History is one of my favourite subjects to teach in our homeschool, especially Islamic history! I am very excited to share with you our Living History curriculum choices for the coming homeschool year!
Download our FREE Homeschool History Reading Plan, and you can read these beautiful books along with our family! (More information is at the end of this blog-post.)
Further research of the Charlotte Mason method of education has led me to many delightful discoveries; one of which is her method of teaching history through living books and biographies. This coming school year, I will be using this methodology to teach my two young boys, ages 6 and 8, more about later Medieval times in Britain and the Islamic world. Towards the middle of the year, we hope to start learning about the Tudors.
This blog-post may include affiliate links. Please see Disclaimer for more information.
If you’re interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching History: CLICK HERE
I have collected together an assortment of beautiful books that we will use this year; some we will read together as a family, and others are independent reading for my eight year-old. This curriculum also incorporates Islamic History.
If you would like to use this curriculum in your homeschool as well, please scroll down to the bottom of this blog post, and you can download our Homeschool History Reading Plan for FREE!
The topic of Columbus, an how to teach it, is a difficult dillema for many parents, as the horrific atrocities committed upon the native people of America are ignored by most historical accounts in children’s books. This is an excellent article to help you navigate this issue with your children.
Independent Reading/ Biographies (Ages 8+)
We hope that my son will read as many of these books as he can over the whole year, reading for only 10 minutes interdependently from them each school day.
Please note: I have not yet pre-read all of these books, but I plan too insha’Allah. I would always advise you to pre-read anything that your child will be reading independently.
So this is our plan for the coming year for History, insha’Allah.
History Curriculum: Islamic and European History
If you would like to read along with us, I have planned out the first term (12 weeks) of family reading, which you can DOWNLOAD HERE: Homeschool History Reading Plan.
As I mentioned above, this is a continuation of last year’s study of the medieval times, and so the British history component begins with Henry V (1413).
I do not plan out my son’s independent reading, but instead allow him to select a book from the list above, and read from it for 10 minutes daily. This approach could also work for your family.
To use the reading schedule, simply reading down the list the in order; beginning from the top and working your way down to the bottom. Each square correlates with the number of readings/sittings it will take to complete the chapter; e.g. 2 squares indicates that it will probably take 2 sittings to read through that particular chapter. You can even use this as a checklist if you like, and tick off each reading as you complete it.
The chapter names are written in the left-hand column, and the colour of the box indicates the which book it is from. There is a “key” to help make this clearer. If you need any further help with this reading schedule, please leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to help insha’Allah.
Are you struggling to choose a Homeschool History curriculum? There are so many different curricula and living books available, that choosing the right “fit” can become quickly overwhelming!
In this blog-post I’ll be reviewing three of the most popular Homeschool History curricula, that we have personal experience with, to help you decide what would be best for your children. I’ll also be discussing why the study of History is so important in a child’s education.
This blog-post contains affiliate links. See Disclaimer for more information.
Why Study History
In this modern educational culture, we have come to view History as a supplemental subject; a subject that is done merely to enrich the more “important” disciplines. However I would argue, as Charlotte Mason did over a hundred years ago, that history is “vital part of education.” (Vol. 6, p.169).
Understanding the events and people of the past, can help us to understand our own reality, and place in this world. The study of history exposes our children to worthy ideas, foreign worlds, people of noble character, and can act as an antithesis to the misguidance and trappings of modernity. It helps children to see what virtue looks like, through their imagination, and begins to train their powers of reasoning.
“…a subject which should be to the child an inexhaustible storehouse of ideas, should enrich the chambers of his House Beautiful with a thousand tableaux, pathetic and heroic, and should form in him, insensibly, principles where by he will hereafter judge of the behavior of nations, and will rule his own conduct as one of a nation.”
-Vol. 1 p.279
History, when taught by the principles set out by Charlotte Mason, enocurages children to relate to those unlike them; to humanize people from other nations and distant times.
“If he comes to think…that the people of some other land were, at one tome, at any rate, better than we, why, so much the better for him.”
History has far more to offer our children that just the memorization of facts and dates. It can help to shape they character and guide the way they think.
Like many, I was taught history using a dry textbook followed by comprehension questions. These questions tested my ability to pick facts out of the text, but did not develop my person in any way. I consider the many years I spent sitting in those history lessons time wasted; little information was retained, no ideas imbued, and any interest I once had for history quashed. The great thoughts and personalities of history remained hidden from me until I began to learn alongside my children using the Charlotte Mason method.
Charlotte Mason History
Charlotte Mason advised us to take our time with history; to dwell on those time and people who inspire our children, instead of rushing through in the effrot to cover “everything”.
“Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period.” -Vol. 1, p.280
She also recommend the use of living books to teach history, specifically mentioning “Our Island Story” by H. E. Marshall (Vol. 6, p.169) as the main text in the first two years (Form 1B and 1A), as well as reading well-written biographies of historical figures from Form 1A onwards.
Alternatively, many homeschooling families choose to use The Story of the World, by Susan Wise-Bauer as their main text or sole history curriculum. Another option is A Child’s History of the World by V. M. Hillyer.
Homeschool History Options
The Story of the World, Our Island Story and A Child’s History of the World are the three most popular choices of homeschool history curriculum.
This blog post aims to compare these three popular homeschool history texts, and highlight their strengths, weakness, and differences.
To help you further, I’ve made this Youtube video showing the books themselves, and discussing some of this details further. WATCH THIS VIDEO:
The Story of the World, by Susan Wise-Bauer is one of the most popular homeschool history curricula on the market. It was written to follow the classical educational model, however many CM families also use it.
The complete series consists of four volumes, which cover history chronologically from Ancient times through to the Modern age.
In previous years we have worked through Volume 1 (Ancient times), which covers world history from 7000B.C. to the Fall of Rome. However, for reasons I will explain later, we chose not to move onto Volume 2 – Medieval Times.
Each chapter is 3-4 pages long (A5), with plentiful black-and-white illusatrations and maps throughout. It is written in a conversational style, which appeals to many children, as it is easy to understand and is generally very entertaining.
The books do include Biblical stories and mythology. There has also been some concern voiced about the portrayal of Prophet Muhammad in Volume 2. I have not read this volume myself, so I cannot comment on the specifics.
Although the author makes a concerted effort to cover the history of many nations, it is still very much euro-centric world view, and so many families may feel the need to supplement this curriculum.
There are also optional Activity books available to go along with the main text. For every chapter in the main text, the activity book contains cross-references in encyclopedias, additional reading, extensive recommendations for audio-books and literature. The activity books also contain reproducible maps and coloring pages, as well as lists of crafts projects.
Our experience of using The Story of the World Vol. 1 was mixed. The children seemed to enjoy it, and found it fun and easy to understand, which was perfect for our first year homeschooling. It also gave me an idea of how to teach history in a home-setting, which was a very valuable lesson.
Unfortunately, the conversational, modern writing style did not encourage those “juicy” conversations that other living books can encourage.
I also found that the children had retained very little from the text a few days after the lesson. I also found the fast-paced nature of the book very frustrating, as the author has tried to cover so much history in just one book. Whilst I understand the thought-process behind that, I found that my children and I were not given the chance to form connections and relations with the material.
In hind-sight I could have slowed our progress down, and taken two years over the book, instead of one, adding in additional reading and other living books. However, as a new homeschool mum, I lacked the confidence to step away from the authors recommendations.
However, having spoken to many other homeschooling families, it seems that this is exactly what others have done; using The Story of the World as their “spine” and supplementing with their own resources and literature.
I feel that The Story of the World is a fantastic resource for teaching homeschool history. It is ideal for those who are uncomfortable teaching the subject and need some guidance, those new to home-education, or families who feel more confident reading modern English.
Personally, I would not class The Story of the World as a living book, as it did not inspire my children to great ideas, or spark interesting conversations. It is also not a book that I would pick up and read for fun, unlike other some other history books, that I will discuss later in this series.
The Story of the World is the perfect “middle-ground” for those interested in stepping away from the “textbook-workbook model” of teaching, but who are not yet comfortable or interested in using living books.
Our Island Story the primary history text recommended by Charlotte Mason in Volume 1 for forms 1B and 1A (children under 9 years-old).
This beautifully written book tells the story of Britain in chronological order from pre-history through to Queen Victoria. Each chapter is approximately 3-4 pages long and focuses on a historical figure, their story, moral character and contribution to the history of Britain.
The book also contains some poetry and Shakespeare quotes which could be used for further study and memorisation. There are also a few beautifully hand-painted illustrations in some chapters for the reader to enjoy. There is also list of Kings ad Queens at the beginning of the book, which could be useful when constructing your timeline or Book of the Centuries.
Unlike The Story of the World, there are no maps, and no accompanying activity books. If your children enjoys crafts and hands-on activities, you may choose to find these activities yourself.
The book is written in an older English, with richer language than most modern history books. It may take some time for children to get used to this language if the are not already accustomed to it.
It is written from an English (not British) Christian world view, and this should be born in mind when discussing the Crusades and other such conquests within and around the UK.
Due to its world-view, and the fact it only covers the history of Britain, you may wish to supplement this book with additional reading.
We stopped using this book after six months as my son was finding the language difficult to understand and narrate from. However, I feel this book has a lot to offer and I hope to re-introduce it into their homeschool history curriculum sometime in the future.
Overall, I found this book excited the children’s imagination and filled their young minds with worthy ideas and beautiful stories. I would happily read this book myself for enjoyment and my own self-education!
A Child’s History of the World was written by V. M. Hillyer, the late Head Master of the Calvert School, Baltimore. Focusing on the stories of historical figures, it covers World History from pre-history all the way through to the Cold War. Although written in conversational, modern English, the language is rich and engaging.
There are black-and-white illustrations and maps scattered throughout the book. The chapters are approximately 4-5 pages long. There is no accompanying activity book, and so parents may wish to supplement with other material.
We primarily used the Audiobook version from Audible. The narrator was very entertaining and read the book beautifully. I would highly recommend it!
Although the author writes from a Western worldview, I felt that he was respectful to other faiths and people, a fact that may have been noted by the people behind the Ambleside online and Bookshark curriculum who have included it in their elementary years history curricula.
Through his writing, the author also highlights and raising questions about good character and morals throughout.
Please note, this book does contain Biblical stories and mythology. Also, as it is attempting to cover a large period of time in one volume, many important historical events are not included or are skimmed over. As the parent, you may wish to add in additional reading.
The book itself is paperback, self-published and not as attractive as the other homeschool history curricula mentioned. Despite this, A Child’s History of the World is an engaging introduction to world history for children aged 5-9 years old and well worth your consideration.
These are the main three homeschool history curricula that you will see mentioned in literature-based, Classical and Charlotte Mason homeschools.
However, as I have hinted towards, there are many more options! In the next blog post and Youtube video, I will be discussing some alternative books and methods that we use to teach history in our homeschool.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you found these reviews helpful.
Don’t forget to WATCH THE VIDEO, and if you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comments below.
It’s been wonderful to get back into our homeschool curriculum this week, after the disruption of last week! We’ve been learning more about the Vikings, have enjoyed some great works of literature and made loads of art projects from our Toucan box.
Read on to take a look into a typical homeschool week with us, using the Charlotte Mason approach to education and the Ambleside Online homeschool curriculum.
Monday 2nd October
This morning the kids worked through a few lesson of CTC Math, on the computer. They are enjoying the programme and benefiting from the way it approaches maths. My eldest learnt about map co-ordinates and different types of graphs; whilst my younger son learnt about the concept of symmetry. It was a fun morning!
Today in circle time, we learnt about famous viking explorer, Leif Erikson and looked at another famous painting by Hokusai, “Mishima Pass in Kai Province.”
We have been using a wall calendar for picture study, as they are very inexpensive compared to art books, and can hang easily on our wall; allowing the kids to look at it and learn from it throughout our school week.
Tuesday 3rd October
The highlight of the day was the Toucan box came in the post! Thankfully the boys had already done most of their school work before it came, otherwise nothing would have been done! It was all very exciting!
We have recently upgraded to the largest of their boxes, the “Super box”, which contains 4 different craft activities and a picture book. To read a review of the Toucan box and see an un-boxing video we made, CLICK HERE.
For more information about Toucan Box, visit their website HERE and use the referral code GEMMA-9E6X to get your first box free!
Out of the four, the boys decided to do the underwater scene first. It turned out lovely, and we read the picture book that came at bed-time.
It is filled with the most incredible pop-ups that are so intricately designed. The book takes you on a tour of life in a medieval city, and it is full of great information along with pop-ups of a cathedral, castle and bridge. It really sparked my boy’s imagination and has helped them to visualise the scenes in the living books we are reading from.
We also raed about Prophet Nuh (Noah) from the book Lives of the Prophets by Leila Azzam.We discussed how Nuh’s wife and son were not from the believers, and how faith is a gift from God and should be cherished.
The afternoon was filled with activities outside the home; like Quran class and a Muslim beaver scouts meeting.He came back with even more badges for me to sew on! MashAllah.
Thursday 5th October
Along with the usual school work, the boys had a swimming class this morning. The long drive there gave us an opportunity to listen to the literature component of our curriculum Understood Betsy.
We have really been enjoying listening to the audiobook version on Audible. In fact, I have personally enjoyed it so much, I have been tempted this week to put it on for myself to listen to whilst I was getting on with housework! It’s really good!
After swimming, and a Seerah class with their other home-ed friends, we went into our garden to enjoy the autumn sunshine.
Friday for us means nature walk! This week we went out to a patch of scrub-land near the river and explored. It was beautiful!
Along the walk, I noticed some beautiful cowslip flowers by the pavement. I stopped, without saying anything, took a photo of them and walked on. A few minutes later I turned around and found my sons sat down by the same flowers having their own discussion and conversation about them.
There was no need for me to say anything, and “force” a learning opportunity. Instead of saying, “Look at these boys,” or “Do you know what these flowers are called?”, they were able to make the discovery themselves! These are the moments that will stay with them and that they will retain, not incessant lecturing from me!
I have to remind myself often, to follow the advice of Charlotte Mason, and stay quiet! I find it so tempting, in my enthusiasm, to give constant prompting to the boys. This was a beautiful reminder to myself, that they don’t need me to do that! They have each other! mashAllah.
Amongst some other discoveries, we found a few apples trees growing along the route, and a muddy puddle full of different foot prints; different kinds of birds and dogs (although my boys were convinced they were bear foot prints!)
My 5 year-old also found the biggest feather he’s ever seen! He was so excited and, as we had seen birds-of-prey in the area last week, and decided it was an eagle feather!
After a stopping off for hot-chocolate at a cafe, we started walking back to the car. It was a long walk, so I decided to distract them with Quran!
Each of the boys had to recite all the Quran that they could remember. We talked about how the Quran is the word of Allah, and everything in creation wants to hear it. So as they recited, we talked about how the clouds in the sky, the grass under their feet and birds in the trees were listening to them. Subhanullah! Before we knew it, we were back at the car!
We made it to Jummah prayer at the mosque. Although we went to a mosque I don’t usually visit, there is something very powerful about standing shoulder to shoulder with women, whom I didn’t know, praying together. Unity.
We didn’t have time to sketch and paint in our nature journal’s today, but the boys did make a lovely chicken a mushroom pie! It was a great end to the week.
How was your homeschool week?
Please do let me know and tell us all about it in the comments!
Last weekend we traveled down to London with the children to visit the historical sites and museums.
For almost 6 months, we have been meaning to take the kids to London for a field trip, and last weekend we finally did it!!!
I remember visiting the amazing museums and historical sites as a child with my mum. Maybe it’s jut nostalgia, but I wanted my children to have the same feelings of awe and also feel inspired as I was when I was young.
It took about 4 hours to drive down from the North-West and reach our hotel near Kew Gardens.
Before we tackled the museums, there was something much more important that we needed to address….our stomachs!!!
The first place we visited was Southall for some GOOD CURRY! We went to Mirch Masala and the food was delicious! After dinner, I visited a lovely Islamic book shop called Al-Jannahbookstore, and purchased a few goodies…but you’ll have to wait for my next favourites Youtube video to see them!
After a good night’s sleep, we set out to central London by car. I have always been intimidated by driving in central London, however my husband makes it look easy! mashAllah. Thank goodness he was with me!
The Natural History Museum
This was the one place that my children insisted we visit because of their extensive collection of dinosaur fossils. Even as a “grown-up”, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the size of their collection.
The kids particularly enjoyed the robotic T-Rex!
We even found the place where Andy’s famous time-travelling clock should have been!
(You know, from CBeebies TV show “Andy’s Dinosaur adventure”!)
It’s time to go an a Dinosaur Adventure!
In addition to the dinosaurs, we visited the section about Marine
life. The room with the life-size blue whale was incredible!
Then we went to the Volcanoes & Earthquake section. This was my eldest son’s favourite part. It is lay out really well, with loads of hands-on learning experiences. There is even one room that you can stand in and experience a simulated earthquake!
My boys were so inspired by this part of the museum, that we are going to incorporate earthquakes and volcanoes into our science this term insha’Allah.
On the drive back to the hotel, we drove through Westminster and saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. However, as the kids were tired, instead of stopping to look around, we decided it was best to head back to the hotel.
After another trip to Southall for dinner, we went back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
The next day we visited the British museum.
The British Museum
Honestly, I could spend a week in this museum!
I go nuts for Ancient history, and this museum is full of exhibits and artifacts from every ancient civilisation you can imagine!
It is my happy place!
However this time we only had a morning to spend here so we went straight for the ancient Egypt section.
In our history curriculum, we have spent the last 3 months focusing on Ancient Egypt. It was so nice for the children to see the historical artifacts in real life. The section was very crowded, and seemed really popular with tourists, but we managed to see a lot of fascinating things.
I love the British museum, and I’m already planning our next visit!
Before leaving, we sat and enjoyed some hot chips, whilst admiring the incredible architecture outside.
Travelling around central London with kids can be difficult. One of the best things I can advise is plan ahead; plan your nappy bag, plan your route, plan where you will have lunch, pack snacks…plan plan plan! Also, try not to be over ambitious with what you hope to achieve in the day. Personally, I do not expect to visit more than one place a day, and anything extra is a nice bonus!
He looks like I feel after a day out in London with the kids! 😉
(Mauritian Dodo from the Natural History Museum)
Have you ever taken your children on an educational trip around London?
We are planning to visit London again in the next few months. Where would you recommend we go next time we visit?
I would love to hear your ideas and advice for travelling with kids.
Both my 6 year-old and 4 year-old boys enjoyed doing this activity, and our Ancient Ming bowls look beautiful displayed in our dining area.
Ancient Chinese Bowl Craft
Air Drying Clay
Cling-film (Plastic wrap)
Small plastic bowl
Blunt knife Blue paint
White glue (optional)
How to Make your Ming Bowl:
Roll out clay to about 1 cm thick, so that it will cover the entire plastic bowl.
Wrap the plastic bowl in cling-filmand turn upside down. Make sure your surfaces are covered in newspaper or an old table cloth.
Lay the clay over the upturned bowl.
Use your knife to trim away the excess clay and make the edges smooth.
Leave clay to dry over-night.
Once completely dry, use your blu paint to decorate the outside of the bowl. Chinese pottery was typically painted with flowers, birds and outdoor scenery. Leave to dry.
If you would like to give your bowl a gloss finish, mix 2 parts glue with 1 part water to make a glaze. Paint this mixture over the entire bowl, and leave to dry.
Here are my son’s beautiful Ancient Chinese Ming Bowls:
My 6 year-old painted waves onto his bowl, and my younger son (4 years-old) chose to paint trees on his. They were really pleased with the results and have been showing these bowls to anyone who comes to visit!
More Resources for Ancient China Unit Study:
Other Resources we have used for our Ancient China Unit Study include:
We have really enjoyed learning about Ancient China. The only thing left to do now s get some Chinese take-away and watch Kung-fu Panda!
Have you been looking at Ancient China in your homeschool? Have you done any interest Chinese crafts? I would really love to hear what resources you have been using. Please share with us in the comments below!
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In this blog post, I will show you what Resources we used to teach our Kindergarten (Year1) and Preschool kids about Vikings, and hopefully give some ideas about how to teach this unit study in your homeschool.
As my eldest is only 5-years-old, I do not include too much written work in our unit studies. Instead the focus is hands-on learning and literature. However, if your children are older, you could certainly add in notebooking, lapbooks or even creating a poster of what they have learnt.
This is how we taught my Year 1 (Kindergarten) student about the Vikings:
1. Library Books
As with all our unit studies, the first thing we did was head to our local library to see what they had on the subject. We found this great book of World History by Dorling Kindersley.
I encouraged the boys to look through the relevant pages, and read aloud anything that intersted them. This is an old edition, but this History Book by the same publishers looks great too!
2. Day at the Museum
Another thing I always try to incorporate into our unit studies, are field trips to museums or historical sites. Our local museum was holding a ‘Viking Day.’ The boys got to try on a replica Viking helmet, look at maps and art work featuring the Vikings, and make these awesome Viking helmets:
3. Map Work
My son has a ‘thing’ for maps! So I used this interest in maps and world geography to help him learn about the Viking conquests. This FREE printable we used can be found HERE
We also try include some children’s literature to go along with our unit study:
My eldest son read the easy reader Viking Adventure from the Oxford Reading tree. I love this series and would recommend it for any children who are learning to read, but are not ready to tackle chapter books yet.
Also, during this week, I read to the children from the bookViking It and Liking It (Time Warp Trio).
It’s incredible how much information children can absorb from stories and books. At this age, there is no real need to TEACH ….only to READ!
5. Online Resources
TheBBC has compiled an excellent collection of video clips and resources that we looked through. The videos of the VIking ships really captured my boys imagination! You can check these out by clicking HERE
If you have any Viking Resources for children that you would like to share with us, please leave a comment below!
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It’s that time of year again…and I love it! Time to plan
next year’s Curriculum for Our Muslim Homeschool!
Like most homeschooling families, I started planning for the next year of home
education at least 6 months ago, and have been slowly collecting different
resources as I find them.
Below I have listed the curriculum we will be using for M as
he starts Year 1 (Kindergarten) from September. For A, my pre-schooler, we will
not be following a set curriculum, but will draw ideas from few different
books, which I have listed below.
The books listed below are the ‘main’ texts we will be
using, but we will also take from many other resources we have at home, online
and from our library, as well as frequent field trips we take. If you are interested in any of these books, just click on the title for a link to Amazon or the relevant website (includes some affiliate links).
Please note: This does not include our reading list, i.e books (fiction) that M will read or will have read to him.
I hope this curriculum helps to inspire other Muslim
Homeschooling Families, as so many others have inspired me!
YEAR 1 / Kindergarten
It is my opinion that religion should not be taught as an
academic subject, but rather it should be something that children witness as
part of normal life, learning from your example and other good company. However
there are some books that we will use for activities and to stimulate
For this year we will follow an interest-led approach for
the humanities. By this I mean that we will have a relaxed approach to these topics, studying what-ever M wants to learn
about using books from our local library.
We will be primarily doing the study of nature this year. However when the weather doesn’t allow us to go outdoors, we will use the latter two book for fun science experiments:
If you would like more ideas for Curriculum choices,
particularly for older children, I would recommend visiting Noor Janan HomeschoolandIman’s Home-school; both great resources for Muslim Homeschoolers.
If you have any questions, or any ideas for future posts, please leave them for me in the comments below. If you have a blog post about you homeschool curriculum. please feel free to link it below. I’d love to know what your using!