Welcome to my lesson plans for Mystery of History Volume 2: The Early Church and the Middle Ages. I’m sharing our journey through this amazing curriculum, lesson by lesson, with the extra resources and activities we used (as I did for Volume 1). Each “quarter” is accessible through a seperate link, complete with a free printable PDF download. I taught this curriculum to my three youngest kids and my nephew, ages 11 through 16. As I always do, I like to immerse my students in a time period with all of our curriculum, so as much as possible, everything in our homeschool day revolved around the years 500-1500 A.D. This includes Bible, science, reading, geography, and language arts.
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I love Mystery of History more than all other world history curriculums I have used in my 22 years as a homeschool mom. The conversational style by is appealing to all ages, drawing the reader or listener into the story and keeping them engaged. In Volume One, the history in the Bible is skillfully taught alongside the rest of world history, which is so eye-opening for anyone who was taught in a typical public (and even private) school classroom. It is so important to see the connection between the real people in the Bible and the world cultures and events that we already know about. (You can read my full review of Volume One here.) Volume Two builds on this blend of biblical history and world history, picking up right after death of Christ, His resurrection, and ascension, and immersing students in more of Ancient Rome and the early church. The timeline extends from here through the Middle Ages, and ends with the invention of the printing press.
If you want a history curriculum that teaches important events with a Christian worldview, I cannot recommend this one enough. It’s comprehensive in overall history, and it teaches so much that is left out of traditional school curriculum. Your students will not only study the Middle Ages, they will also study the spread of the gospel of Jesus and early church history, the rise of some fascinating civilizations, and plenty of fun from medieval times.
The Mystery of History curriculum appeals to all learning styles, with auditory, hands-on, and visual activities. The many options available on the Mystery of History website make it easy to choose the different pieces that will work for your family. (When we did MOH Volume 1, I used coloring pages and folderbooks, but not the challenge cards.) The author, Linda Hobar, has really made this a curriculum that works well for all ages, all learning styles, and all budgets.
My Focus: Primary Sources and Apologetics
With my teens and tweens, I focus on two areas: primary sources and apologetics.
As much as possible I want to use original sources to show the ancient writings that we still refer to today. That’s why you’ll see me recommend and reference Eusebius, Josephus, etc. It’s great to read about these men and what they wrote; it’s even better to open a book of their writings, peruse it, read a bit here and there, and even copy some of the words.
In Volume 1, Christian apologetics gets a wonderful foundation. In Volume 2, it builds on the entire Old Testament and the life of Jesus by exploring Paul’s writings and the growth of the church and spread of the gospel. This is important because the secular world (schools, social media, entertainment) try to paint the church and God’s followers as many things: backwards, evil, murderous, and more. Our children need to know the truth. Yes, Christians have made many mistakes (we are human, after all). But that’s not the whole picture. Volume II of Mystery of History does a wonderful job of giving that whole picture.
As I go through each lesson, I look at the suggested reading for each lesson (Companion Guide) and choose resources that lend historical truth to both of these goals.
How we used Mystery of History Volume II
We typically do history two days a week, and spend about 2-3 hours. I read aloud to the whole family from the student reader, and then depending on the day and the lesson, we do the Companion Guide quizzes and tests, the optional notebooking pages, occasional activity pages, read from a book in the supplemental book lists, review with the Bright Ideas Press Challenge Cards, completed map activities, and enter dates on the timeline. My older students took notes independently from the lesson in their notebooking pages, and wrote their own notes on the timeline. My younger students copied the notes from the answer key (I let them do this as training on how to take notes while listening to a lesson) and used the Homeschool in the Woods timeline figures.
Geography: We do all of the map assignments with each lesson. I believe this is a complete geography curriculum when you do all four volumes of Mystery of History. The best way to learn geography is to learn in on a history timeline. Learning countries, borders, cities, and migrations makes so much more sense when they are studied within the context of world history. Your students will see how names and borders change over the centuries, and they will know why. I recommend the Rand McNally Historical Atlas of the World, as recommended by the author. I am very flexible with my kids; I allow them to copy the atlas or even the map answer key from the Companion Guide to begin with. Over time, I will see if they are able to lable countries and bodies of water without help.
Notebooking Pages: I love the notebooking pages for my tweens and teens. My older teens use them to take their own notes as they listen to the lesson. For younger tweens, I allow them to use the answer page as a combination of notetaking/copywork. I believe this method teaches them what notetaking looks like, and prepares them to use the blank notebooking pages on their own in the future.
Copywork: I have compiled my own list of copywork that aligns with each lesson in Mystery of History Volume II (available here as a free download). There are a couple of ways to use this: use it in place of notebooking pages for young learners, use it as handwriting (print or cursive) during the weeek, and even as typing practice! I believe copywork is a valuable language arts tool, and my list allows students to practice writing, typing, sentence structure, and grammar while reviewing a portion of their history lesson. You can read my blog post about copywork here.
In the lesson notes, you’ll notice that I add “Notebooking pages OR copywork.” Pick and choose what works for each of your students individually.
Timeline: I use this printed version that we put into a 3-ring binder for each student. (The MOH book has timeline directions for making a big chart for the entire family, but we chose the notebook route instead.) I printed ours on heavy cardstock.
I’ll admit that I purchased the cookbook download for Volume 2 and only made a couple of the recipes. I didn’t plan those recipes into my lessons well, and I wish I had. Food is always a great addition to history lessons! We have never made the memory cards, nor used the audio CDs.
I like to gather everyone at the dining table and set out an assortment of colored pencils, markers, and pens. The students will use these for note-taking, doodling, and map work. Sometimes I put a tray of snacks in the middle of the table, too, because food makes everything more fun!
During the remainder of the week, my kids do “homework,” which includes additional research, reading one of the suggested books, and copywork
Extras: In addition, we made use of the wonderful videos produced by Drive Thru History, some YouTube videos, and some of the suggested activities that accompany each lesson in the student reader. I would occasionally look for a fun hands-on activity that wasn’t in the book’s suggeted list. (Pinterest is a gold mine for this; you can look at my Pinterest board here.)
For our family I wanted to focus a bit on British history. On all branches of the family tree, we are very English! So you’ll see some suggestions that I added to the basic Mystery of History timeline. If you love British history or have a desire to know more, you’ll get plenty of that in my suggestions. If your family has another ethnic background, this is a great time to explore those regions and people more deeply. Pause your schedule when you get to your part of the world and add in some more books and activities. The Companion Guide reading suggestions are a great place to start.
We finished Volume 2 in about nine months. This year, we did 4-6 lessons per week. Normally, I don’t try to beat the calender, but two of my students were set to graduate by May, and we wanted to finish the book before then. Our next two volumes will go a little more slowly.
I created my own copywork selections to go with this curriculum. You can read all about how we use copywork for language arts HERE. This is available as a free download below. You can use it as handwriting or typing practice and include it in your student’s notebook.
As I mentioned above, I like a full-immersion plan, so I chose our other subjects based on their Middle Ages content. These included:
Our writing and grammar are both perfect for this history portion. we used Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons (you will need to first do the Structure and Style for Students before jumping into themed lessons), and Fix-It! Grammar with medieval themes (read my full review of Fix-It! Grammar here).
|Science in the Ancient World
Science in the Ancient World is an engaging, exciting, hands-on, multilevel elementary resource that is the second in a planned series of books by Dr. Jay Wile.
Introducing scientific concepts in the context of history, students will follow the work of the “natural philosophers” who lived from approximately 600 BC to 1500 AD, particularly those Christians who studied the natural world in order to learn more about God. Arranged chronologically, chapters focus both on concepts as well as thinkers, including atoms, Hippocrates, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, Galen, Albert of Saxony, Nicholas of Cusa, and finally Leonardo da Vinci and his insights into many different scientific topics.
A total of 90 lessons are included; divided into chronological sections, each section contains 15 regular lessons and 3 challenge lessons. Depending on how much science you wish to teach in your homeschool, there are enough lessons to cover every other day for the length of a school year, or, you can finish the book by only doing two lessons a week (and skipping the challenge lessons).
Hands-on activities are included in each lesson; most are experiments (that have been field-tested for homeschoolers!), and include step by step directions to keep you on track. As this curriculum was designed for all elementary-aged students to use together, the main lesson text takes a conversational, easy-to-read tone that all students can comprehend; illustrations and photographs are integrated throughout. Review assignments close the lesson; questions are grouped for “youngest, older, and oldest” students. Students are instructed to keep a notebook, and the activities include comprehension and reflection notebook assignments. For evaluation, the notebook or oral questions can be used; tests are not included, but are in the Helps & Hints book (sold-separately).
Experiments use common household goods, though for some items that may not be on-hand, a list is provided at the beginning of the book. A full materials list for each section is also included for easy preparation.
298 pages with glossary and index. Hardcover. Elementary Grades K-6.
Draw and Write Through History
As much as it was within my power, I lined up lessons in theese extra books with the timeline in Mystery of HIstory. That meant that sometimes we doubled up a writing or science lesson here and there, or sometimes we skipped a few weeks of them. The cumulative reviews within this method are very beneficial; my students were able to hear a lesson and then have it reinforced in a variety of ways.
If you are going to teach this with younger students, I recommend the coloring pages. Each page covers 1 “week” or 3 lessons. It’s perfect for littles to do while listening to the lesson. The Folderbooks are also excellent for young kids. I liked to use them as a hands-on review of the lessons at the end of the week, instead of doing them alongside the lessons. And the Challenge Cards are also great for younger students. Even if they can’t remember all of the answers, the repetition is super helpful. I will do them every couple of weeks, starting at the beginning of the stack and working our way up to the current lesson.
Where to start
If you’re new to Mystery of History, you need to begin with Volume 1! (See my lesson plans here.) You will get the full effect of history taught in chronological order. Start with the Student Reader. Once you purchase this, you’ll find a unique download code for the digital Companion Guide. This Companion Guide is essential! It includes: maps, suggested reading lists, and all of the quizzes. I highly recommend printing the entire companion guide for your first time, so you can see what is included. It’s huge. That’s okay. Take some time to go through it and get acquanted with all of the components. (It includes the answer keys for quizzes and maps.)
I create a binder for myself with the following tabs:
- Notebooking pages with answers
- Maps with answers
- Quizzes and worksheet answer key
- Suggested reading
- Folderbook instructions
- Cookbook pages
- Berean Builders science lesson match-up (find it here)
- Drive Thru History episode match-up (find it here)
For my students, I create a binder with the following tabs:
- Blank notebooking pages with quizzes/worksheets placed as needy by lesson
- Timeline (I include a pocket folder to hold the timeline figures)
It’s completely up to you to decide how much of the extra activities you will do. As a bare minimum, you could do the Student Reader, map work, and timeline. Some families do this if they are hoping to complete all four volumes of the Mystery of History series before their high school students graduate. But if you are not bound by a calendar, I really encourage you to dive in deep and really experience the history! There’s a severe lack of hitorical knowledge in our society, and we have the power to change that. Don’t just teach this curriculum to check off a box; teach it to your children so that they will know, love, and understand world history!
At the end of each lesson, you’ll see where the author provides research activities and suggested projects for younger students, middle students, and older students. There are some great suggestions to choose from! Don’t feel like you need to do all of them for every lesson; look at them as suggested extensions to pick and choose.
Take time to peruse the literature suggestions in the Companion Guide. You can read a selection aloud and/or assign reading to your student on their own time. There are so many great books to read, and you might never read them all, so choose which topics you want to focus on. My favorites are exciting historical fiction; if you want your kids to be hooked on a topic, use historical fiction! (I usually always have one book going as a read-aloud, and will read 1-2 chapters per day.)
Mystery of History Lesson Plans for Middle School and High School
My lessons are divided by quarter. Click on each quarter to open the detailed plans. The printable PDF will include titles of each resource used, while the online plans will include links to open videos, etc.