How to Use Story of the World With Multiple Ages
When I started using Story of the World with my oldest back when she was a first grader, putting together a history lesson was pretty simple. Read a chapter, narrate, and draw a picture. We enjoyed as many of the supplemental history & literature read alouds as I could get my hands on and the occasional activity from the Activity Guide.
But now that I have 3 kids sitting in on our Story of the World lessons (with ages spanning 6 years!), finding ways to include everyone in our history lessons work has proven to be a little more challenging.
How could I make our history lessons work? Could we continue to use the history curriculum we loved? One thing I knew for sure: I didn’t want to be teaching each child separately while covering multiple periods of history.
But how could I possibly include younger siblings while at the same time keeping my oldest child challenged and engaged?
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Using The Story of the World With a Range of Ages
We’ve been using Story of the World for the last 6 years in our homeschool and have used all four volumes. You absolutely can adapt this curriculum beyond the grade recommendations published!
These tips, ideas, and linked resources will help you successfully use Story of the World across a range of ages in your multi-age homeschool.
General Tips for Using Story of the World
- Give each child his or her own history notebook to keep maps, colouring pages and narrations. Younger kiddos won’t have as much to keep, and that’s ok!
- Only do the suggested activities that appeal to you or your children, and feel free to skip them entirely if that’s what suits you. Reading and talking about what you’re learning is enough.
- Buy the Activity Guide AND the pdf download of the activity pages. Trust me on this one — I didn’t and I’ve been regretting that decision for years. So. much. photocopying.
- If you’re having trouble finding books from the suggested reading lists at your library, check if they are available on inter-library loan. Check other SOTW reading lists online for alternatives.
- Add movies and educational videos to your lessons.
- Don’t feel you need to complete one volume per year. Feel free to go at your own pace — it took us close to 6 years to get through the four volumes!
- Search out related field trips in your area. These could be local historical sites, museums, or even workshops like glass-blowing.
Ideas for Using Story of the World with Older Children
Each volume of Story of the World was written to be used within a specific, 4-year age range. Although that may be ideal, you can definitely widen that range to include all your elementary through middle-school aged children using any volume. Here are some ideas to help you “beef up” your Story of the World lessons for your older kids:
- Assign extra reading, for example, primary source materials.
- Add map tracing and drawing.
- Have your older child keep a timeline/book of centuries.
- Have your child outline and assign writing compositions according to what they’re currently studying to incorporate writing across the curriculum.
- Allow older kids who are keen to be more independent to read each chapter independently, or ask them if they want to read aloud for the group.
Ideas for Including Younger Children in Your Story of the World Lessons:
Using the last two volumes of Story of the World while accommodating a younger sibling was a bit of a challenge. If you’re wanting to add a first grader (or a tag along kindergartener) mid-cycle to your history lessons, try some of these ideas:
- Have younger children simply listen to the story while colouring a co-ordinating colouring page, or provide some other activity to keep their hands busy while they listen.
- As they get older, allow the younger kids to answer comprehension questions before calling on their older siblings. You might be amazed by what those little ones pick up!
- When they are ready, write down their oral narrations for them and ask them if they want to illustrate it.
- Choose lots of supplemental reading of the picture book variety.
The Story of the World has been one of our most favourite curriculum choices over the years. We have so many good memories of learning history together! And learning history through story and narrative is the best, most engaging way to make connections to the past and with each other, at all ages. I hope some of these ideas will be helpful to you in your own homeschool.
Don’t miss these other Story of the World posts: