Wednesday, March 5, 2014

TruthQuest History Review

I was never a fan of history when I was in school. Ok, if I'm being honest, I was not much of a fan of school when I was in school. Perhaps that's why the Lord then put me in a position of teaching Kindergarteners for a year and then mentoring elementary students for another six years. And now, He has blessed me with homeschooling my own sons! (Which includes history...) We are in our tenth year of homeschooling and I LOVE it! And guess what, I LOVE history! Imagine that.

Because I have come to love history so very much, you will find my book shelves lined with fabulous read alouds from every era. I've had the opportunity to try several different approaches to teaching history. And at the end of the day, our family always comes back to hands-on activities and excellent literature.

TruthQuest History is just such an approach. In fact, it can be used almost any way you prefer! In our home, we use the Tapestry of Grace. But the information found in the TruthQuest books really helps us to dig just that much deeper and bring to life the people we're studying! The flexibility makes it an easy fit for many homes.

The guide begins with a few pages just for mom and dad. These pages are loaded with terrific advice, but it will never tell you one specific way to use this curriculum. It allows you, the parent, to decide the best way to learn in your own home... reminding you that you are in charge, not the curriculum. Sometimes we need just such a reminder. It suggests that you decide what fits your family. If you have younger children, it encourages the use of hands on activities with building blocks, paints, etc. If your child is older, they are encouraged to go deeper on a subject by doing more research. This makes it an easy fit for all ages!

After a lengthy table of contents you will find the 'read aloud' parts of TruthQuest. An older child could feel free to read these pages on his own and then discuss them together with his parents. If you are working with multiple ages you could read aloud to everyone at one time. These pages are not full of the dry, dull text that I so disliked in school. It is as if the author is sitting down with the reader and explaining history in an easy to digest style.

After the commentary, you will find a section titled "Dig In." This is where you can bring in books to read together or have children read independently. These books are all incredible "living" books. And the list is extensive! Not only is there a nice long list, but there are appropriate warnings listed beside the titles. This is a fabulous resource because, let's be honest, how many of us have the time to pre-read every book? They also provide approximate ages for each book so you'll know right away if the book is a fit for your family. Many of the books listed are available at your local library. But if you want to purchase them for your own library, you can easily do so online, in bookstores, or at local thrift stores as well! In addition to books, you'll also find audio and video options sprinkled throughout. If that weren't enough, they'll give you plenty of ideas for activities and art!

"Express Your Heart" is found throughout the "Dig In" sections. In this area you can get as creative as you like! You may use art, music, composition, poetry, story telling/writing, acting, or any other way your child learns best to really grab hold of the ideas taught. This helps us to reach out to our children in ways that they learn and recall information. So if you have a child with a creative bent, run with this section! If you don't, you are certainly never required to complete it.

"ThinkWrite" is a terrific part of the study that allows your student to really chew on the information given to them by thinking, and sometimes, writing. If your child isn't a writer, you could use this section to open up fantastic discussions.

They also recommend various books to be used as 'spines' through your study. You'll easily recognize many of the titles. Streams of Civilization, Story of the World, Greenleaf, and of course the Bible are among the titles in the Beginnings study. This makes it very easy for you to create a history curriculum and style that is your own, using your favorite resources. Or, none at all! You can simply read the study guide on its own and have plenty of information to enjoy together. If you already have a history curriculum that you love, you can easily add the reading from the TruthQuest study guide to deepen your history study time.

However, my favorite part of TruthQuest is the list of living books in the back of the study guide. If for no other reason, this alone is reason enough to own the TruthQuest series. TruthQuest says that they are not giving you books to read and then leading you through a structured curriculum of each book. But instead they are providing a lengthy list of rich history books that you can choose to use to learn history!

I am very impressed with the guide, the list of books, audios, and videos, and the price! You can purchase the book, the PDF or both at a very reasonable price! But how do you choose where to start? This link will be very valuable. There are plans of study for one to eight years as well as how to place multiple children. Tour their site and you'll find supplements that may be a great fit for your family. There are lapbook materials, notebooking pages, mini book ideas, and more!

Whether you use this as your core history curriculum, or as a supplement to the spine you are using now, I believe you will find great value in its pages. TruthQuest has outdone themselves and I'm so pleased to have found such a rich resource!

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