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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Golden Prairie Press

Golden Prairie Press Review
Amy Puetz, owner of Golden Prairie Press is a homeschool graduate with a passion for history.  The iems she publishes brings history to life for it's readers. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I recently had an opportunity to use and review Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum  from Golden Prairie Press.
Golden Prairie Press Review
Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past ($98.99) is a thirty week history curriculum designed for students in grades 1-6, starting with The People of North America and going through the Administrations of Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. The readings in the text are split into 2 different sections.  A short basic over section for 1st-2nd graders and a more in depth section for 3rd-6th graders.  In addition to the readings there are: weekly memory verses, hands on activity suggestions such as examining historical art, games of the past, cook up some history, sing some history, listen to some history, crafts, and experiments, and also writing topics, review questions, and geography questions. There are also additional recommended resources at the end of each unit. The curriculum includes:

Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past American History Part 1 ebook-lessons for the first half of the year.
View a sample.

Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past American History Part 2 ebook-lessons for the second half of the year.

Additional Materials Downloads-Printable timelines, instructions, videos, color artwork, coloring pages, and more.

Historical Skits ebook-19 skits from Columbus to World War II.
See a sample.

Sing Some History CD-20 different songs from periods of American history.

Listen to Some US History mP3 CD-an audio collection of 20 different speeches, poems, sermons, and documents mentioned in the lessons. 

There is also a printed copy of the curriculum available for purchase as well as an optional literature pack and coloring book

I have been using Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past mostly with my 1st and 2nd graders, but my 3 and 5 year olds have joined in on some of the activities as well.  I downloaded the text to use in iBooks on my iPad and downloaded the other files to my laptop computer.  The only pages I have had to print out are the timeline and some coloring pages. We started with lesson one, The People of North America,  and have been spending around 30 minutes 3 times per week reading lessons, answering the questions orally, and completing the activities.  The only advanced preparation I had to do to use this curriculum is to read through the How to Use This Curriculum section and to give a quick glance at the supplies needed for the activities for the week.  Additional supplies will depend on the activities you choose to do and you will need regular supplies normally found in a homeschool such as crayons, paper, pencils, and a notebook to store your timeline and papers in.
One of the things I liked right away was the separate reading sections for 1st-2nd and 3rd-6th grades.  So often in our homeschool I am reading aloud to the older children and it is just too long and too much over the heads of the younger children for them to continue to pay any attention.  I thought that the readings gave just enough information and were just long enough for the boys ages.  The review questions were questions that they could understand and answer orally after listening to the readings.  

The children really liked the activities. Some of the things we did included: making viking ships out of playdough, coloring Columbus's coat of arms, building a hammock for a teddy bear, and making a cocoa drink.

Another thing that I really liked was the different types of timelines you could print out.  You could choose from a blank timeline, a timeline with the years printed and the child could write in the event and the explorers, or you could print one that has the years and the explorers filled in and the child fills in the event, or one in which the year and event are already filled in and the child fills in the explorer.  I thought all of the different options were wonderful.  I also think that the Sing Some History CD and Listen to Some US History mP3 are great resources to use with this curriculum.

What really surprised me though was that the boys' favorite part was the historical art.  They loved looking at the paintings and answering the questions.  The really nice thing about the iPad was that we could make the pictures bigger and get a really good look at the paintings.
this is how it looks at normal size on the iPad
here it is made larger

One thing that I wish was different was that instead of having the maps included in with the readings, I wish they had been on the Additional Materials CD and a larger size so that they could be printed out and colored or labeled.  There is also an additional coloring book to go along with the Heroes and Heroines of the Past, but it is not available as a digital product.  I would like to see that as a digital product as well to go along with the rest of the digital products.

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