Use Story of the World as your History Curriculum

How to Use Story of the World as Your History Curriculum

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Do you want to use Story of the World as your history curriculum but don’t know where to start? Here’s a quick guide to get you started!

Story of the World is an excellent series of 4 history volumes written for kids that span much of human history. The series begins with nomadic wanderers and ends with the end of the Twentieth Century.

What’s so delightful about Story of the World is that it’s written as a story. You travel through time meeting fascinating people. Hearing about interesting events.

And you and your children watch the slow development of human history as you.

Use Story of the World as Your History Curriculum

Story of the World is a four-volume set that’s perfect to teach history to younger kids from 1st grade through 8th grade.

The four volumes are:

Needed Books:

To use Story of the World as your history curriculum, you’ll need the Story of the World volume you plan on using and its accompanying activity book. The activity book seems optional, but I use it every time we complete a Story of the World lesson.

You might also want to pick up the Story of the World audiobooks. They’re read by Jim Weiss and are simply delightful. I like to turn on the book in the car so the kids and I can listen to it as we run errands around town.


Just as a heads up, there are more chapters in Story of the World than there are weeks in the typical school year.

As I plan the school year, I first look at where I want to be at the end of the school year – complete Story of the World by finishing chapter 42.

Next, I divide the year in half: by week 18 I want to finish chapter 21.

Then I look at the quarters: my goal is to be around chapter 10 or 11 at the end of week 9. And I’d like to be around chapter 31 or 32 at the end of week 27.

If I make those goals, we’re on track to finish Story of the World by the end of the school year. If I start missing a benchmark, the kids and I will do an extra history lesson on Friday or cover two sections instead of one during our history lessons.


Before you sit down to cover the week’s assignment you’ll want to print sheets from the student activity section of the Story of the World Activity Guide. You can print the sheets each week or use my easy filing system and prep during the summer.

I always print the coloring pages and the maps.

As a heads up, the Story of the World Vol. 4 Activity Guide doesn’t include coloring pages, but you can pick a PDF of the coloring pages through The Well-Trained Mind. You can also pick up the PDF of the coloring pages for any volume there. Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to hit print on the PDF than it is to stand over a copy machine making copy after copy of all the different pages!

You can also print out the needed templates for various activities Story of the World includes such as paper dolls, history games, and flags. My kids love the paper dolls and history games, but we don’t always do the extra activities.

The extra activities are fun but not essential!


As you may guess, my first step to completing a lesson in The Story of the World is to read a section of the book.

Each chapter has a main topic which is broken down into sections. A few chapters are short with only 1 section. Other chapters are longer with 3 or 4 sections. Most chapters tend to have 2 sections.

You can read an entire chapter at a sitting, but I’ve found the kids and I are happiest when we sit down to cover only 1 section at a time.

So, the first step is to actually read a section of The Story of the World. You can listen to it in the car as a time saver or as a review of the material you just covered. Jim Weiss is delightful to listen to and is far better at accents than I will ever be.

Generally, my kids sit down and color the coloring pages at the kitchen table while I read a section to them. The coloring keeps their hands busy and their ears open.


After you read the section of The Story of the World to your children, open up the activity guide to the appropriate chapter. You’ll find discussion questions available to ask your kids. And yes, you can hand the book to your kids so they can review names, dates, and places as they answer the questions.

To be honest, I tend not to hand the volume to my kids.

First I’m usually reading to several children and I don’t need them fighting over the book.

The second reason is that I like to see how much they actually remember what we’ve read. That being said, I do usually have to remind the kids about names, dates, and places because they’ll remember what happened but won’t always remember what was said.

If you’re asking your kids the discussion questions, try to have more than one child answering the question. I have a couple of kids who sit back and let their siblings do all the talking. It’s easier than piping up themselves!


After the discussion, ask the kids to give you an oral narration of what they learned. This doesn’t have to be a long narration, just a sentence or two from your youngest kids or it can be a lengthy summary from an older child.

Occasionally you’ll have a kid who wants to retell the entire section of Story of the World in great detail!

That’s not needed.

You’re actually trying to teach the kids how to summarize and pull the important facts from the reading. And I like to know exactly what the kids learned.

Once the kids have given you an oral narration, you have the option of having the kids write down their narration or a part of it.

A first-grader could write down a single sentence. A second-grader should be good for two and so on and so forth.

But ADAPT the writing requirements for your own kid.

Some kids write beautifully in the first grade and can easily jot down 2-4 sentences. Other kids struggle writing their own names. And the same goes for older kids.

Have your kids write down a summary, the length of which is at a comfortable writing level. You can use notebooking pages so the kids have a page to draw a picture of what they learned and a place to write down a sentence or two about it.

Remember, this is an option, but an excellent way to teach kids to write about what they’re learning and to work on their writing skills at the same time.


The beautiful part about history is that you can easily fold geography into your history studies.

After all, how can kids understand Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants if they don’t know where the Alps are? How can kids understand the importance of the Nile if they haven’t seen a map of Egypt?

The Story of the World makes mapwork easy. Most chapters include a map of the area you’re studying and some map work for kids to do. They’ll circle cities. Trace rivers in blue. Draw lines to show movement.

And I’ve found that map work done regularly actually does help children gain a good understanding of where different countries, rivers, lakes, and oceans are in the world.

History Project

I will tell you a secret: when you’re using Story of the World as your history curriculum, you don’t have to do history projects to be a good homeschool teacher!

That being said, the projects are fun to do. Kids remember the projects and love the time spent with arts and crafts. And history projects also help with your children’s retention of history.

But again, you don’t HAVE to complete the activities.

You can skip the projects altogether, do one a month, or complete one project a week. You can also try and do all the projects listed in the activity guide. That last one will be difficult as there are a lot of projects.

Some activities are easier. You make the types of food a person living in the time and place may have eaten. It’s a fun way to introduce your children to various cultures around the world.

Now a few projects are far more intensive like mummifying a chicken. It’s an activity I’m curious about, but I’ve never been quite brave enough to try.

The activities can help you tie history into other subjects such as fine arts. You can have the kids making Greek vases or looking at how books were made in Medieval times. Try their hand at Chinese Caligraphy or simulate drawing on a cave wall using paints and a paper bag.

These types of activities are fun for the kids. And they help your kids remember and understand the history they’re studying better.

My suggestion is to pick and choose among the various projects for the ones that fit your family’s needs the best.

The trick to using The Story of the World as your history curriculum is to take your time, enjoy the process, and choose the activities which fit your family’s needs the best! It’s an excellent history curriculum. And it will provide you and your children plenty of material to keep you busy and learning for years to come.

Story of the World:

Use Story of the World as your History Curriculum

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