Thursday, November 11, 2010

Books Without Bias - A Secular Thursday Post

Which is impossible, but some books hit you over the head with it more than others. Usborne History Pockets - Ancient Civilizations wears its bias lightly and approaches history with an an anthropological style, presenting information rather than story and putting roughly equal emphasis on East/West civilizations.

That isn't why I bought it. It was a desperation purchase, when I found that my second child, at the age of six or seven,  refused to listen to Story Of the World for a single second of her homeschooling life. The basic idea is that children use the information and the templates in the book to explore  six major ancient civilizations in a hands-on, project based way.

Not those kind of projects! Not the kind that take a whole day's trek to find supplies for, another day to make, another day to clean up and a fourth day to recover - there's 'school' gone for the week! - no, the kind that need a pair of scissors, a glue stick and some crayons at most.

The 'pocket' bit refers to a fancy folder you're supposed to make to store all the projects in,  which I did diligently with #2 and ignored with #3. A manila folder works fine. Then there's a words to know activity, a postcard project, some puppets dressed in the clothing of the culture and a variety of other paper-based tasks to complete. For example, Snowy, who is studying Ancient Rome, made this laurel wreath crown, and posed for you as Julius Ceasar ( yes, in a Toy Story 3 t-shirt - you didn't think I was going to mess around with togas, did you ? )

He's so cute...

It's fairly high-interest for little kids, you don't have to grapple with bible stories, it doesn't require a lot of pre-planning,  it's inexpensive  and it's something you can show off to sceptical relatives or use as a memory jogger over time.

The bad bits ?  You absolutely have to supplement. There are info pages for 'teachers' included but it's not enough on its own. Snowy and I have been reading a book set in Ancient Rome ( Miranda the Great by Eleanor Estes ) and an Usborne Beginners Romans book to flesh out the Pocket. And if you or your child detests project work, you'll be throwing this across the room shortly after opening it.

If what you're after though, is a taste of history on your child's metaphorical plate ( the same way you might put a tiny bit of  zucchini on his real plate, just to try ) the History Pockets are worth a look.

As is the smrtlernins blog for links to more Secular Thursday posts.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Melissa. I am hoping to see some of the Usborne stuff after christmas and their history range was one in particular I wanted to look at.