The Mystery of History, Volume III, is a gorgeous edition to the Mystery of History
family. A full-color, glossy hardback with 439 pages, this is a whole different
style of book than the previous volumes. Due to the reproduction restrictions for
certain Renaissance artwork, the publishers decided to change the style rather than
leave out the important pieces. While this increased the price of the book, I think
it was worth it. There is nothing like seeing Renaissance art in all its vivid
The book is divided into four quarters. Quarter 1, years 1455-1521, The Age
of Rebirth; Quarter 2, years 1522-1572, The Age of Reform; Quarter 3, years
1572-1632, The Age of Reason; and Quarter 4, years 1632-1707, The Age of
Resolve. Each quarter has seven weeks worth of lessons, with three lessons
per week. That equals 28 weeks worth of work and 84 lessons per year. The
first quarter begins with "The War of the
Roses" and ends with "Martin Luther and the Spread of the Protestant Reformation."
The second quarter begins with "Suleiman and the Ottoman Turks" and ends with "St.
Bartholomew's Day Massacre." The third quarter begins with "Tycho Brahe and Johannes
Kepler: Stargazers of the Renaissance" and ends with "Galileo Galilei." The fourth
quarter begins with "The Jews of the Renaissance and Reformation" and ends with
"Isaac Watts." There is also a full index in the back of the book.
Having completed Volume 1 of Mystery of History, there are some big differences
between the older style of book and the new one. In Volume 1, the lessons are
shorter comprising one to two pages whereas this new volume has more detailed
lessons with four to five pages. Volume 3 also has beautiful full-color photographs,
maps, woodcuts, and paintings, and the previous volumes were black and white.
What it does not have between its pages are the activities, quizzes, and tests
the previous two volumes have included. These items come separately in The
Mystery of History Volume 3 Companion Guide: Curriculum and Student Activities
The Companion Guide CD is an easy addition to the MOH set and
well worth owning. Once loaded into the computer, you will be brought
to a screen with a variety of choices. The list of activities and
lesson exercises are listed in the quarter you are reading in the
textbook and available to print with a few clicks. Memory Cards,
Wall of Fame Timeline Suggestions, Methods of Education, Grade
Record, Activity Supplements, Maps and Answer Maps, Supplemental
Books & Resources,
Pretest Answer Keys and Answer Keys for Tests as well as questions asked in
each lesson exercise are also available and easy to find.
If you are familiar at all with the other two MOH books, what
you find at the beginning of the book, and after each reading lesson,
are exactly what you will find in each the CD. This is so much
easier though as you don't have to wrestle with the book to make
the copies you need for classtime! This made doing the lessons
so simple. All I needed to do was open the CD, click on the lesson,
print and go. I didn't have to print anything we didn't wish to
use and it didn't clutter my book! I appreciated that I did not
have to wade through these sections in the textbook.
A special note about the exercises, activities, pretests, and
tests--we loved the variety of things Mrs. Hobar offers her readers.
There are many activities to choose from if you are so inclined,
and so many good questions and exercises available to enrich the
experience. I used the exercises and tests as well as the pretests
at times to determine just what my children were taking in. These
are valuable tools and I don't think we would have learned anywhere
near as much had we not had them. They are truly worth the time
it takes to use them. The information was reinforced over and over
in the quizzes and my children enjoyed the pretests to see what
they might know before we covered it in detail. They loved the
challenge of the quizzes and sometimes competed with each other
for the answers. It was pretty exciting to this mom who loves history,
to see her children clamoring over the right answers. I have
never seen that happen in any other history program we have used.
I appreciate that the author combines events and places and the
people involved in such a way as to make the subjects flow together.
For example, in Lesson 28, "Titian
and the Rise of Venice," she begins with a discussion on Venice, Italy, by
giving us a thorough description of the city at that time and then flows into
Titian and his childhood, growth as an artist, and eventual fame and friendship
with such powerful men as Philip II of Spain. In this chapter alone there are
two pictures of Venice and two of Titian's paintings.
There are various personalities you expect to find in a history of this
time period, and they are all there. From Cosimo de' Medici, Ivan the
Great, Christopher Columbus and other explorers, to Leonardo da Vinci,
Erasmus, Martin Luther and his 95 Theses, John Calvin, and The Scottish
Covenanters, the third volume is full of important and fascinating history.
There are also lesser known characters that also play their parts. This
is a thorough work.
The blessing of homeschooling is that you can teach in the manner that
works for your family. We read our volume out loud, while other families
use the book as a student reader. We do the pretests out loud to compare
our head knowledge with our previous study of the subject. The activities,
timeline suggestions, memory card work, field trip possibilities, historical
fiction opportunities, and prospects for extra learning via specific
study suggestions are endless. The quizzes have reinforced our knowledge
and the semester tests were a welcome challenge.
I would like to say a word about the author's ability to tell a story.
She engages all of my family. This beautiful book is written in such
a way to draw us in. We want to know what is going to happen next, and
Mrs. Hobar brings us along on her journey through time. This period
is especially important for those of us that hold the Reformation as
foundational to our faith. She delves into the meaning behind some of
the great controversies surrounding the Reformation. These are some
of the great events we are blessed to share with our children and the
author brings them alive.
There will be some who complain that the third volume is more expensive
than the first two, and will be unhappy that they need to buy a separate
companion CD. To some, the glass may seem half empty, but I see the
glass as overflowing. The companion CD makes it easier to print what
I need when I need it, at my own leisure. The book itself can be used
by every member of our family, and each of my children will have their
turn hearing the stories in its pages. It will be a blessing to turn
to again and again over time. What the publishers and the author have
done is offer a seven course feast for the taking to homeschooling families.
Our family is only too glad to partake.