There’s no shortage of great history options for homeschooling families, but The Mystery of History is the only one of those options with a permanent place in our homeschool. Today I want to share an overview of our favorite homeschool history curriculum, but also why we choose it year after year.
*This is not a sponsored post, but we’ve used The Mystery of History for three years and I’m happy to share my thoughts with you here. It does, however, contain referral links; see disclosure for details.*
I absolutely love teaching history, but it hasn’t always been this way. When we began homeschooling, I approached history the only way I knew how based on my personal educational background: by hopping all over the world and hitting the high points that seemed relevant or as they coincided with well-known holidays.There's a disconnect that comes with teaching history like it's a curated collection of lessons that features your own country above all others.
The various resources we used for this timeline-hopping approach were good, but it didn’t take long for me to recognize that gaps were forming because of our history highlight reel.
I began to look for resources that would help us learn history as a series of related events or a puzzle to piece together rather than a curated collection of lessons that emphasized my country’s place in the world above all else. That’s where The Mystery of History entered our homeschool.
Overview: The Mystery of History
Before I jump into why we choose The Mystery of History for our homeschool, I want to share a quick overview. Written by Linda Lacour Hobar and published by Bright Ideas Press, this world history curriculum is best described as classical, chronological, and Christian.
- It’s structured with a classical approach to history – It teaches all elements of history, including science, art and music, philosophy, and literature, but does so through the trivium. (Not a classical homeschool family? We’re not either, but The Mystery of History is a great fit for us!)
- It’s chronological – The four volumes work through the entire timeline in chronological order and help connect the people, places, movements, and events all over the globe.
- It’s Christian – The Mystery of History is written from a Christian worldview and does a fantastic job of weaving biblical and church history into the big picture of history.
Volume I covers creation to the resurrection of Christ. Volume II covers the early church and Middle Ages. Volume III covers the Renaissance, Reformation and growth of nations. Lastly, volume IV finishes with wars of independence to present day.
The Mystery of History Logistics
As for the logistical aspects, each volume is divided into four quarters that include overviews for upcoming lessons. Lessons themselves are grouped by weeks — three lessons per week — with off days for corresponding activities, review, or flex space in the homeschool schedule.
The Mystery of History is written for 4-8th grade, but can be adjusted as needed for younger grades and high school. For example, some families may choose to have students read the lessons themselves and work on activities together, while some may prefer to work through the lessons as a family, but do separate activities according to age and ability. That’s why it’s so helpful that the Companion Guides come with activities for younger, middle, and older students.
In full disclosure, you could also use the activities sparingly like we do. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a project-oriented homeschool mom, so I like having the option to include the activities when it works for us, but I also appreciate that the lessons themselves are solid enough to stand on their own.
Why We Choose The Mystery of History for Our Homeschool
Now that you know a bit more about the curriculum, I want to emphasize again that there are plenty of good choices when it comes to homeschool history resources. We’ve used others before and had good experiences, but, as good as they were, The Mystery of History is my go-to for homeschool history. Here’s why:
1. Conversational Components
It’s presented through the lens of storytelling. These books may look like standard textbooks, but they’re not even close. These lessons feel as if Linda Hobar is joining us around the table and sharing stories from all across the world and the timeline.
That goes a long way in our family. We’re a Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool and this storytelling approach complements the atmosphere of our homeschool well.
The storytelling approach is also what leads us into meaty conversations. Learning history this way has spurred important discussions about our cultures, politics, tragedies, and heroes who persevered in the face of unthinkable adversity.
2. Commitment to Truth
As a general rule, I don’t reference politics and cultural agendas here and it will be a while before I do again. Even so, there’s a push in our society today to “rewrite” history by reframing certain events or eliminating them from the books altogether.
I’ll never advocate erasing historical knowledge by neglecting to tell the full story, but I’ll fight to teach the good, the bad, and the ugly so that we can learn from our mistakes and be salt and light as we move forward.
I’m committed to helping my kids see God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness on display as we learn what’s happened in the world. The Mystery of History meets us there and helps me follow this conviction with each lesson.I'll never advocate erasing historical knowledge by neglecting to tell the full story, but I'll fight to teach the good, the bad, and the ugly so that we can learn from our mistakes and be salt and light as we move forward.
That’s why I’m so grateful that The Mystery of History was written from an “unabashedly Christian” worldview. I’m also grateful, regardless of how negatively it reflects on us as Christians or Americans, each lesson is truly objective. We can never learn from our mistakes if we don’t know them.
3. Connections and Relations
Learning history chronologically and conversationally helps us make important connections as we work through the classical history cycle. That makes it easy to understand how events or tensions in one area of the world can greatly impact events in another.
These connections and relations are on display from lesson to lesson, quarter to quarter, and volume to volume. We’re seeing history for what it really is: God’s story.
4. Practical implementation and affordability
Lastly, we choose The Mystery of History for our homeschool because it’s practical. My kids are five years apart and aren’t even in the same ballpark academically or emotionally. Yet again, this curriculum meets us where we are by offering flexible lessons, a variety of supplemental options, and the conversational style that keeps us discussing and thinking through our lessons together.
In a typical lesson from The Mystery of History, I read the lesson aloud while my 11 year-old does some notebooking and my 6 year-old colors the matching page from the Super Supplemental Pack or draws. Throughout that lesson, we’ll stop and discuss, ask and answer questions, and research if needed. This setup works well for us and leaves us with lots to share with Dad around the table at dinnertime.
Also, we use the books themselves as nonconsumable curriculum, meaning we don’t write in our books and only use them as readers. Then we use the digital files to print reviews, coloring sheets, and notebooking pages when we need them. This combination allows us to purchase one copy of each volume and make the most of our homeschool budget.
Get Your Homeschool Connected
with The Mystery of History
You can learn more about The Mystery of History by visiting Bright Ideas Press. You can also purchase all of their MOH resources there:
- readers and companion guides
- coloring pages
- notebooking pages
- challenge cards
Better yet, you can also purchase the Super Supplemental Collections or create custom MOH bundles to best meet your family’s needs. (You can see more on how we use the Super Supplemental Collection in my post about including younger siblings in The Mystery of History lessons.)
In addition to Bright Ideas Press, you can find a good selection of MOH products at Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op, but you won’t find the entire line there. You can also find most of the readers on Amazon, but it’s uncommon to find any of the supplemental resources there. Your best bet is to stick with Bright Ideas Press for those.
What are you using to teach history in your homeschool? I’d love for you to share what you love about it in the comments below. Lastly, if you have questions about The Mystery of History, leave a comment and let me know. I’m happy to help.