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Middle Ages for 6th? - Anyone thinking about next year?


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It's the time of year when I begin to think about the next year and have to remind myself that we still have 5 months left of this year! 

We're doing ancient history this year so I think we'll do the Middle Ages next year. I was thinking about pairing Middle Ages history with a study of fairy tales for literature. I'm not sure that it completely fits because most famous fairy tale collections are actually from a much later time period but fairy tales have a medieval feel to them, at least to me. 

Any advice for a spine? I've done some looking and as usual am very disappointed by the options. I don't want to study the Middle Ages as the "dark ages" steeped in "Catholic superstition" but on the other hand, I don't want to study it as Catholic triumphantism glossing over the Crusades and other issues in the Church. (We are Catholic.) 

I don't want our studies to be too Euro-centric but know that we can't study every country so will need to narrow it down. 

We would probably also read some historical fiction set in the Middle Ages. 

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I did Middle Ages last year with three middle schoolers. We used Christine Miller's Middle Ages, as well as her Rennaissance book.  They are a reformatting/expansion of the old Geurber books that many CM folks use.  We also read SOTW for their younger siblings, and I'll admit SOTW was less euro-centric.  

We focused a lot on fairy tales as well :). Mostly using Lang.  Also Norse Mythology (we did a few, but Gaiman was fun), Beowulf (Henney translation), Robin Hood (Pyle version), King Arthur (Sutcliff trilogy was the highlight of the year), Ivanhoe (was a flop), and Canterbury Tales (can't recall the version as we did it audio over a roadtrip).

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Just a quick "quibble" (LOL) about "dark ages" and "Catholic superstition" in the same sentence 😉 : The "Dark Ages" were called that because of the decline of Western civilization (ancient Roman Empire that had expanded into parts of Europe), with the loss of literacy, science, medicine, and the rise of feudalism as the main political system. So it was actually the Catholic Church that kept alive the "flickering candle" of literacy and knowledge during this period of "darkened literacy/knowlege" through their preservation work of hand-copying of books, including surviving ancient works. 😉 


A few ideas for "spines":

The Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World (Evans) -- 1993 edition
Secular. Grades 5-7 level. Covers ancients to late 20th century in 750 pages. Out of print (Amazon has used versions starting at $10 + shipping). The Middle Ages are covered in about 160 pages. Covers world history, so not just a Western civilization focus. This edition, while older, has a very nice timeline that runs vertically in the far margin of about every other page, listing key inventions/arts/events/people from around the world. Also lots of illustrations and map--plus boxes with snippets of info on special features/facts/biographies--that help it not feel so text-heavy for a young middle schooler -- on the contrary, this might feel too "busy" and without enough depth for some readers. Re: bias -- a quick read of the section on Middle Ages Monasticism seems to be pretty factual with no "loaded" descriptions or worded with hidden "attitude". (lol)

Builders of the Old World (Gertrude Hartman)
Secular. Grades 5-7 level. Out of print (Amazon has some used versions for $20-30 + shipping). Covers ancients (units 1-5) and Middle Ages up to the age of exploration (units 6-11). With line drawing illustrations. At the end of each chapter there are some built-in extensions -- "talking together" (discussion questions, which could lead to a writing assignment); "interesting things to try" (activity ideas); "let's read" (list of related books that might be of interest); "quiz yourself" (matching & fill-in-blank questions); plus usually another option such as watching a history film, or mapping activity, or writing a summary, or making a bibliography... Vintage (pub. in 1959) so those book/film suggestions will also be vintage, but some of the other activities may still be nice...

The World in Ancient Times; Oxford University Press series
Secular. Grades 5-8/9 level. Each book is around 170-190 pages and focuses on a specific area of the world. There is also a teacher guide to go with each, so you can add "output" of discussion, writing, or activities. One volume specifically covers NON-Western cultures/history. Volumes that cover Middle Ages up to Early Modern World:

The European World, 400-1450
The African and Middle Eastern World, 600-1500
An Age of Voyages, 1350-1600
An Age of Empires, 1200-1750
An Age of Science and Revolutions, 1600-1800

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1 hour ago, Lori D. said:

Just a quick "quibble" (LOL) about "dark ages" and "Catholic superstition" in the same sentence 😉 : The "Dark Ages" were called that because of the decline of Western civilization (ancient Roman Empire that had expanded into parts of Europe), with the loss of literacy, science, medicine, and the rise of feudalism as the main political system. So it was actually the Catholic Church that kept alive the "flickering candle" of literacy and knowledge during this period of "darkened literacy/knowlege" through their preservation work of hand-copying of books, including surviving ancient works. 😉 


A few ideas for "spines":

The Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World (Evans) -- 1993 edition
Secular. Grades 5-7 level. Covers ancients to late 20th century in 750 pages. Out of print (Amazon has used versions starting at $10 + shipping). The Middle Ages are covered in about 160 pages. Covers world history, so not just a Western civilization focus. This edition, while older, has a very nice timeline that runs vertically in the far margin of about every other page, listing key inventions/arts/events/people from around the world. Also lots of illustrations and map--plus boxes with snippets of info on special features/facts/biographies--that help it not feel so text-heavy for a young middle schooler -- on the contrary, this might feel too "busy" and without enough depth for some readers. Re: bias -- a quick read of the section on Middle Ages Monasticism seems to be pretty factual with no "loaded" descriptions or worded with hidden "attitude". (lol)

Builders of the Old World (Gertrude Hartman)
Secular. Grades 5-7 level. Out of print (Amazon has some used versions for $20-30 + shipping). Covers ancients (units 1-5) and Middle Ages up to the age of exploration (units 6-11). With line drawing illustrations. At the end of each chapter there are some built-in extensions -- "talking together" (discussion questions, which could lead to a writing assignment); "interesting things to try" (activity ideas); "let's read" (list of related books that might be of interest); "quiz yourself" (matching & fill-in-blank questions); plus usually another option such as watching a history film, or mapping activity, or writing a summary, or making a bibliography... Vintage (pub. in 1959) so those book/film suggestions will also be vintage, but some of the other activities may still be nice...

The World in Ancient Times; Oxford University Press series
Secular. Grades 5-8/9 level. Each book is around 170-190 pages and focuses on a specific area of the world. There is also a teacher guide to go with each, so you can add "output" of discussion, writing, or activities. One volume specifically covers NON-Western cultures/history. Volumes that cover Middle Ages up to Early Modern World:

The European World, 400-1450
The African and Middle Eastern World, 600-1500
An Age of Voyages, 1350-1600
An Age of Empires, 1200-1750
An Age of Science and Revolutions, 1600-1800

Thanks. To be clear, I know that the "dark ages" is ridiculous. I wrote what I did because I wanted to avoid any text that described the Middle Ages in that way. 

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I don't remember where I found it, but I saw a unit study on dragons someone was doing somewhere, and a huge portion of it ended up being tied to the Middle Ages and then in comparison to the ancient Chinese dragons. Dragon folklore and symbolism and yada yada. It was cool though, enough that I remember it now!

Cool things in Asia during this time were Ghengis Khan and even the rise of Japanese feudalism and the super cool samurais! Not to mention, gunpowder and mass printing was invented during this time. Why did Europe struggle with advancement while Asia did not? Hmm my mind is working...

I have nothing to offer on spines, because we'll be doing ancients next year, what did you use? I'm sorry, I love history, I am so excited for Middle Ages right now ha.

 

 

 

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Ideas for Fairy Tales:
- "Recs. for folktales, myths, from around the world"
This past thread has a lot of great ideas for fairy tales and folk tales from around the world, to help expand from just 18th-19th century European fairytale collections. 

And also:
- Dover: Chinese Fairy Tales
- Golden Book: Chinese Fairy Tales (Ponsot, translator / Rizzato, illustrator)
- Golden Book: Japanese Fairy Tales (Marmur, translator / Benvenuti, illustrator)
- Japanese Fairy Tales (Ozaki)
- The Greatest Indian Fairy Tales (selected by Joseph Jacobs)
- The Ocean of Story: Fairy Tales from India (Ness)


More about fairy tales...
You may wish to explore several of the "big" authors. Here is a thumbnail bio I wrote up for one of my co-op class Literature lessons on the major fairy tale authors:

The most famous “Fathers” of fairy tales...

Charles Perrault "
French author of original fairy tales, writing mostly in the second half of the 1600s. His stories focus on wonder, magic, and delightful happy endings. Some of his best-known tales:
- Cinderella
- Bluebeard
- Puss in Boots

the brothers Grimm
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were German scholars who collected traditional European folk and fairy tales that were part of "the oral tradition" of storytelling. Publishing their volume in 1812, they focused on grim and violent punishments of evil characters. Among their most famous tales:
- Little Red Riding Hood
- Hansel and Gretel
- Snow White
- Rumpelstiltskin

Hans Christian Andersen
Danish author of original fairy tales, which he created throughout much of the 1800s. Most of his tales involve sorrow, suffering, or Christian virtues. His famous stories include:
- The Little Mermaid
- The Snow Queen
- The Ugly Duckling
- The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Joseph Jacobs
Australian folklorist who collected traditional tales already part of common knowledge, and published these in several volumes of classic English fairy tales at the end of the 19th century. Many of his tales include trickery and trickster characters. His books include the famous versions of:
- The Three Little Pigs
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- Goldilocks & the Three Bears

Andrew Lang
Scottish poet and novelist who also collected existing tales from many cultures, translated them into English, and published 25 illustrated volumes of fairy tales at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. He is known for his versions of:
- series of "color" fairy tale books, each a mix of tales from various cultures
- The Arabian Nights
- Beauty and the Beast (his short story version of the original tale)


... and “Mother” of Fairy Tales:

Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve
While she was not widely remembered or read outside of her times (first half of the 1700s), this French authoress created original fairy tales, both short stories and novels, and is the original creator of "Beauty and the Beast", which she wrote as an adult novel.

Edited by Lori D.
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15 hours ago, Mommalongadingdong said:

I don't remember where I found it, but I saw a unit study on dragons someone was doing somewhere, and a huge portion of it ended up being tied to the Middle Ages and then in comparison to the ancient Chinese dragons. Dragon folklore and symbolism and yada yada. It was cool though, enough that I remember it now!

Cool things in Asia during this time were Ghengis Khan and even the rise of Japanese feudalism and the super cool samurais! Not to mention, gunpowder and mass printing was invented during this time. Why did Europe struggle with advancement while Asia did not? Hmm my mind is working...

I have nothing to offer on spines, because we'll be doing ancients next year, what did you use? I'm sorry, I love history, I am so excited for Middle Ages right now ha.

 

 

 

I bought the Oak Meadow Year 6 Ancient History for a spine although I probably didn't actually use it that way. I liked some of the chapters but not all. For example, we're spending a month and a half on Ancient China now and I didn't assign the Ancient China chapters. We used a book about Ancient Chinese Dynasties instead of Oak Meadow. I think my issue with Oak Meadow is that it's intended to quickly move through all Ancient History throughout the world in a year. We studied some cultures in more depth and aren't going to get to all of the chapters. 

 I went back and forth about that. I like how Oak Meadow is very comprehensive but I wanted to spend more time on specific cultures like ancient India, China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. I would have liked to have also studied South America and Africa but we had to make choices. 

Gengis Khan and the samurais sounds very cool. 

Maybe a spine isn't really what I want. I could buy books about the countries we're going to study in more depth instead of a spine. 

 

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Thinking about this more. Maybe fairy tales would be better in 7th grade when we will study the Renaissance. For the Middle Ages, we could study medieval literature like Chaucer and Beowulf. DD will be in the 6th grade. She's a stronger reader but we would need to use child-friendly versions. I need to start researching medieval literature. 

 

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We used Human Odyssey 2, the OUP World in Middle Ages books (not sure of exact name and OUP site is down right now) and the lit books recommended in the WTM for that time period.


ETA: I think we used part of the Dorothy Mills book also

Edited by cintinative
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15 hours ago, Lori D. said:

The World in Ancient Times; Oxford University Press series
Secular. Grades 5-8/9 level. Each book is around 170-190 pages and focuses on a specific area of the world. There is also a teacher guide to go with each, so you can add "output" of discussion, writing, or activities. One volume specifically covers NON-Western cultures/history. Volumes that cover Middle Ages up to Early Modern World:

The European World, 400-1450
The African and Middle Eastern World, 600-1500
An Age of Voyages, 1350-1600
An Age of Empires, 1200-1750
An Age of Science and Revolutions, 1600-1800

We ended up using The World in Ancient Times series this year for our spine. (I believe you recommended them when I asked for suggestions a year ago -- if so, thank you!) I added a corresponding middle-grades historical fiction reading list to round it out, and it has been just right for us.

OP, we've been extremely pleased with the Oxford University Press ancient times set and intend to continue with the middle ages books Lori D. shared above. They're pretty much perfect for middle grades learners. They have a comfortable conversational tone, but aren't oversimplified. There's depth and yet still photographs on every single page. The ancient times books dive deep into one region at a time, and it looks like at least the first three of the middle and early modern books do too. (There's also The Asian World, 600-1500.)

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@Ordinary Shoes, I PM’d you. Unfortunately, I already sold the set - I forgot to take down the listing. 

Personally, DD and I did not like the series, and I was pretty certain DS wouldn’t like it either. That’s why I let go of it. 

If you can’t find another complete set, the most economical way to acquire the books (that I found) was through Abebooks.com.

DD used the OUP Ancient World Set, and the following Medieval books - Asia, Europe, Africa and Middle East.

The pro’s of the series are the extensive use of primary sources. Each set comes with an entire book of primary source documents; and each chapter quotes liberally from primary sources. It has excellent color illustrations, timelines, and interesting side bars.

The downsides were that it was often hard to get a big picture sense of the thread of history through these books. Each chapter often didn’t seem to directly relate to the one before or the one after.  Some chapters would go into excessive detail about certain rather obscure historical figures - it felt like too much detail (and ended up being confusing) for middle grade level.  I would appreciate that level of detail if we were studying just that one geographical area, but each book covers multiple countries, so it ended up feeling very jumpy.  Those were our major complaints.  A minor complaint — the writing style was often too casual for DD’s taste.

For Middle Ages, we also read H.O Arnold-Foster’s History of England (Julius Caesar to Richard II). We didn’t want to be too Eurocentric, but OUP provided a nice non-European balance. HOAF was an unexpected hit with DD. She enjoyed reading about all the crazy monarchs, and getting a “big picture” sense of the history of one nation.

We also did Beowulf, GK Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse, Ivanhoe, and the Chaucer book from the Ambleside list.  That Chaucer book is actually really good - it has side by side modern and Middle English, so the student really gets a sense not just of the plot of the stories, but of the language. It also has helpful footnotes that explain more about the culture and way of living of that time period.

Ballad of the White Horse was DD’s favorite from that year. She still rereads it and committed part of it to memory. If you try it, I highly recommend the edition by Seton. It has excellent explanatory notes.

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We are doing middle ages this year.  My 6th grader is using a mashup of History Odyssey's suggestions (especially for literature and maps) but also Kingfisher Encyclopedia and the Oxford University Press series listed above.  (There is a primary source book to go with them as well.)  He seems to like it all and is doing very well.

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13 hours ago, JHLWTM said:

 

The downsides were that it was often hard to get a big picture sense of the thread of history through these books. 

I think this is why it worked for us to pair them with the Human Odyssey volume 2.  It provided the spine/overview and the books supplied some additional content/primary sources. I agree that we wouldn't have liked them by themselves.  OP, I think I still have my schedule if you want me to send it to you.

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34 minutes ago, cintinative said:

I think this is why it worked for us to pair them with the Human Odyssey volume 2.  It provided the spine/overview and the books supplied some additional content/primary sources. I agree that we wouldn't have liked them by themselves.  OP, I think I still have my schedule if you want me to send it to you.

Sure, I'd love to see the schedule if you have it. 

Thanks! 

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Sure, I'd love to see the schedule if you have it. 

Thanks! 

Sent. It appears my memory is rusty and we did part of HO Volume 1 that year as well.  It's all on the schedule, though.  😃

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I'm pretty sure cintinative and I have talked about Human Odyssey before, but I believe I used Human Odyssey medieval (with History Odyssey's plans too) with my now tenth grader when he was in sixth grade (that year is a bit of a blur), and he liked it a lot.  I just didn't feel like it was right for my current sixth grader this year though, not that there's anything wrong with it (it's a great book, and my older son liked the whole series), just that I felt it wasn't the best fit for my current sixth grader.  

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