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During my first year of homeschooling, I found myself bombarded by so much information. Not only were there books to read about ways to approach homeschooling, but there were also tons of websites, catalogs and even books telling me about all the wonderful curriculum out there.
After speaking with several homeschool friends about their approach and what they used, I opted to start our first year using one curriculum as our primary source. However, it didn’t take long before this eclectic mama became hooked on finding new items to fit the bill in areas I felt were lacking.
Bright Ideas Press
My first introduction to Bright Ideas Press was a recommendation for their book, The Ultimate Guide to Geography. I added it to my wish list and ended up buying a copy a little over a year ago. Amazingly, I didn’t spend time seeing what other products Bright Ideas Press offered. Then, this past spring at a curriculum sharing meeting, I had the opportunity to see a copy of The Mystery of History Vol. II. I liked what I saw, but having spent the year in a co-op with the Middle Ages as the primary focus I just filed away that curriculum recommendation for when we began a chronological study of history. When the initial line-up of vendors for the TOS Crew was listed, I quickly spotted that Bright Ideas Press was on the list and prayed that our family would be fortunate to evaluate one of their products.
Then, this past spring at a curriculum sharing meeting, I had the opportunity to see a copy of The Mystery of History Vol. II. I liked what I saw, but having spent the year in a co-op with the Middle Ages as the primary focus I just filed away that curriculum recommendation for when we began a chronological study of history. When the initial line-up of vendors for the TOS Crew was listed, I quickly spotted that Bright Ideas Press was on the list and prayed that our family would be fortunate to evaluate one of their products.
When the initial line-up of vendors for the TOS Crew was listed, I quickly spotted that Bright Ideas Press was on the list and prayed that our family would be fortunate to evaluate one of their products.
Not only did our family receive Mystery of History Vol. 3 (which corresponds to the time frame we had planned to study), but we were also blessed with a newer product, A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers. While we have only spent about a month using both products, I can easily say that the boys and I are enjoying both.
Mystery of History Volume III
Unlike the first two volumes of Mystery of History, the third volume has the student text in a gorgeous hardback format. Instead of chapters, the material is broken down into days with the suggestion of spending 3 days per week on history.
While the first two volumes had the text immediately followed by activities, quizzes, etc., the third volume offers this information in either print or CD-ROM format. For the review, we were sent the CD-ROM with all the files in pdf format. This particular grouping is the perfect fit for my family as I can quickly print the pages I need from the computer and not print those we won’t use.
One activity the boys really enjoyed was to paint like Michelangelo (laying on their backs under the table.) We’ve also loved that this particular history book focuses a lot more on the interesting people of the times rather than just a standard timeline approach.
Now, one particular concern I did have for this product is how they would treat the Catholic Church. Many books I have seen covering the Renaissance and Reformation take a rather negative view of the Catholic Church ~ and some do not restrict this view to times that might justify criticism.
I have read the material ahead of the boys to note anything that will need further clarification and must admit that the author has done a reasonable job at providing a balanced approach to some sensitive topics. (Note: We will be reaching Martin Luther soon, so I cannot comment on those particular lessons right now.)
I have a few Catholic history books on the shelf that I planned to use during our studies and was a bit disappointed that they handled this time period by either skimming over issues or skipping them altogether. While I want the boys to be deeply rooted in our faith, I don’t see how avoiding any touchy subjects (e.g. the Inquisition in Spain) does them justice. I know some Catholic homeschoolers would disagree with me, but that’s how I feel.
A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers
As for the Composer Study, this product is working quite nicely at adding a bit of ‘music’ into our homeschool. We’ve always listened to a variety of music but never spent time doing a real study.
There are 32 lessons in the book to fill up an entire year of study. Instead of continuing to do a lesson per week, we are going to study a few musical time periods each semester and stretch this study out over two years.
Each lesson includes text to read about the period or specific composer as well as reproducible pages for note taking on the information. When studying a specific composer there are additional activities to complete including a coloring page we use while listening to suggested pieces by that individual.
While we were sent the printed book for the Composer study. You can also purchase it in digital format. Copying the necessary pages has not been too time-consuming. However, my ideal format to purchase would be to have the reproducible pages on CD-ROM included with the printed book. But, for something that is working so well in our family I can handle the scanning and printing as needed.
The majority of Bright Ideas Press’ products have sample pages available on their website. You can find samples of Mystery of History Volume 3 (which includes the lesson on the Spanish Inquisition) and samples of Young Student’s Guide to Famous Composers on the Bright Ideas Press website. Personally, I am very appreciative of companies that have sample pages for viewing before you purchase.
If you want to read about these or other products that TOS Crewmates have reviewed, take a minute to visit the TOS Crew page for Bright Ideas Press.