Our family has been using The Mystery of History as a chronological, biblical history curriculum for five years now. We love the world history aspect provided in this curriculum, because when I was in school (K-12th grades), I only had a tiny bit of world history: ancient Egypt in 2nd grade for one month, and one month of boring textbookish ancient history in 6th grade. My extent of history K-12 was this:
1. Read the chapter.
2. Answer the questions at the end of the chapter.
3. Take the test.
You can probably guess that by the time I graduated from high school, I strongly disliked history. I would say the word "hated", although I have trained myself over the last 10 years to only use that word in seriously evil situations. "Hate" is a very strong word that really shouldn't be used to describe my feelings about an academic subject!
Because we are educating our children at home, I needed to select a history curriculum that I could use with the girls. Since my brain thinks chronologically, I chose a program that began with Adam and Eve and would end in modern times today, or at least through the 1980s or 1990s. My other requirements were that the history curriculum had to be in-depth; it could not be textbookish, if that is even a real word. In other words, instead of having 3 sentences about Abraham Lincoln, it would need to have an entire lesson or series of lessons on Abraham Lincoln and his role in history.
Obviously, this eliminates ALL public school history textbooks, because they specialize in covering 3 million events within 150 pages, and they barely touch on all of the people and historical events that really matter.
This also eliminated some homeschooling historical curricula that either was not chronological, or was not biblical (keeping in line with true biblical events that have been proven to have happened), or was boring and textbookish.
The Mystery of History has been an excellent program for educating myself, as well as my children. Since I only had a few weeks of ancient history in elementary school, and I never learned anything of European history, The Mystery of History, volumes 1-3 have been amazing to change the way I think and process history. I finally "get" history. I can have an intelligent conversation with both my husband and my dad about many historical topics, and I'm able to fully participate and provide rational for what I've learned.
I'm so thankful that my children will never have the incredible deficit I've had with learning history. They understand some historical events better than some adults right now. It's not because my children are any smarter than anyone else's children; it's because they've been taught using a curriculum that covers history well.
Several years ago, the author and publisher of The Mystery of History got together and decided to publish a family curriculum based around this excellent history program. Illuminations combines The Mystery of History with Bible lessons, vocabulary studies, literature, writing, grammar, English roots, handwriting, and more.
I had heard of Illuminations before as I'm a part of the Mystery of History Yahoo group, but I'd never seen it up close and personal.
As a member of the TOS Crew, I learned that I was going to be able to use and review one year plan of Illuminations this fall. We downloaded the material we needed, and began to use it with the girls.
In the video below, Tyler of Illuminations explains what the program is for those who are not familiar with it:
You may watch additional videos to learn more about Illuminations HERE including the following:
Here are some of the topics and other curriculum choices which have been planned into the Illuminations schedule for families to use:
Literature and Writing
Year Three focuses on literature and writing primarily related to the time period of The Mystery of History Volume Three. Family Study Guides, Read-Alone Guides, hands-on activities, vocabulary, and other tools are provided to guide the students through the process of getting the most out of their literature.
English from the Roots Up, Volume 1
Grammar ~ Choose from:
Selections come from literature, the Bible, and The Mystery of History.
Writing ~ Choose from:
We also provide a complete spelling program—in daily lessons— written by Kathryn Stout, author of The Natural Speller.
Lesson Plans for A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers by Melissa Craig & Maggie Hogan
Lesson Plans for Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Robert and Elizabeth Ridlon
Lesson plans for The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide (6th grades & up)
or Galloping the Globe by Dari Mullins (Early Learners – 5th)
Your choice; a reading schedule is provided.
Many optional, supplemental resources are also listed in the weekly study guides to accompany The Mystery of History: NetFlix movies and Drive-Thru-History DVDS as well as Diana Waring and Jim Weiss CDs.
Parents of early learners (K-2) will enjoy the bonus Early Learners Literature List, daily Bible reading schedules just for them, and lessons from Galloping the Globe. Christian Kids Explore Chemistry has been adapted to meet the needs of the youngest students.
Our Thoughts and Impressions of Illuminations
The weekly lesson plans for Illuminations are presented in a very easy-to-use format. I was easily able to print off weeks of the lesson plans and place them into a 3-ring binder for our use. Each curriculum choice used week by week has already been planned out for the parent or teacher. Most of the school day subjects are laid out lesson by lesson, week by week, so the parent doesn't need to do additional lesson planning except for math and art.
There were some academic subject areas where we already had specific curriculum chosen that was different from what was specified in the Illuminations plan for the year. That is fine; the weekly schedule for the parent to use in the eDocuments has a neat schedule grid where we can type out our own curriculum choices and lesson plans to include with the Illuminations plans. I really liked how I could easily type out the week's schedule, merely backspacing over a few of the curriculum choices and typing in my own. Then, I just printed out the schedule and kept it available for the week's lesson plans. Neat!
The authors of Illuminations have chosen to provide some excellent selections of additional curricula to accompany their program. I'm pretty fussy about what I use with my girls for their yearly school plans, but I would be comfortable with any of the curricula listed in the Illuminations program.
My girls enjoyed working through the Illuminations lessons we were able to use so far. We plan on continuing its use throughout the remainder of the school year, in combination with one other historical planning program we have. Kelsi did say that she wished that there were more literature books for her to read for each week's lesson. Brittany thought that the amount of reading was appropriate for her. Their comments didn't surprise me, knowing their different reading styles!
To view the prices of Illuminations as well as view samples of some of the levels, click HERE.
You may also learn more about Illuminations by joining one of the Yahoo groups for the different levels of the program.
Illuminations Level 1 covers ancient history from Creation to the Death of Christ:
Illuminations Level 2 covers the Middle Ages/Medieval Times, from the Resurrection to the Fall of the Roman Empire:
Illuminations Level 3 covers the Reformation and the Renaissance:
Eventually, Volume 4 of The Mystery of History will be published, and then an Illuminations program to accompany it will be developed.
You may view other TOS Crew members' reviews of Illuminations and other Bright Ideas Press curricula choices HERE.
I look forward to using Illuminations in the years to come!
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free one-year program of Illuminations for the purpose of using it and providing my own opinions of this program. No other compensation was provided.
Hi! I'm Julieanne!
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