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Tools for Young Historians Review by Christine Field

BrimWood Press
4114 North Canyon Press
Camino, CA 957-9

Consider studying time by studying the history of time. Some history approaches follow the procession of characters through history. Some follow a four year cycle going from the ancients to modern time. Tools for Young Historians offers a brilliant approach to giving your child the big picture of the sweep and sequence of history.

The author, a homeschooling mom, was in the library one day looking for a book about time and calendars. She got the inspiration to give her children a mental framework on which to hang the progress of history by teaching them the history of how we track time. Let me clarify.

Our modern calendar evolved. Called the Gregorian calendar, it was actually 5000 years in the making. Tools for Young Historians takes the student through the development of this calendar, thereby giving the student a mental pegboard on which to hang the events, people and philosophies that make up Western civilization.

There are seven products offered by this company. Ideally, you use all seven, but they may be purchased and used separately. Let me tell you a little about each.

Lessons on Time: Quick! Was 1453 in the 15th century or the 14th? Your kids have trouble grasping this concept too. Lessons on Time is a two part activity using toothpicks that will forever clarify this for you and your child.

Scroll Time Line: This is a thing of beauty! Imagine a 13 foot timeline with golden scroll handles. You can roll it up and put it under the couch, or you can display the sweep of history. The timeline has geographic color bands to distinguish the different areas of the world. You are supplied with 120 historical hat stickers (a theme also used later) to depict civilizations. The children place number stickers and century markers (provided) to continue to help them master the dating system. Calendar story illustration stickers (to coincide with the story of the development of the calendar) and history icon stickers round out this visually appealing, hands-on resource that will become a treasured family keepsake.

A Young Historians Introduction to Worldview: This slim but jam packed volume is a four lesson study of worldview. When your student understands differing worldviews, he can understand the perspective of cultures, individuals, literature and the arts. While the worldviews naturalism, pantheism, monotheism, polytheism are presented dispassionately, numerous opportunities are presented to discuss these concepts and solidify your family s values through Table Talk sections. Several hands-on activities are presented, including the construction of boxes (all materials provided) to graphically illustrate the differences in worldviews. These lessons are powerful, powerful, powerful! If you purchase the entire set of materials from Tools for Young Historians, it is recommended that you cover these four lessons first, as they give the student a lens through which to evaluate the rest of their study.

Calendar Quest: Subtitled, A 5,000 Year Trek though Western History with Father Time, this little volume of fiction is a time traveling tale. Two children are taken back in time to the lives of the individuals who were important in the development of the calendar. Written in an engaging, fun style, it provides a reading component to the next item.

What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization: This fourteen week study is the heart of this company s offerings. The earlier of the fourteen lessons are shorter and might be completed in one setting. The later lessons are more involved and probably need to be spread out over several days. In each lesson, students enjoy a chapter from Calendar Quest (above), use Hats of History (see below) and engage in some geography activities. Additional stickers (in addition to the ones for the scroll time line) are provided for the student to illustrate the sweep through western civilization. Reading comprehension questions and writing activities are presented. Relevant web sites are referenced to enhance the study. Some chapters provide optional activities, like on-line reading, Historical Fact Sheet (see below) assignments, and family discussion.

Hats of History: This a set of twelve colorful cards depicting the individuals studied in the in the Calendar Quest story. The challenge is to ultimately have your student identify the person, state what contribution they made to history and place the cards in correct chronological order. This is hands-on learning! HAT also refers to a history binder organizational system, Historical Archive Treasury, also available from Tools for Young Historians. It consists of an illustrated cover and binder tabs to help your student organize and display their learning. A geography key and a glossary are also included for the binder.

Historical Fact Sheets: This booklet, with accompanying CD, contains eighteen fact sheets for the student to use in their study of each civilization. Space is provided on each sheet for the child to draw their own illustration or to cut and paste relevant material from another source. The areas for study include arts, battle, famous men, government, science and many more. The sheets can then be placed in the HAT binder for an impressive memorial or your study.

Each of these items can be ordered separately, or an entire kit is available to a competitive price. How can you use these?

  • The author, Marcia Brim, states the materials are to be used to supplement your existing history curriculum. I think that with the addition of a spine world history book, this could BE your history curriculum!
  • You could take your child through this is a Summer course.
  • It could be used in a co-op setting with a group of children.

I have seen many history products over the years, but I am very impressed by this company. I had the opportunity to meet this family at a recent homeschooling conference and I was impressed by their enthusiasm, their love for history and their understanding of how children learn and remember.

Tools for Young Historians is one of the most exciting products I have seen to make history come alive and come together for our students. Give your student the gift of the big picture. Give your student Tools for Young Historians.

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