10 Strong Secular Homeschool History Choices for Elementary-Aged Kiddos

Once limited in options, the number of secular homeschool history options has increased in recent years. Start exploring with this list.

We are a Christian family, so a Christian curriculum seemed like the natural choice. Or so I thought.

It wasn’t long into our homeschool journey that I realized that Christian curricula weren’t going to be for us.

At least at the time (15 years ago!), most history curricula from Christian publishers had a strong Euro-centric viewpoint. More disturbingly for me, many dabbled (or explicitly, in some cases) in a Manifest Destiny view of the colonization of the United States.

And, so, the search began for a curriculum that was different.

Myth: Secular curriculum is anti-Christian.

This pervasive myth is easy to disprove but often not investigated by Christian homeschool families.

In reality, a secular curriculum simply lacks religious affiliation and doesn’t promote a specific faith as Truth.

Secular history programs can’t avoid the topic of religion. How can you talk about the history of Europe without discussing the Holy Roman Empire? The Middle East without talking about the Crusades? India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh without talking about Islamic & Hindu beliefs?

But none of those topics means that secular curriculum is anti-Christian or even anti-religion, despite what many in the homeschool world would say.

Sidenote: Secular homeschoolers but a Christian family

I am often asked why we don’t use a faith-based curriculum if we are a Christian family. That’s a longer answer than this space allows, but the short answer is — we haven’t found any that is the rigor we want + beliefs that match ours.

Secular homeschooling as a Christian family has meant that we choose secular books and then incorporate our religious beliefs within our studies. It’s woven into history, science, the arts…but we do it on our terms using the materials we choose and taught in a way that is respectful of others.

There are too many choices! How do I choose?

Choosing curriculum for a new school year can be a ridiculous experience. Print or online? All-in-one or piece it together? What “method” am I? And that’s all before you get to each specific subject!

While I can’t tell you which curriculum is the best choice for social studies, I can give you some questions to consider as you look for a secular history program.

  1. Do you want hands-on activities?
  2. Are you opposed to using historical fiction books alongside learning about historical events via a non-fiction textbook or spine?
  3. Does the idea of a big ‘ol pile of history books make your heart swoon, or does it make you want to cry?
  4. Is this subject going to be parent-led, or will your kiddos work independently?
  5. Are you planning to study US history this year or do you want a world history curriculum? What about next year?
  6. Is a cyclical approach what you want to do? Would you rather study topics instead?

If you’re looking for high school history, check out this list.

Elementary Secular Homeschool History Options

With that said, I’ve gathered a list of secular homeschool curriculum options. There are so many more options now, especially in the last five or so years. When we began, Story of the World & Oak Meadow were the two big choices. (And some argue that SoTW isn’t secular, more on that below.)

Did I miss a curriculum? Let me know in the comments!

A River of Voices from Blossom & Root

Cost: $36

I adore the flexibility of this program. They give suggestions for adapting it to various grade levels. Whether you love videos, all.the.books, or minimalism, there are suggestions for you. And suggestions for showing your work, depending on what interests you. Each lesson includes work for everyone and then the adaptations.

Note: In their (very extensive!) sample, “but if you need a tightly structured, predetermined day-by-day plan, this may not be a good fit.” Take that to heart. If your days run better with an open-and-go curriculum with detailed lesson plans, this is not the one for you.

Story of the World

Cost: Text & Activity Guide start at $8 & $16

A long-time favorite in the homeschool community, Story of the World was first published in 2006. These four-volume texts break world history down into four time periods — Ancient Times, Middle Ages, Early Modern, and Modern.

In addition to the texts (spines), the activity guides are equally important. For each chapter, you’ll find narration & dictation, storybook suggestions, non-fiction book ideas, maps, projects (the famous mummy chicken), and more.

Note: Volume 1 includes some stories from the Bible. They aren’t presented as historical facts, however. These sections are easy to skip if you wish.

Build Your Library

Cost: $30-50 for elementary levels

If a literature-based curriculum appeals to you, Build Your Library should be on your list of curricula to investigate! BYL includes all of your subjects, but it’s super easy to use for a few subjects if you wish. Each grade level is adaptable and easy to use for more than one grade level if your kiddos are close in age.

Oh, Freedom

Cost: $50

Another book-based program, Oh, Freedom from Woke Homeschooling,  teaches American history while highlighting the views & experiences of minorities. This history curriculum has enough structure that you can just open-and-go. But it offers enough flexibility that you can slow it down, add in other resources, etc.

The discuss & reflect section in each week’s plans is a favorite part of mine. I love a good history discussion with my kiddos!

NOTE: Originally, this curriculum was a Christian one. There are now two versions — Christian & secular.

Moving Beyond the Page

Cost: $28 & up

Create your ideal homeschool year with topics like People Change the World (ages 7-9), Westward Expansion (ages 9-11), World Wars I & II (ages 10-12), and Ancient Asia (ages 11-13).

Each unit last three weeks. You can purchase an entire grade level or individual units.

The best homeschool resources for World War I and World War II.


Cost: $30-45

Yes, another book-based secular history curriculum. And like Build Your Library, Torchlight is an all-in-one curriculum.

Each week’s lesson plan includes a clear library list & extension list. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher exactly what books are needed each week in a curriculum, so a list is handy. The extension list makes it easy to tack on a couple of activities if you find yourself with extra time.


Cost: $400+ (history + literature)

Bookshark came onto the scene several years back as the sister (secular) company to the popular Christian curriculum, Sonlight. If you are familiar with Sonlight, you’ll quickly see the comparisons! The formatting, the inclusion of lots of books…and the price! While it is a secular curriculum, unlike many others on the list, it’s very Euro-centric in its world history.

Bookshark offers Eastern World History for Level F (grades 5-8), which is a unique option.

Core Knowledge

Cost: Free

In a traditional textbook style (printable or digital .pdf), Core Knowledge is divided into several units per grade level. Pick and choose from more than one grade to create your own unique year, or follow all of the units for a (mostly) open-and-go year. Student & teacher books are both available.

Core Knowledge offers many units that you don’t find in many curricula, including Early & Medieval African Kingdoms (grade 4), Culture of Japan (grade 2), and World Rivers (grade 3).

Curiosity Chronicles

Cost: $35 and up (packages & texts vary)

Like Story of the World, Curiosity Chronicles tells the story of history via a cyclical 4-time period structure. There is a main text as well as an activity book for suggested books, projects, maps, and more.

CC’s texts are written in a dialogue format between two characters. The conversational style will add something different to your days.

History Quest

Cost: $72+ (text and study guide)

Yes, one more curriculum designed around four time periods with a textbook + study (activity) guide! Unlike Story of the World & Curiosity Chronicles, the text for History Quest is more traditional textbook than a story, however.

In addition, Pandia Press also offers History Odyssey, their middle school & high school levels. So if you like the setup of History Quest, this could be a publisher you use for the rest of your homeschool years.

Final Thoughts On Secular Homeschool History Curriculum

These are some of the best secular homeschool history curricula you’ll find. But none of them may be perfect for your homeschool. As with all of my curricula ideas, use this list to get your search started. Maybe you’ll find your perfect one here; maybe it’ll lead you to a totally different perfect one.

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