One of my favorite history curriculums for elementary students is The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. Consisting of four volumes in all, this series is designed so students complete one volume per year. A great way for teaching history to multiple grade levels, this series can even be used with middle school students.
Volume 1: The Ancients covers from 5000 B.C. to 400 A.D.; Volume 2: The Middle Ages covers from 400 to 1600; Volume 3: Early Modern Times covers from 1600 – 1850; and Volume 4: The Modern Age covers from 1850 – 1994. Each book discusses what was happening around the world during a particular time period, so students have a better understanding of major events and how they affected various nations. For example, students learn that Napoleon’s financial troubles led him to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States, which in turn allowed westward expansion to continue. I have to smile when my fourth grader can tell me the connection between Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson!
What makes this such an enjoyable series for both the parent and child is the way in which it is written. Susan Bauer presents history as a story, a narrative meant to be read aloud to the students by a parent or teacher. It’s fun to read and fun to listen to. Sometimes my older children and I take turns reading a page, which gives them extra reading practice too. The books are also available on CD, and I know several moms who use driving time as history time with this resource.
Of course, what makes history even more memorable are hands-on activities, and this curriculum provides these as well. Activity books are available for each of the volumes. These include map work, crafts, coloring pages, and reading lists. Tests for each volume can also be purchased – everything you’d need to teach and enjoy history!