Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Veritas Press Self Paced History- TOS Crew Review

Veritas Press Review

Veritas Press is a leading company in the homeschool community.  Known for their classical approach and strong grade leveled curriculum packages, Veritas Press has long been one of our favorite companies.  Then I heard about Veritas Press Self Paced History and I admit I did a good deal of coveting.  All it took was watching a friends' child go through a lesson to make me want to use it for this coming year!  On to the wish list it went!

I cannot tell you then how excited we were to see Veritas Press on our TOS Vendor list and be given the privilege to review Veritas Press Self Paced History- Old Testament and Ancient Egypt- covering Creation and ending with the fall of Rome.  Veritas Press Self Paced History is an online program designed to teach History with a classical Christian approach.  Each of the five classes offered covers 160 lessons and 32 historical events. With the help of the accompanying flashcards, in our case Old Testament and Ancient Egypt Flashcards, your child will learn timelines, dates, names, and important facts from the period you choose to study.

Option include:
  • Old Testament and Ancient Egypt
  • New Testament, Greece and Rome
  • Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation
  • Explorers to 1815, and
  • 1815 to present.
The self paced history program is recommended for 2nd-6th graders and is, in my opinion, a perfect way to begin to teach history, starting at the very beginning, which is where we started!

After a quick sign in and creating of accounts you are ready to begin with lesson one!
Each time you sign in you are brought to a screen that says "Launch Lesson."  With a push of that button you are whisked away into a world other than your current one.  For us, Ancient Egypt!  Complete with a talking Sphinx and his co-narrator, Simeon.

Those two characters, with the help of Simeon's wife, take you through a series of slides that then introduce you to the topic of the day and teach you the lesson.  Sometimes the slides automatically advance and others you have to click next to advance.  Lessons vary in the number of slides, from just a few on test days to 20 or more on heavy, information-packed days.  Plan on at least 30-45 minutes on an average day.

Information is introduced by way of the timeline cards, each card being studied for 5 days.  Here's how it works:

Day 1:
 Almost every day is begun with the singing of a theme song that recites all 32 cards.  Yep, ALL!  Through the course of the year your child will learn all 32 history events they are studying in order!  So you sing the song first as a review.  Next the host, again in our case, Simeon, introduces the flashcard and the facts on it.  Throughout the lesson he will ask questions about what he is teaching and your child will have the opportunity to answer those questions by choosing the correct answer.  If a more complicated word is used, it is flashed on the screen at that time so the child can 1. see that it is important, and 2. how to spell it.  Examples would be lifespan, covenant, genealogy.  Beginning in later lessons, your child will have to spell a few of those words back to be able to proceed.  Both the front and back of the card are covered on day 1.  In addition to questions throughout the lesson, occasionally a "game" is played.  I use the word game lightly.  Think trivia instead.  An example is above in the bottom right picture of the collage where your child had to answer the question to score points.  Sometimes it may be getting your person to beat the computer person, but it always in the form of trivia from the lesson. An online worksheet is then completed to review what you have learned so far.  Once you complete the worksheet you have the option to review it, print it out, or continue on to the next lesson.

Day 2:
Sing the song!  Then there is review of the card again and often a lot of the scripture is read at this point if there is any attached to the event.  Note that the flashcards are color coded.  In this case the blue indicates the card set while the purple indicates that the information presented is found in the Bible.  Activities are again used for review.

 Day 3:
Sing the song!  Play another game to review.  More reading of scripture and teaching of the event on the card.  Occasionally a fun project is introduced such as build an ark or color in a picture.  In that case, any needed extras and instructions are available to print out.

Day 4:
You guessed it, sing the song again!  More activities are done and as well as games.  On this day, a map and timeline are introduced as well.  Each card that you learn is put on a timeline and points of interest are labeled on corresponding maps.  The child pushes a button to "place a medallion" on the timeline for each card, again keeping them heavily involved.  The timeline is interactive, so once the new card is on it, your child can go back and review any previous cards.

Day 5:
Test day!  Each test contains questions about the event you just studied as well as review questions from previous events.  Again, you will have the option to review your questions, print them or move on to the next lesson.  Scores are kept for you as well as a running course grade.

At the end of several of the days there is an additional reading suggestion at both level one and level two, to further expand the lesson.  If you choose to do so, the books that they suggest are listed for you to read from.

And what is next?  Next card and repeat!

What we think:

  • Remember that theme song I mentioned?  Hang on to your hat.  The first few days of singing this song absolutely lost me.  It is fast paced and not to a familiar tune.  I remember telling a friend that I was never going to learn this song.  Now, after over 30 lessons, I only stumble a little and my 7 year old sings it like a pro.  Trust me, after singing it every day you WILL learn it.  And it will get stuck in your head!  They do give you a break after the first few days and start singing just the first 16 events until you have time to catch on more.
  • By sprinkling questions, games and other activities throughout each lesson, there is no time to be bored.  This is NOT just a sit and listen to a lecture program.  It is, in fact, very heavy in student participation, allowing hands-on kids to be involved and moving and not allowing for times of boredom.  This was HUGE for us.  Mr. wiggle pants did not have time to wiggle.
  • The spelling activities were a challenge for us.  Since CJ is a new 7 year-old we are deep in the throes of learning spelling.  Being asked to spell "genealogy" by himself was rather hard and is one thing that I wish was absent from the program.  So far, that is the only thing I have not been overjoyed about, honestly.  It is the one thing that hangs us up when he wants to do the program independently.  Lucky for us, I have not wanted to miss the lessons myself so I have been with him to help him spell some of the harder words.
  • Automatic grading is a huge blessing for a teacher who does not do much grading around here.  It can also be a curse if one is not careful.  While you do have the option of retaking a test, as well as repeating any previous lesson, first test grades do stand, so if a child does poorly the first time, that is the grade they will see.  This was not an issue for my 2nd grader, but I do know that it could bother kids who were more in tune with the idea of testing and grades.
  • A teacher account can also be viewed that shows what assignments and tests have been completed.  A report card can also be printed from this page.
  • The flashcards are amazing quality!  Full color pictures and maps make them a joy to use and  they are printed on heavy duty cardstock material.  We have seen some people laminate them, but we decided to buy a mini binder to keep them in.  When Colby practices putting them in order, he can simply slip them out of the sleeves to use and then put them back.
  • We used Veritas daily!  Sometimes Colby begged to do more than one lesson a day.  A 7 year old ASKING to do school...if that is not a stamp of approval, I don't know what is!

A few words of caution:

  • If you intend to have your child begin this program and do so independently, they need to be pretty strong readers.  This is not a Dick and Jane reading level and while many things are learned by way of "lecture," there is a lot of reading involved with the worksheets, trivia, and tests.
  • The word idiot was used in one of our most recent lessons.  While it is not a show stopper for us, I could have done without it.  We made sure that we had a discussion about how it was name that we used in our house.
  • There is a lot of jesting between the main characters.  While usually it is cute and funny, once or twice I have felt like it bordered on too much.  Again, I am using this program with a 7 year old and therefore may just be super sensitive to those kinds of things.  The program and information itself is top notch, I just want you to be aware that humor is used frequently.

Veritas Press Self Paced History- Old testament and Ancient Egypt  costs $199.00.  From the time you begin the class, you have one year to complete it.

Old Testament and Ancient Egypt Flashcards $19.95

I have to tell you, this IS our new favorite history program for 2nd-6th grade!  While I realize it may seem costly to some, I would challenge you to add up all the costs of your current program and compare.  My guess is you would be surprised at how comparable it is.  It is worth every cent to us, and we look forward to continuing to learn history with Veritas Press!

Sample cards, front and back:

Veritas Press ReviewVeritas Press Review

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Fellow Crew members reviewed several other time periods within the self paced history program as well as the high school Omnibus program and you can view reviews of both by clicking on the Schoolhouse Review Crew button!

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  1. You know, this is one we didn't enjoy. Your post helped me to appreciate some things that I overlooked. We tried the American History course a couple years ago and my girls actually cried when it came time to do the lessons. Some review portions required games and the games were just too hard for my non-gaming girls. One in particular had people shriek with pain when your boat bumped into things. It terrified them. They didn't care for the rude joking either. I don't think you were overly sensitive to that. I really felt it was over the top.

  2. I know this has been several years, but which size/brand mini binder did you use for the flash cards?


      Here is the link I just used to order. It is the smaller sized binder. We are in our last week of year 3 and still LOVING this program! It is my son's favorite subject by far.


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