Friday, May 25, 2012

TOS Crew: Heritage History

Here it is, my final TOS Crew review for the 2011-12 voyage. I've been on the Crew for four cruises now, and it's time to disembark. It has been an amazing experience, and I have to admit I've been dragging my feet, procrastinating fiercely on this review, not wanting it all to be over. But all things must come to an end...

Speaking of which, we're ending with a "goodie" -- especially if you're a bookaholic, as I am. Heritage History provides resources for a living books approach to history. (What is a living book? Here's an explanation I wrote some time ago.)

Members of this year's Crew were given the opportunity to review one from a selection of history curriculum CD libraries, which range from ancient times to the modern era -- pre-1923. As any lover of vintage books and reading probably knows, 1923 is an important year regarding copyright issues. Editions of books published before that time are considered "public domain" which means they are free to copy and distribute without cost. You can find oodles of free e-books on the web, more every year. I remember combing the Project Gutenberg website for old books in our early days of homeschooling, when we were just discovering the delights of reading living books.

It still amazes me that in our early years of homeschooling, when someone would ask our girls to name their favorite subject, the answer would be "history." You see, I detested history in school.  I chalk it up to the difference between history textbooks, which suck all the life out of the subject, and living books. When we began our homeschool journey, we started with textbooks because it was all I knew. (We burned out pretty quickly, too.) We tried several approaches before stumbling upon Charlotte Mason's philosophies. Combining her methods with a good booklist, we got the feeling we'd hit the jackpot.

(Actually, sometimes I wondered what we were doing wrong, once we'd settled down to reading aloud together from interesting historical fiction and biographies, and having the girls tell back each story in their own words. It didn't seem like "school." It wasn't! It was learning!)

Heritage History has gathered together a large collection of books written before 1923, on three reading levels: elementary, intermediate, and advanced. The elementary books are not picture books, but most are at a fourth grade reading level or above. Advanced books are suited to high school students, and "intermediate" means just that. With books of all three levels on one Heritage Classical Curriculum CD, you have a virtual library for all ages.

 Along with e-books in three formats (view on the computer, read on an e-reader, or print and read), you'll find study helps. Introductory material explains the philosophy behind the collection. A printable Study Guide provides reading suggestions for each reading level, a list of study suggestions arranged chronologically, a map collection (both colorful vintage maps and outline maps suited to student mapwork) to go with the reading, and reproducible forms to keep track of your student's progress. In addition you'll find teaching aids, including suggestions for a course of history study. I printed out the Study Guide and put it in a binder for reference, but you can also read it on your computer.

Our family received the British Empire collection, which covers the time period from 1707 to 1922. (Let me tell you right now that it was hard to choose just one CD out of the collection!) Click here for a description of the materials, plus a book list. The CD contains the complete illustrated texts of 57 vintage books plus a collection of over 50 maps, along with all the study materials mentioned above (and more... I didn't even mention the battle dictionaries, geography terms, short biographies, or historical summaries!).  British Empire CD is available for $24.99.

If you want to get a flavor for the books, you can read them online at the Heritage History website, along with helpful discussions of how to use living books in your history studies. (I can't tell you how many e-books we've read online over the years, or printed out and put in a binder to read on the couch. One of the things I love about the Heritage History collection is that it pulls together books of a similar theme, time, and civilization and puts them in a format I can download to our e-reader.)

This is history the way we love to study.

Read more TOS Crew reviews of Heritage History materials at this link.

Disclaimer: Our family received a British Empire CD for review purposes. No additional compensation was involved.

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