Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Homeschool Review: RC History's Connecting with History Volume 3

Back in 2012-2013, we used Connecting with History Volume 3 for our World History. We had used RC History's program for the previous two years (Volume One in 2010-2011 and Volume Two in 2011-2012) and just kept moving right along through history.

Connecting with History is a four year cyclical history program that groups students into Beginner, Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric levels based on age and ability while keeping all students in a family studying the same time period from a Catholic perspective. The CONNECT method is integral to the program. You can read an excellent summary of the program here on the RC History website. The digital version I have of Volume Three includes an explanation of the CONNECT method (which is not included in my spiral-bound version of Volume Two).

Volume Three covers the mid-11th century through the end of the 17th century including the Renaissance and the Reformation with a focus on European history. The end of the volume includes the early exploration of America and some of the first missionaries to the Americas.

For the first time, I purchased the digital version of the book instead of a hard copy. I received a PDF of the book that was easy to download, easy to search, and I have received free digital updates over the past few years. (Purchasing any volume directly from RC History is the best way to go because you'll receive updates when books go out of print or when new resources are available.) While I like having paper copies and often printed some of the pages from each unit to keep in a binder, I opted for the digital version not only because it was a little less expensive but because I could read through it to figure out which books I wanted to borrow from the library, which I would skip altogether, and which I wanted to purchase. That way, I only had to pay shipping once from RC History. (Honest disclosure: I did not purchase every book from RC History; I shopped around a bit and split my history purchases mainly between RC History, another Catholic bookstore, and a secular online bookseller. I purchased some of the books used.)

The volume is over two hundred pages long and is full of aids to teaching, introductions to the time periods being studied, and supplements like E. Nesbit's adaptation of Macbeth. The first unit is one of review for the 10th and 11th centuries. Each unit includes background reading recommendations, discussion prompts, timeline people and events (a list), map activities, activities for beginner and grammar level students, writing projects for logic and rhetoric level studies, memory work suggestions, and reading assignments (books and page numbers for each level). At the end are a few reproducible charts and tables to aid in planning.

This history program is designed to be used every day, so it can be a time commitment. I limited our readings a bit and focused on just two real days of Western history with a family read aloud taking place outside of that time. (I already wrote about our family read-alouds here.) We used mainly the beginner resources for Volume Three with a few grammar level resources I thought looked particularly good. (The next time we cover Volume Three, First Son will be at the Logic level.) Some of our favorite books from the year included Heroes of God's Church, Usborne Time Traveler, Adam of the Road, A Grain of Rice, and The Door in the Wall. (Most of these are available from RC History.)

I don't think I need to share much more here than I did with the previous two volumes. This is an excellent thorough presentation of history for all ages in a family. We loved using it. I took this year, 2013-2014, off because Volume Four was still in development and I have an obsessive need to have all of my plans in place for all of our subjects before the year begins. The plan is to release Volume Four in units, first the American history units and then the European units. The first three units of American History are available now (which also include the daily lesson plans - wonderful!) as well as the reading list for the entire volume.

Next year, 2014-2015, we'll be covering Volume One in our Western History concurrently with the three units of American History. (I plan to cover all of the ten units over the course of three years, cycling through American History as we do Western History but a little more often.) I am really excited to be returning to Connecting with History next year and doubly so to have the lesson plans available! I'll try to review the lesson plans after I've used them.

I am an affiliate with RC History. If you decide to make a purchase on the site, I'd appreciate it if you'd use this link to do so as I would receive a small commission. I highly recommend this program, however, even if you choose not to use the affiliate link.

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