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Please help me get enthused about SOTW 4!

Christy B

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We love SOTW -- love, love, love it.


However. ;)


I've just looked at the table of contents for Volume 4 (starting to think ahead because we are due to finish Volume 3 in March) and it looks, um, kinda boring.


I have girls and they are not yet interested in "war stories". Skipping SOTW 4 seems unthinkable, as we have so thoroughly enjoyed Volumes 1 - 3 (well, to be honest, Volume 3 a little less, partly because the audio is by Jim Weiss, partly because pyramids and mummies, knights and castles, are a tough act to follow).


The girls LOVE doing projects and activities together, and I will absolutely be getting the AG. Oh, and also I am very excited about both of them using the outlining -- doesn't SOTW4 teach outlining in the AG? They both need to work on that.


Beyond that, what are some suggestions?


What about something like TOG Year 4, or MFW, or Biblioplan? Or, using the second half of Sonlight's Core 7? (I contemplated using that with SOTW 3 and 4, didn't purchase it for 3, and have kind of regretted it. If I could find it used, I would still gladly invest in it, as I would still use it for a whole year to do SOTW 4)


I would love any suggestions, "don't miss" book or movie recommendations, etc.

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Look at it this way: it is the topics that aren't intriguing you, and the topics are NOT going to change by changing programs. If you have had good luck with SOTW, I'd certainly be reluctant to change programs.


I plan to use audbile.com to augment SOTW 4. I can't quite think of the name, (history in brief? something like that; just search under history) but they have short narratives available on various events in history. The ones I saw were priced at a dollar or so.


What I really like is that it gives a short summary of the event coupled with actual audio from that time. For example, the one about the Apollo fire had part of President Kennedy's speech about landing on the moon.

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My 12 y.o dd likes SOTW 4 as part of what she is doing in MFW's 1850-MOD year. (a side note -- we liked MFW 's year 4 and enjoyed many activities and were we also using the younger sib supplement for that year. Maybe that made a difference. But honestly, we've like MFW each year :D


back to SOTW 4....

SOTW vol 4 is not all about battle details as much as it is about the events that took place.


The Activity Book and student pages with SOTW 4 is where you learn about outlining and how to write from an outline. Some of the activities in the book are small games, others are a quick and easy large motor activity to help understand the lesson. My kids like it. My 3rd grader doesn't really listen to SOTW (she is too young to really grasp it and is using the MFW younger sibling supplement), but she can participate in the fun stuff and paper crafts in the activity book and just be gently exposed to names, places, etc.


We're liking SOTW 4 with our girls.

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Maybe try and bring in more stories from the people who lived through that time. SL has a bunch of great bks (on the list for this time either core 7 or 300) you can most at the library. Same for movies. Try and focus on the lives of average people during this time and not so much the seemingly non-stop wars.

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We are using SOTW vol3 this year for the first time (previously, CHOW and Island Story were our primary spines). I have not enjoyed it as much as the boys. While I think the things happening in China and India (etc) are important, I feel like I get whiplash going back and forth - each chapter feels a little disconnected compared to the "story" of Island Story (which of course is all British). Anyway, I digress.... I'm planning to take a look at Diana Waring at a hs conference this spring. My oldest ds already listens to her cds EVERY morning while he eats breakfast, so it might be a nice fit for us. I think *I* would like things a little more connected and maybe this would do it for us. If we use SOTW vol 4 I may just get the CDs and let them listen as much as they want and build on it from there.


Those are my thoughts for now - they'll probably change again :) I really hope Diana Waring will be what I'm looking for!


Good luck!

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After loving SOTW 1-3, we didn't love 4. So I think your instinct might be right. When we cycle through again, I'm going to skip big chunks of SOTW 4 and focus more on American history, which I think has more engaging resources for that age. I plan on using the A Kids' Guide series, which has titles on Frank Lloyd Wright, MLK, African American History, Asian American History, WWII, etc.

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My son loves this book. He loves the series. Yes, in the Activity guides, there is outlining and maps and no coloring pictures. There are games in some sections. There are some science experiments. My son is in 4th grade. I feel that the outlining was more on a 6th-8th grade level. So, I figured that we will do it on the second time around. He is busy reading so many books that he sees SOTW as his enjoyment reading. He is hooked on the series.


I would do more of the projects and games and less of the work if they are under 6th grade. That would make it more fun!

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We covered modern history last year. My dd (and I) had no interest in focusing on all of the wars either. My dd is far too sensitive to deal with war during our time period. I changed the focus to inventions, people, artists and composers. There are so many fascinating subjects during that time period. I used SOTW4 and had the AG; however, I only read the SOTW4 chapters without any real study of them. (I needed to skip some parts of it.) We didn't use the AG at all; the outlining seemed too difficult and the projects were aimed at an older child. (This year, dd was more ready for outlining, so it may work better for your dds.) I used Story of the Great Republic for the first part of the year (up to 1900), then used a child's history encyclopedia as a spine for the rest. Most of our studies, however, were based on books we read for each decade. My dd loves American Girl books, so I pulled those in as well. The artist and composer study was really fun.

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Wellllll, LOL, it is a pretty boybarian sorta century, but there are plenty of inventions and scientific advancements and enterpreneurial things that you could play up instead of all the wars. And there are a ton of strong, pioneering women stories from this century, as well.


Some things we've read this year that might work for you for literature read alouds (and these are in order by the topic chapters in SOTW IV):


At her Majesty's Request: An African Princess in Victorian England, Walter Dean Myers

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken

Russian Fairy Tales, Marie Ponsot


Watched video of "A Little Princess", WB Family Entertainment (beautiful cinematography!)


Watched video of "Kim", adapted from Rudyard Kipling's book. Public Media Video w/ Peter O'Toole (sorta dated, in my opinion, but okay).


Watched "The Yearling"


Call of the Wild, Jack London

The Sea Maidens of Japan, Lili Bell

Other Jack London short stories: "Brown Wolf" and "That Spot"

White Fang, Jack London [these books have some language in them, as I recall, and some other things that might not appeal to tender girls, so I'm not sure about them....]


The Shadows of Ghadames, Joelle Stolz

Nory Ryan's Song - on tape - Beautiful!

Patricia Reilly Giff

Also, Maggie's Door - on tape (different reader)


Tales of a Korean Grandmother, Frances Carpenter

Sweet and Sour, Carol Kendall, et al

Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Brink

Rachel's Journal, Marissa Moss

In the Face of Danger, Jean Nixon

"The Women who Went to the Field", Clara Barton


The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame [perhaps more boybarian and there's some language in the original, too]


The Singing Tree, Kate Seredy (really brings a personal face to WWI)

Daughter of the Mountains, Louise Rankin

Thornton Burgess books

The House of Sixty Fathers, Meindert Dejong (brings a face to Sino-Japanese wars)

Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan


My Friend, the Enemy, J.B. Cheaney (we haven't finished this one yet and I've never read it before, but it's good thus far.... It brings a face to WWII)


That brings us up to the point we've covered thus far (I'll have more later if you're interested).


For history readings, here are some things that you might use:


Re: the scramble for Africa, we used Exploration and Discover, Simon Adams, to read a lot about all the explorers over time who traveled into the heart of Africa. There are also biographies available for a lot of them, as well as geography books on the various countries in Africa where they traveled that you could read from to get an idea of history and culture, etc.


When we read about the unification of Italy, we also read about Giuseppe Verdi and listened to some of his music.


During our study of the Civil War, I really liked Shattered Dreams: The Story of Mary Todd Lincold, David R. Collins. I think it gives a very different perspective to a woman who has been at least somewhat villified in history.


I thought The Boys' War was also very well done, but might not be of interest to your girls.


You could also read bios or some of the topics covered for this year from any good encyclopedia article, rather than reading complete books on topic.


We read Across America on an Emigrant Train, Jim Murphy (re: Robert Louis Stevenson rushing to the side of his lady love who was on her deathbed..... But you might want to review of modify that portion of the story, as she was technically, at least, married at the time....) This is a very good picture of of what emigrant movement across the country was like at that time.


During the chapter on railroads, we also read Railroad Fever, Monica Halpern, and Women of the Old West, Judith Alter (but again, this includes stories of some strong characters, so you might want to preview).


When we were reading about the carving up of Africa, we read This Our Dark Country: The American Settlers of Liberia, Catherine Reef, and this was a very interesting part of America's history of which I was not aware.


We also read Building the Suez Canal, S.C. Burchell.


Regarding the potato famine, we read Feed the Children First, Irish Memories of the Great Hunger, ed. Mary E. Lyons.


For the period of the Spanish American War, we read Teddy Roosevelt, Rough Rider, Louis Sabin and Under the Royal Palms, a Childhood in Cuba, Alma Flor Ada.


When we studied the expansion of the American SW, we read You Wouldn't Want to be an American Pioneer! A Wilderness You'd Rather not TAme, Jacqueline Morley - these books might be more boybarian in nature.... We also read Daily Life in a Covered Wagon, Paul Erickson and If You Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake, Ellen LeVine.


During the WWI time period, some of the books we read included:


Pioneers of Science: Louis Pasteur, Nina Morgan

Clara Barton, Kathleen Deady

Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross, Christin Ditchfield

The Panama Canal, Scott Ingram


While reading about home rule for India, we read Places and People: The Indian Subcontinent, Anita Ganeri.


For the Great Depression, we read from The Great Depression, R.G. Grant.


And that's all the history books I have listed as finished right now.


For reading that my son completed himself, again in order by the chapter topics in SOTW:


A Little Princess, Bullseye Step into Classics

Florence Nightingale, Lucy Lethbridge (Usborne Famous Lives)

A Drummer Boy's Battle: Florence Nightingale, Dave and Neta Jackson

Salt: A Russian Folktale, Jane Langton

The Month-Brothers: A Slavic Tale, Samuel Marshak

The Magic Goldfish: A Russian Folktale, Aleksandr Pushkin

Exploring Africa, Hazel Martell and Gerald Wood (pertinent portions)

Just a few Words, Mr. Lincoln, the Story of the Gettysburg Address, Jean Fritz

The Value of Respect: The Story of Abraham Lincoln, Ann Donegan Johnson

Yankee Blue or Rebel Gray? The Civil War Adventures of Sam Shaw, Kate Connell

Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers, Burke Davis

Abraham Lincoln, D'Aulaires

Little Women, adapted by Monica Kulling

The Red Badge of Courage, Great Illustrated Classics

Bull Run, Paul Fleischman (might be more for boys)

The Last Safe House, Barbara Greenwood

A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison, David Adler

The 21 Balloons, William Pene Du Bois

Secret of the Andes, Ann Nolan Clark

Selections from A Child's Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson (Dandelion)

So Say the Little Monkey, Nancy Van Laan (Brazilian folklore)

The Lion's Whiskers and other Ethiopian Tales, Brent Ashabranner, et al

Black Beauty, Anna Sewell (DK Eyewitness Classic)

Korean Children's Favorite Stories, Kim So-un

Moby Dick, Young Collector's Illustrated Classics

Aesop's Fables, Illus. Junior Library

Elizabeth Blackwell, The First Woman Doctor, Francene Sabin

Louis Pasteur, Carol Greene (Rookie Bio)

Usborne Famous Lives: Winston Churchill, Katie DAynes

In Flander's Field, John McCrae

The Great Migration, Jacob Lawrence

Gandhi, Demi

We read several on Shackleton and the Titanic at this time, but don't know if you're interested in those topics....

You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? Jean Fritz

Anderson's Fairy Tales, Junior Illus. Classics

The Day of Ahmed's Secret

Homesick, Jean Fritz

Bud, Not Buddy

Flying Ace: The Story of Amelia Earhart, Angela Bull

Toro! Toro! Michael Morpugo

Peter Pan, Dandelion Press version


And that's all we've finished thus far, so hope you can use some of these to give you ideas of things other than war itself that you can read about for the year!



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We used it when my daughter was in third grade. There are 36 weeks in the TOG year, and each week has a theme. There are excellent book, project, and field trip suggestions for each week.


The themes are so well-chosen; I just love the progression of topics for the 20th century. You begin by doing an overview of what life was like back in 1900 and what American colonialism was all about (this can be a controversial subject, but at the grammar stage you're just learning a little bit about the history of Hawaii, the Phillippines, etc., as well as who Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders were). TOG hardly misses anything. Although American history is very well-covered, you're also getting whole weeks of 20th century Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Israeli history (hope I'm not missing anything) as well as extensive coverage of the roles of other nations in the world wars. You spend a lot of time on social history.


We took many field trips (we live just an hour west of D.C.) and watched 20th-century movies and documentaries almost every day. There is NO END to the amount of great material on the 20th century. Some of my daughter's favorites were Shirley Temple movies (we watched them all), the Mickey Mouse Club, anything by Elvis Presley, and jazz music. She fell totally in love with the 20th century -- we're doing ancient history now, and it bores her to tears in spite of all my efforts to make it fun (we're even taking a field trip to Ancient Rome this spring!). No other history will ever be as memorable or fun for her as 20th century history with TOG.


One thing that's so helpful are the TOG teacher's notes for each week. You learn about the week's history material from an adult, Christian perspective, and you can discuss the material with your child at the appropriate level for him or her.


BTW, we did not try to combine writing or grammar with TOG. We were very content with just the history and literature portions of it.

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I have to say, we are really enjoying SOTW 4. We are up to WWI right now. I went through the topics in the book and added sections of fun American History topics I wanted to cover. We have enjoyed, for instance, spending a day on the Wright Brothers, the San Francisco Earthquake, Women's Suffrage, etc. There are so many great books for read alouds during this time period. We have really enjoyed The Great Turkey Walk, The Great Wheel, The Singing Tree, Little Women, Across Five Aprils, just to name a few. I tried attaching my plan just to show you how we added topics among the SOTW 4 chapters but it is too big of a file to upload. You can e-mail me if you are interested and I would be happy to send it to you. Not sure if it will be helpful, but you can see what books we have added in also.



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Y'all are the BEST!!!


All of your ideas are wonderful and I really appreciate the time and effort invested to give me some ideas.


And Regena -- my goodness, what a wealth of information! I can't believe you took the time to type that out.


I am actually very glad to hear that the outlining is appropriate for 6th - 8th grade, as my older dd is entering 8th. Sounds like she won't be "insulted" by the level of the work (and I'm hoping my young 5th grader will be able to keep up!)


All in all, it sounds like we will enjoy this volume *almost* as much as the others. :-)

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We just finished up year four and it was really different from the other years. My son and daughter liked it, but I think my son liked it more because of all the wars. The activity guide was great for map work and outlining, but we did not do too many of the activities. I guess my kids like the more active activities and less of the sit down and write something type. To make it a little more interesting for the whole family, I also used Truthquest, the third guide for younger students. That provided us more American History and interesting book suggestions. I really like it a lot for the modern time period. Some great books that we listened to on cd this year included: Number the Stars, Willow Creek, The Upstairs Room, The Star of Kazan, The Railway Children, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women. We watched Ann of Green Gables.

I really enjoyed studying this time period with my children because I learned to so much that I never knew before. After having finished the book, I seem to understand more about international events when I read the daily paper now. The kids also have a greater understanding of current events, such as the situation in Kenya or China's economic and political condition.

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