Friday, August 31, 2012

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

Connecting with History Volume 2: The Arrival of the King and His Kingdom (New Testament and Early Medieval History) from RC History

This volume is the second in a series we began in first grade (see the updated review here of Volume 1).

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 full explanation of the CONNECT method is in the Teacher's Guide, part of Volume One, but if you choose to begin in a later year of the cycle, the author will provide what you need. Volume 3 is also available. Volume 4 is being developed.

Volume 2 includes New Testament history (beginning with Mary and Joseph) through the Battle of Hastings (1066) in seven units. Each unit has a theme (Incarnation, Sharing the Faith, etc.) that is highlighted in the readings and discussion notes. I appreciate the summary at the beginning of each unit that bring the events and people of the unit into focus as part of all of salvation history. It's only a few pages, but I feel like they provide a good place for me to start as the teacher. For use in Volume 2, I also bought Celebrating 2000 Years of Christian History, which I used for myself more than for the children. It provides a century by century overview of Christian history in a brief form, perfect for the homeschooling mother.

The second volume is much more comprehensive than the first, including an extensive list of creative writing and hands-on projects for each unit and grade-level in addition to the fantastic book lists. Timeline suggestions, vocabulary, mapwork, and memory work and copywork selections are also included. Also, they have included Hillside Education Literature Guides for many books which are a fabulous resources. If you join the listserve (which I highly recommend), you can find additional useful files. I recently saw they were collecting a list of movies that could be incorporated.

Some of my favorite resources for Volume 2 were: A Life of Our Lord for Children (which we read as a family slowly over the course of many weeks), The First Christians (again, read slowly over the course of a few weeks), Pompeii, Buried Alive! (which First Son loved), Adventures of Saint Paul, and Ethel Pochoki's Once Upon a Time Saints and More Once Upon a Time Saints.

This history program involves a certain amount of preparation time for the teacher, mainly in selecting which books to use and assigning unit readings over the course of the desired number of weeks. I spent vastly more time developing a much weaker version of this course of study for our American history for third grade and am immensely grateful to the author and all those who helped her in developing this solid program for Catholics. Teaching history without it would be much more difficult and, I have no doubt, less rewarding. Seeing the resources recommended for older grade levels makes me even more excited.

The Volume itself is very reasonably priced (especially the electronic version) but to use a great many of the wonderful resources may involve a significant investment. Personally, I have chosen to cut back in some other areas so I can purchase more of the history books. I also use the library extensively and make a valiant effort not the include every single book in our lesson plans. (I learned in using Volume 1 that we should limit ourselves a little!)

I cannot recommend Connecting with History highly enough. Cathy Duffy has also included it in her most recent list of 101 Top Picks.

I have not received anything in exchange for this honest review. The links above to the RC History site are not affiliate links and I receive nothing if you make a purchase. Many of the books can be found at your local library (or ask for them to be purchased!) or at other bookstores. I encourage you to support the RC History store; many of the prices are as good or better than what you will find elsewhere. To be honest, I purchased many of the books used, from Amazon, and from Sacred Heart, but I also make a significant purchase (or two...or three) from RC History.