World History teaching materials usually take one of several approaches to history (or a combination):
The Events Approach:
What happened? History is seen as a succession of events with turning points of wars, inventions, and discoveries. The PBS series “The Day the Universe Changed” and “Connections” are prime examples of taking an event (such as the development of the printing press) and following its impact on the course of history.
Just learning names, dates, and events is guaranteed to make history boring, but The Events Approach can be very effective if children are presented with high-interest highlights of history (such as the Usborne books), with “stories” (good historical fiction), or with an unusual twist (such as the PBS series).
The People Approach:
Who made it happen? History is learned by studying the people who made it. In this approach history is seen as a succession of real stories about real people. Biographies are studied as well as good historical fiction. This is a very effective approach with elementary and junior high students.
The Ideas Approach:
Why did it happen? Older students are ready to grasp the ideas that led people to make discoveries, invent things, wage war, and keep peace. Behind every person and event in history was an ideology, a world view, a way of looking at and living life. The WHY of history can be studied in three ways: (1) from the biblical point of view that God raises up people and nations as instruments for the chastening of His people and for the sake of the spread of the Gospel; (2) by examining biblical principles either adhered to or violated and the resulting consequences for a person or nation; and/or (3) by analyzing the influence of various ways of thinking on the course of Western civilization.
The Geographical Approach:
Where did it happen? Much of history has to do with the lay of the land. It is always wise to study geography along with history because then you can see why events followed certain routes.