Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review: Bright Ideas Press

A couple of years ago I purchased a used copy of The Mystery of History, Volume 1, by Linda LaCour Hobar. I had heard many good things about the curriculum and was curious to see it for myself. Since we're not really a textbook kind of family, and my children were pretty young at the time, I simply enjoyed using it for my own reading and reference purposes.

So...when Bright Ideas Press sent The Old Schoohouse Review Crew a copy of The Mystery of History, Volume 3, I was quite excited.

It contains 84 lessons covering The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Growth of Nations. The colorful, hardback Student Reader can be used as a stand alone world history course, but those wanting to delve deeper into the material should consider the 500-page Companion Guide: Curriculum and Student Activities, which contains:

•28 weeks worth of learning activities for younger, middle, and older students

•Memory cards

•Hands-on projects

•Field trip suggestions

•Review games

•Informative articles for the teacher

•Form for recording grades

•17 different outline maps

•Geography activities

•Supplemental book list

•Pretests, quizzes, and answer keys

•Timeline helps

The Mystery of History can be used with grades K-8th, but the author states in her letter to teachers that she has provided "tracks to run on that best match Middle Students, those from about 4th to 8th grades". The activities can be adapted to fit the needs of younger and older students as well.

What I Like:

•God is placed at the center of the world's history. The reader can see how His hand has shaped human events.

•Written in a conversational style, the Student Reader is more interesting than a dry, traditional textbook.

•The Student Reader is a beautiful, colorful, hardback volume.

•The activities and helps in the Companion Guide are fun and interesting, helping to make the history lesson come alive.

•The curriculum is written in a way that simplifies multi-level teaching, especially if you use the Companion Guide.

•Students are encouraged to keep a history notebook in which they place their completed activities.

•Even if you don't teach history chronologically, this is a wonderful resource for studying a specific time period.

•Although I am not reviewing volumes 1 and 2, I'd like to point out that this history of the world traces events chronologically, lining them up with Biblical history. (For example, the reader learns what was going on in the rest of the world when King David was on the throne of Israel.) Obviously, the events of Volume 3 take place after Bible times.

I found just one drawback to this curriculum, and it only involves the Student Reader.

As I read aloud to my children, I realized that my 6-year old was not attending to the reading at all, and my 8-year old, who usually enjoys history, was not as interested as I thought he would be. Keep in mind that this was the first time these kids were exposed to a textbook of any kind and to this particular period of history.

I decided to try an experiment and read to the children from Volume 1. I was surprised to find that it held everyone's attention. This makes sense in light of the author's note that each volume is progressively harder because hopefully students are growing with the material.

She recommends that you begin with Volume 1 and work through the curriculum chronologically. This is not necessary but recommended.

As far as Volume 3 goes, I felt the text was interesting, and I'll definitely pull it back out from time to time to see if we're ready for it. In the meantime I'll use it as a reference for any of our unit studies that fall into this period of history, and the Companion Guide will provide us with a wide variety of fun activities to enhance our history units. the future if I decide for us to study history chronologically, this is the curriculum I will most likely choose.

Overall, I give The Mystery of History a huge thumbs-up, and I encourage you to visit the Bright Ideas website to check out the other volumes and all of the wonderful supplemental products that have been created to go along with the curriculum.


•Student Reader - $59.95

•Companion Guide CD-ROM - $29.95

•Companion Guide paper Version - $39.95

If you'd like to read more reviews about this and other products from Bright Ideas Press, head over to The Old Schoolhouse Crew Blog.


1 comment:

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