Middle School History:  The Age of Exploration through the Renaissance

Taught by Christina Wassell

Taught by Christina Wassell

[two syllabi, to be taken individually or over the course of two years, in any order]

Join us on an amazing survey tour of the world, where our motto will be “Build the mental timeline!” Over two academic years, our goal is to begin at the beginning, as we explore the rise and fall of major civilizations from the time of the earliest farmers in Mesopotamia right up through the Age of Exploration and the discovery of the New World. What did these cultures value? What lasting contributions did they make? How does Western Culture as we know it harken back to those who went before us in ancient, medieval, renaissance or Reformation times? How have changes in the human understanding of law, community, and our relationship to God shaped the world we live in today?  Perhaps most importantly, what can we learn from history about living ‘the good life’ ? 


The two texts for the course are:

The European World, 400-1450 by Barbara Hanawalt


An Age of Voyages, 1350-1600 by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks

Both are from the series “The Medieval and Early Modern World” by Oxford University Press.

These texts are very well done, with a nice mix of text, pictures of artifacts and primary sources to look at.  Expect between 10 and 15 pages of reading per week.  Each book can be purchased new for around $30, and a bit less used at various book sellers online.  Please contact New Hope if this poses a difficulty for your family.

In Class Work:  Lively Discussion

Projected slides will be used in class each week to further explore artifacts, art, architecture and primary source documents for the events and cultures under study.  The slideshow usually provides the structure of class discussion as it rehashes the reading and invites questions and further connection with the material.  Often helpful clips or video segments help bring the material to life as well.  

Student Work:  The Archive

Each student will create an artifact of their learning in the form of a bound book which we call ‘The Archive.’  We will dedicate a double page spread to the history under study each week which might include maps, sketches, important events, diagrams, or drawings as the student chooses.  Guidance will be given each week about “sifting information” so as to make good choices to add to the Archive.  Techniques will be presented on clever and creative ways to present information in order to create a personal keepsake that represents real learning.  One double page spread of work is assigned each week.


Each student must purchase an 11X14 solid or spiral bound sketchbook, 65lb paper or higher, at least 60 sheets.  Many students find the spiral bound books hold up better, but a plain, hardback cover is preferred to a paper one with a company’s label.  

These usually run around $20… here is one ideal, $20 example (the label peels off). See link under the book to the right to order.

Returning students are welcomed and encouraged to continue their Archive from the previous course.

Each student is strongly encouraged to keep a Book of Centuries, where events can be recorded so we can notice the ‘overlap’ of cultures, people, and events through time.  Pictured and linked below is an inexpensive version, though there are also more beautiful ‘keepsake’ versions available.  Students are welcomed and encouraged to continue one they may have already begun in previous homeschool years.  Please contact me if you’d like to hear more about keeping a Book of Centuries as a powerful tool to continue into high school and even adulthood.  Nothing helps build the mental timeline more effectively!  Again, not required, but strongly encouraged.


Academic Year 2018-2019 (for reference)

Readings will be assigned each week from two Usborne history books (these will be provided by the instructor for a group rate fee), usually between 2 and 12 pages of highly illustrated text.  

Each week’s reading will also include one or two ‘living stories’ which will look at the biographies of the central individuals in the story of each civilization as it rises and falls, or at the story of key events.  These will be PDFs provided by the instructor (between 10 and 20 pages of reading each week).  They can be printed or read on a device based on personal preference.  (no cost)