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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bright Ideas Press Review

If the name "Bright Ideas Press" doesn't sound familiar to you, I assure you you are familiar with their products. They are the Hogans and are the wonderful family with a passion for God, Geography, and History that has brought the hoemschooling world familiar curriculums like Mystery of History, Hands-On Geography, and the Christian Kids Explore Science books. I was fortunate enough to receive both Mystery of History Volume 1 (MOH) and Hands-On Geography for use with my kids.

When it comes to "spine" books for homeschoolers that provide a classical approach to learning about history, two main curriculums are suggested time and time again. Following a friend who had an older child than my oldest learner, I chose the one she was already using. The problem was that where her kids loved it, mine hated it. And the other thing was that while it was a nice, concise secular history, it totally neglected Biblical history. It wasn't right for us.

Enter Mystery of History. I had heard people talk about it for years. Some of my friends use it. And I knew it was the Christian alternative to the type of history program I was looking for, but I had never looked into it further for some reason. So, of course, I was excited to get to review it for the TOS Crew.

MOH Volume 1 covers Creation to the Resurrection. It is a classical, chronological approach to history that incorporates pre-tests, lessons, activities, memory cards, quizzes, reviews, geography, and timeline figures to help you teach your students about God and HisStory as it has been played out through the ages in the history of our world. MOH was written for 4th-8th graders, but is easily adaptable for the entire K-12 spectrum. It includes an extensive bibliography and supplemental book and video list if you want to dig deeper into each lesson/period of time, although the book on its own provides a nice overview and a very "do-able" history curriculum without any supplement. It also includes everything you need as a teacher, including activity pages, tests/answer keys, pronunciation guides, and outline maps. Volume 1 has 36 lessons, and it is suggested that each one take one week to cover, with four days on and one day off.

So what are the pros? Although unit studies have proven not to work well for my family, this one did. It is easy to use, the lessons are short, and after we read the information together, I can assign them each their activities based on their age level, and put things like their index cards and timeline stuff in their workboxes for them to do individually. I LOVE that the activities are easy enough that I am likely to actually DO them with my kids. I love that they are enjoying MOH. And despite the fact that I am a very laid back homeschooler, I actually like the pretests and review tests for that I can easily see what my kids already know and what they have learned as we study. And I love that we can dig deeper if we want into a certain person or event, but I can also feel at peace with just doing the book work because it does such a beautiful job of pointing to God's had in all of history. And MOH keeps getting better. They recently have added folderbooks (lapbooks) for those of us who like those types of activities, and they have supplements specific to MOH like craft activities, reproducibles, and an audio version of the book available from Bright Ideas Press too.

I can't really think of a con, unless you don't want a Christian history program, or you don't want to study history sequentially.

The bottom line to me is that MOH is great. I look forward to using it for years to come. At $49.95 for one year's worth of curriculum (and then usable again for many years to come) I think it is affordable, and a wonderful investment for any homeschool family.

I also was fortunate to receive Hands-On Geography: Easy & Fun Activities for Exploring God's World. Hands-On Geography has 12 chapters chock full of ideas for how to make teaching geography fun, meaningful, and hands-on. It also has an entire chapter of outline maps with suggestions on how to use them, and two appendixes. The first has a flash card geography game, and the second is full of Geography resources.

The pros for this book are endless. Geography is one of the most challenging subjects to get kids to care about and remember. If you need proof of that, just watch any of the late-night talk show hosts as they find some hapless American to ask geography questions to and watch the subject squirm. And yet Geography is SO important. It's where we live, and it impacts everything about our lives. I love Maggie Hogan's creative ways to draw kids in and get them involved. Whether it's making a country notebook, or organizing a passport fair, or following the travels of a particular Bible character, the ideas are all simple but fun.

I didn't find any cons to this book. If anything, it inspired me to take her ideas and then keep going with more of my own.

The bottom line is that this is a great resource book to have on your shelves and then USE with your kids. At $14.95, it is affordable, and more than pays for itself with all the creative ways it offers for getting your kids to care about and love geography.

To order any of these books, or see more of the products Bright Ideas Press has to offer, go HERE. To read what other members of the TOS Crew have to say (many of them reviewed other products by Bright Ideas Press), go HERE.

Legal disclaimer:
As a member of the TOS crew,I received a copy of Mystery of History Volume 1 and Hands-On Geography free of charge in exchange for my honest review. That free product is the only "payment" I received for my opinion.
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Julie said...
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Tiffany said...

Amazing. I think I'll buy it!

Julie said...

With a review like that, I'm going to be considering their products.