7th Grade History ($30)
Coming From: Ancient History (Creation to 0)
Going To: Modern History (1603 - Present)
Many homeschool curriculums, including the classical curriculum that I eventually intend to transition to, teach history in chronological order. Some do 3 year cycles and others do 4 year cycles, with each cyclical repetition adding greater depth and nuance. Because Emma has been in both public and private schools and through at least one curriculum change within one of those schools, she had some history multiple times and other history not at all. I decided to start a clean slate in history instruction and just begin at the beginning. I decided to use a spine text, a narrative style history book that tells history as a story, supplemented with non-fiction material to provide greater depth about each culture or event being studied.
Our normal weekly balance of history is 1-2 days of reading the spine; 1-2 days of reading supplemental material; 1 day of enrichment activity (documentary, worksheet, cooking, art project, etc); 1 day of mapwork.
I happened into a good price on a used set of Story of the World (SotW) and was happy enough with it to overlook the fact that it is written with the intention of being used as a read aloud in the elementary grades. For 7th grade, we are using the last few chapters of Volume One and then moving on to Volume Two. If you're following along, you'll be fine to only purchase Volume Two! There are workbooks and test books that are available to go with the text books but they really don't translate to the upper levels, so I don't use them! (As always, clicking the cover images takes you to an Amazon Affiliate link and I may earn a commission.)
I split the chapters in Volume 2 out across 36 weeks and then rearranged the very beginning weeks to accommodate the end of the Roman Empire from Volume 1. Most weeks have one chapter but occasionally the chapters are so short or so closely related that it makes sense to assign more than one. To ensure depth of information, I supplement with non-fiction books from the public library or our bookshelf, documentaries, and sometimes with activities available online.
I checked out one public library book so many times I bought my own copy - another sign that it's a good one! Then and Now: The Wonders of the Ancient World combines modern photographs with overlay pages featuring artist renderings to show what famous sights may have looked like in their heyday. The book is written for adults but is not technical, so should be suitable for most middle schoolers. Do be aware that this isn't history sanitized for the classroom, so there is mention of sex, drugs, alcohol, and religion where it is called for in the historical context.
I usually look two to three weeks out to see what our public library has available on upcoming topics. When there is plenty available, I like to let Emma do the searching and choosing. If there isn't as much available or most of it is in the adult non-fiction collection, I usually choose some titles to pick up early so that I can assess and pre-read them for interestingness and applicability before assigning specific pages.
If I still need more depth after exhausting the public library, I turn to the internet. World Heritage sites, Art Museums, and local museums all often have lesson plans buried somewhere in their education page. Get used to clicking the "For Educators" links!
Why art museums? Because art is a primary source of historical information. Art educators have to provide historical context in order to teach the work of art. The work of art itself then teaches about the culture of the creator. My favorite sites are
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Education Section and Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
The Getty Museum Lesson Plans
The UNESCO World Heritage List
Amazon Prime Video has an expansive selection of documentaries but not all of them are of high quality. Unless you are pulling something from the BBC, PBS, National Geographic or another respected publisher, tread with care.
Coming Up: Mapwork and Other History Enrichment