veritas press self paced history reviewSometimes I just want a curriculum that teaches itself.  Veritas Press offers just that through the Veritas Press Self-Paced History classes.  We were given Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation along with the Middle Ages, Renaissance & Reformation Flashcards to review and it has been a load off my shoulders to have someone else teach history, and teach it in a way that appeals to my children.

What it is:

Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation’s Main Features:

  • for 2nd to 6th grade.
  • covers 32 key historical events (from Saint Augustine to John Knox) for the chosen time period in 160 lessons.
  • it is an online program, so as long as you have an internet connection and flash (here are the actual requirements), you can access your course anywhere.
  • the lessons are self-paced, allowing the student to fit it in when it works best for your family and to work at your own pace.  The course is 12 months long, so you do have a time frame in which to finish.
  • uses interactive teaching – 2 main teachers (dressed as monks) and their gargoyle friend in front of backdrops from the Middle Ages explain events and people in history in conversational style, games, puzzles, and mapping questions.
  • Each lesson is presented through a series of slides, usually between 16-25 different sections.
  • has students memorize the key historical events through a timeline song that gets song long after the day’s lesson is finished.
  • uses corresponding timeline cards match the cards used on the program and can be used as review throughout the week. These are an extra $19.95 purchase and are optional.
  • lessons last about 30 minutes.
  • There is a test every 5th lesson.

We chose  Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, but there are actually 5 courses to choose from.

  • Old Testament and Egypt
  • New Testament, Greece and Rome
  • Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation
  • Explorers to 1815
  • 1815 to Present

Each course is $199 for one child with a sibling discount of $100.

How we used it:

Bear loves the Middle Ages because of Joan of Arc so she was thrilled with this course.  Since it is self-paced we could do it on weekends, evenings before bed, mornings right after breakfast, and my absolute favorite time – 4:30 pm when Mommy was making dinner.  We loved the flexibility of being able to do the lesson when we wanted.  We used it on average about 3 times per week.

Because the information is repeated throughout the group of lessons on the one event, it sticks and by the fifth lesson, Bear had things pretty well memorized.

She especially likes the mapping work.  There is a different map for each of the 32 topics, but the same map is repeated for the five lessons for that topic.  This really helps solidify the geography component.

The history cards are considered a required resource but may not be looked at during tests or worksheets.  In light of this, I wish the worksheet were in the third lesson as opposed to the first, as it was difficult for Bear to remember all the details (especially dates) on the first time around.  The worksheet scores are upsetting to Bear (6.5).  She is not used to being graded like that and while she has been acing the tests, she has been getting one or two wrong on the worksheets and on one of them two wrong gave her a failing grade of 66.  And while you can redo a lesson, your scores will not be changed.

The information on the cards is reviewed and taught during the lessons.  On the cards, there are also extra resources listed in case if you want to dig deeper.  While we haven’t used these resources at this time, I would if Bear were older.

I laminated each card, punched two holes at the bottom, and added rings so we could flip through them more easily during the song. (You can see this in the photograph above of Bear holding the cards.)

Nadia loved being able to be on the computer for school.  Her brother loved sitting along side and watching too, but I don’t think he is getting much from the program.  Bear thinks it is a fun program and asks for it frequently (in fact, her brother often requests it, too.  “Can Bear do her history thing now?”).  My favorite thing about the program is that it frees me up to do other things around the house, yet without just giving the kids free time (which they get plenty of).  The self-paced history program allows me to focus on something else, yet not give up school time.  While Self-Paced History is fun, it is detailed and thorough and expects a lot from the students.

I appreciate that they have thought to include several hands-on projects.

In Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, the projects include:

  • a Monastic Manuscript
  • replicating Charlemagne’s Crown
  • build a castle
  • make a Coat of Arms
  • make a Feudal Ranks poster
  • make a trenchers recipe
  • make a Doomsday Book
  • make a stained glass picture

What I loved:

  • Chronological history
  • Memory work
  • Interactive and fun
  • Independent
  • Excellent for visual and auditory learners
  • Reasonable price
  • Saves me time as a teacher

What I loved less:

  • Some of the activities seemed like busy work.  For example, the art puzzle shown below.  I suppose if Bear were to see this artwork somewhere though, she would recognize it, from the time spent doing the puzzle.  For some of the activities, such as the spelling ones, I had to come help her because it was timed and she couldn’t find the letters and move the mouse fast enough.  
  • This wasn’t an issue for us, but could be for others so I will mention it: the program is an online subscription so it requires an internet connection and a computer.  If you have more than one student in your household and they each need computer time, this could become a challenge.  Also, you need an Internet connection with a minimum download speed of 768 Kbps.
  • Though it does state that the program is for second to 6th grade, I would want to think about my particular student if thinking about purchasing this for a second grader.  It is detailed, thorough and expects a lot, so it might not be for your particular 2nd grader.  While Bear is not even officially within the age range, her maturity and love of history and above average reading level allow her to fit this program well, though not without a few frustrations already noted above (worksheet scores and spelling exercises that go too fast).

Overall Impressions:

What an awesome resource for a busy mom’s sanity!  Thorough, detailed, with high expectations of students – everything I could hope for when choosing curriculum!

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