The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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TRISMS Review by Christine Field

The History Makers - 3500 B.C. to the Present

I have dreamed of a home schooling curriculum that flawlessly, seamlessly integrates history, science, language arts, geography and culture studies. Linda Thornhill and Sally Barnard, the authors of TRISMS: The History Makers - 3500 B.C. to the Present, have pulled together such a study.

Created for junior high or middle school students, TRISMS (Time Related Integrated Studies for Mastering Skills) focuses on the people involved in historical events and discoveries in order to impart a chronological survey and geographical progression of discovery over time. The volume contains 37 lessons which may be used over one or two years. Throughout the study, the student uses biographies, historical fiction, cultural studies and other reference materials to construct a timeline, complete written assignments to demonstrate understanding and create course books, one each for scientists, inventions and explorers. A Student Master Pack provides questionnaires for students to complete from their research and reading, other worksheets, as well as quizzes and tests to assess mastery of the material. Language assignments, relevant to the topic being studied, cover grammar, poetry, writing and research skills. A separate math curriculum is all that is required to round out the materials for the year.

An entire chapter of the Teacher's Manual is devoted to listing Reading Selections. The authors provide an extensive list of historical fiction and biographies by time period studied. There is even a list of suggested movies to enhance the learning experience.

With some basic school supplies and a library card, TRISMS can provide a rich, meaty study for junior high school. If the parent wishes to purchase the required reading books, you may do so through their book supplier, In His Steps (

TRISMS can be teacher or student directed. It is adaptable for multi-level teaching as well as co-op settings. It is effective for all types of learners because it integrates different types of learning and goes far beyond straight textbook learning. Extensive homework help is available at their website at This volume sells for $150.00. Other follow-up volumes are available for high school study, including Discovering the Ancient World and Rise of Nations. TRISMS was the first-place winner of the Practical Homeschooling Reader's Award 2001 in the Middle School Curriculum category.

Would you like to take a journey off the textbook highway, but want a detailed map of the terrain? Check out TRISMS for an integrated, research based experience for your child. Give them a call at 918-585-2778 for more info or check them out on the web.

--Product Review Staffer: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Expansion of Civilization

The newest offering in the TRISMS Homeschool Curriculum is "Expansion of Civilization," covering the time period of 500 BC - AD 1500. In the same format as the others, the 3 piece set includes a user's manual, answer keys and student. There are 18 meaty units covering the following subject areas:

Art, music, architecture, rhetoric, science, civilizations, literature and vocabulary. Each unit also affords the student an opportunity to chart the historical events, meet the philosophers, enter map details on blackline maps included in the set, explore other related interests, make comparisons and read biographies of the time period.

Although I could spend many hours savoring the thought and good writing that went into the user's manual, it really is a pick-it-up-and-go kind of study. The assignments and expectations are clearly laid out for your student. You begin each unit with a trip to the library to pick resources from the extensive resource and reading list. Then dive into the study! The Institute for Excellence in Writing material is required to complete the study. Supplemented with a math curriculum, the study is appropriate for students in grade 6 and above.

-- Product Review by: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Discovering the Ancient World

This integrated, multi-level program builds on TRISMS Volume One, The History Makers. It can be modified for younger students, but is intended for junior and senior high. In Discovering the Ancient World, the student gets a chronological progression of history by studying civilizations from Creation to 500 B.C. For each civilization studied, the student does activities to explore the art, music, architecture, science, civilization and literature of the period, through reports, timelines, maps and vocabulary. The student is guided in the use of encyclopedias, books, periodicals, videos and maps to create their own study of the civilization.

Additionally, the student is provided with assignment sheets for each unit which cover the detailed requirements. A student pack contains questionnaires for art history, music history and architecture. The student completes outline maps, fills out worksheets and takes quizzes to demonstrate mastery of the material. An exhaustive bibliography is included for reference purposes. An accompanying volume contains the answer keys for all the student materials, making mom's job a snap!

I appreciate all the work and attention to detail which has gone into the TRISMS programs. If you love history, want to teach with a unit study approach which can be adapted for multiple ages and abilities, you will love TRISMS.

-- Product Review by: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine