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Writing Through Ancient History Level 1 and Level 2 Review by Lisa Maynard

Kimberly Garcia
Brookdale House
P O Box 7868
Beaumont, TX 77726
Phone: 281-639-3827

The Writing Through Ancient History Level 1 is a home school writing curriculum that focuses on the time period creation myths to 400 AD. The program follows the Charlotte Mason style of learning. It focuses on reading, narration, and copy work to teach grammar, spelling, penmanship, and history all at once. The curriculum is available in both printed and E-book form. There are two levels and each level is available in both manuscript and cursive depending on the ability of the child or your particular preference. If you decide to use this program in e-book form you would need a computer and printer. I have a little binding machine that came in handy as my son likes spiral bound notebooks. However, you could just print, hole punch, and place it in a regular ring binder. The curriculum is organized in four chapters with each focusing on a different style of writing. Chapter one covers short stories that focus on various people from Ancient History, chapter two contains a selection of fables from Aesop, chapter three is poetry on or from the time period being studied, and chapter four contains a variety of folk tales from all over the world. Brookdale House sell a complete four year history set covering Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern history for $80.00 (e-books) or $112.00 for the printed version. You can also purchase them individually for $22.95 (e-book) or $30.95 (printed). The four books are available in Level 1 and Level 2, and are available in both cursive and print.

We are very familiar with the Charlotte Mason approach to education. I found this curriculum very appealing and easy to use. However, if you are unfamiliar with her approach there is an appendix that gives a little insight into the Charlotte Mason methodology. Level one is for grades one through three. I used this program with my seven year old and we continue use it daily. In fact he asks to do this program and loves that is broken down into several activities. The suggested schedule is for a five day work week which is the one we followed most of the time. However, it's easy to pick up if you miss a day due to sickness or a field trip.

Day one starts by reading the text. The child can read this alone or with you. My son was very capable of reading chapters one and two. However, he also really enjoys it when I read the section to him. The next step in the lesson is narration this should be done straight after the reading. After the narration comes the written summation, since my son is only seven he dictated his summation to me and I wrote it. This gave him the opportunity to remember the details without worrying about anything else. On day two the child completes a copy work section and then the grammar in that section is reviewed together. During this copy work practice the child copies directly under each sentence. So there is a line of text and then a space for the child to write, followed by a line of text until the copy work is completed. Day three is more copy work. However, this time all the text is at the top of the page with blank lines to complete the copy work. This trains the child to look from text to his line and teaches them to stay focused on each word at a time. On the fourth day the child picks another story or poem to work on and then you read the passage, the child narrates, and then completes the first copy work. On day five, the child completes the second copy work modal. Of course this is the suggested schedule but this program can easily be adapted to fit individual needs.

We love this program. My son really likes it and wants to work on it every day. He liked that he recognized Bible stories and Aesop fables from the reading material. We completed the schedule almost as written. The only change was the option for a third copy work practice. My son did not want to complete this, and following Charlotte Masons philosophy, I allowed him to complete two in his best handwriting in exchange for not having to do the third exercise. This worked well for us as it really helped him focus and do his best.

The only drawback to this program is that sometimes we would have to go back to the original text to finish the story. My son wanted to know more, so although this seems like a negative, it really just gave us an avenue to explore further. Overall I have really liked using this program. I like that the complete program covers all major areas of history and gives a child a good mixture of mediums including fables, Bible stories, and poetry.

-Product review by Lisa Maynard, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016

Writing Through Ancient History Level 2

The thought of teaching my children to become great writers is mind boggling sometimes. We are Classical homeschoolers who also lean a little bit towards the Charlotte Mason way of learning. You know, narration, living books, and copywork; that sort of style of learning. We were recently given a chance to review a PDF copy of the Writing Through Ancient History Level 2 Cursive set from Brookdale House.

This writing curriculum fully embraces the Charlotte Mason style of learning in that it teaches grammar, spelling, and history all in one shot. The particular volume we received covers the Ancient History time period, from creation to 400 AD. This curriculum is a complete set and it is the first series in a typical four-year classical cycle. It retails for $22.95–$30.95, depending on if you want a physical printed copy or a digital download.

The Level 2 set is geared towards children in the upper grammar stage, which is roughly between 3rd -5th grades. By tying in reading, history, and writing with the study of high quality materials such as living books, poetry, or historical source texts you will cover a full gamut of learning and be exposed to great literature and prose every day.

Charlotte Mason stressed a gentle approach to learning for children. She believed that patience and consistency along with gentle guided practice were the ideal way for young children to learn. A detailed suggested schedule is listed in the beginning of the curriculum which I found very helpful in incorporating the methods of this learning style. They include:

Day 1: Reading, Oral Narrations, and Written Summations

Day 2: Copywork and Grammar

Day 3: Studied Dictation

Day 4: Oral Narrations and Copywork

Day 5: Studied Dictation

I used this writing program during the Christmas season as a way to tie up some loose ends in our Ancient History study with my 3rd grader. Even though we are not currently in the Ancients time period she was eager to learn new things and try her hand at mastering her cursive writing. Since she is not a stranger to copywork and dictation, implementing the program into our daily lessons was easy to do. My daughter was able to read the passages with little to no trouble on most of the selections and then narrate back to me the events of the story. Since each passage is focused on for 2-3 days she was able to read the passage for fluency and comprehension.

I especially liked the way the selections were tied into familiar Bible stories like that of Joseph and Ruth. The familiarity seemed to help during narrations and discussions. My daughter really had no complaints and did not fight me on completing the work, even over the holiday season. The only complaint I have it for me I would prefer to have a printed copy of the curriculum, only because of the sheer volume of the curriculum. It comes in at 384 pages long, which can get pretty hefty on the at home printer and ink supply. However, now with iPads and the like you could just use your tablet or reader for the reading selections and only print out student pages for copywork and dictation.

Overall, we have enjoyed the lessons presented in this curriculum. Even though the Writing Through History curriculum series is geared towards grades 1st through 5th, you could easily modify it to use with middle schoolers and even struggling high schoolers. While this is not a stand-alone curriculum, it does help to take some of the trepidation of teaching writing and it makes an excellent supplement to your history era study by tying in the whole picture through great source texts and living books.

—Product review by Jacquelin Caffey, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016