The folks at Veritas Press first developed five sets of flashcards and CDs as a tool for teaching history chronologically for students in grades two through six while including biblical and church history. (See Bede's History of ME and Bede's History of US for kindergarten and first grade.) The five sets are Old Testament and Ancient Egypt; New Testament, Greece and Rome; Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation; Explorers to 1815; and 1815 to the Present.
They have since expanded the five sets into complete history courses built around the 32 key events featured on each set of the flashcards. Courses are available as self-paced online courses ($199 per course) or live online classes through Veritas Press Scholars Academy ($545 each). But homeschoolers can present their own courses using the set for each of the five levels that includes the flashcards, CD memory songs, and the teacher’s guide (which comes in either a printed book or as a PDF file on the enhanced CD).
Veritas Press advocates classical education, so these studies stress student mastery of the key people, events, and dates by memory using the multi-sensory approach of the flashcards and songs accompanied by reading, writing, projects, and other learning activities.
Each teacher’s manual has reproducible worksheets, tests, and projects that correlate with the flashcards. Each manual includes readings (many from primary sources), worksheets, tests, scripts, maps, projects, crafts, and other activities. Additional books are required for “literature units.”
The integration of biblical/church history is clear even in reading the tables of contents. For example, in the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation course, the first three lessons are titled “St. Augustine Converts to Christianity,” “Barbarian Invasion and Vikings,” and “St. Jerome Completes the Vulgate.” Lessons often broaden beyond the title, but the goal is to demonstrate links between biblical/church history and the typical history which most children are taught. The religious perspective is strongly Protestant, but it does include early church fathers, church councils, and other church history that is often neglected in history courses.
These studies deal with much more challenging topics than are typically taught at the designated grade levels (2-6). For example, in the Middle Ages... volume, children read and analyze Luther’s "95 Theses." Certainly, parents should adjust any of the activities to the appropriate level for each child. Doing so, you should be able to use any volume with a fairly wide age span although second graders might find many activities too challenging.
Each set of flashcards has thirty-two 5” x 8” cards, printed in full color. A reproduction of a well-known piece of artwork or, occasionally, a photograph depicts the key event or person discussed on each card. On the reverse are the date and a brief summary of the event or topic. At the bottom of the card is a list of resources, including page numbers, where the topic is discussed at length. Veritas Press recommends that you get some of these recommended resources to create a comprehensive course. So they sell “Priority 1” sets of books to accompany each level that include titles such as 100 Events in Christian History, Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, and Famous Men books—books that you will use frequently over the year. Veritas also sells a literature collection with historical novels for each level. You might want to purchase Priority 1 books and get the literature from the library.
The CD for each level features a lilting recitation of the key names, dates, and events set to music; this presentation enhances learning for many students. The song on each CD is only about 10 to 15 minutes long. The phrasing is sometimes awkward, although the singing is quite lovely.
This entire program has so much more content than most textbook-based history programs for the elementary grades that some parents might be intimidated. Make adjustments in the activities for each child as needed, but remember that many children will be able to handle the challenging content because of the multi-sensory learning experiences. Plan to review some of the deeper ideas as your children mature, since young children don’t process ideas as well as do teens and adults.
See my separate review of the two-volume Pages of History. Veritas is incorporating these books into their history courses, but they also can stand on their own.
You can buy any of the components individually, but the flashcards, CDs, and teacher's manuals work best in conjunction with one another and with the recommended resource books. I appreciate Veritas’s approach of providing a range of resources for history so that you can pick and choose, do it yourself, or enroll in courses while following the same core sequence for all of your children in the elementary grades.
You might want to check out the ready-made lesson plans from Homeschool Planet that are available for Veritas Press's history courses.
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