Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crazy for Curriculum! - The Year in Preview


I’m one of those “sick” homeschooling moms who drools over the curriculum catalogs each year.  I just love the idea of seeing all the exciting topics I, uh, I mean my boys, will be able to learn about this year.  We are heading into our second year of high school with my middle son and finishing up middle school with my youngest.  It has taken hours and hours of scouring choices and looking at books and pricing options and considering my boys learning styles and figuring out what our co-ops are doing, and, and, and… to get to the point where we made our choices.  So, here they are.

10th Grader (15 this Sept.):

This year he will take three courses through our co-op.  We meet one day a week and then do the learning at home.  I like a co-op because they are accountable to someone besides me, because these ladies have expertise in areas I am weaker in, and because it keeps the idea of a classroom setting in his mind for college.

The three co-op courses are:

Chemistry (and lab)  – we are using Apologia Chemistry.  I am going to incorporate additional work to make it an honors course.  This is really two classes at the co-op because the lab is separate.

American Government and Economics – the instructor has chosen Ray Notgrass’s texts. He’ll use Exploring Government and We Hold These Truths for government first semester and Exploring Economics and Stewardship of God’s Riches for economics second semester. I haven’t worked with Notgrass before, but it was high on my list before the class was formed.

British Literature – this is going to be a rigorous course. The instructor has developed it herself; however, the pacing reminds me of Lightening Lit which we used during the summer (see review – here). He’l l be reading Beowulf, Macbeth, Pride and Prejudice, The Hobbit (In honor of the movie version coming out Dec. 2012), Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Silas Marner, and The Hound of the Baskervilles. I’m excited for all he’s going to tackle in this class. We watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy this summer to get ready for the Hobbit.

At home he will be doing:

Spanish II – he is doing this online through the Homeschool Spanish Academy!  We were able to participate in a review for this online course and fell in love with the teachers and the process!  (See review – here.)

Algebra II - Teaching Textbooks is our choice here.  Both my boys really like the format and instruction.  Now that they’ve upgraded the program to include automated grading in addition to video based instruction and explanations for every problem – we’ll stick with this until he dual enrolls at the college.

Sociology  – We are using the CLEP Lesson Plan for Intro to Sociology so that he can take the college CLEP test and earn college credit.  This will be a first semester class.

College Test Prep – This will also be a second semester class.  I want him to be prepared to take the PSAT as a junior in hopes of earning Merit Scholarships as well as the ACT and SAT.  He will be using College Prep Genius for this course.  (See the review – here.)

Fine Arts – He will be doing a hodgepodge of activities to make up his fine arts 1/2 credit.  At another local co-op that we attend, he will be taking both drawing and photography.

8th Grader (13):

My 8th grader also attends the co-ops with his brother.  The three courses he will take at the co-op are:
Middle School Art – this class will focus on drawing and paint.

Physical Science – We stick with Apologia for science.  He will be taking a lab with this course as well.

English I – the instructor is using ABeka 9.  She has asked each student to have Themes in Literature, Grammar & Composition III, and Spelling, Vocabulary & Poetry III.  I used Abeka some when I taught middle school and wasn’t in love with it.  However, I’m excited for the level of rigor she is bringing and feel it will be a good course for him to go through since writing is one of his strengths.

At home:

Computer Programming – C# and Game Programming  – we will be using Homeschool Programming.  We’ve used them in the past and have been very happy!  Youngest is big time into computers – I taught a programming course using Alice last year that he excelled in.  He will, in fact, be helping me teach Alice at our second co-op this year.

World History  – we will be using Pearson My World History .  Again, I was blessed with the opportunity to use their product and immediately decided it would be our go-to for world history this year.  (See the review – here.)

Algebra  – Teaching Textbooks all the way!

LogicThe Art of Argument is the curriculum we picked based on another review.  (See the review – here.)  Youngest loves to argue…  lol.  I think he’ll enjoying learning the different fallacy types, etc. 

Photography – He will take this class with his brother.  He loves filmmaking and enjoys several aspects of photography.  This will be fun!

Whew – that’s one big year ahead of us and that’s not even counting the extra-curriculars…  I can’t wait to get past the anticipation and finally get rolling!  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Homeschooling Methods - We're an Eclectic Bunch


When we first decided to homeschool my head was spinning with all the terminology.  It wasn’t as easy as picking out our textbooks and doing school at home.  There was SO much more to it – so much more than I could have possible anticipated.
We decided in June or July we would be homeschooling come the end of August.  Yikes!  I surfed and surfed and looked and looked to find what would be “right” for our family.  I tried to read as many books as I could in that short period of time and absorb what I could.  How do I pick a method?
Well, we are now four years into it, starting our fifth year, and all those methods, I discovered, are just guidelines.  You don’t get locked into one philosophy or the next when you start.  I like something about every method out there, bits and pieces of each work for us.  So, we are labeled Eclectic.
Unit Studies is where we started.  I liked having everything integrated.  What we studied in history we pulled over into science and literature.  It kept things cohesive and helped me figure out what was working and what wasn’t.  We’ve done Latin and literature ala Charlotte Mason.  Latin being terrific for vocabulary and SAT’s down the road, and literature is a wonderful way to understand history in a fictional setting. 
Now, with my oldest doing high school and my youngest finishing middle school – we combine the methods even more.  We use online classes, video based classes, textbooks and experiential learning.  I’ve discovered as I’ve schooled my boys what approach works best for each subject.  I’ve learned what they are more willing to learn from someone besides me and what I can handle. 
We love our co-ops!  Not because they do the classes for us, but because they add structure.  We are definitely a structure kind of family.  I would say we leave our unschooling for summer and follow structure during the “school year”.  Co-ops, I’ve found, add a level of accountability that my boys wouldn’t have just by doing work at home.  They aren’t just answering to me!  (Read more about this on Friday!)
If you’re new to homeschooling, don’t panic over what METHOD you will use.  Instead, spend time discovering what approach fits your children, your family best.  If you are combining ages, that will be different than if you are separating them or homeschooling one age range.  There’s no locked in!  You can change mid-year or mid-week, or you might find one method works for your entire homeschooling journey.  It’s what works for you! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Calling All Dog Lovers - Gund Top Dog Contest

I know a lot of you are big fans of your favorite pooch. I know my hubby is crazy about our deaf Boston Terrier, Daisy. So I thought you'd appreciate hearing about this fun contest by GUND.
GUND is asking dog lovers to submit photos of their furry friends in four categories to the GUND Facebook page. Categories are:

• Most Beautiful Dog
• Ugliest Dog
• “Doganista”/Best Dressed Dog
• Dog that Most Resembles its Owner

Owners can enter one or all of the categories! To go straight to the entry form - click here.

What do you win?

If you win the Grand Prize -your perfect pooch's likeness will be transformed into a limited edition GUND plush! How cute is that?
Entries are being accepted from July 16 to August 15, 2012. Winners will be chosen the week of August 20th and announced the week of August 27th.

In addition to their Facebook contest, they are also hosting a "Most Pinteresting Dog" contest via Pinterest. Simply post your pooch on your own Pinterest page, tag @GUNDMostPinterestingDog and submit that link to GUND at
The pinned pooch with the most likes will receive $250 in GUND products!

For complete rules - see "Top Dog" Contest and "Most Pinteresting Dog" Contest at .

*** Disclaimer: I'm providing you this information as a member of Child's Play Communications.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review -

Price:  $1 first month, $5.95 per month thereafter
Age:  All

I’m excited to tell you about a resource that I really wish I had had when we first started homeschooling.  Starting out, there were so many choices for curriculum that my head was spinning.  I found myself building a lot on my own as we navigated our long-term choices for curriculum. is a web site created by the makers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  Yes, this is the magazine that I do online reviews for.  However, that is NOT why I am highly recommending this site. The resources available here are truly stupendous!

The web site is broken down into Schoolhouse Teachers, Schoolhouse Dailies, Schoolhouse Extras, Schoolhouse Library and then the site tour and samples.

Schoolhouse Teachers

Schoolhouse Teachers includes lessons from some of the biggest names in homeschooling.  All teachers are experts in their respective areas.   This section offers lessons in the following:

Career Exploration
College Choice Guidance
Figures in History
High School
Home Economics
Special Needs

What I love about this is the variety and the strong lessons provided!  Some of these areas are core like history, writing and science.  Additionally, you have special interests like Filmmaking, Career Exploration, and Technology.

It’s these special interest areas that we are making the most use of right now.  My youngest son is very interested in film making and I was having quite a time finding something that would help him with this endeavor.  Until…  I realized had lessons for filmmaking. 

As you can see, several weekly lessons are offered.  Going to the lesson page for this particular subject gives the student short videos to watch to learn the techniques.  He’s enjoyed this approach!

I was also very appreciative of the Career Exploration and College Choice Guidance sections for my 10th grader.  We’ve wanted to complete career exploration exercises to try and help him determine where his strengths lie and his career options that play to those strengths.  Again, several weeks of “classes” are offered.  Each week has specific activities and commentary for the student to use to determine his/her career path.

All of the topics listed above are equally valuable in offering direction and lessons for our students! We look forward to using more of them and to seeing what’s coming new down the pike.

Schoolhouse Dailies

Schoolhouse Dailies are just what they sound like.  Daily mini-lessons you can use with your student in a variety of subjects.  Right now dailies are offered in the following:

Summer Olympics
Daily Grammar
Daily Math
Daily Writing
Ditch the Desk – Hand’s On K-5
Everyday Easels
Everyday Explorers: Canada
Everyday Explorers: USA
Pre-K Activities
Summer Shakespeare
This Day in History
This Month’s Menu

As you can see above, the options are vast.  There are daily grammar lessons to keep your children on target with their grammar skills.  They can explore what happened on this day in history or meet explorers from the US or Canada. 

I love that they have new and fun topics like Summer Olympics that are going on now.

Or how about a month’s worth of recipes???  Wonderful!

SchoolhouseExtras contains a link to the current This Old Schoolhouse magazine.  I’ve been subscribing to this magazine since the beginning of our homeschool journey.  We love it!  I could write a blog about it alone.  Additionally, in Extras, you will find free e-books, a link to the annual Schoolhouse Expo, and a link to download the MASSIVE schoolhouse planners as part of your membership.  These planners alone are worth the cost of membership!

SchoolhouseLibrary is another wealth of resources – copybooks, homeschool life, reading lists, teacher lessons, arts and crafts, homemaking/keeping, nature and spelling.  Wow! 

Intrigued?  I hope so!  To find out more, you can take the Schoolhouse Site Tour, or visit the Schoolhouse Samples Pages to see more examples of the wealth of content provided.

If you invest in one supplement ever for your homeschool, invest here.  The content is professional and provides you with the tools to be a successful homeschooling parent.  The fact that it’s dynamic means that each time you visit – there is something new!  This isn’t a onetime thing – you are continually benefitting from their new topics and contributors.

The price cannot be beat – it’s only $1.00 for the first month and $5.95 per month after that. Your benefits and privileges are as follows:

  1. Members-only access to lesson materials in these subject areas: Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Geography, History, Home Economics, Literature, Math, Music, Reading, Writing . . . and so much more!
  2. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine delivered straight to your inbox, monthly.
  3. All The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine digital back issues—easily searchable, a fantastic feature that enables you to go directly to articles of interest.
  4. The Homeschool Minute™ weekly E-Newsletter.
  5. Download all five Schoolhouse Planners—the Parent version (hundreds of pages), all Student planners (3 versions) and the Special Needs planner.
  6. 12 E-books from the Schoolhouse Store—one per month during the first year of membership.
  7. All available TOS Expo-To-Go recorded sessions—including all future recordings, for the duration of membership.
  8. After 12 months of uninterrupted membership, you will receive a $25 gift certificate to the “Totally TOS” section of the Schoolhouse Store.
More than worth the yearly cost!
Don’t just take my word for it – check out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members have to say – here.
*** Disclaimer – I received a membership free of charge as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review - Zane Education

Zane Education

Web Site:
Age: All
Cost: Varies by Subscription

My boys and I are very visual. We like to see and do rather than simply reading about a topic. Zane education offers a supplementary tool set for seeing and doing. Their website,, contains over 1500 videos in eleven different subject areas all organized by grade level for easy access.

After spending time reviewing the contents of the site, I felt there were several pros and cons to using Zane as part of our homeschool education.


1. Zane provides an alternative to text based content.

2. The videos offered include highlighted text that can be found in the Video Word Glossary.

3. An Encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus and access to the World Fact Book are included.

4. Each video incorporates text at the bottom of the slide being read so that the student can read along. Zane states this will help with reading skills including assisting those with special needs or ASL.

5. The videos will eventually incorporate clickable navigation.

6. There are a broad range of topics! This is especially helpful to homeschoolers as we do not always have access to or the ability to teach topics like psychology, sociology, art, music, religious studies, or even library skills.

7. Online quizzes drawn from a pool of possible questions are provided. The ability to test one’s knowledge after watching the videos is an asset. Additionally, correct answers are provided.

9. The various topics are accompanied by Lesson Plan Pages that give you the opportunity to take the knowledge learned from the video further via review questions, terms and suggestions for sharpening your skills.


1. The Cost. While it is relatively inexpensive to purchase a single subject for a month, to use this as an ongoing resource can be expensive. The website states under homeschooling:

 "Homeschool families and Home Educators across the United States and other countries are increasingly using Zane Education because it provides an easier, more effective, much less confusing, and considerably more affordable way of homeschooling - less than $200 per year for the whole family."

However, I don't personally feel the videos and lesson pages provided stand alone. While they are an excellent resource, they are not a substitute for providing actual course materials and supporting assignments. The $197.89 Gold Membership for access to everything on the web site can be pricey as a supplement.

2. When I think video - I think motion picture rather than static slides. Some of the Zane "videos" do include embedded video; however, many also do not. The students are looking at a static picture while the text is being read to them. My sons didn't find this to be very engaging. They felt the voice was somewhat monotonous and wanted a more active approach. Again, that is not to say they aren't an effective supplement, but we wouldn't want to spend the majority of our day looking at slides.

3. The mathematics is primarily from Khan Academy. This is already a free resource. I would not want to pay for something I already have access to for free.

4. Some of the videos are inappropriate. Clearly, this is based on personal opinion. I don't want my boys learning sex education from videos. Nor do I want them exposed to evolution stated as fact without my ability to help them navigate what they are seeing. As with anything, parents have a responsibility to preview anything their children are exposed to and determine what is appropriate. I would not just let my kids jump onto Zane without my guidance.

5. This is just more of a pet peeve than anything - I found the load times to be longer than expected. It seems everything takes a while to load on Zane. I think I'm too used to instant gratification that when I click and wait and wait, I wonder if something is amiss, then it loads. This may just be a bandwidth or server issue that they can improve upon over time. I tried it on more than one network and several computers, so I'm confident it isn't just on my end.


Zane can be a strong supplemental resource. The visual aspects, even of slides, are more engaging to students than just reading text from a text book. The variety on Zane does allow you to expose your children to a variety of topics they might not have access to otherwise. Zane does offer a free Video of the Day - so check them out for yourself before deciding. I'd try a short membership first before committing to something long-term just to make sure it's a good fit for the way you and your family homeschool.

To see reviews by other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew - click here.

*** Disclaimer - I received a Gold Membership free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review - Math Essentials Problem Solving and Algebra

Age:          Middle/High School
                 No-Nonsense Algebra - $27.95

Math Essentials generously sent us both Mastering Essential Math Skills – Problem Solving and No-Nonsense Algebra.

Since we are in the midst of summer, we decided to start with Mastering Essential Math Skills to hone my youngest son’s skills prior to tackling Algebra.  He found the problems to be fairly straight forward.  He struggles with math.  I could tell he needed reinforcement first. 

Each lesson is only supposed to take about twenty minutes.  According to the web site:

"This book will ensure that students master the “much-feared” math word problem. Learn to apply the math operations to real-life situations. Included is a short review for whole number, fraction, and decimal operations. The book begins with simple one-step problems and progresses slowly to multi-step problems, with plenty of built-in reviews to ensure mastery and success."

What I really liked about the Essential Math Skills pages was that they required him to understand different charts or graphs in addition to basic math problems.  He likes to rush, and rushing rarely leads to success in math.
As the book progresses, the problems get more complex.  One focus of this particular book is word problems.  As we all know, word problems require us to stop and think about what the question is really asking based on the information provided and write that as a mathematical problem.  Again, for him, that’s not easy because it can’t be done quickly.  Making him take the time each day to stop and really work through math has been very helpful for him.

To see example pages of Mastering Math Skills – Problem Solving, click here; to see the Table of Contents click here.

The other text we were sent is No-Nonsense Algebra.  If you just look at the text, there doesn’t seem to be enough information to really help the student learn the material.  HOWEVER, one real advantage of this text is that it includes a code to access online instructional videos for each lesson in the book. 

As a homeschooling parent whose strength isn’t math, having videos to walk my student through each lesson is wonderful!  Not only does it help my student learn, but I can watch along with him to understand the concept he is being taught and how the instructor approaches it. 
I’ve used several math programs during our homeschool journey.  One program, though very rigorous, was completely text based.  Read the lesson, do the problems.  That was fine for my older son who catches on quickly, but, for my easily distracted younger son, it was a real struggle.  The alternative has been a high priced math program that provides video lessons.  This program meets the needs of homeschooling families who cannot afford the high priced programs but benefit from the visual instruction.

We didn’t get to use the video instruction much.  I just want to be honest.  My focus for now was using the Math Essentials book to strengthen his skill set.  However, the lessons we did go through were good.  Richard Fisher, the author and instructor, does a good job of walking the student through the lessons and providing demonstration problems to show the concept.  The author uses a fairly engaging tone so that the student stays on task.  I highly recommend having your student work the problems with the video!

Each lesson in the book comes with written explanation of the concept being taught, example problems to show the concept in action, exercises to allow the student to practice the concept and a short review to make sure they are incorporating the new concepts into the ones already covered.  I found the number of exercises to be good – around twenty or so per lesson.  Enough to really practice the new concept without so many that the student is burned out by the end of each lesson.  The review section typically contains four problems.
At the end of each chapter is a review.  The chapter review covers all the concepts learned.  The back of the book contains all of the answers so a parent can go through the review and determine if the student has learned the concepts before allowing him/her to continue.

For what you are receiving – a year’s worth of Algebra including video instruction, the $27.95 price tag is excellent!  As we all know – math can be expensive!  I’m really impressed with how much is offered for this price. 
In addition, the Math Essentials books come with an unconditional guarantee.

“Use Rick Fisher's Mastering Essential Math Skills for 20 minutes a day as directed. If you don't see what you feel are dramatically improved math test scores, send us a note saying so. You'll receive a prompt, complete refund - no questions asked!”
You can’t beat that!

To see reviews by other Schoolhouse Review Crew team members – click here.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lessons Learned from Failure

Last Saturday really hit me hard.  We were taking our first pre-test for our TKD black belt.  I felt pretty confident I knew the routines we had to know to pass.  There were three judges.  When it came my time to test, I completed the first routine, they are called poomse’s, and the judge I had asked if I wanted to try again.  I was taken aback as I thought I had done it right.  It went downhill from there.

At the end of the testing, the three judges got up to tell us how we did.  The first judge went through his list of people telling them specific steps they needed to work on.  Then it was my judge’s turn.  He failed a few of us, including me.  It was crushing.  The third judge, who had had several students who didn’t know their poomse’s, passed everyone.  I was shocked!  What????
I’ve never failed anything in my life.  Especially anything I really worked hard for.  It was humiliating not only to be failed when I thought I knew the routines, but in front of everyone – especially in front of my middle son who, thankfully, passed.  It was frustrating that the judging clearly depended on the specific judge and wasn’t the same criteria for everyone.  It was a bad Saturday.

It took a week, but I’m back.  Grand Master S. wasn’t able to be at the testing, upon return he heard from many what had happened with the three judges.  I didn’t talk to him, but I knew several had.  He’s going to work with people individually to determine where they are and help them know what to work on.  The judging will be fair next time.
What did I tell my son?  He was very upset by everything.

1.  Life isn’t fair!  Sometimes you get the harder judge.
2.  Anything worth having has to be earned. 

3.  Failure isn’t an option.  I’m going to keep going.
4.  I’m proud of his accomplishment and this shouldn’t detract from it in any way!

So, it’s Saturday again.  No test today – we’re going to work on self defense.  I’m glad we got to go through this and both of us learn some lessons.  Me – I got a lesson in humility.  My son – he learned that life doesn’t always go the way we have planned even when we try hard, but we must keep trying.
Selfishly – I’m done learning lessons and am ready for smooth sailing ahead! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Healthy Routines - Making a Home for Learning #healthyhabits #cgc


This back-to-school season, Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive have partnered with and Dr. Alanna Levine to provide moms with helpful tips to set their kids up for success as they head back to school, and Clever Girls Collective is joining in on the fun! To find out more about this great program, subscribe to the Healthy Routines Facebook page here! #HealthyHabits #CGC

Learn more and support goals by visiting our Healthy Routines Facebook Page.
#HealthyHabits #CGC

As a homeschooling family, we have education around us 24/7; however, even when my older kids went to public school, education never left our home.  One of the best gifts you can give your children is a love for learning.  How do we do this?  Actually, education is all around us making it easy.  Here are a few tips:

1.       Make reading a daily adventure.  Kids shouldn’t only read when it’s assigned.  Try making the 30 minutes before bed reading time every night.  Let them pick their favorite book or magazine to read.  Finding book series the kids love is a great way to keep them reading.  Investing in the newest book in a series when it comes out is well worth the expense if they disappear into their rooms and can’t put the book down.  

2.     Let your kids learn from nature. Take a walk around your neighborhood or a local park. Each time make a point of discovering what lives there. You can bring a jar and look at the insects you find, or bring a camera and take pictures of all the beautiful flowers or birds. Come home and try to see if you can identify them. Do a leaf scavenger hunt. Collect leaves from the trees around your area and then find out what species of tree they belong to. Once your child begins to see the individuality and beauty in nature, he/she will never stop exploring and wondering.
3.      Take your everyday chores and make them opportunities for knowledge.  Have the kids help prepare meals, show them how to change the oil or a tire, walk them through what it means to balance a budget, discover why the chemicals around your house keep things clean, buy exotic fruits or vegetables from the grocery store and see what they taste like then learn about where they come from, the list goes on and on. 

4.       Find out about your heritage from your relatives and ancestors.  Children love to learn where they came from.  Am I part American Indian, or Spanish, or Irish?  When kids learn their roots, they become more invested in learning about that part of the world and the history behind it.  It becomes personal.   

5.     Plan your family vacations to include learning experiences.  No matter whether you have a staycation or vacation, no matter where you go, make sure you investigate the learning opportunities.  Can you visit a Mint, go to an aquarium, see a famous battleground, go panning for gold?  The possibilities are endless.  By including learning as part of your vacation, learning becomes part of life and not just academic.  Seek out those opportunities to take in new experiences with your children.  The broader their perspective of the world, the broader their options will be for the future. 

6.     Model a thirst for knowledge.  First and foremost, our children learn by watching.  If they see you investing in your education, they will embrace it as a part of their lives.  Make a point to seek out new knowledge for yourself.  Take a college class, go to a seminar, learn a new skill.  Show your children that learning is a enduring process and not something that ends at graduation.

School is a great place for academics, but seeking knowledge is a lifelong process that begins at home.  Families who learn together have the pleasure of the constant exploration of life and the world around them.

For more ideas - head on over to the Healthy Routines Facebook Page...


*** Disclaimer:  As a member of Clever Girls Collective, I was selected to participate in the Healthy Habits program sponsored by Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #healthyhabits #cgc

Wordless Wednesday - Hiking and the Effects of Forest Fire

This week the boys and I decided to go hiking.  We went to Morrow Mountain about an hour from where we live.  We decided to do the Fall Mountain trail because it was moderate and 4.1 miles.  What a great hike!  The most interesting part was seeing the forest coming back two years after a major forest fire there.  I wouldn't say it was all beautiful, but it was a lesson for all of us on how nature battles back.  The park is actually gorgeous - see last pic!  This was just the area affected.  So glad we got to see this - it was a fun adventure and we got a better appreciation for what my home state of Colorado will be going through in the next couple years.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Review - TimeMaps Collection by Knowledge Quest

TimeMaps Collection
Knowledge Quest

Web Site:

Cost:  $9.95 for individual maps or $44.95 (download) $49.95 (CD) 7-map set

Age:  All

Have you ever been surfing the internet and one link leads to another that leads to another?  That’s how I manage to waste countless hours sitting in front of the computer following rabbit trail after rabbit trail as I find new and interesting things to read.  In fact, that’s what I love most about the internet, the unlimited ability to seek knowledge.
Knowledge Quest has developed TimeMaps that possess this same quality.  Once you start, there are numerous opportunities to click and investigate.  My children and I are very visual.  We like to see things in action rather than simply reading or hearing about them.  TimeMaps really appealed to that side of our personality.

How does it work, you ask? 
You start with a map of the beginning of the time period you are using.  We enjoyed learning about the Black Death.   When the map opens, you will see a date in the upper right hand corner.  Clicking forward or backward arrows next to this date allows you to see the progression in time.  I was shocked how fast the black death spread!  There are small pictures on each map.  Clicking on them gives you a drop down box with information about what that symbol means and its role in that time period.

As you move through time, the i and Q underneath the date enable additional information.  Clicking the i adds several i’s of information throughout the map.  Clicking on each one allows you to see what was happening in that part of the world during that time period.  The Q drops down questions that can be used for discussion or as part of an assignment for students to respond to.  They would need to go through all the i’s on the map to find the answers to the questions.  We really loved how interactive this was! 

In addition to the interactive aspect of the program, the opening window allows access to “Work Sheets”.  These aren’t so much worksheets as they are suggestions for questions or exercises the students can complete to help further their understanding of the time period .

The Teacher pdf that accompanies each TimeMap includes these “work sheets” as well as handouts like maps, timeline paper, etc.  Each Teacher pdf also includes a summary of the time period being shown that can be used for classroom presentation or as an introduction in the homeschool.  
We really liked TimeMaps.  They make history come alive.  Seeing the spread of the black death or the progression of the Atlantic slave trade in a year by year format really helped us to understand what happened in a step-by-step progression.  I must say, I had many ‘a-ha!’ moments just working through these TimeMaps.  For $9.95 for a single map, it’s a great supplement to your study of history.  If you know World or Ancient History is in your students’ future, then investing in the entire collection saves money, and you have them on hand for when the time comes. 
The collection includes: 

Rise of Rome
Fall of Rome
Rise of Islam
The Black Death
European Exploration
Atlantic Slave Trade

I know my kids get a lot more out of the interactive approach than they do reading a dry textbook alone.   My youngest is studying World History this year – I’m so excited to include each map as we get to that event in time.

Here’s a video of how it all works:

To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of TimeMaps – click here.

*** Disclaimer:  I received this product free of charge as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.