Monday, May 16, 2011

WonderMaps Review

WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press

Cost:  49.95

What homeschooling parent doesn’t love maps? I don’t know how many times I’ve had to search the internet for a blank map to use with my kiddos. Seems like an easy task, but, let me tell you, that isn’t always the case. The are formatted funny, won’t take up the whole page, are blurry, are too colorful, are not blank, etc. etc. etc. I think we’ve probably all been there.

The opportunity to review WonderMaps made me do a happy dance! At first, I was just excited about the maps. Once I saw the product, I was very impressed with the versatility of the maps. WonderMaps is a “customizable collection of 350 maps.” And when they say customizable, they aren’t kidding!

“The user can choose from:

• historical or modern-day maps

• outline, reference, political, or topographical maps

• black-and-white or color maps

• features including: names, borders, rivers, cities, physical features, and graticules

WonderMaps includes:

• 60+ maps of the world

• 60+ maps of the USA

• 125 historical maps, including 25 biblical maps

• The complete map sets from The Mystery of History vols. I–III and All American History vols. I & II”

View this short tutorial to see what all WonderMaps has to offer:

What I really love most is the ability to select what I want on the map and what I don’t. Names of locations can be included or removed, geographic features are optional, I can go color or black and white. When it comes to countries, I can drill down to what I want to see. For example, I can choose to look at the states of the United States. If I select Colorado (where I’m originally from), then I can choose to manipulate the map by selecting the options on the right-hand side of the screen. I would NEVER get this kind of flexibility by relying on a web browser to find my maps.

We studied American history and American geography this year – boy do I wish I could have had this then! Next year, my youngest son will be studying World Geography while my older son takes high school American history. I am so excited to have these maps to go along with their studies. Here are some examples of the historical, thematic and geographic options we are looking forward to using (you simply click on the option to get to the map).

WonderMaps currently runs on Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.0. If you have another version installed, it won’t run. However, since it’s a free download, this is really a non-issue. I run Adobe Professional on my PC, so I did have to go in and load Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.0 and tell the program I wanted it to open using this program instead of Pro. Again, not a big deal.

Would we buy this program – you bet! I think it’s a wonderful investment! With purchase, you gain a membership that allows you to download updates as they are issued. Additionally, the program can be installed on two separate home computers so that one child can work on his maps while you or another child use the program. Nice!

This is one of my favorite products this year. As a geek, I’m amazed at what they were able to develop using the Adobe Acrobat functionality; as a parent, I’m thrilled that I have it on my desktop.

To see other reviews by the TOS Homeschool Crew click here.

*** I was provided the WonderMaps program free of charge as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew for my honest review.

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