Monday, May 16, 2011

TOS Crew Review: WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press

Geography, oh geography-where would we be without knowing our geography?  Lost, I tell ya.  And frankly, many students are totally clueless when it comes to knowing even the basic information regarding our planet's massive God made/man made topography [continents, rivers, lakes, oceans, mountain ranges, canals] and the multitude of countries or states, along with other various important nuggets of info.  

But like some super hero right out of the comics-

"It's a bird, a plane..."
"No wait! It's a digital map factory sworn to protect
 the integrity of your child's internal GPS system!"

Available in either a CD or via a download, WonderMaps is a relative new comer to the market.  Designed to be customized by you, to suit your educational needs.  There are 350 different maps available, of which I am sure could be assimilated into several of your daily lessons (and by that I mean anywhere from your history to science to artist/composer, to USA/world studies, to Shakespeare or Bible courses) on a regular basis.

These are categorized into 4 subsections:
Worlds/Continents/Regions/Nations, the USA, Historical and Thematic. 
Digging a bit deeper, one finds the nicely organized, subtitle lists which are noted under each-allowing you to point and click to gain access to the various target group maps. Then, within each individual selection, you can pick and choose just the "layers" (ya like an onion you peel) you do or do not want on it [such as rivers, or individual countries and/or their names], in order to create a more personalized version-before printing it.  What's more, they have their history product line (All American History I/II and Mystery of History) icons to access, with the corresponding maps available [of course] for each unit.  Thankfully, Bright Ideas Press has a lovely tutorial video you can watch to get a clear understanding of how helpful this program is.

Our thoughts:

Now, even though as of late, I have failed to provide the all important cartographical supplements as I should have, I have no excuses anymore. I can easily zip into the program, find one of say-Hernando de Soto's wayward trip [we just visited the museum in Florida where we were introduced to their anti-ability to truly follow normal exploration guidelines] and print off the map for my son to color, highlight and so on. Yes, an activity that will "cement" the lesson/experience for him.  I am actually looking forward to compiling the maps we'll need to cover the Lewis and Clark exploration for our next semester's study-and that too is only a click/print away with the WonderMaps program.  As with any one I of them that I choose, I can tweak it to have just the trip outlined, or add in the current state lines-or whatever I feel it needs to do the study justice.  This is especially great when I want to test the children on their retention skills, because I can leave off the names of things for them to fill in and call that their quiz.  

Since history is our favorite subject, the Historical maps are fast becoming our "popular zone".  I love how they are broken into four time frames (Creation-33AD, 33AD-1437AD, 1457AD-1707AD, and 1708AD-Present) so I can find what I need to match our current studies. Seriously, what a great way to illustrate [and recognize/find] exactly where all this important stuff took place. All I have to do is locate, decide, click/print and stuff into their workboxes. Easy peasy. 

Ah yes, and after my recent little garage sale find-I am going to be dipping into the various world maps that have all the states/countries clearly marked (minus the name labels). I need to create the map cards for the Geografacts game we found, because it is [sadly] missing them.  I can now redeem my dollar purchase by using the WonderMaps collection to fix the errant problem.  Whew.  I would have had to either trash it, or find some other use for it-but alas, no more. 

Before I end this, it would be utterly shameful of me to not mention a gem or two I found within the Teacher's Guide as well. I went there to see just what extra goodies were available and I have to say, the MP3 workshops were a delight to listen to.  I also had fun strolling through the 50 Bright Ideas for Using Outline Maps. Frankly even an old dog such as myself, can use some refreshing new tricks to jazz up my geographical, instruction abilities.  There you have it-a clear winner in this household.  It truly is a super hero defending our best interest and map integrity skills!

Biblical maps are included, hence this notation.
 A huge variety of the maps are benign as well.

Need help with icons? Click Here

$49.95 for program (CD or download)
all ages K-12 and beyond

**Don't forget to read what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products, over on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

***Bright Ideas Press provided me with a free download version of the WonderMaps, so that I could write this review.  I did not receive any financial compensation for my honest opinion of this product.

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