This year as Ian went through 1st grade we began our four year history cycle, covering the time from Creation through the Roman Empire. At first I tried to settle on a “spine” to provide structure for our year, but eventually I decided that for this first time through it was more important to me to give Ian a general feel for each time period and people group we studied. I ended up turning more to “living books” and videos that helped him get a sense of what was going on in each time and place. We also kept a notebook of the things we learned about (though I must admit we slacked on that as the months went by).
I’ve come across a lot of great resource lists for older students, but at times I found it challenging to find age-appropriate books and videos for a 1st grader, so I thought I’d look back over our year and put together a list of some of the things I discovered that work well for younger students. (Includes affiliate links.)
Year-Long Resources We Drew From Selectively:
- Mystery of History, Vol.1 by Linda Lacour Hobar
- Story of the World, Vol. 1 by Susan Wise Bauer (including audio book)
- A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer
- Famous Figures of Ancient Times by Cathy Diez-Lucky
- timeline pictures from History Through the Ages-Collection CD from Homeschool in the Woods
- notebooking pages from biblestoryprintables.com
- Kid’s Animated History with Pipo video series (available streaming on Hulu)
- Drive Thru History video series: Ancient History (available streaming on iTBN. These are great for older kids, but younger ones might not be so into them unless they’re like Ian and learn really well from videos.)
Primeval History (Including Creation, the Flood, Dinosaurs, and Early Civilizations)
- Noah’s Ark by Jerry Pinkney
- Prayers from the Ark and The Creatures’ Choir by Carmen Bernos De Gasztold (poems told from the perspective of animals on the ark)
- Dinosaurs by Design by Duane Gish
- What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs? by John D. Morris and Ken Ham.
- The Real Story of the Flood by Paul L. Maier (has a couple paragraphs at the end that reflect an unbiblical “day-age” view when talking about dinosaurs, but I just crossed those out and wrote a brief note in the margin for my kids in case they read it on their own. I really like the rest of the book.
- Life in the Great Ice Age by Michael J. Oard
- Gilgamesh picture book trilogy by Ludmila Zeman (Gilgamesh the King, The Revenge of Ishtar, and The Last Quest of Gilgamesh.
- Stonehenge (Torque: The Unexplained) by Sean McDaniel (a great introduction to the subject, though I skipped the part about the alien theory)
- Stonehenge by Cynthia Kennedy Henzel
- Dinosaurs, Genesis, and the Gospel
- The Creation Adventure Team: Six Short Days, One Big Adventure
- Greatest Adventures of the Bible: Noah’s Ark
- The Creation Adventure Team: A Jurassic Ark Mystery
- Buddy Davis Adventures: I Dig Dinosaurs!
- Buddy Davis Adventures: Extreme Caving, (a fun, Creation-based DVD that teaches a lot about caves and even has a segment on early man)
- clip from TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting that shows the Duggar family visiting Stonehenge
- Draw and Write Through History: Creation Through Jonah, Vol. 1 (We just used the drawing instructions.)
- Jonathan Park: The Whispering Sphinx(audio drama)
God’s People/Ancient Israel
- Ballad of Matthews Begats by Andrew Peterson
- Joseph by Brian Wildsmith
- Day By Day Kid’s Bible by Karen Henley
- Joseph: King of Dreams
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat While the cover of the DVD touts it as the “classic family musical,” THIS IS ONE TO KEEP THE REMOTE HANDY ON! We completely skipped the scene with Potiphar’s wife because the costumes were so inappropriate. There were a few other scenes that had some questionable costuming as well but I let them pass because it wasn’t as obvious and Ian didn’t seem to notice. It’s really too bad, because the music itself is very family friendly (with the exception of Potiphar’s wife saying, “Come and lie with me, love,” but since that’s pretty much what the Bible records, I’m not going to complain).
- Wars of Humanity combo pack and Jericho: The Promise Fulfilled from Shatterpoint Entertainment
- Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles
- Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles
- Stallion by Starlight, about Alexander the Great from the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. I’m not entirely comfortable with this series (due to the light treatment of magic and elements of pagan religions), but we cautiously read selected books together with a lot of discussion.
- Greek Mythology for Students series, which says it’s for 4th-8th grade, but both my boys enjoyed them. We only watched 3: The Gods of Olympus, The Trojan War,and The Journeys of Odysseus, but if I’d known how much the boys were going to like them, I’d have checked out more of the series from the library.
- “Groovy Greeks” segments from Horrible Histories (based on the books by Terry Deary)
- Kids’ Animated History With Pipo (Classical Greece)
- Drive Thru History episodes: Ancient History: Greece and Ancient History: Athens and Paul (also available through the TBN Roku channel)
- lapbook Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus (PreK-K unit)
- Ancient Greece lapbook from Homeschool Share
- Draw and Write Through History: Greece and Rome
- Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles
- See You Later, Gladiator (from the Time Warp Trio series) by Jon Scieszka
- The Complete Storykeepers Collection, a book of all the stories in the Storykeepers video series (see below).
- Julius Caesar from the Shakespeare: The Animated Tales series
- episodes on Imperial Rome from Kid’s Animated History With Pipo
- Episodes on Ancient Rome from Drive Thru History.
- Friends and Heroes (animated series; 3 seasons, covering early Christians in Alexandria, Jerusalem, and finally Rome, A.D. 69-71, including the siege and fall of Jerusalem;includes Bible stories in each episode)
- The Perpetua Story (from the Torchlighters series, about an early Christian martyr)
- Polycarp and Perpetua, (documentary about two early Christian martyrs, not necessarily written for children, but contained many dramatizations and kept Ian’s attention)
If I come across other resources that are good for this age, I’ll add them to the list. If you have some favorites that eluded us, please tell us about them in the comments!