History Odyssey: Ancients


History Odyssey Ancients is a year-long homeschool history curriculum for middle school students ready to learn independently. The course takes a multi-disciplinary approach by incorporating history with language arts and world geography.

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History Odyssey Ancients

Grade level: 5th through 8th

Pages: 129

Course type: Study guide (See the Booklist tab for the resources required to complete this course.)

What is History Odyssey Ancients?

Ancients is a year-long homeschool history curriculum for middle school students ready to learn independently. The course takes a multi-disciplinary approach by incorporating history with language arts and world geography. As students work their way through the course, they complete reading and writing assignments as well as work on maps and a timeline. These components come together to create a comprehensive homeschool history curriculum covering ancient times.

History Odyssey Ancients (“Ancients”) is a secular homeschool curriculum, meaning it does not present religious beliefs or texts as historically factual accounts. Rather, it references them as another source or perspective to be considered.

Ancients is the first of a four-part series of history guides. While each course can be completed without having done the others, it is best to start with this course as it lays the groundwork for skills needed in future courses.

What Resources and Materials Do I Need?

In addition to this study guide, you will need:

  • The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, reference spine for the course
  • Access to other reference material via the library or internet
  • The History Odyssey Timeline or supplies to make a large-scale timeline
  • A detailed world atlas
  • Colored pencils for mapwork
  • 3-ring binder with dividers and lined paper
  • Books from the original and/or alternative booklist for literature study units. See the Booklist tab for a complete list of books needed.

The study guide incorporates all six books from the original book list into the course. These are the books your student will need if you do not make any adjustments to the course. However, as an update, we have curated an alternative book list to present a wider range of perspectives on world history. Students can choose to replace or supplement books on the original list with the corresponding book on the alternative list.


Who Can Use Ancients?

Fifth through eighth graders learning at home or in co-ops, learning pods, micro-schools, or charter schools can use Ancients as their primary history curriculum. So students can work independently, the study guide is written directly to them in concise, easy to understand language.



Students should be comfortable writing complete sentences and reading for comprehension independently before starting Ancients.


Flexible Scheduling

Most of the 72 lessons are organized into bite-sized chunks intended to be completed in one sitting. This helps students manage their time wisely. Students can expect to spend roughly 1-2 hours per lesson several days per week in order to complete the course in one school year. The exact schedule can ebb and flow as needed.


What Material Does Ancients Cover?

Students will learn about events that occurred from approximately 20,000 BCE to 500 CE. Major areas of study include:

  • Significant achievements of the earliest civilizations
  • Defining characteristics of ancient societies in Eurasia, the Americas, and Africa
  • Ancient Egyptian culture
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • The rise and fall of the Roman empire


What Skills Will Students Learn in this Course?


Critical Thinking/Multiple Resources

The foundation of the History Odyssey methodology is the idea that gathering information from multiple resources is the key to a sophisticated, well-rounded grasp of history. In this course, the seeds are planted for developing critical thinking skills.

Most lessons assign readings from the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia as a way to introduce the material. However, as they work their way through the course, students will become accustomed to using primary sources such as the Code of Hammurabi along with biographies, novels, and myths to round out their investigations.




Reading historically significant literature is an integral part of this course. Students will read:

  • Egyptian myths
  • Greek myths and classic literature
  • Fiction set in ancient times
  • Descriptive sketches of the Egyptian pyramids (alternative book list)
  • Mexican myths (alternative book list)

See the book list tab for a complete list of resources used throughout the course.


Written Expression


Writing assignments focus on two-level outlines, frequent short summaries of the readings, and the occasional full-page length summary.

The course gently guides students through the summary and outlining process. In early lessons, substantial support is provided. For example, short, fill-in-the-blank statements serve as the summaries for the first lesson. Soon thereafter, students are expected to craft their own sentences, and eventually paragraphs, about a specific event, place, or person from the reading.

Similarly, students will learn to extract main ideas to outline material. Initially, outlines are provided for the students to build from. Later, students are expected to write them on their own, perhaps using the suggestions provided for main ideas.



Almost every lesson allocates time to mapwork and adding events to the student’s timeline. By working on these together, students can begin to see the events of history as a product of both time and place.

There are 21 outline maps included in History Odyssey Ancients. Students will label countries, cities, bodies of water, cultural regions, empires, invasion patterns, trade routes, migration routes, and more. Additionally, they will frequently compare ancient political and cultural boundaries with modern ones to envision those differences on the physical landscape.


Lesson graphic HC


Timeline Construction

Students will maintain a timeline of ancient history. They can construct their own or use The History Odyssey Timeline. Each lesson provides a list of significant dates and events to add to their timeline as the events are covered. Additionally, there are three lessons throughout the course dedicated to studying their timeline to ensure they have a solid understanding of how events are oriented in time.


Important Copyright Information: If you choose the eBook version of this course, you are purchasing a license to use the PDF for your own children. You may make copies for your own children, but you may not share (email, download, print and distribute, resell, etc.) this eBook or any portion of this eBook to others.

Licensing is available for group, school, and co-op use. Please contact Pandia Press for details on group licensing (info@pandiapress.com).

The following books must be obtained apart from this study guide. You may use any version, eBook, or print edition of these books. If you plan to purchase these books from Amazon, we appreciate you using the direct links below. There is an alternative booklist available for this study guide.

Main Reference Spine: The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (1999 or newer edition)
Optional Additional Reference Spine: The Story of Mankind* by Hendrik Willem Van Loon (optional)

The History Odyssey Timeline from Pandia Press (or a homemade timeline)

Other Required Books:
Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green
The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
The Children’s Homer by Padraic Colum
Greek Myths by Olivia Coolidge
Theras and His Town by Caroline Dale Snedeker
Caesar’s Gallic War by Olivia Coolidge

*The Story of Mankind: Due to the polarizing nature of The Story of Mankind by Hendrick Van Loon, it is optional reading in this level two course. It should be considered a possible resource for gathering information. If students choose not to read TSOM, they might need to seek out other resources on the Internet or at a library in order to complete some of the lessons. There is a free eBook edition of TSOM available at: www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/754.