Monday, April 27, 2015

Comparing Simply Charlotte Mason History with Mystery of History

I started our year with Simply Charlotte Mason (SCM) history, and mid-year switched to Mystery of History (MOH). This blog post is for anyone who may be comparing the two curriculums and trying to decide between them. If you're not then you can just skip this post and wait for the next one! :)

For reference, we did volume one of both curriculums which is Ancient History. 

This is SCM Genesis to Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt 

And this is MOH Vol 1 Creation to the Resurrection

Similarities between the two curriculums:

  • Both are programs written in a way that they can be used for all your kids to be studying the same slice of history at the same time. 
    • SCM schedules reading for the family together, as well as suggestions for "younger students" and "older students" separately. 
    • MOH can be read together as a family, and optionally supplemented using the Lesson Resources at the back of the book. It was originally written with middle aged students in mind (4th-8th grade) but is written such that it can easily be adapted for younger and older students too. 
  • Both are written from a bible-believing, young-earth perspective. 

  • SCM uses a 6 year cycle, whereas MOH uses a 4 year cycle (although it's recommended to slow it down a little when the oldest student is K-3rd grade, taking longer than a year per volume )
  • SCM schedules all 180 days. A few of these days at the end of each trimester are open for review or projects of your own choosing. MOH only schedules 3 days per week, leaving the other 2 days per week open for bonus reading (living books) or hands-on-activities (lap books, timeline, trivia review, simple related projects, etc.)
  • MOH covers a larger span of time (Creation to Christ rather than SCM's Genesis to Deuteronomy), so it moves at a quicker pace and is more of a world history course. It doesn't include every single bible story reference but it does a good job moving along with the course of world history, connecting the major bible events as it goes and showing how they fit in to both time and culture. 
  • SCM is primarily bible history with a little secular history sandwiched in-between to enhance the Bible portion. Very much of the text throughout Ancient History is scheduled Bible reading, and the rest is from living books that provide insight into the other goings-on in the world at that time. 
  • MOH is one big huge book...SCM is more of a teacher's manual that schedules your reading from various resources (like Bible and the other few books you need along with it).
  • MOH has suggestions for various small, easy, optional activities as you go (like building a ziggurat from legos after reading about Sumerians). SCM has a few "bigger" projects suggestions on their website intended to be used during a handful of days at the end of each trimester (like making a salt dough map of Egypt).  
  • MOH has built-in review. There are review exercises each week and each quarter, as well as optional challenge cards (question/answer cards to use in review games). 
  • SCM includes geography, MOH does not. 

Advantages to SCM:
  • The secular history readings from SCM are great! I loved the narrative from Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors. It really takes you into the heart of the culture you're learning about so you can picture it vividly.
  • If you want to learn more bible history than rest-of-the-world history, this is a great way to do it. 

Advantages to MOH:
  • It includes dates. SCM did not (at least in volume 1) and I had to look up dates for things we read about in order to include them in our book of centuries. 
  • If you don't want to get slowed down reading every bible story, but want the "larger picture" of where it fits in to world history, this is a great pick. 
  • I love the optional available resources that go perfectly with the MOH lessons. This includes print-ready lap books and print-ready challenge cards (review cards). SCM didn't have anything comparable. 
  • The History Through the Ages images (that I LOVE and would recommend using regardless of what history curriculum you use!!!) are noted with each lesson. 

Why I Switched:

Something that initially drew me to SCM was its bible connection, and the author is good not to insert doctrinal application of any sort. But since we don't need scheduled bible reading, as we already have our own, MOH ended up being a better fit schedule-wise. It connects the bible characters we are already learning about to the time and culture around them, and helps us place them within the framework of world history. If you aren't already reading the bible separately, you may prefer SCM, as it schedules your reading for you, as well as chapters from another book, "Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors" (a great book by the way).

My Thoughts After Switching:

I liked SCM, but MOH seems to be a better fit for us right now. We don't need scheduled bible reading because we have our own, and we don't need scheduled geography studies, because we have our own. I like that MOH moves faster too. That said, we really enjoyed how much we delved into the world of Ancient Egypt with SCM, whereas MOH only has a couple lessons on Ancient Egypt. 

MOH is an enjoyable spine to keep us moving along chronologically, but in my opinion it needs good living books used alongside it in order to make it complete. This seems to be the author's intention since at the back she lists resources that would go along with each lessonAnd the three-lesson-per-week-schedule is very conducive to doing just that, without getting terribly behind. 

My only complaint is that it isn't super-easy to choose and schedule the additional books... I had to go through her list lesson by lesson and then check Amazon reviews to figure out which books were worth getting since her notes weren't terribly descriptive. Although I did consider her book suggestions, I primarily relied on the book lists from SCM and Sonlight. Aside from figuring out my book schedule, it's been smooth sailing. 

I really appreciate how MOH "connects the dots" for us. For example, after learning about the Sumerian civilization, MOH pointed out that we already knew a famous Sumerian... Abraham! That helped us gain a better appreciation of Abraham's faith, because he walked away from a very advanced civilization of the day (with modern comforts of life... paved streets, running water, even flushing systems for toilets!!) to go follow God through the wilderness living in tents. 

I also really like that I can buy printable lap books that perfectly coordinate with our studies...  (This wasn't an option with SCM)

And the printable challenge cards are handy too. All I did was push "print." (Ok, I laminated them too. Of course.) 

Hopefully this review has helped you sort out which curriculum would be the preferable choice for your family. Regardless of what history curriculum you use I would definitely recommend checking out the History Through the Ages images and the Record of Time notebook. This was a major upgrade from our SCM Book of Centuries (granted, that one was free!). Before I didn't know where to jot things into our book of centuries, whereas now I have fabulous labeled, dated images printed out for my son to paste in to a truly lovely timeline notebook. This is not only WAY easier, but it looks WAY better. 


  1. We are doing SCM Modern to the Epistles. Which MOH book would I use?

  2. We are doing SCM Modern to the Epistles. Which MOH book would I use?