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World History Plan for Middle School – Dorothy Mills or K12 Human Odyssey?


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I've been trying to figure out a history plan for my 6th grader and would really appreciate some input. DH is getting tired of my my daily history musings updates, to which I subject him every evening 😀

So far I've put together our history myself using various resources. Now it's time for world history.

I feel like I would like to look ahead further than one year and figure out a plan for middle school, so I don't have to figure out history every year, and so that there's a concrete plan of what we're going to cover in the next few years.  I would also like something that has some supporting resources (comprehension questions, mapwork, narration topics) as I don't have as much time to cobble things together myself anymore.  I would like a Christian-friendly curricula, but nothing overly religious, as we do our religious studies separately.

After weeks of research, I think I've narrowed down the choices to K12 Human Odyssey and Dorothy Mills' history from Memoria Press. Has anyone who has used either of these tell me more about what you liked or didn't like?

I've ordered both Human Odyssey vol. 1 and Dorothy Mill's Book of the Ancient World to read before the fall. I've received and started reading HO already; for the Dorothy Mills books I've only read the sample pages on MP's website. 

So far here are the pros and cons of each option:

K12 Human Odyssey

Pros:
Can cover world history in 3 years
Nice color photos and maps in text
Seems Christian-friendly
Conversational tone.
Cons:
Not overly excited by it for some reason
Over 600 pages to cover; seems a bit wordy?
Not sure about supporting resources – has a workbook, but I don't know what's inside and they're hard to find
Not sure if vol. 3 will be too advanced for middle school (I guess we would get to it by 8th grade?).

Dorothy Mills history books 

Pros:
Like the more "living book" aspect
Inclusion of the Hebrews, Phoenicians, etc. in the Book of the Ancient World
Texts are shorter than the Human Odyssey volumes
Easy-to-get study guides from MP include comprehension questions, vocabulary and mapwork.
More excited about teaching this option.
Cons:
Going through all the Dorothy Mills books will take much longer than doing HO
Last Dorothy Mills books covers the only Renaissance and Reformation, so no modern history in the series, would have to pick something else later on
Not sure if the later volumes (Book of the Middle Ages and Renaissance & Reformation Times are too advanced for middle school (Cathy Duffy seems to recommend these two volumes for high school).

If you've made it this far through my ramblings, do you have any thoughts or suggestions? More details on either of these options? What is the K12 HO workbook like, is it worth trying to track down? Has anyone combined these two options (and how)? Can vol. 3 of HO and the last two books of the Dorothy Mills books be used in middle school, or are they definitely high school level? My 6th grader has been a reluctant reader so far and has just started reading a little bit for enjoyment, so I don't want to overburden her with too much reading at this point, and with her younger siblings, finding large chunks of time for me to read aloud to her are difficult.

Thank you in advance!

Edited by Everything Chocolate
correction and added question
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2 hours ago, OKBud said:

Random thoughts...

Book of the Ancient World is slotted in at MP as Christian Studies, not history. It is history-y, for sure, but that's not how they use it.

Book of the Middle Ages is definitely for sure fine for middle school aged kids. But the last level of HO is fine for 9th or 10th grade. 

All the Mills books will take just as long, if not longer, to get through as Human Odyssey. I gave mine away because it never appealed to us either.

This is just muddying the waters further lol. I went with Oak Meadow World History 7, used over 2 years (we're about to start #2) for a world history over-view. It's been phenomenal. 

 

Thanks, some things to consider for sure. I did look at Oak Meadow history 7 before, but I'm not sure that would be a good fit for us.

Which ones did you give away, the Mills books or Human Odyssey?

Hmmmm....maybe things will become more clear once I get the first Mills book in my hands and can read through it.

 

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I am currently reading Mills' Middle Ages and am enjoying it. Just to muddy the waters, we will be using Classical Lessons for the Middle Ages by amindinthelight.com. The website is confusing to navigate, and I couldn't find any samples, but I am really looking forward to using it with my 6th grader this year. It's more Charlotte Mason, so there are suggested narration topics for each chapter (which I mostly plan to do orally), fewer vocabulary words than MP, and the projects are not all strictly writing. They can range from drawing a floor plan based on the reading, to making comparison charts, as well as other things besides writing a paragraph. It also includes a little art study here and there, as well as map work.

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7 hours ago, OKBud said:

 

HO  

In choosing between the two, it's likely going to come down to your preference in format. I'd personally choose short narratives any day of the week. So, Mills. HO and Mills both lend themselves to narration though, which is good. The information is appropriately chunked for that age group. And remember with Mills, and anything MP, you don't have to have the student write every single answer. Which reminds me, I really like the enrichment sections in MP workbooks. I am blanking on whether or not the wb's for the Mills books had enrichment, but if they did you can bet I liked it lol. 

Good luck choosing! You really can't go wrong. They're both really great, they just aren't for everyone.

Thanks again. Since I've ordered both, I'll see what appeals to me more once I get Dorothy Mills book and go from there. The Human Odyssey book will be good for color photos and maps, even if we don't end up using the text.

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1 hour ago, knitgrl said:

I am currently reading Mills' Middle Ages and am enjoying it. Just to muddy the waters, we will be using Classical Lessons for the Middle Ages by amindinthelight.com. The website is confusing to navigate, and I couldn't find any samples, but I am really looking forward to using it with my 6th grader this year. It's more Charlotte Mason, so there are suggested narration topics for each chapter (which I mostly plan to do orally), fewer vocabulary words than MP, and the projects are not all strictly writing. They can range from drawing a floor plan based on the reading, to making comparison charts, as well as other things besides writing a paragraph. It also includes a little art study here and there, as well as map work.

 

Glad to hear you're enjoying Mills' Middle ages and think it will work for a 6th grader.

Thanks for mentioning the A Mind in the Light guides. I read about them while searching for info on the Dorothy Mills history books on this forum. That's definitely something that I might use instead of the MP study guide. I like that they seem to have more variety in the assignments, which will probably appeal more to my creative daughter.

And in case anyone else was looking for samples, they are available on the A Mind in the Light website:  https://www.amindinthelight.com/history

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We've really enjoyed HO for 5th-7th. The text is readable and engaging. They read on their own, then discuss with me, and once a week write a paragraph about something that interests them. I coordinate their literature reading lists to the time period as well. Volume 3 is a little "heavy" for 7th grade, but it's a lot shorter than the other 2 volumes as well, so they have more time to digest the higher reading level.

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7 hours ago, Momto6inIN said:

We've really enjoyed HO for 5th-7th. The text is readable and engaging. They read on their own, then discuss with me, and once a week write a paragraph about something that interests them. I coordinate their literature reading lists to the time period as well. Volume 3 is a little "heavy" for 7th grade, but it's a lot shorter than the other 2 volumes as well, so they have more time to digest the higher reading level.

Thanks for chiming in!

By vol. 3 being a little "heavy," do you mean in terms of reading level or the material covered? If we go with HO, we'll get to vol. 3 in 8th grade, so hopefully that will work.

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17 minutes ago, Everything Chocolate said:

Thanks for chiming in!

By vol. 3 being a little "heavy," do you mean in terms of reading level or the material covered? If we go with HO, we'll get to vol. 3 in 8th grade, so hopefully that will work.

Both 🙂

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We used K12 Human Odyssey volume 1 last year. We have just started volume 2. 

I add in a lot of stuff - writing assignments, map work, primary sources to analyze, etc. I feel like that fleshes it out into a more complete course. (I didn't purchase the student pages that are available because I wasn't willing to buy without seeing samples, and I couldn't find any.) For the map work, I purchased blank maps from MapTrek and aligned assignments with the maps available in the HO textbook.

Re: Christian-friendly - I know that there's a spectrum of what Christian homeschoolers are okay with in a textbook, from "it has to align with my beliefs completely" to "I really don't care." I fall in the middle - it's okay if a text doesn't align with my beliefs, but I want to discuss with my kids when there's a conflict. So, with that in mind, I would say that the way the text handles historical events that are also mentioned in Scripture is...okay. The biggest issue, to me, is that the text tends to assign motives to people that don't match the motives described in Scripture. Like, it says the Israelites wanted a king who would please their God...but Scripture makes it clear that the only reason they wanted a king in the first place was because they had rejected God, and they were not concerned with pleasing him. Anyway, I have no idea where you fall on that spectrum, but hopefully that's helpful info. (Oh - and if you are Catholic, I can't really comment on the treatment of Catholicism in the coverage of church history, because we haven't yet reached the Reformation in vol 2. Also, I'm Protestant, so I might not pick up on things that would be red flags to someone who is Catholic.)

One other thing to note is that I have found errors. Some are things like misspelling "Mediterranean." Others are things like claiming our source of knowledge about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is Herodotus, when Herodotus did not in fact write anything about the Hanging Gardens. When I found things like this, I pointed them out to my kids and provided correct info (or showed them that there's actually disagreement among historians and here's why).

I am concerned that there are historical errors that I did NOT discover. I'm also concerned because of what I mentioned above about the Christianity thing, because while I am aware of the nuances of my own belief system, I am not aware of the nuances of other religions. So if Islam or Hinduism is misrepresented in little ways, I will not catch it like I do with misrepresentation of Christianity.

On the other hand, I think those things will be dangers in ANY history survey text, to varying degrees. I have no familiarity with the other set of texts you're considering. But I am now using HO vol 2, like I mentioned, and plan to continue with vol 3 as well, just because I've figured out how to make it work for us and I tend to stick with something that's working. 

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5 hours ago, purpleowl said:

We used K12 Human Odyssey volume 1 last year. We have just started volume 2. 

I add in a lot of stuff - writing assignments, map work, primary sources to analyze, etc. I feel like that fleshes it out into a more complete course. (I didn't purchase the student pages that are available because I wasn't willing to buy without seeing samples, and I couldn't find any.) For the map work, I purchased blank maps from MapTrek and aligned assignments with the maps available in the HO textbook.

Re: Christian-friendly - I know that there's a spectrum of what Christian homeschoolers are okay with in a textbook, from "it has to align with my beliefs completely" to "I really don't care." I fall in the middle - it's okay if a text doesn't align with my beliefs, but I want to discuss with my kids when there's a conflict. So, with that in mind, I would say that the way the text handles historical events that are also mentioned in Scripture is...okay. The biggest issue, to me, is that the text tends to assign motives to people that don't match the motives described in Scripture. Like, it says the Israelites wanted a king who would please their God...but Scripture makes it clear that the only reason they wanted a king in the first place was because they had rejected God, and they were not concerned with pleasing him. Anyway, I have no idea where you fall on that spectrum, but hopefully that's helpful info. (Oh - and if you are Catholic, I can't really comment on the treatment of Catholicism in the coverage of church history, because we haven't yet reached the Reformation in vol 2. Also, I'm Protestant, so I might not pick up on things that would be red flags to someone who is Catholic.)

One other thing to note is that I have found errors. Some are things like misspelling "Mediterranean." Others are things like claiming our source of knowledge about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is Herodotus, when Herodotus did not in fact write anything about the Hanging Gardens. When I found things like this, I pointed them out to my kids and provided correct info (or showed them that there's actually disagreement among historians and here's why).

I am concerned that there are historical errors that I did NOT discover. I'm also concerned because of what I mentioned above about the Christianity thing, because while I am aware of the nuances of my own belief system, I am not aware of the nuances of other religions. So if Islam or Hinduism is misrepresented in little ways, I will not catch it like I do with misrepresentation of Christianity.

On the other hand, I think those things will be dangers in ANY history survey text, to varying degrees. I have no familiarity with the other set of texts you're considering. But I am now using HO vol 2, like I mentioned, and plan to continue with vol 3 as well, just because I've figured out how to make it work for us and I tend to stick with something that's working. 

Thank you, your response is very helpful!

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5 hours ago, mms said:

I have not seen HO but the Mills books are engaging. My 11 year old picked one up and read half the book in a single sitting. We’ll definitely be keeping them. The MP workbooks were meh. But, we unschool history and don’t use workbooks so that’s not a big deal for us.

Don’t know how much bilingual schooling you do but we have found books from the series Belyi Gorod to be top notch and unmatched by anything I’ve seen in English. We have this history of Russia: https://www.ozon.ru/context/detail/id/137957422/

And this world history text is in my cart to get as soon as I have funds:

https://www.ozon.ru/context/detail/id/29719860/

Anyway, just FYI in case it is helpful.

That's wonderful that your child just read through half a Mills book in one sitting! The engaging style is one of the things that is making me lean towards using the Dorothy Mills series.

Thanks for bringing up Russian resources. For some reason I didn't really think to look what's available in Russian on the subject of world history, although I'm always on the lookout for books on Russian history. We do own some books published by Belyi Gorod and they're lovely. 

And, sidenote...I will try to look up the Russian resources thread you mentioned awhile back and see if I can add anything to that list.

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We used Human Odyssey 1, 2, and 3 and supplemented, but I didn't break it out perfectly by year. If I remember correctly, book 1 spilled into year 2. I supplemented with Oxford University Press' World in Ancient Times and World in Medieval and Early Modern Times volumes for years 1 and 2. For Human Odyssey 3, I supplemented with OUP's Pages from History.  I think I used part of Dorothy Mill's Middle Ages book in our second year since the OUP books didn't have total coverage of that period.  I would say I liked the OUP books better, but it is hard to compare the two. DM's books read more like a narrative and less like a text book.  

We supplemented with Map Trek as well.  

YMMV, but I can recommend these three history books and the OUP books.  

ETA; for my youngest we did HO3 in 7th grade and just discussed. For my oldest, he did HO3 plus part of American Odyssey and a bunch of OUP Pages from History books and I am transcripting it as U.S. History in a World Context.  I created a guided reading document for him to take notes in. 

Edited by cintinative
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8 hours ago, cintinative said:

We used Human Odyssey 1, 2, and 3 and supplemented, but I didn't break it out perfectly by year. If I remember correctly, book 1 spilled into year 2. I supplemented with Oxford University Press' World in Ancient Times and World in Medieval and Early Modern Times volumes for years 1 and 2. For Human Odyssey 3, I supplemented with OUP's Pages from History.  I think I used part of Dorothy Mill's Middle Ages book in our second year since the OUP books didn't have total coverage of that period.  I would say I liked the OUP books better, but it is hard to compare the two. DM's books read more like a narrative and less like a text book.  

We supplemented with Map Trek as well.  

YMMV, but I can recommend these three history books and the OUP books.  

ETA; for my youngest we did HO3 in 7th grade and just discussed. For my oldest, he did HO3 plus part of American Odyssey and a bunch of OUP Pages from History books and I am transcripting it as U.S. History in a World Context.  I created a guided reading document for him to take notes in. 

Thanks for sharing your experience with HO.
This isn't the first time I hear someone recommending the OUP books – I'll see if I can get my hands on one to see what they're like.

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9 hours ago, Everything Chocolate said:

Thanks for sharing your experience with HO.
This isn't the first time I hear someone recommending the OUP books – I'll see if I can get my hands on one to see what they're like.

I just realized that what I typed isn't totally clear. I liked the OUP books better than the Dorothy Mills books. I would have still chosen the Human Odyssey books had I to do it again. What I liked about the OUP books was the primary sources. I felt like it rounded out things nicely.

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I'm a huge fan of the books by Dorothy Mills -both of my daughters love(d) them! I haven't yet found books for history which are so highly readable, but yet interesting and thorough. I also love how Mills extensively incorporates quotes from primary history sources. This made it so easy to add to this part of history, if I felt the need. I simply offered or expanded on the quoted primary source. I loved them so much that I created guides for them. 🙂 

I do have and have looked at HO and while I agree they are well-done, they just weren't the right fit for us. 

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4 minutes ago, Kfamily said:

I'm a huge fan of the books by Dorothy Mills -both of my daughters love(d) them! I haven't yet found books for history which are so highly readable, but yet interesting and thorough. I also love how Mills extensively incorporates quotes from primary history sources. This made it so easy to add to this part of history, if I felt the need. I simply offered or expanded on the quoted primary source. I loved them so much that I created guides for them. 🙂 

I do have and have looked at HO and while I agree they are well-done, they just weren't the right fit for us. 

Thank you for your input! I will most likely use your guides if I end up going with the Dorothy Mills series, I really liked what I saw in the samples 🙂

Is only the first guide (for The Book of the Ancient World) available as a PDF ebook?

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