New Format for 2014-2015 School Year (Multi-Level Ancients)

I am working on reformatting and expanding (more history and more literature selections) previous guides to be more flexible and adaptable for families with multiple levels of children (like mine). 🙂 I’ve looked extensively at existing programs (such as Tapestry of Grace), but I really need something secular.  I hope to have Classical House of Learning: Multi-Level Ancients finished by the start of summer (because I need a summer vacation!). I’ve made good progress so far.  Below comes from the introductory portion of the new multi-level guide.

Why I Wrote This

I’ve been homeschooling for nine years. At various points I’ve implemented different ideas for how to study history and literature.  Most of those attempts were highly structured and scheduled. I’ve discovered that that approach, while extremely appealing to my personality type, isn’t compatible with homeschooling in a house with six children from teenage down to toddler. This guide is about flexibility that can work within the context of the needs of a large homeschooling family.  It may also be a good fit for a family that desires a less structured approach to history and literature.

Planning the Books (and/or Documentaries)

  • I have created a list of books for each unit, divided by approximate ability and/or interest level. The lists in this guide are based on books I happened to have on my shelves along with books that are popular among other homeschoolers.
  • You may wish to catalog the books you already own and type up your own list.  You may also wish to mark my list with O (you own it), L (available at your library), or W (item you wish to purchase if possible).
  • Not all books will be appropriate for all families or students.  Please look through the books before assigning them.  This website gives age recommendations and breakdown of violence, sexual content, etc. for more popular books:
  • For Grammar and Logic Stage students, The Story of the World Activity Book One: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer lists non-fiction and fiction titles for every chapter of The Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer. I highly suggest you look at these lists for additional titles.
  • The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise also lists book suggestions for ALL levels (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric).
  • Browse the catalogs of other living books history programs to get further ideas.  Look through what Rainbow Resource Center has to offer on a given culture or topic.
  • Before you start each unit, look through the book list. Check your shelves. See what’s available at the library. Select and gather which books you’d like to use during this unit. Consider designating a particular shelf or basket for the current unit’s books.  How many books to use depends on how much time you want to spend and how deeply you want to delve into this particular topic.
  • Your students may prefer to choose their own books at the library (or from your home collection). I have listed call numbers that will most likely contain relevant books.  You may also wish to search your library’s catalog.
  • The books for which I’ve created lessons (discussion questions and copywork, etc.) are marked with an asterisk (*). Unfortunately, some of these books may be out of print.  For retellings of classic tales, another edition should substitute without many issues.
  • Books for which I haven’t created questions may have free guides available online or paid guides available for purchase. If I am aware of a resource like that, I will link to it in the Notes section of each book list. Those books will be marked with a caret symbol (^).  If you have written or would like to write a lesson to share with others, let me know!
  • If your child enjoys documentaries, make a list of any unit-relevant titles that are available at your library or on Netflix (or similar).

Planning the Read Alouds

  • If you have young readers who are not yet reading independently, you will be reading selections out loud from the “Grammar Stage Level 1” category.  Older, independent readers will read their assigned books by themselves and discuss them with you afterward.
  • In addition to the books for the younger students, you may wish to choose one or two books as a family read aloud per unit.  Even older students enjoy being read to.  This book could be somehow related to your history studies or it could simply be a book you enjoy. For example, perhaps you realize that your children have never read Charlotte’s Web or The Hobbit, so you choose to read one of those throughout the unit.

Planning Writing

  • I’ve created a list of various types of assignments your child may wish to complete.  I will have my children choose one or more options each unit so that they have time to revise and polish their writing.
  • If you have a writing program that you love, you may not want to do any of the writing assignments suggested in this guide. That’s fine! 🙂
  • If you don’t have a writing program that you love, I have found useful ideas in The Writer’s Jungle by Julie Bogart (there is usually a discount available through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op) and Susan Wise Bauer’s various writing programs (Writing with Ease, Writing with Skill, and The Complete Writer) and audio lectures.  There are many other writing programs as well. Ask your fellow homeschoolers for recommendations.
  • If you plan to do what I do, have your children take a look at the assignment options at the beginning of the unit and select one (or more, as appropriate) for your child to work on throughout the unit (longer project) or throughout the week (shorter project).
  • In addition to the writing assignments, it is good practice for students to narrate and/or outline the facts from their reading assignments.
  • Rhetoric Stage students should select essay prompts from Study and Teaching Guide: The History of the Ancient World.  They may also wish to work on a semester-long writing assignment on a historical or literary topic.

Planning the Activities

  • Flip through the activity book(s) for this unit and choose which activities you’d like to do.  Make a list of supplies you will need.
  • Buy and/or gather the supplies (print outs, books, art supplies, etc.).  Tell someone where you put them so that you can find them later. (I developed the habit of telling a couple of kids when I put something “in a safe place.”  Sometimes just saying it out loud helps me remember. If not, one of them usually remembers.)
  • Mark a day on the calendar for an “At Home Field Trip” to your “destination” (the tombs of Ancient Egypt, the cave paintings of Lascaux, etc.).  (I heard that phrase on the Brave Writer podcast and I think it’s awesome.  The idea is to set aside a day for a special activity that replaces regular homeschool lessons.)
  • If you have friends who are studying the same time period, see if they’d like to participate in either doing projects together or creating a display fair where each child presents something s/he learned during this unit.

Planning Geography

  • If you choose to use The Story of the World Activity Book One, print out or copy whichever maps you plan to use during this unit. (No, you really don’t have to do all of them unless you want to!)
  • If you have a Logic Stage student who wants to do more advanced map work, you will need to print out outline maps from Uncle Josh’s Outline Maps CD or another resource and consult a historical atlas.  If your child isn’t terribly interested in maps, you may choose to find and print out historical maps and have him/her trace or color over them.
  • Another option for Logic Stage (and GS) students is Knowledge Quest Map Trek:
  • This guide gives just the bare bones for Rhetoric Stage students (mine aren’t there yet), but if you have one you will want to look through Study and Teaching Guide: The History of the Ancient World and print out maps.

Planning Art and Film Appreciation

  • If you’d like to add art and music appreciation to your history studies, check out Harmony Fine Arts At Home by Barbara McCoy for ready-made schedules on a four-year history cycle.
  • If you already have a bunch of art and music appreciation resources in your house, choose a realistic amount of material to focus on during this unit.  You may wish to have an “At Home Field Trip” (replaces regular homeschool lessons) once or twice during this unit to purely focus on art and/or music. Mark your art and music appreciation days on your calendar.
  • At some point I hope to compile a list of films for this guide.  If you want to include films, list any that you’d like to watch during this unit and mark the day(s) on your calendar.

Planning Timelines

  • Oh, timelines.  I have lots of homeschool mommy guilt over timelines.
  • In my experience, timelines work best for older students who actually want to do them.  If this describes your child, an encyclopedia and a blank timeline book (or blank wall timeline) are useful tools.  Your child could get fancy and color-code entries in various categories (people, wars, inventions, literature, etc.).  As your child encounters noteworthy events/people/etc. in the reading, s/he should enter that information on the timeline.
  • Here is a free timeline book. You could print it on cardstock and have it bound or pop it into a binder.
  • If you want to get really fancy because you just love timelines, there are timeline figures you can purchase and/or print out via resources like History Through the Ages:   Select and print any figures you will use during this unit.
  • If you really want to do a timeline with younger children, you might consider doing an oral and action-based timeline such as the one put together by Timelines, Etc.:

Scheduling Each Week

  • I’ve included a blank weekly schedule page for you to use (or not).  Some people prefer to use a planner or homeschool planning software.
  • Reading lists are given for a whole unit. The idea is to work on assignments as they fit into your schedule with the goal of finishing a unit in about 9 weeks. If the topics in a particular unit don’t really interest you, you may spend less time there.  If the topics greatly interest you, you might spend more time there.
  • On Friday afternoon, over the weekend, or on Monday morning, take a look at what you have going on for the next week (doctor’s appointments, outside lessons, visitors, etc.). Sketch in what you will work on each day.  Be realistic!  Maybe select a few bonus items for if you have extra time.
  • Involve your older students in fleshing out their weekly school schedule.  This will help teach time management.  Include all subjects s/he will work on that week, including outside classes and activities.
  • If you prefer pre-planned daily reading schedules, take a look at the original Classical House of Learning Literature instead of the multi-level version.
  • Maybe your family is better served by a routine (history reading after lunch, etc.).

Homeschool Mommy Guilt & Overscheduling

I have lots of homeschool mommy guilt over various things.  You probably do, too. The truth is that we CAN’T and WON’T “do it all” (at least not all the time).  Stop comparing your homeschool to anyone else’s.  I will, too.  The reality of homeschooling (especially with a wide age spread across many children) is that some days are more productive than others.  It’s hard to teach a nice history lesson when the baby just puked all over you and the toddler got into the jar of peanut butter someone left out and the preschooler is throwing a tantrum because she can’t find her toy pony. Talk about stressful!

If you have a crazy day or week, drop back down to the bare essentials and avoid worrying about “catching up.”  Seriously. Let it go and move on. The history cycle is a beautiful thing because if you didn’t get around to an in depth study of X with your younger students, you’ll come around to it again.

Strategies that can help:

  • If you are called away by baby or toddler needs, have an older child read a “Grammar Stage Level 1” selection to the younger one(s).
  • Help older students transition to working independently so that you don’t have to sit right there to make sure s/he stays on task.  Susan Wise Bauer has two great audio lectures about this: “Homeschooling the Real Child” and “Teaching Students to Work Independently.”  You can download these and other titles from Peace Hill Press.
  • Spend some time with your little ones early in the day so that they are more willing to go play independently while you work with older students.
  • Keep some special school time toys for younger children to play with only while you are working with older children.
  • Have older students work more independently while babies or toddlers are awake. Work with older students during when babies and toddlers are napping.
  • If you have very young children or a lot of children, consider a 4-day school week or a really light 5th day that can focus on fun projects or serve as a time to focus on finishing up the essentials for the week.
  • Realize that it is probably not realistic to teach every subject every day to every child.  I have a routine in which I make sure to spend some one-on-one time with each student each day, but I alternate the subject(s). On a good day, I will hit math and language arts with each child.  On a bad day, I may only teach math or language arts instead of both. I start with the missed subject the next day.
  • Decide which subjects really need to be done with you and which subjects can be done independently. In our homeschool, I actively teach math, language arts (phonics, grammar, writing), and Latin. My children work on science on their own using child-geared kits and books. We have group discussions for history and literature.  They have a private piano teacher.  Art and other electives are on special days.
  • We hold Tea Time every Monday afternoon. I give a short lesson on a topic that interests us (poetry, art history, short biographies, whatever) and then I read aloud from our current family read aloud.  We have a special treat of some sort served with a beverage (hot chocolate, tea, lemonade, whatever).  Sometimes we watch a movie instead of reading and we have popcorn as a treat.  Tea Time is part of the Brave Writer lifestyle suggestions.  We implemented it for the 2013 – 2014 school year and we have loved it!
  • Schedule special “At Home Field Trips”—days where you scrap regular homeschool lessons in favor of a fun project. This will give you a break from what can feel like the daily grind.  Project days make great memories and help restore a love of homeschooling. Listen to this episode of Brave Writer’s podcast (“One Thing Principle”):

Unit Topics for Ancient Times

My goal was to divide the information into four roughly equal groups (~9 weeks on each group).  The truth is that you could spend a whole year on just one of these topics.  Feel free to rearrange the units or spend more time on topics that interest you.  Also feel free to skip topics that don’t interest you. Flexibility, remember? 🙂

Unit Topic
1 Prehistory, the Middle East, Egypt, and the Rest of Africa
2 Ancient Asia, Ancient Persia, and Ancient America
3 Ancient Greece
4 The Roman Empire

About Laura

I've been homeschooling since 2005. I have six children (born 2000 - 2012). We are eclectic in our approach with a bit more Well-Trained Mind philosophy over anything else.
This entry was posted in Multi-Level Ancients. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s