Review by Carrie Fernandez
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review. I was not financially compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.
The Mystery of History is a Chronological, Biblical, Complete History Curriculum geared toward 4th – 8th grade, but can be adapted for grades K-12. We had the privilege of reviewing each of the current volumes, 1-3 and will give an overview of each individual volume below.
What I enjoyed most when I first flipped through the books was that the author has made it super easy for the teacher, by breaking down each main area of teaching. This will definitely aid the teacher in getting the most out of this fabulous curriculum. In the beginning of the books it explains how to use the curriculum with younger students (K-2nd), middle students (3rd-5th), and older students (6th-8th & up). It provides details for the teacher regarding the layout of the curriculum, pretests, lessons, activities, memory cards, reviews, and exercises, as well as quizzes, quarterly worksheets, and tests. Suggestions for student notebooks and timelines are also included. The author has listed several sample schedules to show you how many different ways the curriculum can be adapted to fit your family’s schedule and different ages of your children. MOH can be taught using a 3, 4, or 5 day schedule.
Each lesson has a pretest, which will allow you to figure out if your student(s) are familiar with the upcoming material, as well as giving them a curiosity and a preview about what they are going to be learning. Each volume is a little different in regards to the length of the reading for the lessons, and I will provide details in the review of each volume below. MOH uses a cumulative review system to make sure that the material is being retained, which I like very much. Included in the lessons are historical photos, engaging projects, mapping and timeline activities, a great memory card method used for review, quizzes and tests.
The Appendix in the back of the books is very useful, containing pronunciation bookmarks, outline maps, activity supplements, and suggested books and videos to accompany each lesson. Also in the appendix are the answer keys.
It is no wonder that The Mystery of History is a favorite among homeschoolers. I have come to realize what a jewel this curriculum really is. I love how you can make it fit your family by using it how it works best for you. I can’t wait to do history next year. Since it can be used for grades K-12, even though it is geared to 4th – 8th, I don’t feel like I am getting a late start with a 5th and 7th grader. I recommend this curriculum over Story of the World for a Chronological History Curriculum. The fact it weaves Biblical History through it rates it an A+ in my gradebook!
Volume I is broken down into 4 quarters/2 semesters, and 36 weeks. There are 108 total lessons with 3 lessons each week with a review, exercise, quiz or test at the end of each week. There are quizzes every other week or so and tests are scheduled at the end of each semester, so in my opinion, it is not too much. I think it is good to see how much the student retains.
The reading for each lesson in this volume is relatively short, in my opinion. It ranges from 1-2 pages, with the typical lesson being about one page of reading. This can be good for the child that gets bored easily and forgets what they are reading. The text is very informative and engaging and leaves room for further digging if you have an older child capable of doing so. Activities are broken down for each lesson for younger students (K-2nd), middle students (3rd-5th), and older students (6th-8th & up). Many of these activities can be done at various ages, according to the interest of your children. For instance, my 5th grader may be interested in doing a younger student’s activity as well as being capable of doing the older student’s as well. It is all layed out for you and makes it very easy to teach.
About every 3 lessons it instructs you to make your memory cards. In Vol I there are 12 specific dates your child should memorize and these get highlighted on the memory cards. In the front of the book there are suggested ways to do your memory cards. I think this will be a favorite activity for my children.
Here is the Author’s Description
In Volume I of The Mystery of History, I cover world history from Creation to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The text spans the incredible stories of ancient times, ancient lands, and ancient peoples.
Where most ancient studies encompass only Egypt, Greece, and Rome, The Mystery of History goes much farther. In Volume I, I include chronologically based stories from all around the world. Beginning with the Garden of Eden, stories will spread from Sumer and Babel to Troy, Phoenicia, and Assyria. The study of early civilizations will include King Wu of China and Asoka of India as well as King David, Julius Caesar, and Xerxes of Persia. Even North America is visited in our look at ancient peoples.
Above all, a favorite feature of Volume I is the weaving of Bible history with world history. In reality, it is all world history. But for most of us, history has not been taught this way. It has not been integrated. In The Mystery of History, I have retold major stories from the Bible in the order that they happened alongside significant world history events and figures. As an example, each one of the Old Testament prophets are given a biographical lesson near their contemporaries in old world history.
More examples of interesting figures who lived just decades apart include: Joshua and King Tut; Ruth and Helen of Troy; Daniel and Aesop; Ezekiel and Buddha; and Nehemiah and Socrates. Imagine lining up such amazing figures on one master timeline! Imagine learning their stories back to back in the order they happened! For most of us, it’s an illuminating experience.
Volume II is broken down into 4 quarters/2 semesters, and 28 weeks. There are 84 total lessons with 3 lessons each week with a review, exercise, quiz or test at the end of each week. This volume starts lesson one at Pentecost. By then end of the first semester you have traveled through Paul’s Missionary journeys, learned about the martyrs of the early church, studied about Nero, Constantine, the Mayans, Attila the Hun, and so much more. I love how important places and things in History are woven into this Biblical curriculum.
The main thing I notice about Volume II is the lessons are longer and “meatier” than Vol I. There are fewer lessons, but the content is definable more per lesson, which I like. This particular volume will be a lot of fun due to the interesting areas of study. I have heard the names of people and places taught in these lessons, but I am sure to learn as much as my children by going through this curriculum with them. The lessons in this volume range from 1-4 pages of reading, with the average being about 2.5 full pages. There are historical photos and sketches throughout the lessons that add interest to the materials being learned. The activities in this volume are engaging and encourage the student to really think about the lesson as well as how certain things in history affect their lives now. Like all other volumes, there are mapping and timeline activities, memory cards every 3 days, and a quiz about every other week.
Here is the Author’s Description
The Mystery of History Volume II (AD 30 – 1456) picks up where the story of Volume I leaves off – at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the first lesson I address Acts 1:8 with the promise of the Father to send the Holy Spirit. It is called the Day of Pentecost. From there, the history of the Early Church really begins. It is not an easy history to digest. It was amid trials, persecution, and martyrdom that the magnificent story of Jesus Christ spread.
In Volume II, I expand on the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages that followed. This text delves into the chivalry of knights and damsels, kings and queens, and the peasants who faithfully served them. Students visit Vikings and villains; castles and crusades; and the poetry of Dante and Chaucer.
Beyond Europe, this volume examines the life of Mohammed and the spread of Islam along with the rise and fall of dynasties in Japan and China. In Africa, Volume II looks at the Coptic (Egyptian) Church and Great Zimbabwe in the south. Students and I unveil the rituals of the Aztecs and the gold of the Incas in Peru. And in two distant corners of the earth, at nearly the same time, the peoples of New Zealand and Greenland emerge into our view of world history.
All along the way, Volume II of The Mystery of History pauses to hear the voice of God as He speaks through missionaries like Columba, St. Patrick, and Cyril. We see the struggles within the church as it grows, expands, and threatens the authority of emperors and kings. I ended this volume with with the tragic death of Joan of Arc, the fall of Constantinople, and the invention of the printing press which spreads the Word of God across Europe.
You won’t find these significant and amazing stories packaged together just anywhere. I’ve done the research for you so that you and your students are free to absorb this history and explore the untold mysteries in between.
Volume III is broken down into 4 quarters/2 semesters, and 28 weeks. There are 84 total lessons with 3 lessons each week with a review, exercise, quiz or test at the end of each week. This volume starts at The Age of Rebirth (1455-1521). It is not uncommon for curriculum with subsequent volumes to get better and better. MOH is no exception. Vol I and II are great, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to JUMP FOR JOY when I saw Volume III. The student reader is in a beautiful, full color, hardback book. What a treasure this is! Vol I & Vol II both have student worksheets, activities, quizzes, and tests, via a downloadable file available from BI Press. Vol III comes with a separate 3-whole punched, perforated (yes, I said perforated – love it), student companion guide. Everything you need for the worksheets, activities, maps (including answer keys for the maps), are all included in this wonderful book.
The lessons in Vol III are longer than both Vol I & Vol II. The amount of reading in this volume range from about 3-6 pages per lesson. Woven throughout the lessons are full color pictures, sketches, and artwork from this era. The way that the lessons are layed out are very attractive and although there is more to each lesson, it is not at all boring. I imagine each reader will be excited to keep reading to learn more. There seems to be more activities to select from in this volume, but I may be wrong. Perhaps it is just because they are in a separate companion guide.
I am so excited to start this series this coming school year. Honestly, I had no intentions on doing MOH next year. Not because I was against using it, but because I had no experience with it. Upon reviewing the curriculum I am sold! I was never good in History, mostly because it bored me to tears. God truly planted the seeds for this curriculum in Linda Hobar’s heart and you can tell because it is written with such clarity, vision, and passion.
Covering people and events from 1455 to 1707, Volume III contains more than I imagined it would. The Medici’s, the Inquisition, and Christopher Columbus. Michelangelo, Martin Luther, and Henry VIII. Copernicus, Shakespeare, and Pocahontas. These are but glimpses of great power, great minds, and great passion. I’m in awe over each and every one of the geniuses that graced this rich time period.
As is true with the other books in this series, The Mystery of History Volume III will look at what was going on all over the world in the order that it happened. So, while the Renaissance and Reformation were taking shape in Europe, we’ll look at the rise of wealthy empires in West Africa; the Mogul dynasty of India; and the peaceful lives of the Aboriginals of Australia. We will also visit Ivan the Terrible in Russia and the Tokugawa family in Japan.
Of course the stories will be told of the master painters and sculptors who made the Renaissance famous as well as the scientists and philosophers who dissected it. And the time period wouldn’t be complete without boarding a ship or two to circumnavigate the globe for spices and riches in the East. Many more explorers will touch the soil of North America and start a new chapter in the history of the world. We’ll bow with the Pilgrims who will give thanks for their survival and welcome the Native Americans to their feast.
Unlike Volumes I and II, Volume III has been separated by the publishers into two beautiful books! The Student Reader now contains 84 lessons in a colorful, easy to hold hardback. The reader is a stand alone world history text for all ages to enjoy.
But for those who wish to delve deeper, you will want to consider The Mystery of History (Volume III) Companion Guide: Curriculum and Student Activities. This black and white paperback guide book (written also by Linda Lacour Hobar) will contain these familiar and popular components of The Mystery of History series: Pretests; Hands-on/Research Activities for Younger, Middle, and Older Students; Memory Card ideas; bi-weekly quizzes and exercises; timeline helps; maps; supplemental book lists; and more. (Though it is recommended that Volumes I and II be studied prior to this volume, it is not necessary. Volume III can stand alone as a full course of Renaissance/Reformation.)
Update: The Mystery of History Volume IV came out and we were beyond thrilled. We used it in my daughter’s Sophomore year of highschool. Hands-down it was her very favorite history curriculum ever. If you love history – you will love this curriculum. If you hate history – you will love this curriculum – it changed my mind!