Search Results for: label/One Story

History As Story: Dave Raymond’s American History Part 1

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History is one of our favorite subjects around here, and we’ve always used a literature-based rather than textbook approach. We’ve also really enjoyed the video-based approach that Compass Classroom uses for their programs, like Visual Latin and Economics For Everybody.

For the last few weeks I’ve been previewing Compass’s latest offering, Dave Raymond’s American History Part 1, which blends both of these approaches. It teaches through a combination of video lectures and readings from original source documents.

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Truthquest History Guides: Literature Based and Super Flexible!

I’ve always loved books. And I’ve always loved history. So, when I began to research home education options for my children way back when the Dancer (13) was just a baby, the literature-based approach immediately caught my attention! It just clicked. I’ve always said that I learned more from historical fiction, classic literature, and other reading I did on my own than I ever learned in a classroom.

So, since the very beginning, this is the approach I’ve used with my kids. Our family has thrived with this approach. We’ve used several different curriculums throughout the years, and I’ve always customized them to meet our needs. I’ve heard great things about TruthQuest History in the last several years but haven’t had the opportunity to really check it out. To my delight, I received their Beginnings Guide, which covers Creation/Old Testament/Ancients/Egypt, to review recently.

Here’s how TruthQuest describes itself:

TruthQuest History is a deep and rich literature-based history study…but with a difference. You will not learn the story of mankind; you will learn the lovestory of mankind. You will not focus on the rise and fall of human civilizations; you will focus on the arrow-straight line of God’s unchanging existence, power, love, truth, and plan for civilization. You will not simply ‘meet the culture’ or ‘get the facts;’ you will probe the truths of history so deeply that your students will be equipped to change their world! 

God initiates…people respond….history happens.

So how exactly does it work?

Each guide contains a chronological series of lessons on that particular time period. The lessons consist of a commentary or essay from a Biblical perspective that’s designed to “prime” your kids to look for the underlying spiritual issues behind historical events, incrementally and subtly weaving together the deepest issues of that particular era of history. This is followed by an incredibly comprehensive list of living books to choose from that correspond with the given topic, for a wide range of ages. You can choose to read as many or as few as you’d like. Several “spine” type books, like Story of the World, are suggested, and corresponding readings to each lesson are given, but they aren’t a requirement. In fact, the entire course can be completed using nothing but the guide and a Bible, if you prefer! Every so often, there are assignments called ThinkWrites, that encourage the student to digest and process what they’re learning through a short writing assignment.

So what do I think?

I love the story approach to history! History is a story, not a series of factoids to memorize. If you know me, you know that the idea that the Bible (and all of history!) is one big story of redemption is something I think is absolutely crucial to get across to our children. TruthQuest goes right along with that line of thinking. Integrating biblical events with what’s going on in the rest of the world is a big deal to me too, and TruthQuest appears to do an excellent job at this as well.

I appreciate the conversational tone of the lessons, which is maintained even while conveying deep insights into the how and why behind all of history. This is definitely not dry, boring, textbook material! And the book lists are fantastic…there’s bound to be something there that will work for everyone!

On the practical side, I’m also very impressed! The price and flexibility are both fantastic! I’m a planner, and I usually like to have a set schedule of what exactly we need to accomplish each year. But with the wide age range I have, and only limited time to spend one-on-one with each child,  I like the idea of just picking from a list and not having such a rigid regimen.

I’ve just about convinced myself to use this for Karate Kid (11) next year, and I’ll very likely add Peanut (6) in also, using age appropriate books. I have many of the books on the book list for the Beginnings Guide already, and plenty more that would fit in just fine. There are also plenty of public domain titles that can be found online free or nearly free, which we can just put on the Kindle or iPad and dive into! Having them on the same track and using a more relaxed approach, where we just work our way through the guide at our own pace rather than being tied to a schedule, will leave me more time and energy to focus on the Dancer’s first year of high school.

As the years go on, and my time has more and more demands on it, I’ve found myself relaxing my schedules anyway. Reading the lessons and picking a few books from the book list as we go along sounds very appealing, rather than having to rework a schedule that’s already set up to read certain pages on certain days.

I love how easy TruthQuest makes it to pursue your child’s interests. If they find a particular topic fascinating, add a whole pile of books and spend awhile on it! On other lessons, maybe you’ll just read one or two, or even just read the lesson itself and move on. And the lesson itself doesn’t necessarily have to be read word for word, especially with younger kids. Use it as a jumping off point for discussion! The author is a huge advocate of using the lessons and reading as a springboard for family discussions. Often this will be where the real learning will take place!

On the other hand, there are those who sit down and break the guide up into a schedule to fit into a certain timeframe. You can use one guide for an entire year or go more quickly. For those who want activities, there are lapbook and notebooking guides available that correspond with each guide, and an online community with all kinds of resources and suggestions. So you can keep it as simple or make it as comprehensive as you want. It’s completely customizable!

The World History Guides are written with grades 5-12 in mind, although younger children can participate and have book suggestions included. There is also an American History series that is geared for grades 1-5. The Beginnings Guide that I received runs $29.95 for a bound copy or $23.95 for a PDF file, and the others all seem to be within a few dollars of that. The website includes the table of contents, a sample lesson, and a list of optional “spines” for each guide. Here they are for the Beginnings Guide:

Table of Contents
Sample Section
Optional “Spines”

If you’re looking for an affordable, flexible, literature-based approach to history that can be used with multiple ages, definitely give TruthQuest History a look! Also be sure to visit the crew blog to see what other home educators had to say about it!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary PDF copy of the TruthQuest History Beginnings Guide for review purposes. I received no other compensation, and all opinions are my own.

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Jonathan Edwards: Christian Biographies for Young Readers

Jonathan Edwards: Christian Biographies for Young Readers

I’ve written often about the importance of teaching our kids about their spiritual heritage.

Being familiar with the major historical events and important figures in the history of the church helps them understand how we got where we are now, and feel that sense of heritage and connection with fellow believers in the past. This, along with communicating the concept that the Bible is one cohesive story of God’s plan of redemption, are things I consider absolutely crucial.

Simonetta Carr’s Christian Biographies for Young Readers are a valuable tool in this task. The publisher describes the series this way:

The Christian Biographies for Young Readers introduces children to important people in the Christian tradition. Parents and school teachers alike will welcome the excellent educational value it provides for students, while the quality of the publication and the artwork make each volume a keepsake for generations to come. Furthermore, the books in the series go beyond the simple story of someone’s life by teaching young readers the historical and theological relevance of each character.

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Anselm of Canterbury: Christian Biographies For Young Readers (Family Discipleship Tools)

Anyone who has read this blog for long knows that I’m convinced it’s absolutely crucial to communicate the concept that the Bible is one cohesive story of God’s plan of redemption to our children. Right up there in importance for me is also being sure that they’re familiar with the major historical events and important figures in the history of the church. They need to understand how we got where we are now and feel that sense of heritage and connection with fellow believers in the past.

Anselm of Canterbury by Simonetta Carr Review From
I didn’t even know who most of the major historical figures in church history were until I was an adult! Thankfully, there are more quality resources available these days to assist us in passing on this knowledge to our own kids.

One set of tools that’s worth checking out is the Christian Biographies For Young Readers series by Simonetta Carr. I’d been eyeing these for quite awhile and I finally got my hands on the volume on Anselm of Canterbury a couple of weeks ago.

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Purposeful Links 6/29

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I didn’t post links last Saturday because I was out of town! Here’s a few that have caught my eye this week:
  • We love fizzy, probiotic water kefir! It’s especially refreshing on hot summer days when flavored with fresh or frozen fruit. Cultures for Health is offering their water kefir grains for 25% off until Tuesday, 7/2 with code WKG at checkout. This is where I got my grains and they’re still going strong nearly two years later! If you’ve ever considered giving them a try, now is the time! 
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God’s Great Covenant: A Bible Course for Children Old Testament Book 1 (Review Crew)

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Last spring I shared my excitement about Classical Academic Press’s God’s Great Covenant series with you when I had the opportunity to review the first New Testament volume. I absolutely love the approach this series takes to teaching all of Scripture as one big story of redemption! Those of you who have been around here for long know that’s a theme I return to again and again when I write about Biblical instruction. 

This time, I received the Old Testament Book 1 student text, the accompanying Teacher’s Edition, and an mp3 audio file. This volume covers Genesis through Ruth, and is written at a third grade level, although it’s adaptable for a much wider range than that. The text is divided into five units with a total of thirty-two chapters, with a recommended pace of a chapter per week. Each unit focuses on one aspect of God’s character, while moving chronologically through Scripture. 

From the product page:

Unit I: In the Beginning – God’s Power.  God, the mighty Elohim, demonstrated His power by speaking creation into existence. He barred sinful man from the garden and judged the wicked world with a catastrophic flood. At the same time the power of His mercy and His redemptive plan secured man’s future existence.
Unit II: By the Patriarchs – God’s Promises. The Lord God plucked Abram out of the city of Ur and sent him on a journey. Through the covenant the Lord gave Abram (later called Abraham) three promises: to give him a land, to make him the father of many nations, and to bless the world through him. These promises, and God’s faithfulness to keep them, form the foundation for the rest of God’s story.
Unit III: Out of Egypt – God’s Redemption. In God’s mind, rescuing Israel from Egypt was more than saving the Israelites from slavery. The Lord God was redeeming Israel from sin and renewing the covenant He had made with Abraham. Despite their sin the Lord desired to dwell with His people and bless them.
Unit IV: Through the Wilderness – God’s Provision. In the harshness of the Sinai wilderness the Lord God showed His people that His care for them was perfect. Even though they grumbled, complained, and refused to trust Him, God was completely trustworthy.
Unit V: In the Promised Land – God’s Faithfulness. After the glorious conquest of Canaan, Israel entered into the dark years when everyone did “what was right in his own eyes.” Even though Israel repeatedly turned from the Lord, He always heard their cries for mercy and delivered them from the oppression of their enemies.

Each chapter opens with a page containing the corresponding Biblical text reference, the theme of the chapter, a memory verse, a Key Facts chart, vocabulary, and thought-provoking “Who is God?” questions designed to encourage children to consider what they’re learning about Him and how to relate to Him in their own lives. The text is written in a readable, narrative style, and is fairly short (2-3 pages). Each chapter wraps up with a worksheet and chapter quiz, and each unit ends with a review chapter that recaps what was covered throughout that unit. There are also “Jesus in the OT” boxes scattered throughout the text pointing out how various events and objects in the Old Testament foreshadow Christ.


The Teacher’s Edition is just a treasure trove of information! It contains a full reproduction of the student text, accompanied by answer keys and teacher’s notes, with additional factual information expanding upon the historical, geographical, cultural, and theological concepts introduced in the text. There’s also plenty of room in the margins for jotting your own notes, and each chapter is keyed to corresponding questions from the Catechism for Children when applicable (love that!!). 

The mp3 file contains two hours of recording featuring 27 stories from Genesis to Ruth engagingly read by Christopher Perrin, and is compatible with most popular music players like iTunes.

I am highly impressed with this series, even more so now that I’ve seen how it handles the Old Testament! There are some difficult subjects covered in the first several biblical books, and author Claire Larsen is able to use understandable language and bring it to the student’s level without watering it down. I love that God is the primary character throughout…instead of relating individual stories with a message or moral, the story is told from the perspective of God’s plan and how everything fits into it. 

And just as with the New Testament volume I reviewed, I am so appreciative of the thoroughness of the Teacher’s Edition! I find that most of my teacher’s guides just sit on the shelf, and many of them are little more than answer keys. Not so with God’s Great Covenant! This guide is completely comprehensive and chock full of additional relevant information. It’s definitely worth purchasing!

I chose to use this study with Karate Kid (11), even though he’s on the upper end of the age range. It goes right along with his history studies, and he’s able to do it independently, which he really likes. Since he’s a fluent reader and the chapters are short, he’s been doing two chapters a week. I read the corresponding notes in the teacher’s guide on my own, and then we discuss a couple of times a week. Armed with all the information provided, I’m able to really dig into what he’s read and have some great, meaningful conversations with him! The illustrations and maps are well done and fun to look at, and Karate Kid even enjoys the worksheets and quizzes! There’s plenty of variety (multiple choice, fill in the blank, charts, and puzzles) to keep his interest level up, and he likes to consider the closing “Think About This…” question on each worksheet and discuss it with me.

He hasn’t been enthusiastic about using the audio, since he’s able to easily read the text himself and do everything independently, but I can see that it would be quite useful with younger children as a supplement to, or occasionally a replacement for, reading along with them. The narrator’s voice is pleasant and his reading is lively! I think this will definitely get more use when I start my youngest two on this study in the near future! 

I also chose to purchase the timeline and map pack, but haven’t really incorporated it yet. They’re high quality and colorful, and will be a great way to reinforce and visualize the places and events covered.

We will definitely be purchasing the rest of the volumes in this series and working through them! They’re a wonderful, comprehensive resource to have in your discipleship toolbox!

God’s Great Covenant Old Testament Book 1 is available for $22.95, the Teacher’s Edition for $24.95, and the MP3 file for $9.95, or the entire set can be purchased as a bundle, including the timeline and map set, for $79.95 (the timeline and map set is also available individually for $36.95). 

You can read my thoughts on the New Testament Book 1 here.


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