Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ancient Civilizations and the Bible Review

Are you looking for a world history curriculum to use with your youngest learners?  Do you want a fun, easy, and flexible curriculum with a Biblical perspective? Are you wanting to ditch the textbook approach for teaching world history? Read on to find out how you can do it. Remember to click on photos to enlarge. 

I had the pleasure of actually meeting Diana Waring at the Mid-South Great Homeschool Convention in April.  My daughter and husband met her first and came running upstairs to tell me ALL about her and how nice she was to them.  My husband said, "She was really down to earth." Alyssa was giddy. I met her on my way to the restroom ... no joke. We stood outside the bathroom discussing her curriculum and Alyssa's abilities. The intriguing discussion lead me to wonder whether this curriculum would meet our history needs. It was an honor meeting such a dedicated, popular homeschool convention speaker that strives to reach out and help teach children Biblical truths in history.

Our Background
I was curious how Alyssa would react to Diana Waring's Ancient Civilizations and the Bible curriculum and if it would be possible to use it with her at such a young age. My daughter, Alyssa, is 4 1/2 years old - she will turn five in November. She is a little younger than the intended or recommended age for this curriculum (K-4th grade). When I taught second grade in a public school ... I dreaded teaching history.  I am definitely not a history buff. It was just one of those subjects that I didn't look forward to teaching or learning when I was younger. The textbook approach always made teaching the subject dry and boring. I searched for some way to make history more fun, interesting, and age appropriate for my daughter. This curriculum is a great way to expose young children to world history with a Biblical perspective and to spark a new interest in history.

Product Description
We were graciously given the History Revealed: Ancient Civilizations and the Bible Elementary Activity Book and 2 sets of audio CD's to review. This set was created by Diana Waring and published by Answers in Genesis. The activity book is suitable for children in K-4th grade. It is a companion or accompaniment to the elementary 5th-12th grade curriculum. I feel that the CD's are a foundational aspect of the teaching process and somewhat required for implementation of this curriculum. The topics on the audio CD's will most likely be too advanced for the younger children (K-2nd), however they provide a foundational amount of background knowledge for the parent. The audio CD's are geared more towards older elementary students. My daughter did listen, but I am not sure if or how much information she retained from the CD segments. She enjoyed listening to them and was excited to hear Diana's voice. We used them more as an audio exposure to world history. The 80-page activity book containing black-and-white text is in softcover or paperback format. This curriculum definitely takes on a Christian-based or creationist approach to history.  Do you want to hear more about her curriculum and practical tips - check out her You Tube channel!

What's Included?
The package that we received was the Junior Pack. This package includes the following products:
  • Elementary Activity Book (K-4th)
  • What in the World? CD Set: A fascinating four-disc collection revealing accounts in history which discusses accurate scientific evidence based on the Bible's authority about people, events, and civilizations while providing archaeological information.
  • True Tales CD Set: A three-disc collection containing historical and biographical vignettes of people, events, and more for the time period being studied.

Organized Structure
This curriculum is organized or structured into nine units beginning with "Creation and the Flood" (approximately 4004 BC) and ending with "Jesus Christ Immanuel" (29 AD). Each unit consists of four phases and covers the three main learning modalities throughout the curriculum: Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic. Each phase targets activities for different learning styles including the Feeler, Thinker, Sensor, and Intuitor. The learning styles mentioned are based on the Meyers-Briggs system and are explained further in the book. Don't worry! There is no need to have a thorough understanding of learning styles in order to implement the ideas in the book.  The author's brief introduction is the only thing needed and it is provided within the activity book. The author has also considered the eight mental intelligences when suggesting a variety of lesson activities.
There are nine units or topics to be explored using this curriculum:
  1. Creation and the Flood
  2. The Rise of Civilizations
  3. Egypt and the Exodus
  4. The children of Israel
  5. Assyria and Babylon
  6. The Persians and the Medes
  7. Greece and the Hellenists
  8. The Rise of Rome
  9. Jesus Christ, Immanuel
Each of the nine units should take approximately four weeks to complete. There are four phases or segments within each of the nine units that are meant to take you on a week long adventure in world history. The activity book can be completed in 36 weeks or one full school year if used this way.
Here is the break down of the four phases:
  • Phase 1: Introduces the child to the topic using the "Feeler" learning style. Your child will participate in reading activities and thought-provoking discussions. Each unit in phase one contained discussion questions. They will discover people and events from our history and listened to the audio CD's related to the topics.
  • Phase 2: During this phase your child will explore and discover new information using the "Thinker" learning style. This phase consists of word scrambles, word searches, crossword puzzles, and coded messages. 
This is one of the word searches from the book
  • Phase 3: This section contains hands-on activities including mapping exercises, mazes, arts and crafts, science experiments, and cooking activities.  These activities correspond to the "Sensor" style. 
  • Phase 4: Children creatively express what has been learned through drama, song, poetry, art, dance, and games etc. in the last phase using "Intuitor" activities. 
Would you like to see if this curriculum would work for your children? Click the link to view a sample of the Ancient Civilizations and the Bible Elementary Activity Book. There are also track titles for the What in the World CD or you can hear an audio sample of the CD. Scroll down to the "What in the World CD" and click on hear audio sample.

Initial Reaction
Hmmmm - how can I make this curriculum work for us this summer? I immediately noticed that there were more than five readings mentioned in Phase 1 and they were longer in length than I expected. Young students or children may not sit still long enough to hear the suggested Bible readings, so it may be beneficial for parents or educators to break the longer reading assignment into shorter reading segments throughout the day or week. I also felt several of the topics were very broad in scope and needed to be broken down a bit further for a more in depth study. There was a list of suggested books that looked absolutely wonderful! Unfortunately, we ran into problems obtaining the books the very first week of reviewing this product. One of the main reasons I was attracted to this curriculum was that it was literature-based, so I REALLY wanted to read the suggested book titles for the lesson or topic. Honestly, at first I was a bit overwhelmed with the structure of the curriculum. It was unique ... in a good way ... it was different from other history curriculums I have used in the past. Luckily, I had time to wrap my mind around the the big picture as I waited for the interlibrary book loans to arrive - which took FOREVER.  It was also much easier to implement after reading the introduction several times and glancing through the activities.  

How did We Use the Curriculum?
The Ancient Civilizations and the Bible Activity Book replaced our current world history curriculum for the duration of the summer. I wanted a more relaxed approach over the summer months while still completing meaningful, fun activities. It was a bit overwhelming for me at first. We tried to follow the flexible weekly lessons plans, but I lost track of time when preparing the house for the market. I did not get as far into the curriculum as I would have liked due to my schedule. We ended up spending approximately 30 minutes - 1 hour two or three times a week on history lessons from this curriculum. If Alyssa was not finished with a project and wanted to continue, then I allowed her some extra time and freedom to complete the activity.  It was suggested that you could spend one week per phase which means your family would complete the entire book after 9 months of use.  We chose to spread out the learning activities and readings and to add in additional activities to further enhance our study, so it will obviously take us longer to complete the units. We often used the audio CD's in the car while traveling. We will continue to use the curriculum until we are finished with the book. We may take a break soon for an upcoming move. This curriculum could definitely be used as a supplement to any chronological world history curriculum based on the Bible.

We also had a difficult time finding and obtaining the library books on the suggestion list as previously mentioned. We waited patiently for the books to arrive using the interlibrary loan system. I am grateful to have FREE access to books out-of-town without any charges. Our library is a little smaller than most and does not carry many Christian books if any. I had to just let go and accept the fact that everything was not going to work out the way I wanted it to. We missed a few lessons and needed to adjust a few days to make-up for lost time. We did not always follow the plan of doing one phase each week. At times, I found it easier to read to Alyssa and then do an activity related to the readings the same day. It lead to greater comprehension and interest. Other days, I had no choice if books were unavailable at the library. I also had to break up the Bible readings into smaller segments. A lot of information was covered and I didn't want Alyssa to miss the relevant or main purpose for the readings.  There were several occasions when Alyssa read aloud from my Bible. She did this a lot during one of our camping trips. Click the link to read about that trip.
Reading part of suggested material from my Bible
Working on her Noah's Ark Masterpiece 
Explaining her Noah's Ark Drawing
Alyssa's masterpiece of Noah and his family. The leveled ark contains a few small hard to see animals. She added arms to the people and more animals later that week. She laughed when she realized they were armless. 
Alyssa's Favorite Activities
Alyssa definitely has some favorite activities such as making stuffed dates and walnut sandwiches, sorting animals and plants, making musical instruments, creating a fossil, measuring the ark, the archaeological dig, the games, and of course all singing activities. Making the stuffed dates were so easy for her to do independently. She even made a small batch of stuffed dates for our friends. I think the sticky texture of the dates intrigued my daughter.  This was our first time eating dates.  We all thought the dates were yummy!
Delicious Stuffed Dates
Another favorite activity of hers was searching for fossils in a box of rocks we had collected from the front yard. She was thrilled when she found a shell fossil in one of the rocks. I added in this activity to complement the next activity.  
Alyssa enjoyed the next activity tremendously!  She was able to create her very own fossil. We bought clay from Hobby Lobby (40% off) she rolled it in a ball, flattened it out, and pressed the shell into the clay to form an imprint.  She also made an imprint of her hand. She rubbed in brown shoe polish and I sprayed it gently with hairspray. We will dig a hole later to bury her imprint in our new yard once the house is built.
Unfinished project
Least Favorite Activities
Alyssa's least favorite activities, surprisingly, were the mazes and creating masterpiece drawings. She did not complain when asked to "Draw a Picture of Noah, the Ark, and the Animals." She usually loves to draw pictures and figure out mazes. However, it was difficult for her to see some of the concepts using her imagination. For example, she was supposed to draw an ancient city ... something she has never seen before in books or on television. She told me, "Mommy I don't know what an ancient city looks like ... I don't want to do this activity." Later that day we discussed ancient cities further, we did a little research online, and we sculptured an ancient city together using Playdough. The mazes definitely seemed more appropriate for older children. Small print and lines were used making the worksheet seem busy. We did attempt to complete them, but she ended up giving up so we skipped the whole activity. The maze was honestly too busy for me too. I brought the maze back out the next day only to receive the same reaction.

The current retail price at the time of this review was $42.95 plus shipping costs for the Junior Package Deal #7 as seen here. Many other wonderful history curriculum and products are available for purchase. Click here to learn more about the History Revealed products. If you have multiple children, varying in ages, learning about the same topic, then you might want to consider adding one of the Ancient Civilizations packages suitable for children in 5th-12th grades to your shopping cart. This would enable the entire family to learn about the same topic together.  Click here to see samples of the curriculum for older children. The curriculum is cost-effective when compared to other curricula and can be used for ALL children depending on the products purchased.

  1. The curriculum uses a chronological approach to studying world history; the author gives a quick overview of the time period from Creation to Christ.
  2. The concepts within the curriculum has a Biblical perspective or worldview based on creationism. Children are taught how God was always in charge of historical events and how He influenced the people involved. The curriculum topic revealed God's hand in history and how he had a plan with a purpose. It teaches children an account of "His" history and His impact on the world. I loved that we were reading the Bible in order to understand history better and more thoroughly.  
  3. The activities are project-based in which learning modes and multiple intelligences are addressed. The children and the parent has a variety of choices as to which activities they would like to complete for the year or for individual topics. 
  4. Diana Waring is an extraordinary storyteller and was able to captivate both my daughter's attention and my interest.  She is very enthusiastic and you can tell she loves Biblical history. I could tell she had a love for history during our conversation in person too. I loved hearing the excitement in her voice. It really made me wish I was taught history differently! 
  5. If you have older children in 5th grade and up, then you can purchase the History Revealed: Ancient Civilizations and Bible for them while using the Activity Book with younger children - that means children can cover the same topics for the same time period while learning together. This makes the curriculum more versatile for families. 
  6. This is a multi-disciplinary curriculum - history was integrated with several other subjects including but not limited to Bible, science, math, language arts, music, and geography which helps the child make connections across disciplines. I loved how geography and other subjects were integrated into the world history curriculum.
  7. This curriculum can easily be integrated into a three-year history cycle. Diana Waring's world history curriculum is divided into three time periods each with their own scope and sequences meant to be used for one year (give or take). The time periods covered are Ancient History, Middle History, and Modern History. The activity book and CD's I reviewed are part of the first time period in a three-year cycle.     
  8. The guide was organized in an easy-to-read format with flexible scheduling options. 
  9. The curriculum is compatible with the Charlotte Mason's approach to teaching and learning history. Read this article prepared by guest expert, Catherine Levison. She also prepared a schedule on how Charlotte Mason home educators can use Diana Waring's History Revealed series. I teach using an eclectic approach but I love implementing Charlotte Mason's methods into our homeschool day. 
  10. The curriculum suggests and recommends living books and other popular literature for further discussion and exploration of topics. Literature is very important in our household. Alyssa was able to independently read aloud several of the books on the lists including the Bible.

Possible Cons
Remember that all learners have unique learning styles and needs. The next list contains possible cons which may not be the case for your situation depending on your child's learning style and needs. The approach to teaching may not suit your teaching style. I try to see things from several perspectives.
  1. The guide was organized, however there weren't step-by-step lesson plans which I prefer. The curriculum does not include daily lesson plans. It is more like a buffet of activities for the week. The parent will need to "pick and choose" what to do with their child or children. Depending on your teaching style, this could actually be seen as an item on the pro list. 
  2. The manual or activity book was overwhelming for me to use at first. I had to learn how to relax a bit while using the curriculum. I needed to learn how to be more flexible and be ready to make adjustments when necessary.
  3. I am not sure if this curriculum was originally intended for private, Christian school use. I do know that many of the activities mentioned seemed more appropriate for schools or co-ops rather than home educators with few children. Several suggested activities may be easier for large families, co-ops, or school settings such as the dramatic reenactments and games.
  4. The suggested books were difficult to find at our small library - several books were outdated or Christian-based. I found myself bringing back previously read books from current world history studies. I also researched additional titles to read aloud from other resources.
  5. I wasn't always sure when to play and stop the audio CD's since it was not noted in the activity book.  
  6. Your child may not be interested in all the activities for the four phases. You'll have to accept it and move on or adapt. Never force a young child to complete an activity if they are disinterested. 
  7. It was difficult at times explaining, making connections, or relating the activities we were doing to the reading of the books and audio heard after a week had past. It might be easier to read, listen, and complete an activity that is related in one day for the younger learners to help make immediate connections. There were also some activities, that although they were fun, we weren't sure how they related to what we read and heard in the unit such as making the stuffed dates. I think we either missed some of the details on the audio or the background knowledge of ancient times was assumed. I still need to listen to the audio again and read the book titles to confirm whether it was assumed or our loss for not paying close attention. With everything going on it is possible we missed pertinent information from the books or audio. 
  8. We had a difficult time finding a location for particular activities and the time to travel to the location to complete the activity.  For example, the "Measuring the Ark" activity. Our yard was too small so we needed to find a large open area to complete this activity. The closest park that I could think of at the time was 30 minutes away. We put this activity off until we figured out a time and place to go.  Once completed, it was another one of Alyssa's favorite activities. I forgot to bring the camera with me when we ran out the door. 
  9. I feel that the maze worksheets might be too difficult for some K-2nd grade children to complete. 
Possible Improvements
  • Provide more detailed daily lesson plan options and schedule help for those Type A personalities ... like myself.  I felt like I needed a little more direction. 
  • I would also suggest including more easily accessible book suggestions for each unit in addition to those already mentioned. I appreciate that the bulk of the learning is from the Bible.  Having access to more picture books and living books would help bring the topic alive. I would suggest adding more book titles to the suggested unit book lists. I found the Yahoo Group late in the game, otherwise I would have utilized this resource during he review period. 
  • Notations are needed in the activity book that guide the parent or educator as to when to play certain audio segments if CD's are purchased. After I got the hang of it, I managed to figure things out. Things worked well and lessons were smoother. It would make it easier though if all prep work was done.   
  • Another suggestion would be to create and offer leveled mazes for different age groups or grades levels. 
  • It might be beneficial to smaller families if adaptations or activity suggestions were added in the book to meet their needs. This is mainly for home educators with one or few children. It would limit prep time for those parents using the curriculum. 
  • Is it possible to create an additional audio CD meant for the younger children in K-2nd grade to be used in conjunction with the activity book? I know that the CD's sold now are meant for older children or adults, but it would be a great supplement to the curriculum.  Families could have children listen to the audio at their individual levels. 
Adaptations or Modifications
  • Break up reading into segments for younger children.  It may be difficult for the young children to sit for long periods of time and you want them to understand what you are reading. This meant that it actually took us longer to cover the unit topics since we needed to spend more time reading. You could graduate the length of the readings until your child gets used to paying attention for a particular amount of time. We listened to the audio on the day that we read if it applied to the daily topics.
  • We added in notebooking, lapbooking, and verbal narrations to help retain the information.
  • The games always seemed to need adaptations. The "Rhyme Time" game could not be played since I only have one child.  This is how we adapted and played the game. We played a game that I called "Rhyme Time - Noah, May I." I would call out an animal name and give her some time to think. Alyssa would say, "Noah (that was me at the time) may I please take two big hops using my two small feet." I would say, "Yes, if you can give me two rhyming words for the given animal name." If she responded correctly then she was able to take two big hops.  She won a kiss, high five, or hug once she reached her mama ... I mean Noah. You could also give two pairs of animals each time she reaches you to see how many animals pairs she can collect during the game. Then, you can skip count by 2's to find the total on the ark at that time.
  • One thing I found helpful during word scrambles and coded activities was to use letter tiles with Alyssa.  For the coded messages, I would have her remove all the letter tiles noted on the worksheet and then switch them out in order (left to right) using the key code. The coded word suddenly appeared ... it was as if mom were a magician! She realized quickly after a couple of words what we were doing and no longer felt the tiles were necessary. We used them for unscrambling the words too.  She removed all the necessary tiles and I told her to think back to what we read and heard on the audio CD's. She worked with the tiles and unscrambled the words successfully eliminating the need to erase mistakes on paper. We usually completed the word scramble activity over two days. Once the word was unscrambled, she wrote it neatly on her paper. I thought this activity would challenge her but it was a great fit.  

Complementary Products
We used many resources in conjunction with this curriculum. You may see several overlapping photos within my reviews. These items are definitely not needed with this curriculum, but were fun additions to our lessons.  Here are just a few we enjoyed.  This section will also contain links to reviews I have written about Zane Education and Map Trek products.
  • Notebooking helped Alyssa remember or retain the information taught and learned during lessons. We compiled them in her history notebook over time including all the activities from the activity book. We used products from Notebooking Pages to complement this curriculum when appropriate. Notebooking Publisher is also available if you are a treasury member - this allows you to create your own specific, custom notebooking pages for any topic.
  • Dynamic Moms Ancient CivilizationsAncient GreeceTimelines, and Bible notebooking and lapbooking resources were helpful.  If you haven't ever been to this website before it is wonderful! 
  • Map Trek Ancient Map Set - We incorporated map lessons as much as possible while using this curriculum. The activity book contains sufficient map activities already for young learners, but we were so excited about reviewing Map Trek simultaneously that I couldn't wait to see how well the two products worked together! We used the two products together in order to study more advanced geographical information and to extend on the learning topics. I used Knowledge Quest's Curriculum Integration Guide alongside Diana Waring's curriculum. In the photos below, Alyssa completed a map drill assignment. She studied Map Trek's "Descendants of Noah" map and then labeled it. She was given a list of the items to label in random order for spelling purposes.  She did quite well.  This was an extension activity we did during the use of our Ancient Civilizations and the Bible study. You can read my review to find out how I used Map Trek with world history by clicking the provided link. She did many map work activities throughout the curriculum. She has a new love and interest for mapping exercises. 
  • During the review of this curriculum, our family was blessed and won a copy of Reading Through the Ages by Trisms. This resource was extremely helpful and provided additional book suggestions to use for each unit especially when those on the list were hard to come by even through the interlibrary loan system.
  • The Big Picture Bible Timeline - This book can also be purchased through Veritas Press, Inc. I found my copy on Ebay several months ago and we absolutely love it. You could also use the Old Testament Timeline from That Resource Site (Resources for Catholic Home Educators) available on their website. You can remove any pictures or information that you don't want to use with your child due to their age of your belief system. We are not Catholic Home Educators and the resources on their website are still very high quality and helpful. I feel it is important to begin a timeline in order to help your children see the big picture and what's happening over time as you study world history. Alyssa's would place the Old Testament timeline pieces in sequential order based on our Bible readings from Diana's curriculum.
    That Resource Site Timeline
  • Zane Education - We watched Zane Education's Ancient Egypt History videos for elementary children since we have a subscription now. We also used their interactive research tools to look up and research unfamiliar ancient history vocabulary terms mentioned in the activity book or on the CD's.

Recommendation and Results
Yes, I would recommend this curriculum for advanced preschoolers through elementary children in K-4th grades especially for individuals looking for lessons plans that are open ... allowing for flexibility and choices. This curriculum can be used with home educators, co-ops, and private christian schools. The CD's make this curriculum a great option for auditory learners. Alyssa enjoyed learning about history through the Bible and I was pleased with what she remembered by actively participating in the activities. She always seemed to crave more information which led us on learning tangents. I was also able to relearn ancient history in a creative manner with my daughter. Adaptations can be easily made for younger children and families with few children. Remember not to let the curriculum guide control you; you decide which activities to do with your children and when you want to do them. This activity book and the accompanying CD's can be used as a supplement to any other world history creation-based curricula or as a standalone early exposure curriculum for younger children as I have done. It is a great understandable option for exploring world history. Diana's passion and love for Biblical history is contagious. Her storytelling makes history come alive and leaves you desiring to know more about the past. I do recommend that you spend time reading through the manual and listening to the audio CD topics before attempting to begin the curriculum.  Make any changes to the curriculum in advance, gather materials in ahead of time, and have fun with your children. I am sure you'll create meaningful and valuable memories throughout the year as we have done.

If you are looking for a history curriculum that is Bible-based, then Ancient Civilization and the Bible might be a good solution for your family especially if you are drawn to the unit study approach. So are you ready to purchase your world history curriculum or are you wondering if this curriculum is right for your family's needs? Click here to read more about this curriculum series and to determine if it will be the right choice for you.  If you do purchase one of her curriculum series, be sure to sign-up for her Yahoo Group where additional book lists, resources, and internet links are posted.  

If you have any questions about this curriculum please contact the company here. They can also be reached at 765-393-1818. You may want to take a peek at the FAQ section before contacting the company. I found the answers to several of my questions there before contacting them. Be sure to check out Diana's blog where she posts information about history activities and her curriculum. She also has a monthly newsletter you can sign up to receive titled, "Education That's Relational." Monthly promotions are offered in her newsletter along with tips and clips. You can also follow or become a fan of Diana Waring on Twitter or Facebook.  

Thank you Diana for the opportunity to review this curriculum and for be willing to work with my schedule!!!  

Disclaimer: I received Ancient Civilizations and the Bible Activity Book and two audio CD sets, at no cost to me, in exchange for a professional, honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by the product or company.


  1. This is a great review of History Revealed. We really enjoyed using this curriculum too!

  2. Thank you Jennifer! I really appreciate the feedback. Alyssa is having loads of fun with the curriculum this summer. Did you use the activity book, the full elementary curriculum for older children, or both?

  3. Lovely review. The pictures of your daughter are so special and they show what a joy it is to use this curriculum!

    We began using History Revealed when my daughter was 6yrs old, she is now 15 and loves it as much as ever.

    Enjoy your homeschool journey :)

  4. Wow! Your daughter is lovely and I am impressed at all she is doing.

    Prior to homeschooling, I too was a Texas public school (and private Christian school) teacher. Second grade was my main focus. The hardest thing for me was realizing homeschooling is NOTHING like the classroom. I still have my days, just tonight my daughter commented to her father that mom was using her "teacher" voice. :)

    Your daughter might find the educational games at Learning Games for Kids lots of fun. It is a free site to use.

    Best wishes to you both this year.

    My Attempt at Blogging
    Quaint Scribbles and 3 D Learners

  5. Jackie - Thank you for commenting on my review and thank you for recommending the website. I will have to look at it after our move. Best wishes to you this year too! It is CRAZY how different teaching is when it comes to homeschool. I love it ... the freedom ... the choices ... bonding and experiences ... and learning together. Stop by anytime to say hello.

  6. Bernie - I am so happy to hear that your experiences have always been wonderful using Diana's curriculum. It was truly a joy this summer! It is great when we can find curriculums that motivate and inspire our young learners.

  7. I am looking for a new world history curriculum right now! Thanks for this review! Your pictures are adorable!

  8. she is just adorable! :) great reviews! I will be browsing some more through them :)