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Writing Through Medieval History Level 1 and Level 2 Review by Crystal McClean

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

Writing Through Medieval History Level 1, by Brookdale House, is a Charlotte Mason writing curriculum. It spans the years 600AD to 1600AD and is available in both manuscript and cursive formats. There is also the choice between a printed book and a PDF download, which is what we've been using.

We’re what you would probably describe as eclectic homeschoolers, and you certainly don’t have to be Charlotte Mason style homeschoolers to use this product as it can easily become a part of many homeschooling styles.

The four chapters that are contained in this book are:

  • Historical Narratives
  • English Tales
  • Poetry from/about Medieval History
  • Cultural Tales

All together there are 56 stories; enough for 28 weeks of study. They range from poems and rhymes of a few lines to longer stories of a few pages. Each of these selections were written during the medieval period.

There is a grammar guide and eight months of grammar work to concentrate on. Each month one part of speech is learned. For example, month one is learning about nouns. Students will learn the definitions of a noun as well as find all of the nouns within their copywork passages. If the student is just starting to learn grammar, then two months can be spent on the four main parts of a sentence. After one or two months an additional piece of grammar will be added on.

It's stressed that the lessons should be adjusted to the abilities of each student. There are extensions to each lesson that you may or may not use. There are also suggestions for creating a lighter lesson for students who need it. Every student is unique, and thus one strict curriculum will not fit everyone. There are hints and tips on how to correct children gently, and how to give praise when it's needed. Give praise before you correct, don’t emphasize the errors, and aim to do it right the first time.

This curriculum runs on a five day schedule:

Day 1: Reading the chosen selection (story, poem, nursery rhyme), summarizing it in three to six sentences either through written work and/or verbally, depending on the level of the student.

Day 2: Copywork from the selection as well as a grammar and punctuation study.

Day 3: Copywork from a new passage from the selection, as well as a grammar and punctuation study.

Day 4: Choose a new story or poem.  Read the selection.  If the student is reading it, practice reading it with feeling. Copywork is done from the new selection, as well as a color-coded grammar study.

Day 5: Copywork from a new passage of the story from day 4, as well as grammar and punctuation practice.

Although much of the work is similar each day, the work changes with the copywork passages. As the weeks progress the introduction of new grammar elements are added. If the students are able there is also some dictation work that can be done in place of the copywork.

The stories and poems provided aren't just from Europe; they are from around the world including Japan, Norway, and England, among others. I really did like that there were diverse stories included as this made the readings much more interesting. Although this book contains writings from the medieval period, it doesn't explain the history of the time period, which is disappointing. Introducing some factual history as part of the course would make it more relevant in understanding the world in which the stories were composed.

The one major thing that is missing from this curriculum is an answer key. It would be very handy to have a place to look up the correct answers for the grammar component of this course.

Letting the students choose which stories they'd like to work on each week lets them feel in control and more motivated to read the prose, copy it, and enjoy it. The ability to adjust the work to the student's level is also fantastic. It gives a lot of flexibility and takes into consideration that each child is different and that their skill will change as the course progresses. This also makes it easy to use this curriculum with more than one child at a time.

Overall, I think this is a good curriculum although I wouldn't necessarily consider it to be a history curriculum; rather more of a language arts program. While my son was working his way through, his handwriting became neater, and he copied the passages with more ease. He has learned how to summarize stories much better. Writing Through Medieval History Level 1 is a curriculum that we'll continue to use as I can see it working, and my son finds the stories interesting and wants to continue as well.

-Product review by Crystal McClean, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016

Writing Through Medieval History Level 2

Our days are usually pretty busy, and it's tough to squeeze in everything I want to accomplish for the day. I love products that double up and cover more than one subject area so I can streamline our learning. I knew Writing Through Medieval History Level 2, from Brookdale House would be a great fit for us just for this reason.

Brookdale House offers a variety of Writing Through History books, and for this review we received Writing Through Medieval History Level 2. Writing Through Medieval History Level 2 has the choice of ebook or print book, and cursive or manuscript. It covers the time periods of 400 AD to 1600 AD – from  St. Augustine to Shakespeare. The 405 page book consists of four chapters and an appendix, and includes historical narratives, primary source documents, poetry, and cultural tales.  I received an ebook of both cursive and manuscript, and both are used interchangeably.

Writing Through Medieval History Level 2 is a Charlotte Mason Approach based book, and the first few pages are spent explaining this approach with a "how to" of sorts. I really appreciate the pages that suggest a schedule, while also suggesting ways a parent can tailor this program to each individual student, based on that student's needs and abilities.

The exercises your child does will depend on his or her ability and how you approach the lesson. The lesson work consists of a reading passage followed by summation, narration, diction, and copywork exercises.  The cursive models have copywork in cursive, while the manuscript model use block manuscript. You can choose to allow your child to summarize orally while you dictate, or your child can do all of the writing on their own. This is one example of how the lessons can be tailored to fit individual needs.

With each lesson, your child is not only learning a history lesson, he or she is also covering reading comprehension, grammar, proper punctuation, and penmanship. One book easily covers three subject areas, while allowing ample practice without boring your student.

My son has autism, and writing can be a real chore for him. On the other hand, he loves history, especially medieval history. At times he reads the passage to me, and summarizes orally while I dictate what he was saying. Other times, I read to him, and he summarizes in writing on his own. This not only works on his expressive communication skills, but also receptive communication and reading comprehension. I use the copywork exercises to reinforce grammar, penmanship, and proper punctuation. I really like how the book allows for three attempts at the copywork.

The topics covered are well written, and chronologically arranged in an easy to understand manner. The passages are not so long that your child will tire easily, but they are not so short as to not fully cover the subject area. There are a lot of details, such as dates, that are given but there are no visually appealing graphics. I would prefer to see the text broken up a bit by something other than words and lines. It can appear daunting to a younger child to see two pages of text, and nothing else. I would also like to see a dashed line in the middle of the first copywork model practice, to help with penmanship.

The Appendix is the teacher's area. It includes a fantastic Grammar Guide that I have found to be quite helpful at times. My favorite part would have to be the "Reminders and Helps" located in the beginning of the book. This area really helps to reduce your stress and alleviate any apprehension you may have. Here, the books says to use Writing Through Medieval History Level 2 to best help your child, tailoring as needed, to set your child up for success.

Overall, I find Writing Through Medieval History Level 2 to not only be a great way to read and write about history, but also a great way to combine reading, history, and language arts into one program instead of using multiple things to cover the different subjects. I plan to fully finish this book, and then look into Writing Through Ancient History Level 2 when we cover that topic next.

From a special needs perspective, this product is easy to tailor to the needs and abilities of your individual child, while not losing anything in the process. It also works to reinforce expressive and receptive communication. I am very grateful to this curriculum for its ease of use and the many varied ways a family can choose to implement the lessons.

-Product review by Missica Pullen, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016