• Secular History/Social Studies Curriculum

    My first foray into the world of history and social studies was via the Sonlight Curriculum. Nowadays, the folks at Sonlight are very open about their Christian leanings, but back in the day it was much less "out there." And the thought of a literature-based curriculum made me giddy. I think my kids were in 2nd and 4th grade, so we split the difference and ordered the third grade core package. When it arrived, I felt like it was Christmas all over again. The smell of all those beautifully packed childrens' books alone was worth the (overwhelming-for-a-homeschooling-family) price of the year's curriculum!! And as I flipped through the teachers guide and different subjects, I was so excited about each and every item I pulled from the box UNTIL I got to the history books. Stories about Christian missionaries, Euro-Centric drivel, and "history" books using sweeping mentions of young-earth creationism were packed in right alongside some excellent books that I still keep and reference to this day. I felt a wee bit nauseated. And quite cheated out of some serious bucks. Oh, to have had the great online resources I find now about how to "secularize" these type of curricula!!

    And even MORE helpful would have been a list like the following - - of Pre-Secularized History/SS Curriculum! I haven't had quite as much time to research this list as the other ones, so I hope you will help me by providing your favorites not listed here in the comments below. And before you ask, SOTW and CHOTW and similar titles aren't listed here on purpose. I know there is a huge debate over whether they are secular or not, and for the purposes of this list, I wanted to focus on 100% secular programs and titles. But I promise that I will deal with the "can-be-secularized" ones in the near future, okay? Thanks!!!

    Chester Comix Critical Thinking in US History Focus on US History
    Genevieve Foster Books History at our House History Odyssey
    Learning Through History People, Places, & Principles of America Short Lessons in US History/World History
    Little History of the World Young People's History of the United States Mosaic World History
    Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Exploration Usborne History Books World Atlas of the Past Series
    World History: Patterns of Interaction World History for us All Complete Book of U.S./World History (Carson-Dellosa)
    History Pockets Magic Tree House
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. dottieanna29's Avatar
      dottieanna29 -
      I didn't know History at our House was secular. I guess I saw it talked about on other forums and assumed it was Christian. I'll have to take a look at it.
    1. dbmamaz's Avatar
      dbmamaz -
      I am currently using two books - Asimov's Chronology of the world - which my 14 yo is reading, but its clearly not a curriculum, and a Little History of the World - which I think is totally secular but also very eurocentric, ends . . . 50 years ago? more? but is aimed at kids.

      World History for us All - thats the website, right?
    1. farrarwilliams's Avatar
      farrarwilliams -
      Here's what I always wonder - why, oh why, is History Odyssey considered secular while Story of the World is not, when Hillyer's A Child's History of the World and Story of the World are both used as texts? Is it just because it's from Pandia Press? Is it because other books are used as well to balance them? I'm not talking it down, I just never get it.

      Is Joy Hakim's Story of US not secular? I thought it was, but maybe I'm wrong.
    1. WindSong's Avatar
      WindSong -
      Quote Originally Posted by farrarwilliams View Post
      Here's what I always wonder - why, oh why, is History Odyssey considered secular while Story of the World is not, when Hillyer's A Child's History of the World and Story of the World are both used as texts? Is it just because it's from Pandia Press? Is it because other books are used as well to balance them? I'm not talking it down, I just never get it.
      We have both SOTW Ancient Times and HO Level 1 Ancients. We are following the HO curriculum which doesn't include the chapters from SOTW on the stories of Abraham and Joseph, Moses and the Exodus, Saul, Solomon, David and the story of Jesus which is told using Bible stories and Biblical quotes. HO leaves it as an option for those who wish to read those chapters on their own, but they aren't part of their curriculum.
    1. dbmamaz's Avatar
      dbmamaz -
      OH, yes, of course Joy Hakim's Story of Us is secular - why was I thinking this was World History only? Chester Comix is not really a curriculum, so I wonder if HOrrible Histories counts too? And Intellego has some unit studies on history.
    1. farrarwilliams's Avatar
      farrarwilliams -
      If it's just good, comprehensive history resources, then surely A Young People's History of the United States (the young reader's edition of the Howard Zinn classic) should be listed. But then, what constitutes a "curriculum"?
    1. Topsy's Avatar
      Topsy -
      I know...I have a really difficult time constructing in my head what makes up a "curriculum." I FEEL like it is whatever strong resources people use to make up the core or at least a strong supplemental aspect of their homeschooling with. If it's just a magazine they pick up once and use and then toss, then obviously - - not curricula. But if it is a book used over and over in the study of a subject - - even if it isn't technically designed to be a curriculum - - then I say include it, you know? Tough one...and I'm sure I'll make some wrong decisions when it comes to what to include and what not to along the way...
    1. Teri's Avatar
      Teri -
      I know I sound like a broken record. I just want to make sure that the list is inclusive. MBTP is secular. The social studies/history and the science units can be bought separately. As can the literature/language arts units.
    1. dottieanna29's Avatar
      dottieanna29 -
      Howard Zinn's A Peoples History of the US was the spine for a college US History course I took (could be used in a upper high school level class), so I would think that and the Young People's version, should be included.
    1. Cerri's Avatar
      Cerri -
      Have you looked at the Mosaic History Curriculum? http://bringinguplearners.com/mosaic/ It is free, it is secular, it offers a choice of spines. The one I would pick would be LHOW. It is secular and well written by an actual historian as opposed to Bauer's HOTW which is neither secular nor well written (or researched). Just a thought.
    1. Topsy's Avatar
      Topsy -
      Thanks for the continued suggestions, folks! I'll get the chart updated soon...
    1. fbfamily111's Avatar
      fbfamily111 -
      With History there are so many really good options that aren't a "curriculum" per se. Usborne and Kingfisher come to mind as great spines. Also there's K12 Human Odyssey vol. 1-3 with or without the $$ online option. Another good resource is Complete Book of World History, or CB of US History. Again I wouldn't call them complete curriculums but a really good place to jump off from.
    1. CyndiLJ's Avatar
      CyndiLJ -
      We absolutely love Connect the Thoughts for Social Studies. It is very critical thikning oriented, extremely thorough, and incorporates web site links, you tube videos, movies, etc. Fantastic curriculum all the way around, we will use it all the way through high school. www.connectthethoughts.com
    1. naturegirl7's Avatar
      naturegirl7 -
      Its not really a curriculum, but it is a great resource(especially when you pair it with a good book like Usborne). History Pockets!
    1. naturegirl7's Avatar
      naturegirl7 -
      I also like Magic Tree House to get younger kiddos "hooked" on a historical period.
    1. patriciahe's Avatar
      patriciahe -
      Thank you for sharing this list. I had downloaded the free trial for History Odyssey and have been following it for the last couple of weeks or so. We liked it so far. But I just stumbled upon the free mosaic ancient history and loved it too. I specially like that I got the two spine options, one of them is Little History of the World which you list here as completely secular. I looked at the preview in Amazon and the narrative seems wonderful for children --and yes, adults too. I think that along with the excellent Usborne Encyclopedia of the World will truly make for solid, secular spines.
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