This school year is my first with a Logic stage student in the classical trivium. It has been an exciting transition that we are refining as we roll along. History Odyssey Level 2 Ancients has been a great way to kick off the higher level learning for DD1. She has had to do a lot more writing and analyzing than in previous years, and I have enjoyed watching her learn how to organize her work in her binder through the lesson instructions.
As I mentioned in a previous post about History Odyssey, the levels are progressive, and they are all written with checkboxes, so if your child can read, they can do the lessons mostly without your help (with some exceptions) from the beginning. That is always my goal when I start the Level 1 Ancients book. They might need a little help, but I really like history to be more independent, especially because you can get CDs to read Story of the World to your child if they need extra help.
Because History Odyssey is so easy to implement, it is also a great program for after-schooling if your child is into history, or if you want to improve upon the local Social Studies curriculum that your public school uses instead of teaching history.
Grade 5 is when you would start Level 2 if you began the overall program in grade 1. Level 2 begins the 4-year-cycle all over again with Ancients. The format is very different than the four books before it. I think that grades 1-4 are written so that a teacher is doing it with the child (I don’t usually do it that way, but there are some lessons where I have to ask questions and the answers are all on the page, so I do have to do those with my children.) Level 2 is written directly to the student, and no teacher is necessary, except to set a standard for the work and grade it.
There are book assignments, research reports, outlines, timelines, summaries, and more that are assigned as part of this program. I like how the lessons help the student to learn how to outline and summarize by giving example sentences to use at first and gradually moving to a place where the student has to think of their own summary sentences.
There is much less reading required in Level 2 than Level 1 if you were getting most of the books on the Level 1 list. DD1 was a prolific reader and would try to read as many history books as she could. We would keep stacks of them available all the time, so Level 2 has been much easier in that regard. I will probably go back and look for the books that we weren’t able to read from Level 1 and let her read them as she goes through Level 2. There have been a few required books so far this year, and she also had to research how the pyramids were made and write a report about them. I looked through the lessons and saw that at least 5 library trips and mini-reports were due this year.
I like the assigned map work. I have had to work with DD1 to make sure that her work was neat and legible. I told her that I wanted the binder to be something that she could actually keep and reference in later years, so she should do a decent job trying to keep it tidy.
I feel like there is a nice balance between map work, summaries, reading, and timeline work. I think she really gets a feel for the people and events that she is reading about. She learns where and when they happened, and can connect them to other events that she has studied.
If you haven’t used History Odyssey before, then please use the Try Before You Buy feature at pandiapress.com to make sure that you are getting the right level for your student. Don’t just take into account the era of history you want to study. It is a progressive curriculum, and the later levels assume that you have the outlining, summarizing, and research skills that they try to build in the earlier levels. For example, in Level 2 Ancients the student is told exactly what to write for the first few summaries. In Middle Ages and later there are no longer suggestions on summary sentences as that skill has been taught already. I also noticed that timeline suggestions fade away as they go further, so the texts believe that the student should be able to pick out key dates and events as he/she studies history.
So if you are looking for a great, parent-lite homeschooling or after-schooling history option, I highly recommend History Odyssey from Pandia Press. We have used it for five years and gone to the regional finals of the National History Bee, so I feel like it is a rigorous, well-organized program that gets the job done.