In this third volume of Mystery of History, I will add two things: a deeper dive into American history with additional books and units integrated into our lessons, and the Discover Texas history curriculum. Instead of separate units for American history and (our) state history, I want the flow of all parts of world history to be natural. The first settlers and colonists in North America are not a disconnected part of world history, and neither are the first Spaniards to explore Texas. These events happened for reasons that originated in Europe.
I’ve seen this question come up a lot, “What American History curriculum can I use with Mystery of History?” or, “What can I use for a full high school credit of American History?” I’m going to address all of that with this lesson plan. American history is world history. There’s no need to teach a separate course. Simply expand on the amazing content and chronology in Mystery of History with some additional reading and projects!
Our schedule is our own, so I do not focus on finishing a book a year. Instead, I focus on a love and knowledge of all of world history. So that might mean we do three lessons per week, or one lesson for two weeks. It will depend on the lesson, and how much expansion we add.
I have two children remaining at home now, and they are 12 and 15. We do all of these lessons and activities as a family.
This post is updated regularly as we complete our lessons. I will pin it to the top of my blog for easy access, and at the end of each quarter, I’ll provide a handy PDF for printing.
Mystery of History Volume III resources we use:
- The Student Reader (new copies include a code for digital companion guide)
- Companion Guide
- Notebooking Pages
- Planning Pages
- Challenge Cards
- This printable timeline from Master Books
Other resources we will use throughout this volume:
- Adams Synchronological Chart of World History
- History of the World Map by Map
- History of Britain & Ireland
- The New World by Winston Churchill
- The American Story by David Barton
Quarter 1: Around the World
You can do a few things along with this preview:
- Pull out the Adams Synchronological chart of world history and review what you’ve studied so far.
- Do a quiz with the Volume II challenge cards.
- Review your timelines from Volumes I and II.
- Watch a movie from the companion guide.
- Assemble student notebooks together.
- Play the Timeline game.
- Search your area for art and history museums that will showcase Renaissance art and renaissance inventions, and also look for a local Renaissance Fair. Put these on your calendar for a field trip!
If you’re using Berean Builders: Science in the Ancient World like we are, Quarter 1 is the perfect time to do lessons 68-90 on Leonardo da Vinci. (I know these are books written for elementary students, but they are not “childish” and are a perfect companion to Mystery of History. I am a firm believer in the history of science on the historical timeline. It just makes sense! My kids are also taking higher science courses this year, in case you’re wondering.)
As with the previous volume, we are adding a bit of a focus on British history. My favorite book for this is Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples. He wrote it in the 1950s, so that’s where his history ends. It is a refreshing history without the Zinn-ist revision that we are so accustomed to today. For Mystery of History Volume III, we are reading Part 2: The New World. (It’s easy reading, so would be a great read-aloud for elementary to high school, or could be a reading assignment for high school. I highly recommend parents read it, as it is a wonderful in-depth look at many lessons. It’s also on Audible if you prefer.)
When reading the Quarter 1 intro, read The New World preface and Chapter 1: The Round World.
Additionally, for everyone in the family, especially the visually oriented, I recommend continuing the DK History of Britain & Ireland. It’s similar to (but even better than) Usborne Books.
For a quiet activity during read-alouds, the kids pieced this puzzle of a sailing ship, since this quarter will include the Age of Exploration. (We used this puzzle cover for after-school hours to store and protect the unfinished puzzle.)
See my Amazon Storefront for the Mystery of History Volume 3 Resource List.
Lesson 1: The Wars of the Roses
Optional Activities: we made the flip chart
The New World by Winston Churchill: Chapter 2 The Tudor Dynasty
DK History of Britain pgs 122-125
Lesson 2: Cosimo de Medici and the Rise of the Italian Renaissance
Optional Activities: We did the art gallery/internet photo report
The kids are reading through the Eyewitness Book of the Renaissance, a couple of pages at a time with this first Quarter, and I am choosing some of their copywork from that.
History of the World, Map by Map pgs 160-165
Over the years, we have collected old “encyclopedic sets” of books that were cheap or free, that make a wonderful addition to our home library. Two of those that are very applicable with this volume (and previous volumes) of Mystery of History are the Time-Life Great Ages of Man series, and Newsweek Wonders of Man. From Great Ages of Man, we are pulling out Renaissance, and from Wonders of Man, we are using Florence.
YouTube video: The Renaissance – The Age of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci (some nude sculptures and art, and once brief mention of erotica). The video mentions “da Vinci’s homosexuality,” which is purely a 21st century supposition. This video is best suited for teens, but it is a perfect follow-up to Lesson 2, referencing Medici, artists, architecture, and so much more.
In Mama Bear Apologetics, the chapter on postmodernism is applicable to this lesson. There’s definitely a good discussion to be had on the devout beliefs of the Middle Ages, the impact of the printing press on knowledge, and the juxtaposition of mostly religious art and the rising humanist thought. I believe postmodernism is less likely to gain a foothold in those who are well-versed in world (and church) history.
Lesson 3: Ferdinand, Isabella, and the Spanish Inquisition
Optional Activities: We read a portion of Foxes Book of Martyrs Chapter V: The Inquisition.
We did Modern Europe and Europe in the 1500s maps, added these three lessons to our timeline pages, and reviewed the Challenge Cards for lessons 1-3.
Lesson 4: Ivan the Great
Optional activities: Byzantine Fashion (because learning about the culture is always fun) and Three Romes.
Mapping: The Volga River
Age of Exploration
Before Lesson 5, I recommend getting to know the ships that carried explorers! There are lots of ways to do this.
- UnitStudy.com has a perfect unit study called Sailing Ships that’s applicable for K-12. It’s a four-week unit, but her studies are very flexible and adaptable.
- See the different videos of a caravel on my Mystery of History III YouTube playlist.
- In the excellent “History of the World, Map by Map” I like the Explorers section on pages 150-151
Note: I don’t like to teach “the age of exploration” or “the renaissance” or “the reformation” as individual units. They are all woven so closely together, and should be taught as world history. However, including a unit within your world history lessons is a great way to expand an important topic.
Lesson 5: Dias and da Gama Round the Cape of Good Hope
We watched several YouTube videos about caravels (the type of ships they sailed) and da Gama’s route.
Study the geography
Optional activities: History and the Bible, in the words of da Gama (read his journal!)
Lesson 6: Lorenzo the Magnificent
We did a bit of a study on Botticelli’s art. This YouTube video is a nice, short overview of his life and work. Art Masterpieces to Color is a book of many art classic coloring pages. (I’ve had this book for years, and used it over and over by making copies for my kids.) The Botticelli work is Birth of Venus, which does have a nude (exposed breast) woman. If you’d like to skip nude coloring pages, try this free printable of “Portrait of Simonella Vespucci” or “The Melancholy.”
Optional Activities: Art Appreciation (see above)
We finished up this week with the timeline activities, mapping, Week 2 quiz, and reviewed the challenge cards for Lessons 1-6.
Lesson 7: Christopher Columbus Sails to an “Other World” AND Lesson 8: The Return of Cristobal Colon
Columbus has been completely misrepresented in recent decades. I encourage everyone to go back to the original sources. (You probably have heard that “he raped and murdered millions” but that is absolutely untrue. His journals and the journals of his fellow sailors give the true picture — even when it is not pretty.)
We read my Knowledge Keepers book Christopher Columbus: His Story and His Journals. It’s a 2-part book; 1) an easy-to-read biography based on Columbus’ journals, and 2) the actual journals of his voyages. (Knowledge Keepers Bookstore is my primary source project, where I republish old, out of print histories that were written by the people who lived American history. See KnowledgeKeepersBookstore.com for more info.)
I also used the study guide I created for this book. It includes all sorts of reading, thinking, copy work, mapping, and bonus links to online videos and such. It’s free to download here, or you may purchase a printed copy.
Since my children are 12 and 15, I am adding in a bit of a lesson in revisionist history. After reading His Story and His Journals, we will read Chapter 1 of Howard Zinn’s incredibly awful People’s History of the United States of America and Chapter 1 of Mary Grabar’s Debunking Howard Zinn. These two together will illustrate how and why Americans have been trained to hate their history, and how this “history” is absolute trash. We will continue to integrate these two books into our American history lessons. You can read my full post about that here.
Lesson 9: Ghana, Mali, and Songhai: Empires of West Africa
After reading the lesson in the textbook, we watched Africa Geography & Medieval Ghana, Mali, and Songhai Activity – History by Instructomania. It was well done, and almost like it was created for this Mystery of History lessons! My kids did the geography assignment with the help of an atlas.
I did not choose to assign the Week 3: Exercise this time, but we added Lessons 7-9 to the timelines.
**Note: At this point in our schooling, my children requested permission to do independent study, rather than the group study we have previously done. I am allowing a trial run to see if they are still learning and retaining important concepts from the lessons.**
Lesson 10: The Death of Savonarola
This week’s lessons were very basic for us, so the students read the lesson, took notes on the notebooking pages, and added it to their timelines. They also watched two videos on YouTube: Religion and the Renaissance, and Savonarola and the Bonfire of the Vanities.
Lesson 11: The Safavid Empire of Persia
Again, we did the basics: read the lesson, took notes on the notebooking pages, and added to their timelines. They also completed the geography assignment with Map 05-Middle East, using an Atlas or the globe for help.
Lesson 12: Leonardo da Vinci Paints the Mona Lisa
My students read this lesson, and took notes on the notebooking pages. We all watched The 10 Most Famous Paintings of Leonardo da Vinci on YouTube. Before we began this Quarter of MOH, we watched The Renaissance – The Age of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci on YouTube (it’s two parts), and we had already read The Second Mrs. Giaconda, which is more of a fun and fictional idea of how the Mona Lisa came to be. We added da Vinci and the Mona Lisa to the timeline.
Throughout this Quarter, my students have been reading through Berean Builders Science … lessons on da Vinci’s scientific side. There is so much to da Vinci that it is worth spending more than one day studying!
Review: time for the Week 4: Quiz! Prepare by going through the Challenge Cards for Lessons 1-12.
Lesson 13: Michelangelo
My children read the MOH lesson and took notes in their notebooking pages. Next, they explored his artwork library on WikiArt here, and we watched Michelangelo: Artist and Genius (a full documentary). We talked about his amazing talent, and how it really shows us life and beliefs in the Renaissance era with such detail. Here’s a really short video inside the Sistine Chapel for even more fun.
At this point in the school year, I gave my kids a spelling test from their history lessons. I think historic names, places, and events are important words to know and spell:
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Protestant Reformation
Lesson 14: Artists of the Northern Renaissance
We split this lesson into pieces, focusing a little more time on each artist and their art. You don’t have to do this, of course.
Jan van Eyck 1390-1441 – We read his portion in the MOH textbook, and then viewed all of his works at WikiArt (there is one nude painting, FYI). We also watched The Stay at Home Museum: Episode 1 Jan van Eyck. There are some coloring pages based on his artwork that might be fun for your students, like The Arnolfini Marriage, Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini, and Margareta van Eyck. If your kids would like to try to recreate one of his paintings, there are several paint-by-number versions on Amazon. Visit Gent has a great article on van Eyck’s art methods, which might be very interesting to a budding artist. After finishing up this portion of Lesson 14, we added van Eyck to the timeline and completed the notebooking page.
Jerome Bosch (1450-1516) -The kids read the short portion on Bosch in the MOH book, took notes in the notebooking pages, and then added him to the timeline. We then all watched Hieronymus Bosch: A collection of 147 paintings on YouTube. It’s 12 minutes with no dialogue (but does include music) that just show all of his art. Again, we talked about the way his (more normal) art portrays life in the Renaissance era.
Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)