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.

Connect with Veritas Press on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Google+.

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Katy No-Pocket {Before FI♥AR}

6/19/2014

~Bo is 3 years, 5 months~

Katy No-Pocket is a Before Five in a Row selection about a kangaroo without a pocket and how she goes about getting one. It is not my favorite book, and I don't enjoy reading it, but it has a huge variety of animals and critters and that made it fun for Bo. It also involves problem solving, helping others, and has plenty of opportunities for counting and learning about animal mothers and how they carry their babies.

We played with Bo's Socket To Me set, read the book and did some of the activities and discussions from the manual, matched the animal classification cards to the animals and insects in the book (there were a LOT!), did some fine motor practice with nuts and bolts, counted, did a tool matching and art activity, and made a Pavolva!

The character trait from the manual is kindness, but since we did that for our last LH unit, I chose the virtue perseverant, since Katy does not give up on finding a pocket (though she is rather emotional over her failed attempts).

I rowed Katy No-Pocket with Mali and Elli when they were 3 and 5.




















Make a MemoryPavlova

The setting of the story takes place in Australia, and I knew I wanted a reason to make this again!

Crisp meringue outside with a soft marshmallow like center. . . topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Yum!






I was inspired to row this with Bo when I received the Socket To Me set to review. Love how that worked out. I really wanted to make Bo an apron to stuff with animals, but forgot. This is a memory making idea from the manual and is so cute when I see it on other blogs! Maybe next time. :)

The summer solstice will officially mark the beginning of summer in three days and I am hoping the sun will shine to celebrate! We've had some sunny and beautiful days followed by weeks of chilly weather and lots of rain (I have a sweater and a blanket on me as I type). IF summer comes next week, I plan on rowing The Yellow Ball followed by My Blue Boat. Really hoping it warms up because I have some fun warm weather activities planned!

More Katy fun:

  • A Family In The Land (Love the pic of Shai carrying all the baby animals in her pocket apron! Julia does a great job including real life in her rows, too.)
  • Small Hands Inspired (Love how Meagan tied Kangaroo Care into their row and her two cuties "wearing" their babies!)
  • The Mommy School (Love their kindness chart and how the little ones carried their babies the way the mama animals do!)
  • A Mommy Montage (Love the aboriginal dot art and how they compared their jumping abilities to that of a kangaroo!)
  • His Treasure Seekers (Love how Deanna reminds us that following the manual and keeping rows simple can be just as enjoyable as adding in all the extras! and sometimes we as mothers need SIMPLE!)
  • Angelicscalliwags (Love the book led play dough fun, her quiet time basket, and that they made Lamingtons and Damper bread! and of course their special tea time!)
Remember: You can read any book for five days in a row, and do many wonderful activities to go-along, but you cannot “row” a book without the Five in a Row manual. Furthermore, my posts are certainly not meant to replace the manual. What I share is how we use the manual. Please read Rowing with Five in a Row to learn more! 

Design & Drill® Socket to Me {Review}

6/15/2014


If you have followed my Tot School with Bo posts, the Design & Drill name should be familiar to you!


Bo has {and loves!} the Design & Drill Take Along Tool Kit, and we used it throughout our ABC Tot School. So I knew he would love the Design & Drill® Socket to Me set from Educational Insights.


What is neat about the Socket to Me set is that is like a real socket wrench that works and even clicks as you turn it. It even has a forward and a reverse switch. And it does not require batteries!

It looks and acts so real, that it took Bo a bit to figure it out. He had to concentrate hard and you can tell by the looks on his face that this was real work for him!






What's neat is that you can't screw the bolts in by hand - you have to use the socket wrench. So realistic! But it does require a bit of effort and coordination to make it work, and he often asked for my help to finish screwing a bolt in.


Bo played with the rocket ship this day, but the set comes with 4 fun shapes to play with: a rocket, a robot, a race car, and a tug boat. The set also comes with 30 brightly colored bolts.


The set is great for developing fine motor skills and lots of creative play!



We read the book Katy No-Pocket and compared the socket wrench to the tools in the story.


I also pulled out a real socket wrench to show Bo. He was so surprised that it looked just like his!

For the next couple weeks, he brought me different shapes to play with and wanted me to screw them all in for him! He chose the colors, and I got them all started and encouraged him to try it some more. He did a few turns, but wanted me to finish.

The Design & Drill® Socket to Me set is priced at $21.99 and geared towards ages 4 and up. Because Bo is not quite 4, it is a little hard for him ~ perfect for developing his fine motor skills! I think he will get a good amount of construction play out of it.

I could see us using it mostly for home play (because I'd be afraid of losing the bolts), but if you took one along with enough bolts (with a bag to store it in), it would be great for use in the car.

I need more toys like this for Bo that serve a function beyond just entertaining my child. I like that it is teaching him a skill that carries on into real life. And I love that he can "play" with his tools (just like his dad). :)


Connect with EI on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter & YouTube.

Disclosure: I received this product for free from Educational Insights in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations. 
 
Designed with ♥ by Nudge Media Design