For those who don't use SCM history guides

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  • 2Corin57

    What DO you use? Do you follow a 4 year history cycle? Or just follow interests? Do you do geography and history at the same time? Do you start with local history and then expand? Or start with ancient and work chronologically?


    I do something different each year depending on kids’ needs and ages.  But generally, we work on a different section of the 4 year cycle each year.  Sometimes we’re together as a family, and sometimes they are separate.  (I have 5 kids)

    But our general plan is to pull from various book lists: SCM, BF and HOD.  Then I follow Sonya’s recommendations for teaching history explained in her blog posts.   We usually have a spine and extra reading (some individual, some together).  In addition to narrations,  I add the Draw and Write Through History book for whichever period we’re studying and the CC timeline song.

    Sometimes we read the spine as a family, sometimes I assign it to an individual child.  Sometimes we do assignments from a Beautiful Feet guide.  Sometimes we listen to Story of the World on audio.  Sometimes we find coloring pages to go with what we’re studying.

    For geography, we focus on a different continent for a period of time. We use Geography Songs and Sheppard Software.  Then we work on tracing and labeling outline maps while reading from various living books about the area we are studying.


    I’m letting go of the 4 year history cycle.  I started reading the first edition of Latin-centered Curriculum and really like how their history is set up.  It suggests a multiple-strand approach to history.  So each week, you might spend a day on Christian studies (which includes Church or Bible history), a day on Classical Studies (ancients), and a day on Modern studies (renaissance, American history, geography,etc.).  This would be 3 strands of history going (Bible/Church, Classical, and modern).

    Ambleside Online & Memoria Press both use a mulit-stranded approach.  I’m scheduling a variety of materials for the coming year, some from SCM, some from Memoria Press, and a variety of things already on my bookshelves.  For the coming year, we’ll be covering states & capitals, American history, Ancient Greece, and half of the Old Testament.



    I follow the history rotation for Ambleside Online. It is roughly a 6 year rotation and works mostly chronologically and has multiple history strands going. I say mostly because from the very beginning, while covering ancient Rome, and Roman ruled Britain, we are also reading some American Biographies (Washington, Franklin, Pocahontas, Lincoln, etc). Also, rather than having a large portion of time, say a whole school year or more devoted to ancient history, the ancient studies are sprinkled throughout the curriculum in every year. So each year has 2 main strands – World History and British > American History, with some ancients in each year.


    We do follow a 4 year history cycle for the most part. Now that my daughter is in high school we are veering from that a bit. I’ve used Truthquest  some and Ambleside online for one year but I’ve mostly put together my own history plan using living books pulled from SCM, Ambleside and other resources.

    Next year, we will be covering Early American history and we are using Sweet Land of Liberty as our spine combined with several biographies and a book on the Revolutionary War.

    After that, I plan on using James Stobaugh’s history texts as our spines for the remainder of high school because they are from a Christian worldview, they are well written and the lessons are short, which allows us to keep living books as the bulk of our history studies.

    After trying history many different ways, I’ve found that this is how I prefer to do history; with a good spine that is a living book itself (the Stobaugh guides veer from this but are the best option I can find for my purposes) and lots of biographies and living history books on specific topics to go more in depth.

    I started with American history when my kids were little. There are so many wonderful, inspiring and wholesome books for this time period and these books are more likely to have a Christian worldview. I find studying this area of history to be best for young children.

    We use SCM’s Visits To series for geography and choose the guide that ties in with our history studies as much as possible. I didn’t start these until this past year. Before that, we used some of AO’s geography books and map work as outlined in SCM’s original DVD series. In elementary, we mostly just did a bit of map work here and there, played geography games, played Seterra and kept maps and globes handy to reference during our history readings.


    We do a 4ish year history cycle, following the same history cycle as our classical co-op.  This year (our fourth year with the co-op) was modern history, and we also did that at home.

    I say 4ish, though, because at home we only made it to WWI, so I am going to take an extra year to finish modern times.  We are also going to study American Govt, since it is an election year.

    Each year I choose a spine for our history (in the past we’ve used Story of the World, SCM’s Stories of the Nations, Beautiful Feet guides, and Notgrass’ America the Beautiful, among others).  I then choose living books for the kids to supplement what we are reading.

    For geography, I choose whatever appeals to me that year.  One year we used the HC Holling books with the maps, one year we did Visits to North America, and this year we are using Halliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels (we completed the first half this year and plan to complete The Orient next year).  In addition, they do map drills in our classical co-op.

    The SCM history guide wasn’t a good fit for our family at the time, particularly because I have a separate Bible study that we prefer to use.  Also, history with a spine/supplements allows us to study history in a more free way – lingering for a few weeks on a chapter, if we wish, stopping the spine altogether to read a biography or living book about the topic at hand, or adding in a documentary or field trip if something interests us.  I’m definitely planning to continue this way for next year.


    Oh, and I wanted to add that I rely heavily on SCM book lists to find living books about different topics.  I create a big spreadsheet of books that fit into our history cycle, using SCM’s book lists, Ambleside Online, and a few other places.


    I have been using MOH and loved it!

    I covered all 4 volumes with my oldest (4 years) and will be starting again next year.

    I have them write a card on each lesson, we read living books from the same time period we are covering, do narration and time line.


    I am ecstatic to use Beautiful Feet Early American History Primary this coming school year with my soon to be 1st grader! It looks completely fabulous and I also got a TruthQuest American History 1 on eBay for a deal to go along with it as extra reference. If you haven’t seen Beautiful Feet I recommend you check it out. I wanted a literature based history program, but I needed it to be planned out since I am expecting our 4th 9-2. This fit the bill and a great price too I must add- especially since everything is reusable! I am going to use their Character Study and Geography Study as well- I plan adjust it down to his grade level because it looks so great I couldn’t wait to use it for 2 more years. If not I will save it and just enjoy the Holling C. Holling books because they look completely fabulous! I am so excited about this coming year!

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