Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Golden Prairie Press

We are using a boxed program this year with Alex.  It covers Bible, history, science, art, and more.  Yet when Golden Prairie Press appeared in the upcoming reviews list for TOS Review Crew, I couldn’t get my mind off of this creative history curriculum! 

I knew that being accepted for this review would throw off a lot of things in our homeschool days.  With a boxed curriculum, many subjects are tied together.  Choosing to use Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum would mean that our Bible, science, art, and and a few other parts of our regular homeschool work would be set aside for a time as well.  Yet with the description and samples of Heroes & Heroines of the Past, I just couldn’t resist.

This program, written by homeschool graduate Amy Puetz, is designed for grades 1 – 6.   The complete curriculum, in either digital or print format, is $98.99.  You can easily combine children into this curriculum so that you are teaching multiple children at the same time.  It’s a very thorough program that covers not only American history, but also art appreciation, Bible memory, crafts and projects, cooking, and more.   The main readings are designed for third through sixth graders, but there are simpler history lessons for first and second graders.  Some readings are reprints of old stories, while others are written more recently. 

We received the digital version of this curriculum.  The main book (Heroes and Heroines of the Past) is divided into two large PDF files.   This book contains the daily readings, pictures of artwork that tie in with the lessons, teacher notes, maps, comprehension questions, project instructions, and more. 

Along with the main book, we also received the following items: additional materials PDF (timelines, printable activity PDFs, printable gameboard, mp3 files), historical skits e-book, Sing Some History mp3 files, and Listen To Some History mp3 files.  By adding in games, coloring pages, skits, songs, and audio readings, you’ve got a very multi-sensory curriculum!

If you have an iPad or other larger tablet, you likely won’t need to print the Heroes and Heroines e-book.  You could simply pull it up on your device!  My Kindle has a 7” screen, and I felt that the text was a bit small, so I opted to print one unit at a time for easy reading.  It prints nicely, with clear text and photographs, on 8.5 x 11 pages.

We aimed to use Heroes and Heroines of the Past three days each week.  There are a few weeks when (due to illness and a few other unexpected events), we only managed two days, but we did our best to make it up by adding an extra day or doubling up for a day the following week.

Alex, my 6 year old, was our main review child.  Max, age 4, joined us for many lessons.  Jensyn, age 3, joined us for the activities when she woke from her nap.  Depending on the length of the reading and the accompanying project, we spent anywhere from 30 minute to 1 hour for each lesson.  (The lessons with hands-on craft projects are the ones that took an hour, as we were making playdough, building teepees, and taking time to create!)

While learning about the Native Americans, we built a broom and mop teepee –with rather wobbly construction, but that’s because my children took ownership of the project!  It would have been a bit more beautiful had we followed the directions precisely, but my children were happy with it!

We made play dough canoes in our teepee when reading about how the
Native Americans used natural resources to make what they needed.

Kids are also encouraged to use their own resources and imagination
to create a paper feather or a simple bow and arrow.

DSCN1437    DSCN1438

We crafted play dough viking ships when learning about the vikings.
The book gives clear instructions for making playdough,
and it also offers several images of what your completed project should look like.
This was probably the favorite project for my boys!



We tied together a blanket hammock when learning how the sailors may have slept on the ships while travelling to America.  (There’s a stuffed bunny sleeping in our hammock!)


Even though we’ve read about Columbus before, I learned some neat facts about Columbus’ son that I’d never heard before.  These stories are also appealing to children, as they realize that even young ones can have an impact on history! 

There are more challenging projects, including writing projects and timelines, that would be great for children on the older end of the age range.  Because of the young ages of my children, we didn’t focus on these resources, although we did discuss some of the writing questions when I felt they were age appropriate.

Each five lesson unit contains a memory verse, which is to be copied on to an index card and reviewed each day throughout the unit.  At the end of the unit, the verse is to be recited.  As you store your index cards throughout the year, you’ll end up with a great collection of Bible verses committed to memory!  That’s something to treasure!

Because my son is still a beginning reader, we opted not to do much with the skits.  It’s a little hard to put on a good skit with a beginning reader and two non-reading preschoolers.  I’ve read through several of the skits, and these would be fun with older children or in a co-op setting.

The audio history readings were a little tough for my small kiddos to understand, but these would be a great resource for older students.  The Sing Some History files are PERFECT for younger learners.  Even my 3 year old enjoyed listening to these!

I am truly impressed by all the time and effort that Ms. Puetz put into writing this curriculum.  You can tell that she poured her ALL into this program!  It is a WONDERFUL, multi-sensory, FUN approach to teaching American history and weaving it together with other skills such as art, music, and cooking.  I would gladly recommend Heroes and Heroines of the Past to anyone looking for a fun year with their first through sixth grade children.  It’s an especially nice resource for families who are looking for a history core in which to combine multiple children!

Alex told me that other day that, “This history is really fun!”  He smiles and enjoys the activities, and he’s able to relay the main points of each lesson to me later, so I know he is retaining a basic knowledge from our lessons.  He is being introduced to art history and music, as well.  This review has been a good experience for him!

Both Alex and I have enjoyed this review time, and we will continue to use Heroes and Heroines of the Past as a reference during our studies of American history now and in the coming school year.  We will be returning to our regular curriculum, though, as our heart is truly there and we’re missing it.  Alex said the other day that, “School just doesn’t feel the same lately.”  He’s a very routine kind of kid, and though he has loved Heroes and Heroines, he is ready to return to our normal schedule.

We will hang on to this wonderful resource, and we will definitely be using some of the readings and projects along with our regular studies since it covers many of the same history lessons.  If we weren’t so attached to our current curriculum, there’s a very good chance we would continue to use Heroes and Heroines of the Past as our main history program for the coming school year.  It really is THAT good!

If you are looking for a hands-on, FUN American History curriculum for your children, Heroes and Heroines of the Past is DEFINITELY worth looking into!  Check out the website to read more, view samples, and even watch a video about Heroes and Heroines of the Past. 

You can also click on the image below to read more reviews:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer


No comments: