Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Middle School Ancient History (grades 4-8)

Inexpensive Middle School Medieval History Curriculum

  1. Pick an interesting text to be your spine. For this grade/age range, we have used Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History, and A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer.
  2. Make notes of key words as you read. Begin by the teacher modeling this, and gradually have the student take over this activity. Have your student write a few sentences about what he has learned in his history notebook. If desired, add an illustration to the page, either sketched or copied from the internet. Another option is to use the Ancient History Portfolio, Homeschool Journey, which gives specific directions on what to write about and illustrations to add to the notebook pages. If you would like more information about how to teach  writing in a history notebook, you can look here.
  3. Read additional fictional books of the time-period. (Examples below.)
  4. Color and label an appropriate map and add this to the notebook so that it is across from the page he has just completed.
  5. Begin a timeline that covers the period you will be covering. After each notebook entry, mark significant dates on your timeline.
  6. Optional: Create a hands-on project that relates to the topic studied. (Examples below.)
  7. Feel free to further explore topics that come up during the study.

Lesson 1: Discovering the Past

This method can be used with students of varying abilities. Here is a page completed  by a student with learning disabilities  but the notebook page could equally be more complex for mainstream students. You know your student's abilities. Challenge them without frustrating them.

  • Read Archaeologist Dig For Clues by Kate Duke and find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork. Complete either the Lego-Sandbox Archaeological Dig or a Cake Archaeological Dig. Record a sentence or two about the archaeological dig in your history notebook. Include pictures, if you like.

Lesson 2: Pre-History



Quentin sketched this map of the area freehand, using the instructions from Mapping the World with Art by Ellen McHenry. It is hard to tell from the photo because he used the colors black and brown, but the modern names are labeled in one color and the ancient names, even if still in use are in another.


Lesson 3: Sumer and Akkad

  • Read the Gilgamesh Trilogy by  Ludmila Zeman.  Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.
  • Optional:  play the Royal Game of Ur.
  • Write in cuneiform by using the end of a disposable chopstick in paint on paper or just the indentations in clay. 
Lesson 4: Ancient Egypt
  • Make a list in your history notebook of the contributions of the Egyptians. Your list could include writing, pyramids, paper (papyrus), schooling, government, pharaohs, warfare, taxes, and farming. 
  • Learn about the social hierarchy of Ancient Egypt.
  • Describe in your own words how hieroglyphic script differs from sign language. (optional: Make a cartouche.)
  • Read Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green.  Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.
  • Begin reading The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw.  Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.

Lesson 5: Megalithic Europe

Lesson 6: The Indus Valley

 Lesson 7: Ancient Crete

  • How did the Minoans disappear?

Lesson 8: The Myceneans
  • Read a children's version of The Illiad.  Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.
  • Optional: Make a model of a Mycenean town. Make a game to review facts learned. Eat pomegranates. Make a model of the Trojan horse and retell the story. Play the board game, Illiad.
  • What inventions were created during this period of China's history?
  • Hands On: Play Chinese Chess. Have fun with Tangrams. Make an origami crane.
Lesson 10: The Hittites
Lesson 11: Babylon
  • Write a list of the characteristics of the Babylonians.
  • Look at a small sample of The Code of Hammurabi . What do you think of the Babylonian's belief in justice? 

Lesson 12: The Assyrian

Lesson 13: The Hebrews

Lesson 14: Egypt: The New Kingdom 

Lesson 15: The Phoenicians

Lesson 16: Ancient Africa

  • What did the introduction of camels and migration do for Africa?

Lesson 17: Ancient Americas- Olmecs

Lesson 18: Aryan India

Lesson 19: The Founding of Rome
  • Begin learning Latin.

Lesson 20: Babylon Revived

  • Read about Jeremiah and Daniel, prophets of this time period.
  • Add significant dates to your timeline
  • Review simple machines.

Lesson 21: Greek Dark Age

Lesson 22: The Zhou Dynasty in China

Lesson 23: The Persian Empire

Lesson 24: Classical Greek

Lesson 25: Greek City States

Lesson 26: Alexander the Great


Lesson 27: India: The Mauryan Empire

Lesson 28: China: The Qin Dynasty

Lesson 29: Africa

Lesson 30: Judea

Lesson 31: The Roman Republic

Lesson 32: The Roman Empire


  • Read Bodies From The Ash, Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii by James Deem. Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.
  • Learn more about Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii, Herculaneum and review volcanoes.Write a few sentences in your history notebook about what you have learned.

Lesson 33: Roman Life

Lesson 34: The Celts

  • Read Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey. Set in fifth-century Britain, the story follows a Celtic lad in service to King Arthur. Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.
  • Read Tales of King Arthur by James Riordan. Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.
  • Read King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green. Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.

Lesson 35: China: The Han Dynasty

Lesson 36: Christianity

Lesson 37: Parthians and Sassanids

Lesson 38: The Americas- Maya and Early North American

Lesson 39: The Gupta Dynasty

Lesson 40: The Decline of Rome

Lesson 41: The Barbarians

Lesson 42: Japan

  • Read "The Birth of Japan" and "The Luck of the Sea and the Luck of thr Mountain" in Tales from Japan by Helen and William McAlpine. These tales are traditional Kapanese creation stories grom the Shinto religion. Save the rest of the book to read next year.
  • Research the Shinto religion and write a one paragraph summary in your history notebook. Do you see some of the Shinto ideals in the stories you read?

Lesson 43: The Maya

  • Read the section on the Mayans in Incans, Aztecs and Mayans by John Holtzman. Make notes of key words as you read. Find a section that you can record in your history notebook as copywork.

Lesson 44: The Polynesians

  • How did the Ancient Polynesians travel?
  • Read about Easter Island. Make notes of key words as you read.Write a few sentences in your history notebook about what you have learned.

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