Hold That Thought: History Volumes 1 and 2

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I have a houseful of active, writing-resistant sons, and I am always on the lookout for materials that not only encourage my boys to write frequently, but also encourage them to write well. History, Volumes 1 and 2, from Hold That Thought have turned writing in our history studies, and the historical overlaps into science, religion, and the fine arts, into an activity that we all enjoy. The pages produced by the children are original reports that have filled our notebooks and our heads with unforgettable details, while documenting our studies and providing a pleasant means of review. The children themselves are proud that their efforts look so professional and polished. I am thrilled that it is so easy!

Each CD-ROM contains hundreds of files in pdf format that can be easily printed at home on either a PC or a MAC, demanding no flash trips to the copy shop or weeks of pre-planning. Volume 1 covers the highlights of world history from ancient times through the period of European exploration in over 350 worksheets. Volume 2 begins with European exploration, continues with United States history, and concludes with modern world history in over 600 worksheets. Don't be misled by the term "worksheet". These are not fill-in-the-blank worksheets, but more like "picture pages" that include a picture that can be colored as well as lines for the student's writing. Pages feature important biographical characters, events, geographical regions, and even architectural achievements; the range of Who? What? Where? and When? are available. Detailed content lists are available at the publisher's website.

In addition to these picture pages, the CD-ROMs contain many special features. I especially like the "first draft" sheets that are available to help more inexperienced writers with identifying important information that should appear in their reports. One of my boys loves the newspaper-reporter style of some of the historical event worksheets. Suggestions for extension activities and coloring pages are included for some events, and outline maps are another convenience.

Because the contents are extensively indexed and cross-referenced alphabetically and by date, these CD-ROMs can be used equally well by families who prefer textbooks to those who prefer a "living books" approach to those who utilize unit studies. Our family uses the IEW writing method (reviewed elsewhere) with a classical approach to history, and we have found a seamless mesh using these worksheets. Unlike materials that contain preprinted text, there are no interpretations of historical details that require editing or quibbles to reflect our beautiful Catholic faith. The producers of these materials are Christian, and significant religious figures have been included. However, don't expect to find all of the Popes or lesser-known Catholics; more generic pages can be used for these people.

These CD-ROMs make notebooking a pleasure and provide a concrete way to summarize a child's study, using his or her own words and work. The pages can be used to make special topical notebooks, added to a Charlotte Mason-inspired Book of Time, used to enhance daily work or formal assignments, or even included in an annual portfolio. I can also imagine using the sheets in 4-H reporting projects, Scouting reports and merit badge work, co-op classes, or even using the pictures to make posters. The liberal copyright allows the contents to be used by the purchaser's own immediate family or for any class that the purchaser teaches, so long as no money is charged for them. Finally, I must note that the customer service that I received was exceptional. My order was received very, very quickly, and a minor problem was straightened out immediately and far more generously than I have experienced before. All things considered, Hold That Thought's History Volumes 1 and 2 are our family's "top pick" of new materials for this school year.

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