Have you heard of The Story of the World books by Susan Wise Bauer? If you are an elementary teacher, a homeschooling parent, or just interested in history, you need to check these out. If I had learned history through these stories, I may just have whole different opinion of studying history as a child. In fact, having read these books to my students and to my own children at home, I have found a new love for historical fiction!
There are four volumes of The Story of the World available: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance, Early Modern Times, and The Modern Age: From Victoria’s Empire to the End of the USSR.
We have used these books in both Lower and Upper Elementary classes. They are a fabulous introduction to world history and are written in story format, so they are engaging and appropriate for all levels of elementary. Portions of the books read aloud to students have even been repeated to students over the course of their elementary years, but the children understand the stories at a different level when they’re older, so we never worried about the students hearing them again.
Typically we read a chapter each day from the book that was appropriate during the course of study. Sometimes we read more, because they children asked to hear another chapter!
We often had extension activities with various chapters, either through the activity books that accompany the series, or those we created on our own. Some of the most popular extensions included cooking or baking projects (not too surprising, right?) or creating some type of model (such as a Viking longship or longhouse).
I highly recommend using The Story of the World in your cultural curriculum to inspire and engage children in world history.