Showing posts with label Geography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Geography. Show all posts

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.

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$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.

Monday, July 19, 2010

TOS Crew Review: The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner-Travel the World-June 2010 Module eBook

Traveling is something our family is quite familiar with-but a whirl wind tour of the world? Now that is something totally different. After all, jet setting across the great expanse of the globe, is not only financially impractical, it is well-almost too overwhelming to even consider (at this point in our lives, that is). But the all important skill of finding geographical areas of interest, still abound-one should know where in the world places are-or at the very least, how to find them on a map.  That has always been one of my "must have by graduation" requirements for my brood.  And because geography is one of my favorite subjects, I don't mind delving into the rich opportunities to discover it.  When the 2009 Schoolhouse Planner, June Module 2010 eBook arrived on my computer doorstep [don't let that double date fool ya, each year from July to June the monthly additional modules are available under the current school year-a 12 pack in all-and this happens to be the last of the bunch for the 2009 Schoolhouse Planner], I was quite eager to see what was encapsulated in this fine gem of a product. 

I soon found a great deal of mini-lessons that I could use to jazz up our studies.  It contains information regarding the basics-like "What is Geography?" to the 7 continents and general tidbits about them, to worksheets and word searches to cement the concepts.  It is also sprinkled with coloring pages for the younger child in my home, to copywork [and I love that Charlotte Mason concept] to ideas to expand the study for the  upper level student of mine. I was finding this to be a neat module for us! There are plenty of hyper-links noted, directing us to  sites which will further our research on the topics, as well.  Best of all-there are some lapbook components just itching to be printed and assembled.  Now, if you know anything about me-you know I love to use lapbooking as a way to truly "mind-meld" the material into the kids' heads.  This was a super treat for me-and even though it is not a complete lapbook, it provides enough mini-booklets to start, with links to find the rest of the goodies to complete the study.  I didn't get a chance to try out the recipes in the module yet, but they sure sound delicious, and so we will try to incorporate them into our schooling this fall.  I was quite pleased to see that it starts out with, and continues to denote several Scripture quotes [including some of the copywork sheets] throughout the study, which truly puts this into perspective.  Meaning it hits perfectly upon one of our main goals for our family's education-as we always like to tie in what the Lord has to say about this amazing world He created.

Obviously, this is not meant to be a complete, full head-on study of the subject, but it did provide us with some great starting points.  I can easily incorporate these into our major study of geography, without taking us so far off the beaten path, to the point of losing our main focus on each area.  I look at it as though it is a side-order to the big meal, which makes it that much more enjoyable.  Would I have purchased it outright, if I had not been asked to review it? Yes, if I was new to homeschooling, or if my students have had very little or no prior lessons covering this subject.  If I was not so geography-orientated in nature, or if I needed a basic product to get the study started, I most definitely would have bought it.  Now, since I have walked 2 students through to graduation, am closing in on another [in the next 2 years], and have but one younger student remaining-my shelves are loaded with materials. So most likely, due to where I am in this homeschool adventure, I would not have actively sought it out. But I cannot stress this enough-that is not because I didn't like the material and ideas that the June 2010 Module provides-it is due to the fact I am only purchasing what few things I am missing [and that is not a whole lot-thankfully!], to finish this endeavor.

I strongly recommend that you visit the site to investigate this yourself, to see if it best meets your needs. And don't forget to look over the other 11 Modules in the series-maybe geography isn't your thing, but one of the other subjects very well may be.


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2009 Schoolhouse Planner eBook: Travel the World
$7.95 eBook download, 56 pages.
Ages:  K (some material, better for early elementary and up)-high school
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homepage

Don't forget to check out what my fellow mates had to say about this and many other great homeschool products over on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

***The Old Schoolhouse Magazine provided me with a free download of the the 2009 Schoolhouse Planner: June 2010: Travel the World eBook, so that I could use this study with my family.  I did not receive financial compensation in exchange for my honest opinion of this product.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Olde World Style United States and World Maps Combo Pak by Home School in the Woods

Home School in the Woods, my oh my!  Amy Pak does it again!  I am trying to contain myself I love  the stuff she creates.  Because I use mostly Charlotte Mason methods, I really try to keep the learning more hands-on,  with as many lapbooking/notebooking activities as I can squeeze in, and jazz it up by weaving  maps into our history and geography studies [sometimes Science and other subjects], on a daily/weekly basis.  Well, that in of itself is a problem-because finding good quality maps that are not bordering on total  "cheese fest" or "lame-O" in details has proven to be quite the challenge.  I like my stuff to be professional looking as possible, and the Olde World Style Maps fit the bill to a "T".  

What a delight it was to open the downloads to find not only one set of maps, but two!  The Combo pack includes the World and the United States collection. But that is not all-there are also extra maps and tons of Notebooking pages which coordinate with the main maps.

The Olde World Style World Map set covers from the simple Continents and Oceans, to the more complex maps covering the ancient worlds such as the Chinese Dynasties, Viking World, Africa, Mesopotamia, 
Greece/Rome,  Egypt, and Israel to Paul's Missionary travels, and the Twelve Tribes of Canaan.  There are also some of the more well-known countries of today's world mapped for your students to study too.

Plus, one has the choice of printing off the maps with or without the labels, or ones that have no titles, so you can custom design the map label to the student's needs. On top of those, there are about 40 Notebooking pages to compliment these great maps.  Whoah Nellie!  You can even print off colored flags of the countries which can be added to the student's study on a particular country, used to create a poster or any other type of visual.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Now before you ponder what can be done with these-take a peek at what I made using several of the included maps and pages.

A center custom designed to provide an extra practice on the areas to be studied. I have a whole post on my World Geography Center on my workbox blog.  I even took snippets of the pages to create some focus activities, and sections for the main board.  When we are done with our world studies, we will move on to the United States map set to create a whole new version to highlight each of the 50 states!  I also have the kids putting together a mini-binder of the countries and such that we will cover this year.  One could easily turn these into parts for a lapbook as well [which just may happen now that I mentioned that].

Alrighty then, so that covers the World...but what if you need to do an in depth study of the States? Ah yes, Amy has you covered quite nicely there too.  I am amazed at how much is the Olde World Style United States Maps collection!  We won't be covering the states until January of next year, but I am already planning out what I can do with this stuff.  Each state has a very nice map (again with the label/no label, and outline form) so that the student can color it, label all the necessary info, etc.  We plan on creating a huge notebook [Amy thought of that too-she has covers available for the binders, and even the spine labels] to place these in-along with some of the Notebooking pages and the flags, as well.  Of course, that isn't all that is there-I noticed there were maps for the Civil War era.  So since we are up to our necks in that study, I couldn't be more happy to see them.

Example of the Union/Confederate map, that my daughter worked on for her U.S. binder.

There are more relating to the Civil War, and there are oodles of others covering the early settlement of America, to it's growth from the 1800s to the 1950s, Native American tribes, and the political/physical maps of the US too.  My son will be learning about the Colonies in a few short weeks, so I will print off those maps for him to color and label, to place in his History Notebook-again, a nice visual for him to refer to throughout the study.  I  have to say,  I am 100% sure that I will be utilizing these fantastic maps over and over, throughout the years.  

If you are thinking that this all sounds rather familiar, then you are probably a regular reader of my blog.  I also reviewed the New Testament Hands On Activity Pak (which we loved) take a moment to read that too. In fact, I am planning on purchasing her Civil War Time Traveler kit, as my son is totally into that study (thanks to having his big Sissy learning about it) and longs to do something geared for his age. I am telling you-if you enjoy nice, quality and well thought out products to help you teach in a more hands-on and Charlotte Mason methody way-then this is the place to focus your attention.

I gave this a world icon-even though there are plenty of Bible related maps in here-simply because the majority are benign. But there is definitely a Christian undertone-which is a very good thing!

very minimal assistance is needed with these maps-mainly for the younger children

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Home School in the Woods Homepage

Combo Pak :$28.95 for download
$29.95 for CD  (plus S & H)

Or purchase individual map sets:

World Maps: $18.95
US Maps: $18.95

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

***Home School in the Woods provided me with a free download of the Olde World Style United States and World Maps Pak, to use, test, create various visual aids, and enjoy to the utmost with my family. I have provided my opinion on the product, and did not receive financial compensation for this review. And my exuberance over the goodies Amy creates is simply because-they are just that good!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TOS Crew Review: Schoolside Press-The Little Man in the Map

Geography is an important subject, but I have not given it the focus it deserves. I usually do the basics (7 continents, our state in general, oceans, etc.) until the children begin 3rd or 4th grade. In the past, I discussed the states/capitals but without much flair. But for my youngest-look out! I have been introduced to some great reading books, and lapbooking kits that are sure to make the study of anything geography related-a lot more fun.

I had never heard of The Little Man in the Map . I wasn't even sure what a little man would be doing in a map! Then the package arrived, and all my questions were laid to rest. The Little Man in the Map is the clever brainchild of the author, E. Andrew Martonyi. He took what most of us have looked at all our lives, gave it a man-figured shape named MIM, and a book all his own. The story is so charming and witty that my son begs to have it read to him just about daily. I have heard him chattering about the "Sleeve of America", a "Flashlight", a "Turtle's head", and don't forget that "Longhorn chair with that state you scoot just a bit". I couldn't believe how quickly he was picking up the clues to finding the state's locations and helpful names that MIM gave them. Finally, a children's book that fits the CM method, and is full of clever rhymes to help remember the 50 states.

The is a very nice hard-backed book with bright, and well-illustrated images. I was pleased to see the high quality too. This one is a keeper. To top it off, Mr. Martonyi is working on a book that uses rhymes to teach the capitals. So between the two books, some great on-line resources, geography and coloring books, my son should be well acquainted with the 50 states!

Now, just so you know: there are a few elves in there, but they are similar to what you'd see in a book on Santa..those sort of characters, nothing ridiculous. The Montana state dude was a bit scary (sorta like a mild Frankenstein) in one scene, but he livens up when Wyoming is attached to help make him laugh and sing-so kids could easily get over it. Alaska looks like a grouchy Old Man Winter, but again-nothing nightmare causing (in my humble opinion). There are two references that I saw to magic, but it is presented as relating to imagination magic. I personally did not feel it bothersome. But that is a judgement call you will need to make, so I wanted to be sure to mention it. If you follow the CM method, then you are familiar with the inclusion of fairies, elves and magical creatures (after all, CS Lewis used them in his writings); and know that they are not meant to drag a soul into the dark-side, but to encourage a whimsical and playful imagination.

I should think children ages 5-10 would most benefit from this charming book. I am sure a few older ones who struggle with state names and locations, would find this to be a refreshing way to learn them.

I also wanted to include one of my posts which has links to some helpful ideas for creating your lapbooks/state study unit.

or for fluent readers:

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Schoolside Press
Hard bound edition for $19.95, wall map $21.95 (Combo of the two-$35.00) and TE will be out shortly.

You can also find MIM at the TOS Store

Find out what others had to say about MIM and the other great products we are reviewing