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Every so often, there’s a glitch with the mail up here. Actually, I can’t say that it is more likely for things to go missing than when we lived in the lower 48. But, I can say that it sometimes take a LOT longer for things to arrive. However, when the Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space book I was expecting from Bright Ideas Press did not arrive in a timely fashion, I got a little concerned.
Disclaimer ~ Our family was provided with these materials so we could do a review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. No other compensation was provided and the opinions expressed here are our own. You can see what other TOS Crewmates had to say about these and other Bright Ideas Press products by visiting the TOS Homeschool Crew page. Also, our family is an affiliate with Bright Ideas Press. If you visit through THIS LINK, any purchases made could provide us with a small commission.
Just to make sure I had something to review in case the second mailing of the science book did not arrive in time, I was also given the download for Illuminations 1, grades 3-8. So, this post actually has TWO Bright Ideas Press products to talk about. (Earth and Space arrived about 10 days ago, hence we didn’t get really far into the book.)
Bright Ideas Press introduced this product a few years ago using Mystery of History Volume 1 as the spine along with other suggested products to cover pretty much all subject areas except for math. Knowing that there are a few other programs out there which are similar in nature (a grid layout for daily study by week for all subject areas save math and possibly science), I was not sure if Illuminations would just be more of the same.
I have to say that when I got it up on the computer and opened up the file, I was just blown away by all it has included. For the record, I’ve seen the other products. I’ve even tried to use them. But, for some reason this particular format just clicked better for me.
Illuminations gets downloaded as an executable file that then is used to install the interlinked pdfs onto your computer. When you click on the BIP Illuminations icon on the desktop, a start here page opens with 4 choices: Quick Start, Browse by Subject, Browse by Date, or Contact Info/License. Clicking on any of them brings you to that directory with the 4 choices remaining on the bottom.
Quick Start lays out how the program is set up. Some subjects, e.g. grammar and writing, have choices for which curriculum to use. One file accessed from here is the Literature Evaluation form which has points for different categories so that a grade can be given to the student if desired. Since we DO have to turn in grades to our charter school, this is a very handy tool for me.
Browsing by Subject is just like it implies. You won’t find the actual literature guides included here, but you will find the list of them. And, they have a category for supplemental that lists out recommendations for videos through Netflix or which sections of Drive Through History work with your studies.
Browsing by Date is the one I used the most often as some of the files are only found through that selection. When you click on the week of interest, you are taken to another menu with the option of the schedule grid. A neat feature of the scheduling grid is that you can type onto it before printing to truly customize for your family. This browsing format also has the literature guides for that week here as well as individual subjects that will open at the page corresponding to that week. The literature guides are wonderfully laid out (and something you can purchase individually from Bright Ideas Press.)
Since the older boys are already entrenched in modern history studies, I did not have them work on the history component. Instead, I pulled Mystery of the History Volume 1 off the shelf and worked on the first few weeks with D. You won’t find history in most areas of Illuminations beyond the schedule grid. That’s most likely due to MOH having been written to be stand alone for history with activities and other items already included in the book. The lessons are short for reading and the suggested activities are usually easy enough to implement in a busy household.
R and P did get in on some of the action by utilizing the spelling section. Spelling uses Natural Speller as it’s foundation (which I don’t own) with Illuminations providing words each week as well as some activities to help the kids learn. The pdf file for spelling has six different levels (roughly corresponding to 3rd through 8th grade) with a pretest available to determine which level the student should use.
Overall, I have been quite impressed with this product. While I do not plan to keep going with it this year, I do plan to use it with D and R when we are ready to head back to ancient times in our history. For my readers who are Catholic, Mystery of History is written with a Christian worldview that is definitely Protestant. Most of the sections we read were easily modified by the reader (ME) so that D wouldn’t be confused if something did not quite mesh with Church teaching.
The author of this series of elementary science books does state that she is not a scientist by training. Rather, she is a homeschool mother that created these books in response to not finding materials with a Christian worldview to use with her children. While not a scientist by training, she does a reasonably good job presenting the information (which she did have checked by those with training before publication.)
This particular volume covers earth science as well as astronomy. It is not done in great detail, but provides a good foundation and jumping off point for families to go down rabbit trails as needed. One appendix of the book has a chapter by chapter resource list of non-fiction books and literature selections that are related to the material covered. She also dedicates a short appendix to how a folder book can be constructed to house what the child has learned.
The short lessons (24 in total) are quite manageable to implement in a busy homeschool. Each lesson has teaching time (reading on the topic), Scripture memory verses, and hands-on time (simple demonstrations, mapping, etc.) You also have wrap-ups for each of the 6 units (Getting Started, The Lithosphere, The Hydrosphere, The Atmosphere, Earth’s Weather, and Beyond Earth.)
One nice option available with this product is a pdf file you can purchase with just the Student Activity pages. While you are given permission to photocopy the pages from the book for your family or class, having them in a pdf file to print on demand is a huge plus in my view.
The boys had mixed views on this particular product. They didn’t object to any of the material, but found the work less involved then they would have liked. I anticipated this for the first unit, so we actually did both lessons in ONE day. I figure that future lessons can be made more ‘full’ by adding in additional reading, experiments, videos and possibly lapbooks from other sources. Then they’d probably complain that there was too much work!
Illuminations 1 (grades 3 – 8) $165 for the year as a download, $185 for the year delivered to your house on a CD-ROM, or $82.50 for just the first semester. There are samples available to view on the Illuminations website so you can see quite a bit before purchasing.
Christian Kids Explore Earth Science & Astronomy book retails for $29.95 and the Student Activity Book as a pdf file is $12.95.