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Good/Bad? History Odyssey, Veritas Press, Biblioplan, Mystery of History?


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#1 foofoobunny

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 02:53 PM

We are staring our second year of homeschooling, and I feel like I'm more conflicted this year than last about choosing curriculum. I'm debating among the above for history...we did Biblioplan last year and I liked it, but not sure if I want to do the timeline, cool history questions, and mapwork again. Could get boring after another year of it.

What are your opinions or experiences with History Odyssey, Veritas Press, Biblioplan, Mystery of History? I'll have a 4th and 6th grader.

Thank you so much for any insight you can give!!

#2 Danielle1746

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 03:37 PM

I have only used Mystery of History and only for this past year. I have a 6th, 3rd, and K'er. We have really enjoyed it, and we're looking forward to moving on to volume 2 next year. The volume 1 book is divided into 36 weeks, with 3 lessons a week. The volume 2 book is laid out the same but with only 28 weeks. I have not looked at volume 3.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I read a lesson aloud with all 3 kids. It can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes to read, depending on how long that particular lesson is and how much we discuss it as we go. Then I assign one of the activities for that lesson, IF I think it's practical AND something they would enjoy OR something they really need to focus on. Sometimes I modify the activity slightly to better fit my kids. Sometimes if there is more than one good option, I let them choose which one they do. Sometimes we don't do an activity at all. My 6th grader usually does a different activity from the younger kids--he does the "middle student" activities while they do the "younger student" activities. I try to do at least one activity a week. With the reading and activity combined, it takes about 30 minutes each day, on average.

On Thursday, we do the map activity and make the timeline entries for that week's lessons. It probably takes us 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how much the kids talk and how detailed they want to be.

On Friday, we make the memory cards and do the exercise or quiz for the week, which takes about 30 minutes, if the kids are focused.

I have been surprised and impressed by the amount of Biblical history. I attended a private, Christian school from 2nd grade on, and I don't remember learning most of the stuff in this book. And the stuff I did learn, always seemed separate to me from "real" history. It was like you had the history of the world and then in a parallel universe, you had Biblical history. It's been a really fun experience to see how the two really did mesh together.

The boys especially love all the lessons about things like the legend of the Trojan war, the gladiators, Hannibal, etc. And even some of the "boring" subjects turned out to be really interesting for them. For example, on the day we read about Isaiah the prophet, the lesson mentioned that he was killed by being sawn in half. I tell you what--the boys went from slouching in their chairs to being all ears and sitting on the edges of their seats. Boys....

Other than History Channel documentaries and the added exploration required for some of the lesson activities, we don't supplement. Since it was our first year homeschooling, I wanted to be as bare-bones as possible to make sure we didn't overwhelm ourselves or burn ourselves out. It has worked really well.

Hope this helps!

#3 Saddlemomma

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 04:30 PM

We did MOH Ancients this last year. It was okay. I liked the premise, and for many if would be fine, but my dd and I like to delve more deeply into a subject. MOH has you speeding right through civilizations and people. I'm talking one a day, three days a week. Not a lot of time to thoroughly research a particular topic or information. My dd kept asking me to slow down so we could look up more info for each lesson.

This year for the Middle Ages, I purchased History Revealed: Romans, Reformers & Revolutionaries. It has 9 units and each unit lasts a month, with research papers, additional suggested reading (fiction & non-fiction), music, science, cooking, & art related projects for each unit. I'm combining it with Famous Men of the Middle Ages.

#4 Wildwood

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 06:53 PM

I am currently using the Veritas Press online Self-Paced history course---Old Testament/Ancient Egypt--- with my soon-to-be 4th/Ist graders.
It is anything but boring : ) The course is informative, engaging and fun. It is the one area of schooling that both my girls truly look forward to.
The online course also has optional coordinating literature packages that round out the program.

#5 KrissiK

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 07:09 PM

I bought History Odessey for my 4th grader for the upcoming school year. I'm not sure. It seems similar to TWTM's schedule for 5th grade, but a little more spelled out. Well, as I went through it, I kept tweaking and tweaking (I bought the e-file, copied it to a Word doc and then went to town) and I think I'll have something that will work. It was a good starting point. DS isn't to the point in his independent work where I can just say, "do this" like TWTM says. He needs a check-list, which is what HO provides. And I just didn't like all the History Pockets it uses. A little is fine, but those things kind of drive me crazy. I also wanted to start the primary source documents (Jackdaw portfolios) so i added those in as well. As I said, it's for next year, so we'll see how it works.

#6 Plink

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 07:52 PM

If you are looking for something to use long-term, MOH is probably not the right choice. They don't have year4 materials yet, and I haven't heard that they are planning to create it. We used MOH last year, and it was just okay.

Prior to this past year we had been using a combination of Veritas self-paced, and SOTW audio; and that is what we will be using next year. I switched simply because Veritas was expensive and I had grass-is-greener syndrome. We are all looking forward to going back in September.

#7 NittanyJen

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 08:34 PM

We have used History Odyssey for 2 full years now. I showed my kids a few other options, and they looked at me and said, "Mom, please, we love History Odyssey, don't change that!"

We DO skip the History pockets, as my kids are not cut and paste and color kinds of guys :). I have one who is a bit of a history buff, and he has all kind of add-on books around the house, but many of those are also recommended in History Odyssey. He also reads his way through K12's Human Odyssey.

I love that it gives you a checklist, but you don't have to do everything on it; if something isn't a good fit, just don't do it (like the pockets). It also provides a pretty comprehensive additional reading list with each unit.

HO is one curriculum I think we will be able to use all the way through without worrying about the "one publisher bias" effect, because we can add in as many reading resources as we like. It's a guide, not a textbook.

Additionally, the program provides a very gradually ramped up writing and research program, moving from simple sentences into paragraphs and then into library research projects and outlining and then into papers, with guided steps the whole way. They really show the students directly how to take notes, find and store the important information when reading, and how to record it. They have a few books explicitly assigned, and include some literature guide type assignments, such as plot diagrams and character webs, helping the student learn to read critically and deal with more complex books, both fiction and non.

It is a very complete program, and I do appreciate the longitudinal thoughtfulness of it.

#8 foofoobunny

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 10:16 AM

I have only used Mystery of History and only for this past year. I have a 6th, 3rd, and K'er. We have really enjoyed it, and we're looking forward to moving on to volume 2 next year. The volume 1 book is divided into 36 weeks, with 3 lessons a week. The volume 2 book is laid out the same but with only 28 weeks. I have not looked at volume 3.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I read a lesson aloud with all 3 kids. It can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes to read, depending on how long that particular lesson is and how much we discuss it as we go. Then I assign one of the activities for that lesson, IF I think it's practical AND something they would enjoy OR something they really need to focus on. Sometimes I modify the activity slightly to better fit my kids. Sometimes if there is more than one good option, I let them choose which one they do. Sometimes we don't do an activity at all. My 6th grader usually does a different activity from the younger kids--he does the "middle student" activities while they do the "younger student" activities. I try to do at least one activity a week. With the reading and activity combined, it takes about 30 minutes each day, on average.

On Thursday, we do the map activity and make the timeline entries for that week's lessons. It probably takes us 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how much the kids talk and how detailed they want to be.

On Friday, we make the memory cards and do the exercise or quiz for the week, which takes about 30 minutes, if the kids are focused.

I have been surprised and impressed by the amount of Biblical history. I attended a private, Christian school from 2nd grade on, and I don't remember learning most of the stuff in this book. And the stuff I did learn, always seemed separate to me from "real" history. It was like you had the history of the world and then in a parallel universe, you had Biblical history. It's been a really fun experience to see how the two really did mesh together.

The boys especially love all the lessons about things like the legend of the Trojan war, the gladiators, Hannibal, etc. And even some of the "boring" subjects turned out to be really interesting for them. For example, on the day we read about Isaiah the prophet, the lesson mentioned that he was killed by being sawn in half. I tell you what--the boys went from slouching in their chairs to being all ears and sitting on the edges of their seats. Boys....

Other than History Channel documentaries and the added exploration required for some of the lesson activities, we don't supplement. Since it was our first year homeschooling, I wanted to be as bare-bones as possible to make sure we didn't overwhelm ourselves or burn ourselves out. It has worked really well.

Hope this helps!


Thanks so much for your detailed description! Do you feel like there is too much talk of saints and missionaries in the text? I think I've heard that before...also, do you feel it is meaty enough for your 11 year old?

#9 foofoobunny

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 10:17 AM

We have used History Odyssey for 2 full years now. I showed my kids a few other options, and they looked at me and said, "Mom, please, we love History Odyssey, don't change that!"

We DO skip the History pockets, as my kids are not cut and paste and color kinds of guys :). I have one who is a bit of a history buff, and he has all kind of add-on books around the house, but many of those are also recommended in History Odyssey. He also reads his way through K12's Human Odyssey.

I love that it gives you a checklist, but you don't have to do everything on it; if something isn't a good fit, just don't do it (like the pockets). It also provides a pretty comprehensive additional reading list with each unit.

HO is one curriculum I think we will be able to use all the way through without worrying about the "one publisher bias" effect, because we can add in as many reading resources as we like. It's a guide, not a textbook.

Additionally, the program provides a very gradually ramped up writing and research program, moving from simple sentences into paragraphs and then into library research projects and outlining and then into papers, with guided steps the whole way. They really show the students directly how to take notes, find and store the important information when reading, and how to record it. They have a few books explicitly assigned, and include some literature guide type assignments, such as plot diagrams and character webs, helping the student learn to read critically and deal with more complex books, both fiction and non.

It is a very complete program, and I do appreciate the longitudinal thoughtfulness of it.


I'm seriously considering this one...how old/grade are your kids?

#10 foofoobunny

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 10:17 AM

We have used History Odyssey for 2 full years now. I showed my kids a few other options, and they looked at me and said, "Mom, please, we love History Odyssey, don't change that!"

We DO skip the History pockets, as my kids are not cut and paste and color kinds of guys :). I have one who is a bit of a history buff, and he has all kind of add-on books around the house, but many of those are also recommended in History Odyssey. He also reads his way through K12's Human Odyssey.

I love that it gives you a checklist, but you don't have to do everything on it; if something isn't a good fit, just don't do it (like the pockets). It also provides a pretty comprehensive additional reading list with each unit.

HO is one curriculum I think we will be able to use all the way through without worrying about the "one publisher bias" effect, because we can add in as many reading resources as we like. It's a guide, not a textbook.

Additionally, the program provides a very gradually ramped up writing and research program, moving from simple sentences into paragraphs and then into library research projects and outlining and then into papers, with guided steps the whole way. They really show the students directly how to take notes, find and store the important information when reading, and how to record it. They have a few books explicitly assigned, and include some literature guide type assignments, such as plot diagrams and character webs, helping the student learn to read critically and deal with more complex books, both fiction and non.

It is a very complete program, and I do appreciate the longitudinal thoughtfulness of it.


I'm seriously considering this one...how old/grade are your kids?

#11 NittanyJen

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 11:00 AM

Thanks so much for your detailed description! Do you feel like there is too much talk of saints and missionaries in the text? I think I've heard that before...also, do you feel it is meaty enough for your 11 year old?



I asked my 12YO to respond directly. He says he feels that in the overall balance, there is relatively little time spent on saints and missionaries-- only when it is relevant to the development of history (particularly in ancient and medieval times, when studying particular parts of the world, the developments of not only Christianity, but Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions had a definite hand in shaping geopolitics and really cannot be avoided; and as these things still influence world events today, they should probably be understood).

I do feel that it goes into a fair amount of depth; the program does not rely upon just one text (I would never rely on just vanLoon anyway; we have learned much since he wrote that book, and he had his own biases, and it needs to be offset with additional reading, which History Odyssey also provides).

Now, my son is a serious history buff. He constantly picks up more history books at the library, and I picked up, secondhand, the K12 Human Odyssey books vols 1-3 from Amazon on the cheap, and he is enjoying reading those on the side (very easy to match up; just look in the table of contents, find the appropriate chapter, and read what matches the lesson). He loves watching the "Horrible Histories" videos on YouTube, and reading the "You Wouldn't Want to Be A . . ." books, in addition to the extra books in the HO schedule. I asked him, "What if we didn't get you all those supplemental materials? Would history Odyssey still give you a lot of detail and be good enough?" He said, "Absolutely. The way it makes me take notes and what it makes me read has plenty of information in it!"

#12 NittanyJen

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 11:01 AM

I'm seriously considering this one...how old/grade are your kids?


DS12 is finishing what some would consider to be sixth grade/second year of logic stage.

DS9 is finishing what some would consider to be fourth grade/finishing grammar stage.

#13 foofoobunny

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 11:19 AM

I asked my 12YO to respond directly. He says he feels that in the overall balance, there is relatively little time spent on saints and missionaries-- only when it is relevant to the development of history (particularly in ancient and medieval times, when studying particular parts of the world, the developments of not only Christianity, but Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions had a definite hand in shaping geopolitics and really cannot be avoided; and as these things still influence world events today, they should probably be understood).

I do feel that it goes into a fair amount of depth; the program does not rely upon just one text (I would never rely on just vanLoon anyway; we have learned much since he wrote that book, and he had his own biases, and it needs to be offset with additional reading, which History Odyssey also provides).

Now, my son is a serious history buff. He constantly picks up more history books at the library, and I picked up, secondhand, the K12 Human Odyssey books vols 1-3 from Amazon on the cheap, and he is enjoying reading those on the side (very easy to match up; just look in the table of contents, find the appropriate chapter, and read what matches the lesson). He loves watching the "Horrible Histories" videos on YouTube, and reading the "You Wouldn't Want to Be A . . ." books, in addition to the extra books in the HO schedule. I asked him, "What if we didn't get you all those supplemental materials? Would history Odyssey still give you a lot of detail and be good enough?" He said, "Absolutely. The way it makes me take notes and what it makes me read has plenty of information in it!"


Awesome!! Thank you so so much!

#14 foofoobunny

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 11:21 AM

DS12 is finishing what some would consider to be sixth grade/second year of logic stage.

DS9 is finishing what some would consider to be fourth grade/finishing grammar stage.


My girls just finished 3rd and 5th grade so your comments are very WELCOME!!! Thanks so much for your help!

#15 Danielle1746

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 11:38 PM

Thanks so much for your detailed description! Do you feel like there is too much talk of saints and missionaries in the text? I think I've heard that before...also, do you feel it is meaty enough for your 11 year old?


First, let me say that the 4th volume of MOH is currently in the works, and the release date is mid-2014, in time for the 2014-2015 school year.
http://www.brightide...ery-of-history/
If you're planning on doing a separate American history course as well, the author recommends doing it between the 3rd and 4th years of MOH, so that would give you even one more buffer year.

To answer your questions, I don't think there is too much talk of Biblical/church history. I was surprised by the amount of it, but that's just because I had never learned it simultaneously with the history of the rest of the world before. I had learned secular world history, and I had learned Bible history, but they were never interwoven. I love the way they are taught together in MOH. For example, in the volume 1 book (Ancients), Moses and the Hebrews' exodus out of Egypt was going on during the reign of the Shang dynasty in China. And King Tut was around less than 200 years after the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple were made. I guess I could have figured that out on my own, but I have never been a history buff, so I never really cared, but when you read and discuss those lessons so close together, it all comes together easily.

We will use the volume 2 book (Middle Ages and Early Church) next year, but just looking through it, I can see that many of the saints and missionaries are discussed, but they are all people who were truly influential in history (St. Augustine, St. Patrick, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, etc.). And they are interspersed with topics like the Chinese dynasties, the Vikings, Shakespeare, the birth of Islam, etc.

As far as it being meaty enough for my 11 yr old, yes, it is...BUT, I do expect more out of him in regards to the work he does than I do his younger siblings. And since the activities suggested with each lesson are divided by age for younger, middle, and older students, I could easily assign the older student activities for him, if I felt the middle student options were not challenging enough. Even though I deliberately chose not to supplement this year, the book does give additional reading/movie/documentary suggestions for each lesson, divided into age levels just like the lesson activities. It is designed to work for ALL ages, from K through 12th grade, where you just cycle through the 4 books 3 times each--classic trivium. I can see how that would be doable with the addition of sufficient additional reading and research for the older grades, but personally, I will probably use a different curriculum for high school. However, for elementary and middle, it's perfect for us.

#16 chasingbutterflies

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 11:50 PM

History Odyssey here!! We are just starting homeschooling in July. However, I already have ordered, reviewed, and pieced together this program - and I love it! I also bought some other misc resources to go along with it (beyond what it calls for) - not that it needed it.

#17 edeemarie

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 06:40 AM

If you are looking for something to use long-term, MOH is probably not the right choice. They don't have year4 materials yet, and I haven't heard that they are planning to create it. We used MOH last year, and it was just okay.

This is pretty much my thought on MOH too. I know volume 4 is in the works, but when MOH was initially started it was intended to be a 5 year history program. Sometime after starting it they decided to make it 4, which means the last level will have to squish in more history than they originally intended. Since that is one of the meatiest periods of history IMO, I don't like that. Plus, it didn't go over well with dd7 since I think it was a bit over her head. I am putting my own thing together for next year using SOTW paired with 100 Most Important Events in Church History as a base.

#18 RootAnn

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 07:47 AM

And I just didn't like all the History Pockets it uses. A little is fine, but those things kind of drive me crazy.


The Pockets aren't my oldest's cup of tea, so we didn't do ANY of them this year with HO Level 2's Ancients. I completely revised HO's schedule since I was using a different spine (not Van Loon's book), have the White Kingfisher instead of the Red, added in a few other books (from CHOLL), and a couple extra reference books.

HO can be REALLY boring if you do it exactly as scheduled & try to do everything. If you do decide on HO, I highly recommend picking and choosing which things you will do on the checklist.

Something you might keep in mind is that HO is broken up into "levels." Your two kids are in both Levels 1 & 2 (per their recommended ages). I'm not sure you want to do two different levels and I think Level 2 would be too much for your younger child, especially as it ramps up. It might not be the best pick for a program this year.

Good luck!

#19 pitterpatter

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 09:02 AM

We used HO for Ancients last year and will be using it again for Medieval Times this year. I contemplated doing my own thing, but HO is a nice starting point and it provides maps that are hard-to-come-by otherwise.

We use only Usborne as our spine. We started out doing pretty much everything HO listed, but cut the dictionary definitions halfway through. It dawned on me that most of the words used were never even mentioned in our spine. Also, I didn't like the definitions in our children's dictionary...they were not simple enough. Plus, it took valuable time away from our real history studies. I'm glad that DD learned how to use a dictionary, but she could have learned that during language arts time. We've also cut back on crafts. The History Pockets fill that void pretty well. We're sprinting to the end of our school year now and just don't have a lot of time for extras. I regret it, but...

I've settled into routine now. I start with the HO suggestions for additional books/resources and go from there. I've gotten pretty good at digging up my own.

DD absolutely loves the way we do history now, so we're sticking with it another year.

PS - Here's how we've done HO this year.

http://bluehousescho...Ancient History

#20 TraceyS/FL

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:38 AM

(I bought the e-file, copied it to a Word doc and then went to town)

Why exactly had I not tried this??? This solves a major issue for me in scheduling!!! Thank you for pointing out the obvious!!!! :D

#21 KrissiK

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 09:32 PM

Why exactly had I not tried this??? This solves a major issue for me in scheduling!!! Thank you for pointing out the obvious!!!! :D

No problem. :) I was getting a little frustrated with how to do my tweaking and then I came up with that and it's great.


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