Monthly Archives: July 2012

Mystery of History V1 vs. Story of the World V1


One of the most influential books on my curriculum choices has been The Well-Trained Mind by Bauer and Wise.  I have loved every product they have come out with and I have found that their style works well with our family.  When deciding on a history program to use for first grade, I had no doubt that I would choose The Story of the World (SOTW) books.  However, the more research I conducted, the more I kept seeing The Mystery of History (MOH) as an alternative.  I became unsure of my decision.  I had already purchased SOTW, but wanted to review MOH as well.  Well, I was lucky enough to win MOH Volume 1 in a giveaway, so I now have the opportunity to review both programs and decide which is better for us.  My opinions are below:

*The opinion expressed below is my own.  I received NO compensation from either company, and was not asked by either company to write this review.  I completed this comparison on my own initiative in order to implement the best curriculum for my family (although I hope this will help others make a decision).  

Although both programs share some similarities (both can fit into Classical models or Charlotte Mason models), there are several points worth mentioning.

Time frame:  The time frame for each book differs drastically in the beginning.  SOTW begins around 7000 BC, whereas MOH begins around 4004 BC.  Bauer (SOTW) does not give any background for her dates, so I am not sure what source she uses.  Hobar (MOH) explains that she believes in a “young earth” and uses the Bible and dates from ancient history to form her timeline.  The dates of major events/people are generally listed as the same in both books.

Writing style:  It is my personal opinion that SOTW is a bit more challenging to read.  I prefer challenging, and I like the way SOTW is written.  MOH is more conversational.  This style is not bad, but I enjoy the more academic presentation in SOTW.  SOTW also has more world history as a whole.  MOH focuses on Biblical history.

Activities:  SOTW requires more map work than MOH.  Both have the option of coloring pages and both do include maps for map work (although I use MapTrek).  One characteristic of MOH that I like is that three levels of activities are presented, one each for elementary, middle, and high school students.  In my opinion, SOTW can easily be used for grades 1-8 by assigning more work to the middle student.

Testing:  MOH offers pretesting and review (included in the core book).  SOTW has an optional testing booklet that can be purchased for a fair price.

Cost:  MOH costs about $130 for Coloring pages, Folderbooks, Notebooking pages, challenge cards, Reproducibles, and Volume 1 book.  All but the book come either in CD or downloadable format, so making copies for your family is easy.  SOTW costs $56 dollars for Volume 1 book, PDF activity book (includes coloring pages, review cards, maps, and other activities), and PDF tests (both also available in hardcopy form).  I chose the PDF forms so I can easily make copies for my children.

World View:  MOH is hands-down more Christian-oriented.  Although biblical events are mentioned in SOTW, MOH covers them in much more depth and makes them the center of the history study.  Depending on personal preference, this may or may not be a bad thing.

My decision:  I have decided to stick with SOTW for grades 1-8, although I may borrow some of the activities from MOH to supplement.  The activity book for SOTW provides more than enough activities, and the book could easily be repeated without doing the same activity each time.  I also think SOTW is a bit more challenging, and I like giving my students a challenge.  The price is better for us, as well, as it is half the price of MOH.  I also like the tests for SOTW for grades 4-8.  I appreciate the world view of MOH, but we cover a lot of what is presented in MOH in our Bible studies, and I do not want to feel like we are repeating the same items for different subjects.  I do not think that SOTW is necessarily better than MOH, but it works better for us and our learning style.


Starting the School Year with a Clean House


With only two weeks until our official First Day of School, I am frantically trying to get everything in order.  I have lesson plans done, but our house has fallen into a mild state of chaos.  Here are a few suggestions and a schedule for getting your house clean in two weeks:

Weekly tasks (I do these weekly, usually one big chore per day):  vacuum and mop, clean bathrooms, wash dishes (daily), dust, clean rooms, laundry (usually one load per day)

Day 1:  I tackle the cleanest room in the house – our school room.  I have been working on putting it together and organizing it for awhile now, so there is not much to do.  A quick survey shows that a simple straightening is all that is in order.

Day 2-3:  Clean kitchen, and I mean deep clean.  Move the stove and refrigerator (or wait until your husband is off and ask him to) and sweep/mop behind them (it is unbelievable how much gets stuck under these appliances).  Dust on top of the cabinets, if they do not reach the ceiling.  We have about a foot between the cabinets and the ceiling and dust loves to accumulate there.  Clean out the fridge and pantry.

Day 4:  Take a laundry basket or two and run through the living area, placing any items that do not belong in the living room in the basket.  Dust.  Lift the couch cushions and vacuum.  Organize movies.  Sort laundry basket items into piles by person, and then have each person put away their belongings.

Day 5:  Gather cleaning supplies and head to the bathrooms.  Scrub everything, even the windowsill that nobody sees.  Wash the bathmats.  Organize the medicine cabinets and under the sinks.  Clean the mirrors.

Day 6:  Laundry room.  Do any loads of laundry that need it.  Wipe down washer and dryer with damp rag.  Organize anything that needs it (we store cleaning supplies in ours, so I make a quick inventory and organize by type).

Day 7:  REST!

Days 8-10:  Clean bedrooms.  I allow one day per bedroom.  In the children’s rooms, go through toys and clothes (even yours) and donate what is not being used.  Organize bookshelves (although they will be destroyed in a heart beat, it is good to review what books your children already have).  Organize the toys that are being used and store them neatly in the closet (or toy box or any storage system you use).  When you are going through clothes, fold and either arrange by type (pants, shirts, etc.) or by outfit (my oldest likes to dress herself, so I put matching pairs together for her to choose from).  Dust.  Make the bed (be sure the sheets are clean).

Day 11:  Go outside and clean those toys.  Walk all over your yard and collect toys that have been hiding.  Go through and get rid of broken toys and donate toys that are not being used.  Organize toys somehow (we use plastic drawers or buckets).  Sweep patio.  Make some lemonade and enjoy a picnic lunch in a clean yard.

Days 12-14:  RELAX!  Enjoy a clean house before school starts.  Keep it clean by coming up with a cleaning schedule and sticking to it!  If you do a little each day, your house will stay clean.  Check out my schedule on the “Cleaning” tab!

I hope you all have an amazing school year, and I cannot wait to share ours with all of you!

Final moments of summer….


We have 21 days left until our 2012-2013 school year kicks off!  With only 3 weeks until our workload increases I am busily trying to get some tasks completed.  Here is what still needs to get done in our crazy house:

Our bedroom needs to be cleaned!  I am sick of piles of clothes covering our bed and dressers (at least they are clean, but still).  A good dusting is in order, too.

Finish laminating and attaching schedule cards to our second workbox.

Finish assembling and laminating/contact papering our Adventures in Reading with the Zigzag Zibra games.  We already like these, but I want to make them more durable.  Also, I have only put together two, and I have several more that need to be made.

Finalize lesson plans.  This won’t get done until the Sunday night before school starts.  I already have our first two weeks planned out, so I will just review and make any necessary changes.

Finish reading One Hundred Years of Solitude.  I cannot even tell when I last read a book I WANTED to read.  One of my husband’s coworkers lent this book to him, and I have taken it over:)

Compare Volume 1 of both Mystery of History and Story of the World.  Keep an eye out for a post on that…although it may be after school is in full-swing.  I still have to read both volumes and compare all of the activities/supplements.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!!!!

Field Trip – Aquarium


We are lucky enough to live close to an aquarium, and it is one of our favorite places to go!  We were able to make a trip there recently with our best friend.  Here are some photos:

I think that fish was as big as Jasmine!!!!  She loves looking at all of the different types of fish, but her favorite is the shark!

The stingray pool is another favorite!  In another section of the aquarium, we get to touch the stingrays!

I love the aquarium in the summer because it is nice and cool inside, and still allows Jasmine to burn some energy.  What is one of your favorite places to frequent during the hot summer months?

Happy 4th of July!



I love the 4th of July.  Fireworks, apple pie with vanilla ice-cream, and hamburgers just seem to make the perfect day.  With a small infant, however, going to see fireworks just did not happen. We bought Jasmine sparklers and noise makers (the ones you throw on the ground to pop), and we had a blast playing outside and watching the neighborhood fireworks.  Then, we read parts of If You Were There When…They Signed the Constitution.  However, finding that book choice was not easy.  I should have planned ahead and purchased a book online, but I didn’t.  I figured we could go up to the local bookstore and find a good one on display.  To my disappointment, there was not a single patriotic display!!!!  I was astounded – how can a bookstore in America not try to display at least a few patriotic books for such a patriotic day.  It got worse when I could not find anything about the 4th of July.  I looked for Betsy Ross, and they had nothing either (although since it was last minute, I will assume they were just sold out of those).  When I asked the sales associate, she had no ideas for me and had already tried to locate patriotic books for other customers.  If we can find time to set up a display about Valentine’s Day, I think we should be kind enough to set up one for the 4th!  I should email customer service….Anyway, does anyone know of any good books for next year?  I would love to hear about them!