Review of MapTrek’s Atlas and Outline Maps of World History

Introductory Note:  I purchased all of these on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

As most of you know, I’m a visual person and I love maps.  I have to know where everything is/was when learning about locations.  So I looked into finding blackline maps for my kids for history study.

Terri Johnson’s MapTrek program (offered through her company Knowledge Quest) is one of the few out there that won’t break the bank.  I bought all 4 years (Ancient Times through Modern Times) called the Complete Collection, both the print book and the CD.

I like MapTrek but a lot of the maps are redundant if  you also purchase the Activity Book for Story of the World (SOTW) by Susan Wise Bauer.  She actually uses some of Mrs. Johnson’s maps in her book as well.

However, I like the detail of MapTrek’s maps better but I usually use SOTW’s because it’s already printed and saves on paper.  If you buy the activity book I would say you don’t need MapTrek.

I also purchased Knowledge Quest’s Timeline Map of Ancient History which is awesome!  I love being able to see the highlights and if I forget something I just run over to the wall and the date is right there.

Conclusions:  Great products by a homeschooling mom herself at reasonable rates.  Quick timeframe on answering emails.  Time saver when it comes to map work during history/geography lessons.

Review of The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times

Introductory Note:  I purchased all of these on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

I have loved everything about this series by Susan Wise Bauer so far.

Affectionately known as SOTW, this series is perfect for the younger kids.  The book is written in short sections at the child’s level with just enough simple drawings that my 4 year old will listen.

I also purchased the activity book which my kids LOVE!  It’s their favorite part of history.  They love doing the maps and the other suggested activities.  We mainly do the worksheets and rarely do the projects just because we have a full day as it is and don’t have the time.  I always look  up the selected reading lists at my library to read to my kids which helps to shift through what’s good and what’s not out there especially when studying Egypt, Greece, and Rome of which there are volumes of information.

I have skipped around and added a few sections here and there but overall this hits the highlights of the ancient world that everyone should know.  There will be time later for in-depth study the next go-around.

I also purchased The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia for use for 4 years of study as well as Usborne’s Encyclopedia of the Ancient World both of which I use extensively.

Conclusions:  Along with library books this is a great spine for History.  I’m looking forward to Volume 2: The Middle Ages next year!

Review of Writing With Ease: Strong Fundamentals

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

I purchased Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer more out of curiosity than anything else (and indecision of course).  I love dictation and thought this would be great to read her opinions on the subject.

Since I am doing a separate writing, grammar, and spelling program, I used this book mainly for the dictation and narration.  I did Year 1 and 2 in about 3 months, stopped, and moved onto something else.  I will probably do Year 3 & 4 at the beginning of next year.

Ms. Bauer states this book will teach your child to write.  Here we diverge.

Here’s my honest opinion:  I think this book is too easy.  I think Ms. Bauer underestimates what children are capable of.  My first-grader does narration and dictation with no problem.  She is also writing on her own and being taught how to put sentences together, parts of a sentence, conjugation, etc.  I think this book coddles and does not challenge the average student. I believe we should expect more.

You definitely do not need the workbook unless  you want something already pre-planned.  I chose dictation exercises from all of our curriculum.

Conclusions:  I could have done without this book but since I bought it I used it and will keep it for future reference.  However, I continue to believe Ms. Bauer’s writing program is too easy.  I’m a fan of her history but not writing/english.