Curriculum Homeschool Ink Slingers Michelle Reviews


As the summer was winding down and our homeschooling year was about to start, I had been thinking a lot about what subjects the kids will take and how I will teach them. We typically sit down on our first day of school (the first Tuesday after Labor Day) and as a family discuss what everyone wants to learn about. Of course there are some things that are non-negotiable… we always have math, reading, science, and history on our list. However, we talk about what else the kids may want to learn.

As eclectic homeschoolers we don’t “school” in a typical fashion. We incorporate many ways of learning into our school year. We embrace school books but we also love to allow the kids the freedom to learn hands on through everyday life experiences as well as through discovery. This may mean they are knee-deep in videos about the ocean, reading books about the ocean, playing with seashells and starfish, or going on a field trip to the aquarium or the ocean when we are lucky enough.

Still, there are times that we love to use text books as well. Typically I have never invested much into a set curriculum. This is for many reasons but one of those reasons has always been the cost. As a large family who lives on a very set (and small) budget, some of the curriculum out there is just out of our means. We tend to accept hand-me-downs on a regular basis and fill our shelves with those textbooks. So when I was asked if I would like to review TAN’s The Story of Civilization (brand new even!) I jumped at the chance. Not only do I love TAN’s books (and I have found them to be pretty reasonably priced), but I also knew that my husband, being my help with history, would love it as well.

Imagine my surprise when my package arrived… not only did I have the textbook for the curriculum but it also included a 7 cd dramatized audio book set, an activity book, a test book, the teacher’s manual, and an amazing timeline we can put up on the wall! Seriously, this curriculum has everything I need to effectively teach about how our civilization began and was transformed through the years. With children who learn in a variety of ways, this set truly could reach each and every one of them in a unique way.


While the first volume, The Ancient World, was reviewed by our site already, I was blessed to review both the second and third volumes- The Medieval World (Vol. II) and The Making of the Modern World (Vol. III). The textbooks are an easy read… not that they are easy in content (they have great content!) but that they are engaging and easy to follow. This isn’t always the case for a history book. If you are like me you may remember those drab, boring history books from our childhood. These are nothing like those! Thankfully so! While they engage the reader as they teach history, they also teach our Catholic faith. Highlighting Saints and their contribution to history as well as showing how the Church has been a force to build society, these texts are an amazing lesson in both secular and Church history. The texts themselves are listed as a 5-8th grade read but they can easily be read aloud and used with younger or older ages as well.

The Teacher’s Manual is awesome as it not only gives questions for review but also includes additional information as well as activities, crafts, and snack ideas. Building on this is the Activity Book. Within the Activity Book you will find print outs of maps, prayers, coloring pages, puzzles, and drawing pages. These activities all go perfectly with the chapters within the texts. While TAN states that the Activities Book is geared more towards 1st-4th grades, I can tell you that my older kids loved helping the younger ones with some of the activities. TAN has found a way to incorporate all grade levels into their curriculum to engage and inspire our students.

The Test Book is geared towards 5-8th graders and includes multiple choice, true-false, and matching questions. There are tests for every chapter and the perforated edges in the book mean you can tear out the pages to photocopy each test so you can not only have enough tests for your children now but you can also save the book for later use if you have younger children you hope to use the book for later.

The package we received came with a video lecture series code that allows you to stream all the video lectures for the series. This gives you permanent access to the lectures! For kids who learn visually or engage better through videos this is a perfect addition to the series.

Finally, the dramatized audio books are great! They are easy to take along with you in the car, pop into a cd player with headphones so a child can listen to them on their own, or so you can listen to them together. The chapters on the audio books follow along with the text but are short and engaging lessons that don’t take much time and that just about any child can listen to without getting too antsy.

I’ll be honest and tell you that while I love history and can read up on just about anything history related, my kids have never been too wild about studying history. When they saw this curriculum arrive they were excited that I got a package but then groaned when I showed them what was inside. However, since using the curriculum (we started before our school year did!) they have since changed their attitudes towards history. They love the hands on activities and listening to the audio. They like reading aloud together from the texts and the older kids don’t mind taking the tests. We have not tried out the videos but I have no doubt that they will be amazing and engage my kids in a completely different manner as well. As TAN says, “Children should not just read about history, they should live it.” This curriculum has allowed my kids to do just that.


$14.95-$39.95 for individual items

$154.70 for the complete set


Intended for: families, anyone using schoolhouse model
Good for grades: elementary and middle school
Parent/teacher involvement level: moderate to high, depending on needs of student
Prep time: medium when used on your own
Teacher’s manual: available for purchase and used with the activity book
Educational philosophy: schoolhouse model
Catholic: yes

You can purchase all of these amazing parts of the curriculum as stand-alone products or you can purchase them as a complete set. While the school year has already begun, we want to bless one of our readers with a complete set of The Story of Civilization: The Medieval World as well as The Story of Civilization: The Making of the Modern World. This includes the textbook, the Teacher’s Manual, the Activity Manual, the Test Book, the 7 cd Dramatized Audio Book, and access to the online streaming Video Lecture Series.

If you would like the chance to win this amazing curriculum- BOTH volumes II and III of the Story of Civilization, please leave us a comment about why you would like the opportunity to win. We will randomly pick a winner on Friday September 28th.



Catholic Sistas was not paid to do this review – the publisher offered free materials in exchange for an honest review of this product. All reviews are current as of the publish date. If you notice that a review contains information that is no longer accurate, please email us at and we will be happy to amend this review.


To enter,

1) share this contest on any social media outlet, email to friends or family, or your local homeschool groups and tell us where in the comments


2) answer the following question in the comments below:

“Why do you want to win the complete set of The Story of Civilization, Volume II – The Medieval World AND
The Story of Civilization, Volume III- The Making of the Modern World?”


ONE lucky winner will win an ENTIRE set of The Story of Civilization – Volume II – The Medieval World as well as the ENTIRE set of The Story of Civilization- Volume III- The Making of the Modern World, which includes the textbook, test book, activity book, teacher’s manual, audio drama {CDs}, and the streaming video lecture series, and the timeline map, making this a value of $308! Good luck!


Congratulations Sarah Stechschulte!




Current Events Guest Posts Pope

If I Were Pope for A Day …

Real Life Radio, a Catholic Apostolate of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, sponsors an annual “Real Life to Me” essay. We at Catholic Sistas are pleased to be asked to share this year’s winning essay with our readers. The station asked the local Catholic school students to reflect upon what it would be like to be Pope. They pretended they were “Pope for a day”* and they wrote about all the details of what they would do – the causes they would champion, the places they would go, the people they would meet, etc. The overall winner was John Adaniel, a 5th grade student at Sts. Peter and Paul Regional School in Lexington, KY. You can hear John and the other finalists reading their essays on the radio by going to this Real Life Radio page.

Without further ado, it is our pleasure to share with you the winning essay of the “Real Life to Me” 2013 essay contest.

If I were Pope for a day …

John Adaniel reads his winning essay on the radio with Real Life Radio manager Leo Brown

I will marvel wonderfully on the thought God has given me the task to shepherd his flock here on earth and enjoy with gladness the trust he gave me. Then I will SIT to listen to his whispers and loving directions, while there I will praise him, feel him and thank him for all the blessings he has showered on his people, and from the lowness of the chair, I will reach out to the “UNs” of this world: the unborn, unloved, undocumented, unheard, unfed, unclothed, undesirables, and the unappreciated; those who did not do their homework and those who did not do well in school, that they may be Unchained from their afflictions and may they climb on my knees for comfort without hesitation. I will make the Chair of Peter a chair for gathering, harmony, compassion and not for judging others.

Then I will STAND to raise my hands up to offer all that I am, that I may raise up those that are low, struggling, weak, wounded and tired, from the cares of this world, that up there they may feel the restoring breeze and cool mist that comes from his rest and that they may realize that this is my job as their servant: to help them channel the Lord. I will continue to stand even if I myself get weary as long as everyone has the chance to be refreshed.

The I will RELAX, to free myself from overburden that which I myself made it to be. I will be full of care and free on the thought that Peter, our first Pope, had but his sandals and determination and trust in God when he first guided our church to where it is now. I will relax knowing that every few minutes somewhere around the world, a priest mentions my name during the mass and people pray for me. I will relax knowing that every few minutes bread and wine is being transformed into the true body and blood of our Christ–the one who put me here. I will relax knowing that whatever my decisions in church matters is directed from high above.

If I were Pope for a day, I will spend the whole day with others, because that’s why I’m here as a Pope, a servant, to share, to be shared, and to be partaken.

*Please note that we understand that not everyone is eligible to be Pope. This contest is simply designed to spark interest in our faith in a fun way.