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TRISMS: Discovering the Ancient World (Student, Teacher, and Answer Key) Review by Kris Price

Linda Thornhill and Sally Barnhard
TRISMS Homeschool Curriculum
1203 S Delaware Place
Tulsa, OK 74104-4129

Discovering the Ancient World begins with Creation and covers ancient cultures up to 500 BC, including Egypt, Sumer, Babylon, Ancient China, Assyria, Greece and many others. The material is covered in chronological order and is presented through the immersion method as the student delves into each civilization in-depth. There are 18 units (with unit tests) and two semester tests. According to the TRISMS website,

For each civilization students study and map the region, study the literature of the people, the science discoveries of the times, and delve into the art, music and architecture unique to each people group.

Comparison questions, intensive writing assignments (with an option of including the Institute for Excellence in Writing), and research skills develop critical thinking in the students. This is a multi-cultural approach to literature and composition using the actual writings from the civilizations. All literature necessary for the course is included in the user's manual.

Discovering the Ancient World is a great product that combines a four-year "classical education" history rotation with the ease of a unit study. Each unit covers two or more weeks of study. The student creates a timeline, labels maps, and answers questions designed to "help develop critical thinking and abstract reasoning." There are also vocabulary lists in each unit and even a vocabulary quiz. The Teacher's Manual is well laid out and gives very complete directions on how to use the curriculum. One stated goal of the curriculum is "to teach research skills." Therefore, the student completes multiple questionnaires per unit on Music History, Art History, and Architecture. Once the child is done studying the unit, he takes the unit test. The two semester tests contain questions about Vocabulary, Humanities, and Literature as well as a map to fill in. A separate book contains all of the answer keys.

This product is geared toward high schoolers and is part of a series that includes three other titles (one for each year of high school). However, the Teacher's Manual gives instructions on how to adapt this curriculum for younger students. So a parent could use it with several children at a time, even if they are not all in high school. There are detailed directions for using it with grades 6, 7, 8, and high school. I think this is a very valuable aspect, as it is often easier to have children study history together using the same curriculum. An additional chart also lists the possible high school credits that can be given upon completion of Discovering the Ancient World. The Resource and Reading List suggests books, videos, magazines, etc. to supplement each unit. The books are keyed by reading ability too. The Science and Literature Plans detail what is to be covered in each unit, and all literature that the student needs to read is printed in the Teacher's Manual.

My family found the questionnaires a bit repetitive unit after unit, so we focused on adding in extra reading and/or videos relevant to the topic of the unit. One thing that I really like about Discovering the Ancient World is the added emphasis on art and music history. These topics are often left out of a high school curriculum. It's also nice that the student pages are ready for immediate use and that permission is given to photocopy them for use with all children in the home. (Individual packets must be purchased if the curriculum is used in a co-op or traditional school setting.) A family using TRISMS needs access to a good set of encyclopedias, a nice library, or the Internet to make the most of the research aspect of the program. Take this into account when you are considering whether to purchase TRISMS. Overall, I would rate this a very good product that will give students the research skills needed for college-level classes. It is challenging, interesting, and very educational. I'm amazed at what I learned!

Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2007