We just wrapped up the first six weeks of history using Mystery of History Volume 1. I used MOH years ago with my older boys, but it’s been quite a while. I’m enjoying another trip through the ancients with Emma.
She’s having fun, too. She’s enjoying picking up new tidbits of information and insight about some of her favorite Bible stories. She’s recalling little bits of things she from when she tagged along with her older brothers. And, she’s especially loving the read-alouds and read-alones that we’re using.
Now that we’ve settled into a predictable routine, I thought I’d share with you how I plan our middle school Mystery of History lessons.
Mystery of History Volume 1
First, let me share a little about ‘straight out of the book’ MOH. The book is divided into 4 quarters which are further divided into 9 weeks each. Each week contains a pretest, three lessons, map activity, timeline figures, and a quiz or review exercise.
The pretest, as the name alludes to, introduces the kids to the topics they’ll learn that week by seeing what they already know. Each lesson is short, typically 2-3 pages, and is followed by an assortment of hands-on activities. The quiz/review tests what they’ve learned.
In addition to the text, Bright Ideas Press offers quite an array of supplemental products to enrich the use of the Mystery of History book. These include:
- Reproducible pages (giving me the ability to print quizzes and maps instead of copying them from the text)
- Challenge cards
- Notebooking Pages
- Timeline Figures
- and more!
You can choose to use Mystery of History in conjunction with Illuminations which provides lesson plans for MOH. In addition, they provide a coordinating list of family read-alouds, read-alone books, timeline figures schedule, and a list of movies and audios to supplement the history lessons. We are using MOH in conjunction with Illuminations this year, and we are loving it!
So, how do I plan our lessons for the week? I open up Illuminations and create a lesson plan that includes history, literature, supplements, and copywork. Then, I get to work!
First, I schedule out all the lessons, mapping, timeline, and pretest/quiz. Then, it’s time for the fun stuff. I try to pick at least one hands-on activity each week. For the lessons we don’t do a hands-on activity for, I print out a notebooking page for Emma to complete. This way, I can have something tangible to put in her portfolio, and it encourages her put her thoughts in order on paper to show what she knows.
Once I’ve got all that figured out and scheduled in my planner, I look at the literature suggestions. Illuminations comes with a lesson plan for family read-alouds. So, I start there. I’ve ordered quite a few of the books that are recommended as family read-alouds. Some of them, I’ve assigned to Emma to read on her own. Others, we’ve skipped altogether.
Most of the read-alouds schedule longer chunks of the book than I have time to read in one sitting. So, we may take a little longer to read one book and skip the next one on the list. Or, we listen to the audiobook in the car on the way to and from ballet.
For each book suggested in Illuminations, there is a study guide. The study guides are very thorough with vocabulary, comprehension questions, and hands-on activities. At the beginning of the year, I was trying to have Emma do the assignments for our read-alouds and her read-alones in addition to her ‘regular’ literature program (which I purchased before deciding on MOH/Illuminations).
That turned out to be way too much work. So, now, I read the read-alouds, and that’s it. We don’t do the discussion questions or activities for those. For the read-alones, however, we do. I assign those books according to the schedule in Illuminations. I print out the study guides so she has them on hand when she’s reading.
She follows the schedule in the study guide for her reading assignments which she reads in her history block. She has the vocabulary list on hand, but we don’t do anything with the list. I don’t quiz her, but she can check the list when she encounters a word she doesn’t know.
Before handing her the study guide, I go through it and highlight the activities I want her to complete, and mark the date the activity is due if it’s going to take some time to complete.
So, our history schedule looks like this:
- Monday: Take the pretest. Read a lesson, and complete an activity or notebooking page. Discuss the lesson with Mom. Read from assigned book.
- Tuesday: Read the next lesson. Complete the activity or notebooking page. Discuss the lesson with Mom. Read.
- Wednesday: Read the next lesson. Complete the activity or notebooking page. Discuss the lesson with Mom. Make memory cards. Read.
- Thursday: Review the memory cards. Complete the mapping activity, and add figures to the timeline. Complete the review activity or quiz. Read.
- Friday: Finish any activities that are incomplete.
Next time, I’ll share what we’ve done so far this quarter with our Mystery of History lessons!
If you want more information about Illuminations, read this post: