brooke!

I can tell you what I like about SOTW

First, I was looking for something that didn't present a religious view...here again.. I want our understanding in it. JUST FOR ME, its easier to add the Bible scriptures and chronology than to tweak someone elses or undo it! Yes call me crazy, but I want an outline!

Second, the actual anthology saves TONS of time in getting supplimentary reading books, waiting on the list for the library and otherwise finding books that go along with your particular themes. Some weeks I found volumes, others weeks the book selection was weak (no pun intended:D) on that subject.

As far as the activity guide, I have never used EVERYTHING we have ever bought. Here again, I skim and pull together each week. What I do need is a starting point...the activity guide gives me this starting point. Yes, yes the maps are hand drawn, but here again you can love it or leave it. The maps imho are probably handrawn so they don't have to ask permission and increase cost of the guide. However she recommends that you can make your own reproducible maps from a source called *Maps! The World and United States*, Isbn. 0943263204 by Teacher's Friend Publications. I have this too and purchased it as one of my keepers. The reason is because it has World maps and US Maps. So I will be using this year and year again. For my big guy, I would copy one of the maps if he wanted to fill in from that book. My little guy didn't mind the handrawn ones as they were more pleasing to look at. So her adding them was a convenience, not a necessity for content. Her thoughts are to have all of your basic history needs at your fingertips. Also, my visual learner remembers better sometimes by just looking at the globe while he's reading. So we certainly don't do EVERYTHING she suggests.

Third, what I do like is how she helps to synthesize the information. She puts it into manageable bites for me. She does this by her *questions and answers given format*. This helps me to highlight some of the main points in our narration. Again, if her highlights aren't ours, no biggie. We learn what we want to.

Fourth, with my gifted son, the information for supplementary material was valuable in steering me in the right direction. As I studied it this year, I found that many books existed on Egypt (too many) and hardly any on Sumner. She saved me time there by her recommendations on each section.

Fifth, her extension activities were excellent. I incorporated some of my own. Of course it was easy finding ones on Egypt, not so easy on finding ones on China,etc. Matter of fact, I added some of my own on Egypt, but needed her *basics* for some of the other world powers.

As far as being scripted, isn't that what all laid out curriculums do? Its completely up to you whether you want it presented like that or not. I do agree with Michelle that some weeks Mom is not with it and needs some nonthinking as far as putting it together. So you have it already if you want it.

Maybe I missed the point here, because I thought you was wanting something to use as a companion. Something to serve as a guide.I understood your intentions were to use good reference books such as Usborne and Kingfisher.

Some SOTW users use ONLY the SOTW anthology and guide. I would never do that, nor recommend it to you because of the way your chidren learn. They need reference and whole books. So the SOTW serves as a smorgasbord of activities to choose from NOT my spine. My spine is the Usborne and Kingfisher.

Lastly, I like the fact that not all facts or a voluminous amount of facts are talked about like most curriculums because we want to learn some on our own.

Soooooo aside from my children outlining what they are learning, which they are not at that stage yet, we need ideas for extension activities.

Here again, Brooke if you have the time and energy to assign and hunt for extension activities......then go for it! The $$$ imho just for me are worth it!

The activity guide pages do not have to be tore out. The book lies flat for reproducing for each child. Hence you can resale it to recoup some of your $$$ after your use.

You can also just buy the activity guide and look for books listed in their and ditch the anthology. The anthology serves me as a convenience since its a ways for us to drive there. The anthology can stand alone. It does list supplimentary reading along with what your children pick out.

You have so many options.....its all up to you.

Hope this helps

05-10-2004, 09:10 PM

I was basing my doubts on some unfavorable reviews on a couple other sites. After talking more personally with many of the ladies here, I think that I will purchase both SOTW books (anthology and activity). I was a bit flustered after thinking her resources were not of the quality I expected, but it seems there are more than enough time-saving ideas that it will be well-worth the price.

I do want the Kingfisher and Usborne books regardless. That didn't change. I was just curious about the SOTW material. I found a decent library that should be able to get the anthology for me to check out ahead of time. (no local library and few area libraries with interlibrary loans). Anyway, thanks again everyone! I knew you would be the group to ask!

05-11-2004, 03:17 AM

I know some of the reasons for bashing that I have heard of are my very reasons for using.

She has received some bashing from Christian sources because they feel she should have not presented history, *in their opinions* so secularly. However, she will tell you outright that there is no way you can present history or science without taking a stand one way or the other regarding the presence of a Creator. Her *publishers* preferred for her to make her curriculum appealing to both Christian and non Christian homeschoolers. However, she outright presents the Bible as fact, and in her lists of famous men and woman list ancient persons of faith and those that did not fare well because of lack of faith without putting a lot of her interpretation of religious beliefs....So far anyway;) This fact I appreciate since I'm picky on how doctrine/scriptures are applied;)

As far as quality, there are other Christian history based curriculum that are way more comprehensive such as Tapestry of Grace and Streams of Civilization. My reasons for steering clear of these is that they are so *fleshy*, and not a skeleton. They tend to include an abundance of facts, which in itself is not a *downside* if you want that from a history curriculum. For us, its way more than I want for the way my children want to learn. From the standpoint that someone wants everything included, i.e. comprehensive, SOTW may not suit them or they may find it lacking. We want some direction, but don't need top notch materials that exist in the reference books/whole books. We want to look at maps from outside sources,timelines that we find appealing, books on famous men and woman from the library, other sources and the Bible, read originals sources that we find interesting.

However, Susan Wise Bauer's states again and again the purpose of her curriculum is to introduce the child to a love of learning history. Not making him stay on one subject if he finds another interesting. SWB says *move on*, you don't have to cover every topic, you will come back to it next time. Find one that interest him and *run with it*. Its harder to do that with a history curriculum that has soooo much to cover.

Green leaf press presents some of their history like that. Its wonderful, its just that you would be on the Romans for 3 months or longer if you covered it like that. We want to move along and get an overview and stop when something interests us, and it may not necessarily be Rome.

I still like following some of the Charlotte Mason method by using whole books and narration in science and history both. Imho, SOTW has *ease of use* and is more adaptable to doing this than another comprehensive program that is laid out so intricately detailed.

If thats what you are looking for, then SOTW will serve as a good tool/guide/outline.

Hope that helps:)

05-11-2004, 09:20 AM
Wow! Sounds great! :cool:

That new info kinda sealed the deal for me. I don't like loaded curriculum either. And with my dd, I need something to read aloud in a short story form and then something else that appeals to her hands-on artistic side. And ds can read on...and on....and on...

Does SOTW or the Usborne/Kingfisher books have a companion timeline? We could make our own, but I like to teach/learn while looking at the timeline in front of me. You've probably already told me, but I have been REALLY scatterbrained lately. :confused:

05-11-2004, 12:24 PM
The USB World History is the timeline. :D

I forget what she says in the book, two pages per week. I stretched ours out a little more in my planning because ds is younger and I figured we would probably only do history once a week instead of twice a week.

Tina and I both put a grid format page in our "books" to list out when we plan to cover and for how long. It's really just a simple Word or Excel table. I then sat down with the USB World History and filled it in. :D

Hope that helps.

05-11-2004, 05:55 PM

I suspect we'll be reading a lot more than twice a week. We're a history kinda family! Hmmmm....unless I can only tear it away from hubby a couple times a week....:D

Here is yet another piece of "insider infomation" I would like.....
Just how much gratuitous nudity is offered in the Usborne History book? I mean is it famous artwork or is it going to need sensored prior to reading? That is something new that I noticed a buzz about....I don't mind editing if needed, I realize that it is technically history (**** Olympics and such), but will I be able to turn my 8yo ds loose on the book without worries? And if you think it would be offensive to conservative people, would the Kingfisher book be more than enough of a reference to have for a more mature child to read? Sorry, I am pathetic, aren't I???!!!!:rolleyes:

05-11-2004, 08:57 PM
Nope Brooke......sorry i wouldn't turn my book loose with my 6 and 9yos regarding nudity. What I did do,and of course they haven't figured it out,hee hee is paperclip several pages together like I was marking a spot;)

Of course, i told them not to touch the clip! In the middle of the cluster were the pages I wanted them to skip over...I just kept the paperclips there! DS did ask me several times, but I told him we were just going to keep that marked or I might skip over them..blah blah.....They are good kids so no worries. They could of cared less what was paperclipped with all the other info we had.:p He probably really knows, but has so many other library books and other sections that he stays too busy oogling at other things.

Yep, nudity and all the pagan myths are earmarks of true history books!:rolleyes: So each has to decide what is best for their family and Bible trained consciences.

I know for us I looked ahead and didn't read them all, but i did educate the children as to some of the lifestyle then. For example *What type of world did Abraham live in when he left Ur?* This helps them understand the position and faith of Abraham because of the many pagan gods being worshipped. I tried to stay focused on his faith amidst a godless word instead of *clueing them into every myth and pagan ritual available then*

As far as a visual ongoing timeline I haven't made up my mind this year. I didn't do one last year for the simple fact that we just wanted to see how the curriculum worked and otherwise wanted to feast.

I have several options I'm looking over..I know we can make our own and keep it in a notebook....This is actually what I'm leaning towards so that I can add time chunks whenever/wherever we want..

I see several downfalls to keeping ones on a long roll of paper....after you have scaled it out, you can't really add to it.

Also there are ones already made up.....I think we are leaning toward making our own since we'll probably remember it better...

I'm still perusing that one.......mmmmmmm, but so far I think I will use a template or scale and keep each page in a 3 ring binder...dunno for sure....


05-12-2004, 08:44 PM
The material covered per week as suggested by WTM isn't all the History reading you will do. I didn't get it at first :D But...you can think of the USBWH as the timeline. Each of the pages really doesn't have much to read. So...this is where you supplement with other resources. SOTW, Kingfisher (if you want), books from the library, etc...

So...while it looks like it will take you a whole 5 minutes to read the USBWH *time* page....it's really all the other goodies that put it all together.

I'm starting to get it. ;)