The Grand Story: History of the World for the Christian Family is planned to eventually be a five-volume history program suitable for students in third grade and above. Only the first course is available thus far, and there is no set schedule for the rest of the courses.
Rather than incorporating Bible history into a broader world history, the Bible is the starting point, and secular history is introduced in perspective to Scripture. Consequently, The Grand Story limits its history coverage to eras and locales in Scripture as you can see from the titles of the five volumes projected for the series:
Volume 1: God Makes Himself Known in the Egyptian Empire
Volume 2: Israel—The Building of a Nation Whose God is the Lord
Volume 3: Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Empires
Volume 4: The Greco-Roman Empires
Volume 5: Western and Eastern Empires—The Story of Redemption Taken Around the World
Since the five volumes will primarily focus on ancient history, you need to consider how this fits into your overall plan for studying all of history, since each volume will take some time to complete. There are no schedules, but it appears that the first volume might take from six months to a year to complete depending upon the ages and abilities of children. Consequently, you might use The Grand Story series as a Bible or Worldview course rather than as your core history, at least in some years, if you want to spend significant time on other time periods. Otherwise, if you dedicated five years to the series, you would be spending a disproportionate amount of time on ancient history. Also, the primary goal of the series is the inculcation of a biblical worldview and a biblical framework for exploring history rather than mastery of comprehensive historical information. Worldview ideas are based upon the work of Francis Schaeffer.
The educational methodology draws heavily from the Charlotte Mason approach with the use of living books, narration, and copywork.
The first volume has two primary components: The Grand Story: Volume 1 and the Journal of Redemption Student Manual. Students will need access to the internet, a Bible, and the additional books: How the Bible Came to Us, Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors, Boy of the Pyramids, The Golden Goblet, Exodus (Brian Wildsmith), God’s Names (Sally Michael), and A Cry from Egypt (Hope Auer). You can purchase a complete package or individual items.
When you order The Grand Story: Volume 1, you get both a print and an ebook version. I can see the need for an ebook version of the text since more than one student might need to work on a lesson at the same time, or both parent and child might want access at the same time. In addition, the ebook version has live weblinks, making it a time saver in comparison to the print edition. Student books are only offered as print versions. This seems odd to me since you need to have student books for each student and they are consumable—an ebook version would be very useful.
The course itself is unique in design as well as in content. It begins with an “introduction” section that lays groundwork regarding Scripture, history, and worldview. Unlike most introductions, this is not to be skipped since it’s foundational to the rest of the study. Following the introduction, the study begins its historical journey with Moses, not surprising since this volume deals with the Egyptian empire. However, we are first introduced to Moses through the New Testament, particularly Stephen’s speech in Acts 7. A story of Moses' early life written in the first person then helps make the connection between Scripture and history. Next, students study a diagram that shows how the beliefs of a culture affect all areas of life.
At this point in the study, students begin reading Boy of the Pyramids or The Golden Goblet. At the back of the student manual are activity pages for both books with copywork plus grammar and comprehension activities. Copywork pages use a slant print font, but you could require students to write in a different style of printing or cursive. Students can work through both novels at their own pace; they need not align with particular lessons. Students are supposed to provide narrations after each section that is either read aloud or that they read themselves. Parents inexperienced with narration might find this too vaguely described and directed. The important thing is to have the child stop often to tell back to you in his or her own words what they have read. This is a more effective way to ensure students actually understand and think about what they are reading than is completing workbook pages.
Next in the lesson are three weblinks—one to an interactive site for exploring Ancient Egypt and two others for videos to watch. Some weblinks are to YouTube videos, some go to a National Geographic site, and others go to more specialized sites.
The next section begins by directing students to reading and a cooking activity in Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors. This is followed by an internet visit to the British Museum site for interactive activities. Every so often there’s a stop sign in the book that says, “Stop to Consider.” These “stops” raise worldview and biblical questions that should be discussed. The book frequently reminds students to consider who, what, why when, where, and how questions as they explore new information, training them to be thoughtful readers and thinkers.
In the next section, students visit a website about Egyptian gods and goddesses and complete a chart in their Journal of Redemption showing what Egyptians believed about how the world began.
Students then read an excerpt from V.M. Hillyer’s A Child’s History of the World that is reprinted in The Grand Story: Volume I. I appreciate the incorporation of excerpts from that book as well as one of the drawing pages from the Picture Smart Bible. Since very limited material is used from those sources, this saves parents having to purchase those resources.
Lessons continue in this fashion with an eclectic mix of multi-media learning, reading, workbook activity, writing, and discussion. Student workbook activities will stretch across a wide age span, but younger students will need more assistance than students in junior or senior high when completing some of the pages that require them to do some analytical thinking.
Regarding the historical timeline, the Quines present their own theory based upon biblical chronology as to which Pharaoh ruled during the time of Moses and which princess would have been his adoptive mother. The rest of the history in the first volume plays out based upon assumptions of this theory.
The course can be used as a family or group study or for one-on-one situations. While older students can read and work independently through much of the material, I think it will work best when you read aloud from the text and at least some of the additional resources. Parents also need to listen to children’s narrations, discuss what they are learning, and oversee work done in the student manual. The interaction takes more time, but I expect that most parents will very much enjoy working through this course with their children since it is likely to be such an important step in children’s spiritual formation and understanding of a biblical worldview.