BrimWood Press Review: What Every Child Needs to Know about Western Civilization

BrimWood Press history and worldview curriculum for homeschool

     History is my middle child's favorite subject, so I try to find things that challenge her while continuing to develop that interest. This "jet plane course" through the history of Western Civilization met and exceeded my expectations. BrimWood Press sent me their history bundle of three books (designed for grades 5-8) for the purpose of this review.  Designed to cover the history of Western Civilization in a month, we started it near the end of our school year and have so far enjoyed eight lessons. My children have learned several key players in the covered eras of history, and using the tools they have created with this program they can discuss at least three important contributions from each era. 

how we used it: 

     While designed as a history curriculum, the benefits are far more than learning historical facts. My daughter recently expressed an interest in reading more fantasy books. We looked at several at the library and bookstore, but it wasn't easy finding books that fit that category that were both interesting and appropriate. Calendar Quest is a fiction time travel novel about two children from the 21st century who travel through time in a refrigerator box with Father Time and two pets. The story sets the scene for the study of fourteen different periods in history as the refrigerator box lands in the region that our children study. 

     For ease of understanding, a few liberties have been taken in the historical fantasy storybook. Language throughout the story is the same. The characters always understand each other’s speech no matter where or when the refrigerator box lands in time. Humor is incorporated throughout the story such as the play on words with Father Time’s bag full of dates. The young boy Evan often replaced the significant historical character’s name with a similar word which could help the children listening to remember as they called out the correct word such as Hammurabi instead of Hammerhead. At times hairstyles and clothing from different periods are explained such as the description of the linen chiton worn by those near where the refrigerator box time machine land in ancient Greece. My children's interest was captured and they wanted to keep reading more. Used with the other components of this curriculum you stop reading after each chapter to discuss the actual facts from each period. 

     Three or more key contributions are shared from each of the 14 key time periods discussed such as the Babylonian’s base 60 numbering system which influenced our clocks. After taking turns reading the story out loud, the children listened as I read to them from the workbook/text. In the back of the "text" What Every Child Needs to Know About Western Civilization are several additional components to the curriculum. The key tool is the set of fourteen hats of history" cards which depict significant characters from each era. These are full color images printed on card stock, sturdy to withstand handling throughout the program. A game starts off the program requiring the students to try to place the characters in chronological order. Each chapter introduces a new character and helps them learn a framework to build their growing knowledge of history including dates and maps. 

sorting the Hats of History Cards

    What Every Child Needs to Know About Western Civilization uses the story of the calendar as a springboard for telling the story of Western Civilization. Also included are three pages of stickers which depict the important contributions from each era. These are placed on the back of the corresponding card and used as a memory tool as your children narrate back to you the details they have learned. 

Brimwood Press History
Hats of History Card Stickers
placing stickers on the back of the Hats of History Card 

     Brimwood Press's Coloring Book is a pictorial overview of the major eras of western civilization. The illustrations on the stickers that are placed on the Hats of History Cards are enlarged on the oversize coloring pages. Borders that represent the eras are made of such interesting pictures as cave drawings or the ark of the covenant. My children enjoyed coloring together while I read.

major eras of western civilization
Coloring Book ~a pictorial overview of the major eras of western civilization
     Another component in the text are multiple maps, often two or more from each era. Copies are allowed within your family, so one book is sufficient for an entire family. I copied the maps for the kids and they colored them and the coloring book (pictured above) while I taught the details from the book. Often the locations of each era were the same, so the maps show the changes that happened over time. My kids cut and pasted each of their completed maps and stored them in their world geography binders.

         BrimWood Press: Building Historical Literacy While Engaging the Whole Child lives up to that name. The Hats of History cards, map activities, and coloring pages fully engaged my kids. Beyond narration, additional activities help your students recall the information covered such as "appoint a scribe to record your thoughts." Though I've been working through these resources with my youngest two students, there are additional activities for high school students that bring even more depth and research into their studies. Teaching them to "think like a historian," the author suggests that if they continue to work through those activities that their resulting analysis could be appropriate to include in a college portfolio. My 7th grader has a love of history that I want to encourage, so she is interested in tackling this high school challenge. It is an ongoing analysis of the changes in leadership of each civilization. I am excited about the research that Brimwood Press is encouraging.

    what it includes: 

    • What Every Child Needs to Know About Western Civilization:  Critical Concepts for Historical Literacy  $35.00
    •  Coloring Book $18.00     
    • Calendar Quest $14.00      

         Disclaimer: Brimwood Press provided me with the products indicated for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are included.
    BrimWood Press history and worldview curriculum for homeschool


    1. Oooh. This looks great. We are pretty much in love with our history curriculum but this has some compelling items. I love the stickers and putting cards in order. I may have to check this out for next year.

      1. One of the great things about this program is how fast you can complete it. In one month your kids get a great foundation of historical figures and facts that can help them relate to history that they continue to learn. I think it would complement almost any program.

    2. Hi Jennifer,

      Wow! I am in love with the coloring book! It looks really detailed. I don't know how you allowed your little one to color in the book. I have a coloring book that came with a lesson packet that I can't bring myself to let my kids color in! I make copies instead. It is just too pretty to color in!

      Brimwood Press looks like they know what kids want when it comes to learning!


      1. Victoria, They are detailed coloring pages. If my kiddos were still in the scribble stage I might keep it from them, but they are old enough to enjoy it. I love that how the coloring pages keep them engaged with relevant pictures while they listen to me read. The graphics on the stickers and the color pages all represent specific details that help the kids remember history.

    3. Great review, Jennifer! We have gotten a lot out of this program, too.

      1. Thanks, Susan. I was delighted with how much they enjoyed this program.


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