Ancient Civilizations and the Bible: A Review
Since August, we’ve been using the History Revealed curriculum, written by Diana Waring and published by Answers in Genesis. This curriculum is designed for Christian families to look at history from a Biblical perspective. I sometimes have people ask “how Christian” a particular curriculum is. History Revealed is overtly Christian and I can’t imagine that it would be appreciated by non-Christian families. Y’all know I’m nothing if not upfront and honest, so there you go.
History Revealed features three titles covering the traditional time periods of history:
- Ancient Civilizations and the Bible
- Romans, Reformers, and Revolutionaries
- World Empires, World Missions and World Wars
As do each of the titles, Ancient Civilizations and the Bible consists of 9 units, each on a 4-week cycle with one week each unit designed to appeal to one of four learning styles:
- The Feeler – “People person” students will discover the people of the unit, how the events affected them, and what the impact of those events means for us today.
- The Thinker – The “just the facts, ma’am” students will enjoy focusing on the facts of history through timelines, vocabulary, and research.
- The Sensor – Kinesthetic learners will get hands-on with maps, fine arts, and science experiments.
- The Intuitor – Creative students will enjoy having an opportunity to express what they’ve learned through art, poetry, creative writing, music, and more.
Of course, all students will be working through the full unit, so not every unit will appeal to every type of learner, but each type can look forward to “his” week. Plus, it’s good for all students to experience aspects of each learning style.
The curriculum is designed for whole family, multilevel learning with activities and ideas for students in elementary though high school, though I think it’s most appropriate for middle and high school students. The key components are the teacher guide, the student manual, the audio CDs, and the elementary guide (for students in K-4th grade).
One really unique thing about this curriculum that many families will appreciate is that you can cycle back through once you’ve completed all the books in the series. If your child uses the student text in 5th grade and goes back through the text in, say, 9th grade, the information will be the same, but he will be working on a higher level, choosing higher level books and, doing more in-depth projects.
The Teacher Guide
The teacher guide makes planning easy. It contains:
- A suggested lesson plan schedule for each unit
- Copies of the student pages so you can follow along with your students
- Teaching tips, discussion-starter questions, and ideas on how to use the curriculum to spark spiritual discussion
- Suggested books for research and further study
- Suggested activities for each project week
- Suggested recap activities
- Simple guides for assessing students
- Teacher self-evaluations to help you improve and refine your use of the curriculum
- Timeline keys
The teacher guide is vital to the successful use of the curriculum and should not be considered optional.
The Student Manual
The student manual is designed for students in 5th-12th grades.
- The introductory article for each unit
- Book lists with a key to indicate the approximate grade/reading level
- The timelines, maps, and vocabulary words for each unit
- Suggested activities for each project week
- Student self-evaluation forms for each week
- Discussion questions
The student manual is a consumable text designed to allow students to work as independently as they are able. Each student will need his or her own student manual.
The Audio CD’s
Each unit of the History Revealed curriculum contains corresponding lessons on three audio CD titles:
- What in the World? discusses the main concepts and chronological flow of each unit.
- Digging Deeper provides an in-depth look at the facts of history and features interviews with historians and archaeologists.
- True Tales features stories of the ancient people being studied.
The audio CD’s are, technically, optional, but I think they add immense value to the program, so I wouldn’t consider them optional.
The Elementary Activity Book
The Elementary Activity Book is designed for kids in K-4th grade and provides simpler activities for younger children to complete.
In the Elementary Activity Book, you’ll find:
- Word finds
- Coloring pages
- Simpler maps
- Discussions questions
- Book suggestions
- Activity ideas for younger kids
What We Thought
Y’all know that I’m all about hands-on learning, so I really liked the idea of moving the kids to project-based learning. To my complete surprise, while they embraced the projects with enthusiasm initially, ultimately, both Josh and Megan indicated that they’d like more direction. I’m not sure if that’s because this was our first foray into a project-based style of learning or if they really just prefer more direction.
I’ll be honest – I’m the type that will tell someone, “I’m happy to help – just tell me what to do.” So, if you’re ever sick or something, don’t expect me to come to your house, see what needs to be done, and do it. However, if you – or someone else organizing things – told me to bring you a meal or stop by and do your laundry, I’d be right there. So, that probably means that my kids are very much like me.
The activities where there were specific things to be done, such as the maps, timelines, or vocabulary words were well-received.
We have enjoyed the audio CD’s and find the additional information very interesting. Our only complaint is that the audio selections listed in the lesson plans for a day can get very long. Somebody please tell me I’m not the only one who has teenagers with short attention spans. We’ve worked around that very easily, however, by ignoring the schedule in the lesson plans and listening to CD’s selections over the course of several days instead. I was afraid that might mess up the flow of the unit, but it hasn’t at all.
We love the huge variety of activity suggestions – there are suggestions for my musical son and my artistic daughter. Both of the kids are also very hands-on types, so they enjoy the hands-on projects. Megan has surprised me a couple of times by choosing written reports. I guess she is a bit like her writer mama after all.
One thing I’ve missed from what we’d grown used to is having literature selections – historical fiction and biographies – for each unit. There are lots of book suggestions for further study, but they tend to be non-fiction. So, I’ve tweaked the curriculum a bit by choosing my own historical fiction books. So far we’ve read: Many Waters, by Madeleine L’Engle and Tirzah, by Travis Lucille. Next up is Hittite Warrior, by Joanne Williamson.
I’ve struggled a bit with the fact that the text and CD’s don’t go into as much depth as I’d like. I know that’s because it’s not designed to be a textbook and the kids are supposed to be choosing their own further research for each unit. However, as I mentioned, my kids would like a bit more direction there. I think we would really benefit from a spine text suggestion because, honestly, I could have camped out in Ancient Egypt for awhile and I know I’ll feel that way when we get to Greece, too, because I love Greek mythology.
If you follow my blog, you probably know that we were dabbling around with some other things just before Christmas break. It’s become clear to me that Ancient Civilizations and the Bible is a better fit for us than those things – I’m just going to have to tweak it a bit to make it work best for us.
That means we’ll continue with the things that are working well for us, such as the maps, timelines, vocabulary, and CD’s. And, we’ll tweak the areas that are a bit weak for us, probably by continuing to make alternate book selections, spending a bit more time on high-interest topics, and – most likely – by me assigning projects rather than leaving them more open-ended, as I work toward helping the kids adjust to a student-led, project-based learning style.
If you’re a Christian family who prefers to look at history through the lens of your faith and you enjoy project-based learning or have kids who get bored with a more traditional textbook learning style, I invite you to check out the History Revealed series. It might be just what you’re looking for. If you think it might be, but aren’t quite sure, you can try an entire unit for free.
Also, I would suggest that you read Cindy West’s review of Ancient Civilizations on the Bible (post linked includes links to the original review, plus a specific review of Unit 1). Her kids were already used to a project-based learning style and have really enjoyed the curriculum. It was her enthusiasm for the curriculum that first enticed me to look into it.
This was fun for me to read because we’re likely moving to History Revealed next fall for the 8 kids. Sounds like it is pretty much what I’m looking for.
Thank you very much for keeping this review. We are just starting with these curriculum and were very drawn to the CD’s. This helps me understand how I will need to tweak it for my son.