Medieval Times, the Far East, and Current Events

Homeschooling the twins this year has been an awesome adventure. Rather than having them study independently as in previous years, I’ve enjoyed learning right alongside them. As we count down the days until summer break, I’m busy taking inventory of what we did and assigning final grades. Come take a peek at the progress the twins made in Social Studies.

History and geography were at the heart of our homeschool this year. We explored church history, Medieval times, eastern hemisphere geography, and current events.

Here’s what we used:

  • Mystery of History, Volume II
  • Story of the World, Volume 2
  • Drive Thru History® Acts to Revelation
  • WorldTeen from God’s World News
  • Sonlight Eastern Hemisphere Core F

History & Current Events

Mystery of History

I had planned for the twins to study the Middle Ages using Mystery of History, Volume II. This full, in-depth program integrates church history and suggests projects for each lesson.

Since quizzes and tests are included, grading is easy. Meeting all of our needs, it became the foundation of our history curriculum early in the year.

Three days a week, we read a lesson together. Afterward, the girls completed one of the corresponding activities to extend their learning. To wrap up the week, the girls summarized what they had learned on index cards, completed some mapping activities, and took a quiz.

Drive Thru History®

Since we had an annual membership to Drive Thru History® Adventures, we watched a few of the Acts to Revelation videos to supplement some of the church history lessons. Later in the year, we received the DVDs and reviewed all of the engaging episodes for the Homeschool Review Crew.


We rounded out our Social Studies program with a subscription to WorldTeen from God’s World News.

The girls enjoyed checking out each day’s trending news. In addition, fascinating feature articles highlighted history, geography, technology, and even pop culture.

Exchanging Mystery of History for Story of the World

One fall afternoon, my husband interrupted our Mystery of History reading. Expressing shock and dismay, he argued that Spain under the rule of the Muslims did not experience the peaceful golden age the book suggested. Since he is far more knowledgeable about history than me, I wasn’t sure how to respond. If this had been a one-time occurrence, I may have dismissed it and kept going. But he often paused our lessons to clarify various minor points.

Reluctantly, I set aside the carefully chosen curriculum. From our shelves, I selected Story of the World, Volume 2, which I had used with my older kids years ago. It was easy to implement since I already owned the book, activity book, and audio CDs. Using the first half of the curriculum, we reviewed what we had already learned in Mystery of History.

“I learned how China was famous for its silk, and Europeans traveled there to get silk… and how English is actually a mixture of many languages.”
~One of the twins

We could listen to a chapter, follow along in the book, and answer discussion questions afterward. Since the twins loved it so much, we kept on going and finished the book this week.

“I learned about Greenland, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. I’d never learned about them before—at least not much.”
~The other twin

Simplifying our history curriculum allowed us to fit in a more comprehensive geography program.

Adding Eastern Hemisphere Geography

In October, as I was searching for an interesting read-aloud to complement our study of King Arthur, I rediscovered Sonlight. The book I chose, Black Horses for the King, drew the girls into the historical period we were studying.

It’s impossible to visit Sonlight’s site without daydreaming about the various curriculum packages they offer. What if we could include such awesome read-alouds and other living books every day? Realizing how much my daughters would appreciate the Eastern Hemisphere Core, we took the plunge.

Whenever we began learning about a country, the girls read about it in WorldBook Online using our membership.

“WorldBook was very memorable. I like how the readings give you a lot of information about the past.” ~One of the twins

The twins and I are savoring Sonlight. Learning about the Far East through the eyes of missionaries has inspired us to live out our faith more boldly and to be willing to go wherever God calls us. We spent time each week praying for key cities in this largely unevangelized area of the world. Having completed the first half of the program, our eyes are now open to the history, culture, and needs of several Asian nations.

A couple of weeks ago, one girl expressed how grateful she is that she doesn’t live in a third-world country like some of the people we have read about. Acknowledging God’s blessing, I also challenged her to follow God’s future calling for her, no matter where it may take her.

Report Card Time

With Mystery of History, grading was simple since quizzes and tests were included. We did not use any such tools with Story of the World or Sonlight, so my grade book for most of the year is empty.

Instead, we focused on oral discussion. The girls readily responded to the questions in the study guides. Their insightful comments illustrated their growing understanding of history, geography, missionaries, and current events. They have certainly exceeded my expectations and achieved A’s in Social Studies this year.

Looking Ahead

When we wrapped up Story of the World, Volume 2, a few days ago, the twins and I discussed what to do for Social Studies next year. Since we are only halfway through Sonlight’s Eastern Hemisphere curriculum, we plan to finish it in the fall, studying the Middle East and Africa. Should I order the next Story of the World volume, since they have enjoyed this one so much?

Peeking at Sonlight’s other programs, we realized that Story of the World, Volumes 3 and 4, show up in the World History 2 (Core H) curriculum. The girls would love to spend a year tackling the second half of world history with Sonlight.

So in the fall, we’ll take a break from world history and focus on finishing the Sonlight Eastern Hemisphere Core. Then, in January, we will return to world history using Sonlight. I can’t wait to see what we will learn!