How We Use Mystery of History

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One of the things I love about Mystery of History is its predictable weekly routine. Lesson planning is greatly simplified because each week follows the same basic pattern. (Read my review here.)

Mystery of History: Weekly Activities

  • Pretest–an ungraded learning activity designed to spark the student’s interest in the next few lessons
  • Three lessons–each lesson covers one person or event with a reading selection and activities for three different levels
  • Memory cards–small summaries for each lesson are written on index cards for weekly review
  • Review activities–people and events from the week’s lessons are added to the timeline, and related mapwork is completed
  • Cumulative review–either a quiz or a worksheet that covers all material studied from the beginning of the course

So how does this look in a real homeschool week? Join us for a look at our first week of Mystery of History!

How We Use Mystery of History

Day One

Day One should begin with a pretest, which introduces the week’s lessons and builds the student’s interest. However, we rarely fit these into our schedule. Although I’m certain the pretests would be beneficial, I don’t believe they are absolutely essential. On to the lesson . . .

Kaylee and Keaton each read the day’s lesson individually. I had originally dreamed of reading the lessons aloud together, but both Kaylee and Keaton are avid readers and prefer to read and process information on their own.

Mystery of History lesson

After completing the reading, the children have the option of completing a related activity. Each lesson has a fabulous list of projects for younger, middle, and older students. These are not just “filler” or “busy work,” but real learning activities. Younger students generally have a hands-on project, while older students may do extra reading or research for a writing assignment.

While most families love Mystery of History’s wonderful activities, my children actually disdain hands-on anything. They would much rather read for hours than dig into a creative project. So while I’m a little disappointed that they aren’t interested in all the fun activities Mystery of History offers, I love that I can adapt the course to fit their learning style.

Notebooking with Mystery of History

Instead of doing the suggested activities at the end of the lesson, Kaylee and Keaton complete a notebooking page about what they have learned. I also have plenty of related historical fiction and non-fiction books for them to read as a supplement to the daily lessons.

For this lesson, the children completed a notebooking page about Creation. They each wrote what they felt was most important from their reading; then they colored the picture. Keaton also read the first chapter of Adam and His Kin by Ruth Beechick. (Kaylee was engrossed in another book at the time.)

Mystery of History Notebooking Page

Day Two

Today’s lesson is about Adam and Eve. After reading the lesson silently, Kaylee and Keaton completed their notebooking pages. Keaton also read another chapter or two in Adam and His Kin.

Mystery of History notebooking page

Day Three

Today’s lesson is entitled “Jubal and Tubal-Cain.” Both kids were interested in learning more about these important but little-known Bible characters. After reading the lesson, each child completed a notebooking page with a summary of what he/she read. Keaton continued reading Adam and His Kin.

Notebooking page for Mystery of History

After completing the lesson on day three, students should make the memory cards for the previous three lessons. I have to confess that we have not gotten our memory cards started yet. I do believe that the continuous review is essential for reinforcing what has been learned, so we WILL be getting to these soon. Hold me to it, won’t you? 

Day Four

After completing three lessons, it’s time for a review! The review activities consist primarily of updating the timeline and doing mapwork.

Mystery of History timeline

Kaylee and Keaton keep individual timeline notebooks. (I’ll be sharing more about the timeline notebooks in the next week or two.) Both children color timeline figures for the lessons they’ve covered earlier in the week. After coloring the figures, they cut out around them and use a scrapbook adhesive to adhere them to the timeline pages.

Download FREE timeline notebook pages to make your own timeline notebook!

Timeline notebook page

Day Five

Day Five is used for cumulative review. Students complete either a quiz or a worksheet that reviews all the material they have studied since the beginning of the course.


I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a peek into how we use Mystery of History! We are truly loving our study of history this year. In fact, just a few days ago I heard Keaton say, “This is the best history I’ve ever had!” I don’t think I could praise it any more highly than that.

Favorite Resource This Week


  1. We are loving MOH this year too! It’s nice to see a look at another person’s routine :).

  2. We love MOH here, also! We’ve on our third year using it. I’ll tell you how I’ve always used the pretest. I don’t use it as a pretest, but I do use it as a quick oral quiz at the end of the week, just to see how well my son comprehended & learned. It takes just a couple of minutes and has worked great for us in this way.

    • Great idea, Cam–thanks for sharing! It’s so nice to hear from others who love MOH–and it’s awesome that you’re in your third year! Thanks so much for taking time to comment. :-)

  3. Jolanthe (@jolantheerb) says:

    We’re in our second year of MOH and love it – we use the quizzes at the end of the week and are still getting in our timeline groove. :) Our kids love the coloring pages that go along with the weekly lessons too – makes it great for the younger kids as they listen in.

    • We have not used the coloring pages, but I think they would be a great addition for younger children. It’s so nice to hear from another family who enjoys MOH! :-)

  4. I love the timeline notebook. I would use that! I’m really starting to get serious about finding home school curriculum–this post is very helpful!

    • Nice to hear from you, Catie! I’m so glad that this was helpful for you. If you are interested, the timeline pages are available as a free download. The kids seem to be enjoying their timeline notebooks–they are definitely helpful in keeping people and events in the right time in history!

  5. Loved this! I am thankful my kids are enjoying me reading aloud to them. I think that is one of the reasons why *I* am enjoying it so much. I also love that they give several activities for us to choose from. You are correct that we can tailor this to a child’s learning ability. Thanks for linking up! Looking forward to seeing all that you do in your schooling!

  6. Thanks for sharing this post at Favorite Resources!

  7. Thank you for sharing. We just finished Vol I. We didn’t do the hands on things either — some of that is because mom didn’t push it.

    • I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who doesn’t do the hand-on projects–it always seems such a shame to skip all those neat ideas! :-)

  8. I just purchased Mystery of History 1 and the cd’s. They haven’t come yet, but I am a little overwhelmed with all the curriculum I have been looking at. Can you tell me exactly what you purchased to go along with book 1? There are color pages, timeline pictures, cards, etc.. I saw that you made your own timeline pages. Thank you for sharing. I was just wondering if you purchased the coloring pages, folder pages, notebooking pages, and the challenge cards in the supplemental sets or just the history through the ages figures. Thanks!

    • Hi Jennifer,
      I think you’ll love Mystery of History–I know we do! I only purchased the book and the notebooking pages (and the timeline figures–love them!). My kids are “hands-off” learners and are not interested in the coloring pages or folder books. I originally started out making my own notebooking pages, but it got more and more burdensome as the year went on, so I bought the pre-made set and I really like them.
      I would recommend picking just a couple extra things to do, along with reading the text. For us, it’s notebooking and timeline, along with lots of extra books since my kids love to read. Your choices may be totally different. :-) Hope that helps!

  9. Yes, that does help! Thanks so much. I am looking forward to MOH with my daughter. It came in the mail yesterday, and she wanted to read it right away.

  10. Thanks so much for the helpful tip! We will surely apply it to our homeschooling. Please keep it coming!

  11. Amanda Hankins says:

    Thank you for the free download! I was wondering if you change the size of the figures or do you leave them the size they are?

    • Amanda, I used to use the full size (wall size) figures, but found that some pages got overcrowded. So now I print them out notebook size (from the CD), and they fit much better. If you are using the reproducible figures instead of the CD, you can shrink them a bit so they’ll print out smaller. Hope this helps!

      • Karen Jones says:

        Are they from the reproducibles CD? I love the look of them. I will be teaching MOH I to a coop class this fall and am trying to gather resources. I did not know where to get good timeline figures

  12. I’m hoping to start MOH this year. Thank you for posting examples of your children’s notebooking pages. They did a great job on them. Beautiful penmanship! How old were you children when they produced these notebooking pages? My girls are 1st grade and under so we’re just getting started and I could sure use a few pointers. How did you get them to this point of knowing how to write a summary of what they’ve read/heard? Was there a special method or curriculum you followed (or did you just know how to do it)? Thanks!

    • Hi Shawna,
      I apologize for the delay in replying–our baby was born Dec. 19 and I’m still catching up. :-)
      My son was 11 when he completed the notebooking page in this post. I didn’t really follow any particular method or “rules.” Basically I asked him to write down the things that he felt were most important or most interesting. I tried to keep the requirements simple: full sentences with a capital letter and ending punctuation. (He hadn’t had much experience with writing when we began notebooking.)
      I hope this helps you a little. Notebooking is a great learning tool!

  13. Heather Clarke says:

    I know I’m coming to this post quite late :) I found it while googling MOH daily lesson plans. I am going to use this curriculum in the fall. I was wondering where you got your notebook pages? Also, do you have a list of read alouds that you liked? We are working on Volume 2 this year.

    • Hi Heather! I made the notebook pages in PowerPoint, using timeline figures from the Homeschool in the Woods timeline CD. Partway through the year I started using the ones from Bright Ideas Press, and we LOVED them! They actually have several formats, including one that uses questions/prompts to help kids get started. I can get you a link if you are interested.

      As for reading, I looked but couldn’t find a list of the books we used. I think all of them were from the list in the MOH book. I remember that we read Adam & Eve, and Adara, and about a half dozen more. Not much help, I know! :/

  14. Camille Williams says:

    Just came across this, and am wondering (since this is a few years old) if you have more updates of MOH? We are entering our second year of using it, and love to see others examples!

    • I’m sorry, Camille, but I DON’T have any further updates. MOH is still my favorite world history curriculum, and when we use it in the future, I will definitely be documenting it! :)

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