Veritas Press: Self-Paced History {Review}

6/30/2014
Veritas Press Review

I've always known Veritas Press as a company that offers curriculum for a Classical Christian education, but I've never considered myself a Classical homeschooler. I teach history chronologically, but that is as Classical as I get. . . until now.

I received a 12 month course subscription to Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation and we're hooked.


The online courses are interactive and teach about important people, events, places and dates in a fun way that helps students remember what they have learned.

How it works:

An interactive tutorial walks you through how to navigate a lesson step by step.

As you make your way through the lesson you unlock the next item in the lesson. From the Table of Contents you can review previous items if needed. There is also a drop down menu for attachments where you can download helpful files and activities to go along with lessons.


You can see your progress on the bottom left of the screen, and the buttons in the lower right allow you to navigate back and forth within a lesson. The forward button is locked until you work through the lesson. The play and pause button is also a next button which when pressed moves you forward through a lesson as you complete it.

It's that easy.


Words on the screen help explain what you are learning. And the lessons are engaging with pictures, video, activities, and games to teach, review and reinforce what your child is learning.

Lesson Flashcards contain information that is presented in the lessons. They are color coded, titled, numbered, and contain supplemental resources for further learning.  They are a required resource.


Quizzes and Tests are easy to complete. You select the correct answer, an arrow lights up, and you click the arrow to move on to the next question. Some questions involve dragging items into correct order or placing items on a map. Questions can be reviewed and updated until the final submit button is clicked. The student is then given immediate feedback with a score and option to review questions and print the results.

At the end of each lesson is a Historical Literature prompt which are optional readings offered throughout the course. When you click on the prompt, an instruction page pops up that lists the book, which portion you should read, and a summary from the previous reading lesson.

To summarize:

  1. Start the course.

  2. Learn the material.

  3. Take a test.

  4. Receive a grade.

Very easy! Try the samples to see for yourself.


How we used Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation:

I received a full years access to the history level of our choice as well as Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards that accompany the level. I am using the program with my 4th grader, Malachi, who used this course completely independently!

He did his lessons first thing in the morning and often had his lesson completed before I even got up. He moved through the lessons quickly and often did more than one lesson a day.


To make sure I was able to keep up with what he was learning, I had him save his worksheets and tests. To do this, he simply clicked "review" and then exported them as a PDF to view or print later. From my Teacher's account, I can log in and see his assignments, but I can't see the questions he missed, so it is important for him to save his results when he completes an assignment. (I would love to see an option to review questions from the Teacher panel.)

He does a Worksheet at the beginning of a unit and takes a Test at the end of a unit. He has had varying levels of success. His first F was a bit hard to swallow. Test scores are weighted more heavily than Worksheet scores, but he was gradually able to bring his grade up to a B.

If I could change one more thing, it would be to have the Worksheet be in the middle of the unit, instead of on the first day of a new unit.

Material we covered during the review:

  1. St. Augustine Converts to Christianity

  2. Barbarian Invasion and Vikings

  3. St. Jerome Completes the Vulgate

  4. The Council of Chalcedon

  5. St. Benedict and Monasticism

  6. Justinian the Great

We are looking forward to the remaining 26 lessons which will take us through the rest of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation for a total of 32 weeks of instruction.

By the time Malachi has completed this course, he will have memorized the History Memory Song to remember all that he has learned.

The history cards are considered a required resource, but we didn't receive our cards until the end of our review. We made do by using screen shots of the cards in our lessons, but will use the physical cards with our lessons this fall.


The information on the cards is what is covered in the lessons, and can be used when completing the activities, but may not be used when taking the test. (I had to agree to that when I set up the course.)

We did not use the optional resources listed on the back of the cards, but I let Malachi know that if he wanted to explore a topic more, he was welcome to.

When we started, I was hoping to start where we left off in our current program, which was the Feudal System. But, each lesson builds upon each other and there is continual review, so it is necessary to start at the beginning.

My Thoughts:

Veritas Press Self Paced History was a big hit! Malachi loved being able to work independently, watch the videos, play games, and more.

He loved how interactive, challenging and fun it is. He asked me several times to play the games, and he's right - they are fun and interesting. In the following activity, I had to search the Monastery for clues. As I searched the Monastery, I talked to Monks to get more information, clicked on objects to reveal notes, and answered questions pertaining to the lesson.


I am impressed that he is learning about key people, events, places and dates. . . and remembering them!

I especially love that it frees me up. This is a huge reason why we will continue on with this course. This program freed me up so much that it will replace our current history program for the coming year, and I can see us using it through 6th grade.

And while this is an online interactive course, hands on projects are included!

In Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, the projects include:

  • a Monastic Manuscript

  • replicating Charlemagne's Crown

  • build a castle

  • make a Coat of Arms

  • make a Feudal Ranks poster

  • make trenchers (recipe included!)

  • make a Doomsday Book

  • make a stained glass picture

Age Range: 

Veritas Press: Self-Paced History is designed for grades 2nd through 6th, with a recommendation that your child be 7 years old before they start the course. If you started in 2nd, you could get all 5 levels in. However, I didn't feel my 2nd grader was ready to use this program independently, so I feel it is better suited for grades 3rd through 7th.

Price:

Tuition is $199 per course. If enrolling a sibling, Veritas Press offers a discount of $100 off. Flashcards are $19.95.

Note: You can use the course access for more than one student, but only one grade is recorded. Used in this way, a younger sibling may "audit" the course. I recommend this for a sibling who is not quite ready for the program.

At $199 a year, I would buy it just to free me up and give me a peace of mind that my child is motivated, being held accountable, and enjoying the process. But, when a sale comes up for $100 off, I snatch it up quick.

Final Thoughts:

I'd like Malachi to do Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation for 4th grade this year, Explorers to 1815 for 5th grade, and 1815 to Present for 6th grade. I will have him do the optional resources as he has interest, but I plan on adding in some of the books for the historical literature lessons.

I think this is a great program and am really thankful that we had the opportunity to review it. Malachi really loves History and I can hardly keep up with his desire to learn. I love being able to give him a program that he can use at his own pace and not have to wait on his teacher, who has her hands full teaching multiple children of different levels.

Pros: 

  • Learn history chronologically

  • Memorize names, dates, places and events in an enjoyable way

  • Learning is interactive and fun

  • Students can work entirely independently

  • Excellent for visual and auditory learners

  • Great for students who are motivated by games and activities

  • The price is reasonable considering how much time and energy I save as a teacher.

  • 32 weeks of lessons can easily be completed in a 36 week school year.

Cons:

  • It is an online subscription, so it requires an internet connection and a computer during use. We will have students competing for computer time when school starts this fall, so I anticipate it might be a problem at times. I still think it's totally worth it, and if I can get Malachi to get up early to do his lessons like he has been, it shouldn't be a problem for us.

Technical Requirements: 

  • Internet connection with a minimum download speed  of 768 Kbps

  • Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or 7 (IE, Firefox, or Chrome)

  • Mac OSX 10.4 or higher (Safari, Firefox, or Chrome)

  • Flash Player

  • read all the details here.

We are running it on a Mac OSX 10.9 on wifi with high speed internet. I mention this because wifi will slow down a high speed internet connection to about half of it's capability, but we have had no problems at all.

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18 comments:

Rebecca Ray said...

Loved reading your review! I was convinced I wouldn't like this program when we started it, but Bennett really wanted to try it and I'm glad he did because we have loved it!!

Michelle said...

Thank you, Rebecca! :) I was pretty sure we would like it, haha! But super happy that we like it so much! So glad you liked it too ~ I think it will be a real blessing to our homeschool (me, especially!).

Lisa M. @ Farm Fresh said...

So glad to see Malachi enjoyed it as much as Seth!!! Seth asked me today (though our review was over) -- "It's history time right?" I took plan on using it until we are done with it. The $199 is hard to swallow for this frugal mama---except that it really is SO worth it. When we are done with this course I will think long and hard about the next one. We started at the "end" with the 5th course...(because it was what we were already studying) but I"m interested in doing the earlier history ones.

Kristina @ School Time Snippets said...

Enjoyed reading your review, Michelle. When we had the option to check it out prior to the review, my interest wasn't very high as I thought my son might be a bit too young and it just didn't interest ME- ha! But the way you described it certainly seems to "fit" my son and since he loves his screen time, perhaps I will check it out a bit more seriously when we reach 3rd grade in another year.

Michelle said...

We are breaking for the rest of summer, but it is nice to know we have a 6 week head start on the new school year! I really do want to get the next level for Malachi (maybe let Eliana audit the course). I have my hands full and it has been such a blessing! It will also give me a chance to do FIAR. :D

Michelle said...

I would have been hesitant to review it with Eliana, too. I try to choose things that I think will work well for us and I'm glad I reviewed it with Malachi. I think I mentioned 3rd being a good time to start. I may still have Eliana audit the course, but I'm also thinking of doing something different with just her for a change since Malachi would be covered. :) Do you have next year all planned out?

Pam said...

Is outside reading required? It seems like just listening to a video and doing a game would not be enough. And does it include map work? I haven't looked at the sample yet...just wanted to ask. Thanks!

Michelle said...

Pam, there are literature selections scheduled in the program and optional reading suggested on the History Cards. The program does include map work, as well as memorization of dates, names, facts, etc. They really learn a lot with this program! We purchased the next level after this review.

Stacey Williams said...

Thanks for this review! My daughter, age 8, is ready for grade-appropriate (3rd grade) content for next year. However, she has dyslexia and is not ready for grade-level independent reading. If it is set up the right way, this seems like it would be a fabulous way to give her rich content and interesting, interactive learning - while freeing me up a bit, as I must spend quite a lot of time doing intensive one-on-one work with her for spelling, reading, writing and math. However, if the activities are set up in a way that requires she read words on the screen in order to grasp the material, then it will be no different than what we currently do, which depends on me doing all the reading and teaching for everything. Any thoughts? I have also considered using the audio for SOTW in order to lesson my load a bit, so if you have any insights comparing the two I would love to hear them. Thanks so much!

Michelle said...

Hi Stacey, this program does require you to read words on the screen in order to answer questions. I sat down and did a lesson with my just turned 8 year old (in January). She is not a strong reader and needed help to get through the lesson. If she were to do this, I would need to be sitting next to her while she worked to help when needed. This would be ideal if you had some other work that you could do. She really liked it, but only scored a 60% on the quiz (6 out of 10). I highly recommend you do a few of the sample lessons with your daughter to see how she likes it and how involved you would need to be. I really love this program for Malachi because it frees me up, but I had not considered it for Eliana for 3rd grade. If she likes it and you don't mind being there to help, it may be worth it because it does free you up quite a bit! Just listening to history with SOTW is a good option too. I plan to use those later on, if we end up using Sonlight Core G & H. I so feel you on needing to be freed up! Malachi is working independently right now and I'm really loving the extra time I have for my younger two. If you think VP will work for you, I saw they were having a 50% off special not too long ago - would be worth looking into.

Stacey Williams said...

Thanks Michelle. I was hoping that maybe they would have the feature where you could play an audio to read the words on the screen, like some apps have. We are currently in a developing country, so I can't watch the samples (slow internet). We are planning to be in the States after June. When I saw this half-off sale I was very intrigued, since you can delay the start date. I'll have to give this some more thought - it sounds like it would lessen my load a bit, but not as much as I had thought. We use Sonlight right now. I also have two younger ones besides my daughter in the mix - one school age and one approaching preschool age. Much to consider. :) I really appreciate you taking the time to describe your experiences. It's very helpful!

Deanna said...

Hi, I realize this is an old post, but my search brought me to your site. :-) I have 2 girls that I am going to be using this for and read that you mentioned it could be used for 2, but that only one grade would be recorded. Can you actually go through the whole thing twice and do every part of the lesson including taking the tests? I am just not sure if my youngest is actually ready for the program and I am pretty sure right away she would struggle with the tests and the fact that she can't redo them. (We are struggling with retention when it comes to history and science, I don't know if that is just not her interest or the curriculum and way I have present it up until now) I just don't want to spend the extra $100 just to have her grades recorded and find out this isn't going to work. I do, however, want to see if she can do the entire program, enjoy it and retain more than we have so far. And I do feel it will work for my oldest and it seems like an answer to prayer for me as I have been searching for something to help them be more independent and free up some of my time to spend with my youngest. Thanks!!

Michelle said...

Hi Deanna, yes, you can actually go through the whole thing twice and do every part of the lesson, including the tests, but only the first grade is recorded. So, your older daughter could complete the lesson each day first, and have her grade recorded, and then you could have your younger daughter complete the same lesson afterwards without the grade, or you could write down her grade and record it yourself. I would try just one subscription first and see how it goes! My 10 year old is really loving this program! I bought the next level during the fall sale and then when the sale came up again this spring I bought the next level but was able to delay the start date until this fall knowing he would have to do the program all summer to finish in time and he willingly agreed. I'm really happy with it for him, but I still don't think my daughter (now 8) is ready for it. I love having the time freed up to do a program with just her, though!

Hope that helps!

DeAnna said...

Thank you!! Sounds like it will be perfect then for this year!

Monarch Room said...

I might be looking a little too closely at VP (gasp.) We started off as classical, but I leaned way more to the CM side. I have never been able to shake some of that early reading about why Classical is also a good choice though. I'm starting to think I would really like this approach in the older years. Thank you for sharing this review. I'm usually not one for computer based, but I actually think my boys would love it. I am looking at the You Teach option as well. We are staying with our plans for next year, so for now I need to hide my VP catalog.

Michelle said...

Gasp! lol :) I haven't even looked into the older years! Yes, I think any boy would love VP, especially if they are visual and auditory learners. :) I plan to visit soon - I've missed catching up with you and see you have lots of good stuff in the works for this coming year. :)

Talley Family said...

We are doing the New Testament, Greece and Rome but I can not find the hands on activities. Can you tell me where you found the activities? Thanks so much!

Michelle said...

Hi Talley Family, the hands on activities are in the upper right hand corner of the lesson under attachments (next to table of contents). If you look in the Supply List (a PDF to the right of a lesson), it will tell you which lessons have hands on activities. Hope that helps! If not, feel free to email me!

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