SCM history guides — thoughts?

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  • JennNC

    Can you ladies talk to me a bit about your experience with the SCM guides? We have used a lot of things from this site over the last few years but never one of the actual history guides.

    I really like the sound of the slower, savor-the-books approach used in the SCM guides. And I love the idea of having all the kids on the same page as far as what period of history they are learning, but each with their own books to read/narrate. But I’m totally hung up on the idea of using the Famous Men series. For some reason we just hated the one Famous Men book we used… really, really didn’t like it.

    I know I could replace it with a different spine but have no idea how much work that would be. Are these guides worth the work it would be to replace the Famous Men series? Is replacing it even feasible?




    I have gone through them several times (reading them to myself to get a good feel).  We used Module 1 and loved it. I am excited to use the others because our experience has been delightful.  

    Sonya has scheduled 3 days of Bible, 1 day of Geography and 1 day of History for at least the first three Modules.  I know that it would be pretty simple to substitute a different spine by simply choosing your spine, figure out how many pages you will read and divide that by the number of weeks you need it, in this case 36 weeks. 

    I don’t see why it has to be any more complicated than that.  All the additional reading would still be valid, since they are books that can stand alone.

    blue j

    There are so many books you could use to sub for that one book.  Take a look at Yesterday’s classics website – there are several options there that you can use, just use bits at a time.  That is what I have done with my 11 yo who simply could not handle the FM books.


    I agree you could easily substitute a spine, and often the Famous Men books are read a chapter at a time. So if the one you substitute has the same (or similar) number of chapters, you just read Chapter 1 of the substitute when it says to read Chapter 1 of the Famous Men book.

    And to that, I TOTALLY understand. We mustered our way through Famous Men this year with Module 4 (The Middle Ages and Rennaisance and Reformation), but we will NOT be using the next one. Our children just were not getting anything out of it and honestly I was struggling too at the end.

    We all LOVED the Geography book (Around the World) and we don’t use the Bible plan b/c we go to a Bible Study that is 9 months long from Sept. to May but ironically it was the SAME book suggested in the guide so that worked out well. We just follow the plan in our Bible study rather than the one in the guide.

    The guides are VERY USER-FRIENDLY. VERY user-friendly. At the beginning of each section they have a list of all suggested books along with author right beside so easy to find on-line or at your library. Then the next page has a type of chart with the books broken down by age/grade. I copy this actually for each of our children’s assignment notebooks and highlight their column. Super easy to use this for your DC to follow along as well.

    The books they suggest for individual reading are the best of the best. All of our DC have thoroughly enjoyed the one read this year.

    We read each morning together; me reading and 3 oldest reading as well which is a great way to access their reading ability for emerging readers and build their confidence too; I don’t stop them but they often will stop and ask which is great!

    To give you an idea of the amazing reading your DC will do in a given year, this is what I recorded our children reading this past year:

    READ ALOUD AS A FAMILY (5 DC, ages 13, 12, 9, 6 and 6, and ME!)

    • Famous Men of the Middle Ages, Rob Shearer, Ed.
    • Ink on His Fingers, Louise Vernon
    • Around the World in a Hundred Years, Jean Fritz
    • Castle, David Macaulay
    • Christopher Columbus, Bennie Rhodes {Read separately}
    • Cathedral, David Macaulay
    • The Man Who Laid the Egg, Louise Vernon
    • The Beggar’s Bible, Louise Vernon
    • Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation, Rob Shearer, Ed.
    • Thunderstorm in Church, Louise Vernon
    • The Bible Smuggler, Louise Vernon


    • The Vikings, Elizabeth Janeway
    • Adam of the Road, Elizabeth Janet Gray
    • Night Preacher, Louise Vernon
    • Various Thornton Burgess Books {free on Kindle}

    READ INDPENDENTLY BY MY 12YO SON (He is reading on a lower level b/c he just began learning English 2 years ago):

    • The Making of a Knight, Patrick O’Brien
    • Leif the Lucky, Ingri Daulaire

    • Classics in Mandarin (he still speaks and read it fluently, and we intend to keep it that way! 🙂


    • White Stag, Kate Seredy
    • The Shining Company, Rosemary Sutcliff
    • The Magna Charta, James Daugherty
    • In Freedom’s Cause, G.A. Henty {Kindle}
    • The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain {Kindle}

    • He also reads voraciously about WWI and WWII (needless to say he can’t wait for this next year when the module will actually be in the time period he loves to study).

    Without the SCM guides, there is NO WAY IN THE WORLD I could compile a list of books like the ones above. I am just not that knowledgable about GREAT books, and the guides make it so easy for me to figure out a plan and to execute it. The guides are in my opinion some of my best homeschool budget money spent. Really are affordable. I do buy the printed book but even those are VERY reasonably priced.



    I am really very interested in the SCM history guides (they do sound great) and I own many of the required books, but I also have qualms about the Famous Men books as spines; I own them both but don’t love them as much as I’d wish to. I keep wondering if the Geurber books (Story of the Middle Agges and Story of the R&R) would work, but they are big books with many chapters and I’m thinking dissection would be necessary. Has anyone here ever successfully substituted a spine? What did you find worked well for you?




    Thanks for the thoughtful replies everyone! You have given me some things to think about …

    Now I have a related question… do the early guides have enough history in them for older kids? With only one day of history scheduled I’m curious what you all think.

    Thanks again. 🙂


    I’ve not yet had the pleasure of using the guides yet, but we are planning to start Mod 1 in the fall with a 3rd and 6th grader.  Here are my observations, please correct me if I am wrong.

    1) Mod 1 and 2 have 3 days Bible History*, 1 day ancient world history (Eygptian and Greek focus respectively), 1 day Geography.  Mod 3 has 2 days Bible History, 2 days ancient world history (Romans focus), 1 day Geography.

    *In my opinion Biblical history is still history.

    2) The higher the grade level, the is more reading is expected therefore, the student, especially in high school, will be working on history more often than the “family schedule” shows.  Also, written narrations and projects expected at the high school level will require more detail, thought and difficulty as they will be writing essays more frequently. 

    3) Additional books or alternate spines can easily be incorporated based on what is appropriate for the student and deemed necessary by the teaching parent. 


    I completely agree with 4myboys. For an older student, there is alot that is asked of them, if you want to do it. And, there are plenty of other “readers” that can be added in if you want to add them.

    We are using the Mod 1 guide this coming year and can’t wait (well, I can’t, not sure about the dc). It is packed with lots of reading and projects that hopefully we’ll be able to cover. I also have a TQ guide with lots more books to choose from, but I doubt we’ll have time for them. I’ll have a basket of “extras” for my dc to choose from on loan from a friend, so we’ll have plenty.

    And, I may purchase the Story of the Ancients, by Christine Miller, so that would be alot as well.



    That makes sense. Yes I agree that Biblical history is history, I’m so glad SCM teaches it that way. It is so important for kids to see that Genesis is the beginning whether you say you’re studying biblical history or secular history.

    Honestly, hearing you guys talk about your experiences with SCM does me good. The more you say, the more I feel that it will be a good fit. I have seven kids and six of them will be official “schooler’s” next year, so I’m really needing something simple enough that it will actually happen in my very busy house. But I didn’t want to give up academic rigor at the upper levels. And I so want to retain the joy of the CM approach at all levels!

    Thanks again. 🙂


    From the books scheduled in Module 1 it does not seem enough for a high schooler on its own for a history credit. What am I missing that you are referring to as a lot asked of them?

    As someone with a degree in history I did not find the module books enough for a student going to college who might want to study history or political science…they are easier reads and I wanted a more rigerous approach. I would have used the modules up until high school, then I would have changed over to something with more meat each year – which is pretty much what we did. We read a lot of books, and used some recommendations from HEO as well as some of my own books from my collection depending on what history was being studied. We also used Bibliopln companion as a guide for the periods being studied. We watched documentaries and studied leaders, read biographies and all in all the girls worked very hard. Having said that, they love history and read history also for pleasure, so it was easy for me to implement – I also do not shy away from touchy history subjects which some may want to…so it is an individual choice as to what to use. We also always look at both sides of each argument, we will study the evil in history and compare/contrast with Biblical History – wrote essays, did research and put it together in that way. So it does depend what your own sensibilities are, what your children’s interest is and how much you want to put together yourself. It may work fine for some and not so much for others, my girls wanted more adult reads, as they had read most of the module books in earlier years.


    Interesting discussion regarding high school, thank you. I was thinking of using Biblioplan the same way this year, perhaps alongside the SCM module 4 for the younger children. Missingtheshire, what did you use for MA and R&R time period as a spine for your older children? We’re considering AO’s recommendation of Birth of Britian.


    Totally agree with missingtheshire and wanted to add we’ve used only Module 4 at this point, so I can’t answer on Modules 1-3. We used MOH Vol. 1 and 2 before that, and it was definitely NOT meaty. So comparing to that, this is much more (speaking specifically of Module 4 here).

    It would be easy to add in more, but obviously if you are totally changing out all of the books incl. the spine, I don’t think the guides would be of as much use.

    As to using with a large number of students at varying ages, the guides are VERY GEARED toward that. That is one of the big pluses for me as we have learners ages 13–2 at this point (and yes, youngest sits in on read-alouds and thinks she is a student! in her own right). Wink


    I know that there is a “formula” of sorts that constitutes what is considered a credit or highschool level work (even college prep work) and then what is considered what’s important to each family, maybe even within the family, etc.

    But for my family, most of the reading material will be new (may not be for my younger boys as we go along), as we weren’t homeschooling from a CM perspective from the onset (meaning no living books going on, sad, but true). I know that for my kids, even if we did the SCM guides exclusively, they would be getting more reading in than they would in ps or if I had not chosen the CM method. I also know that for most families they add in more here and there based on interest, abilities, college plans, etc.

    I don’t know what we’ll add in for hs, as my oldest is still in jr high, but I still know that he will be getting more than what I can put together or if he were in ps. Obviously we could use a completely different program, if we felt that SCM wasn’t enough, but like I said, for *us* it would be more than what they would’ve had.

    Hope that makes sense as I still feel new to all of this and am feeling rather discouraged right now with my abilities to “do” high school to begin with.

    Evergreen, yes we used the Churchill books and a couple of other books I had on the middle ages from my school days, but The Birth of Britain series served us well and I love to read Churchill as did the girls. They read and narrated all the books, did a timeline from Biblioplan and read various other books pertinent to the time period. They also wrote essays on the history they were studying and all in all it worked well. They felt challenged and found the material interesting, though I know some do not:)) The following link is to a book that we all loved about English History, I love this historian and this book is excellent:


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