This year, the boys and I are exploring American History. I am so thankful that there are many options available on how to approach different periods.
This program pulls from the classroom teachings of Mary Stauffer, who has taught 3rd grade at Dayspring Christian Academy since 1994 and has a passion for teaching and preserving the truth of our nation’s past.
This is an online course, but you can go at your own pace with access available for 6 months from purchase. Geared for grades 3 through 6, the course retails for $99 and embraces a multi-media format.
What Does The Pilgrim Story Cover?
Ms. Stauffer spends a fair amount of time laying out the background story of the pilgrims, beginning with a short history of Henry VII and the foundation of The Church of England. She also follows them as the leave England for Holland and ultimately ‘the new world’ in their quest to find a hospitable home where they can freely worship God as they desire. Individual lessons include “King Henry, Geneva Bible, Liberty of Conscience, Leaving Leiden, Conditions on the Mayflower, Building Christian Character, the Mayflower Compact, and much more.”
The entire course fits the school’s Principle Approach to learning. In a nutshell, that means teaching with the Bible as a central resource and history presented with a providential view (identifying causes and effects from God’s perspective not man’s.)
How is it Presented?
The majority of the course is spent watching slides with a narrator providing a ‘lecture’ with the student taking notes, there are other learning methods pulled into play as the lessons progress. Each lesson begins with catchy theme music to set the stage with an image of a vessel at sea. The music caught R’s attention when he came into the room when D was beginning a lesson. (He’s most likely going to work through at his own pace now, too.)
The male narrator has a pleasant voice which I always find important when you want a child to listen and not be sidetracked by the speaker. While he does read the key points which correspond to the note taking sheets available for download, he also presents more details on those topics which gives that aural feed of information and provides additional time for the student to fill in the blanks on the note sheet.
At first, the student’s interaction with the lessons is by clicking to the next slide as well as selecting their answer for short review (aka pop quiz) questions during each lesson. Then, the student begins to be more interactive with the lessons as a few topics with multiple points are done with a click to choose the subtopic covered from a rather fetching virtual world screen. (Those sections are D’s favorites!)
Unit tests are also done online with instant feedback on how they did and the option to retake a test or see all the answers with the student’s selection laid out in a spreadsheet format. When D took the Unit 1 test, I could see how a simple mistake could lead to a lower grade as he got the second item in a sort list out of order and therefore missed all but one of those points. (But, being the final grade giver in our house, I could see what he had done and adjust accordingly.) You can see just that one question below with the correct response order in the third column and his placement in the 4th.
What We Think About The Pilgrim Story
Overall, I have been quite impressed. One concern for me anytime I use a resource that will have significant religious content in it is that it may severely conflict with our Catholic faith. When we began the first lesson on Henry VII and I printed the note taking sheet for D, I was a little bit nervous about what we would hear. After all, Henry VIII is not known for his great love of the Roman Catholic Church. But, by the end of the lesson, I was feeling more comfortable about the content and that I would not spend more time explaining things from a Catholic perspective than it took for D to complete the lesson.
Below are a few snapshots from that particular lesson. The first shows how they have the note taking information displayed (with what the student needs to write underlined.) I really liked the reasoning question and was glad that D got the distinction between earthly government and God’s authority.
While we have not completed the entire course to date, we are well underway with the lessons and enjoy the material overall. As D is like many boys his age and hates to write much, anything more than one lesson a day is too many for him. Some of the lessons have had quite a bit of writing required which then leads to his complaining and not working diligently on the course. Between the writing issue and internet access issues during September, we averaged more like 2 lessons per week.
A few of the lessons we have done had additional worksheets that could be done. D really enjoyed the translation from Greek activity and seeing how challenging it must be for Biblical scholars to translate into their native tongue.
He’s eager to make some food and experience a taste of life aboard the Mayflower. I have a feeling when we reach the end and do the virtual field trip, he will have a blast exploring that as well.
Curious to see more? Check out this trailer about the program and then click through on the link in my disclaimer to see how others enjoyed the program.
Disclaimer ~ We were provided with the materials mentioned in this review to facilitate a review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. No monetary compensation occurred and all opinions are my own. You can see what other Crewmates had to say about this product.