TOS Crew review — Bright Ideas Press

Last year we discovered the quality products Bright Ideas Press puts out with Mystery of History 3. We all enjoyed it. The projects, the well written book, the graphics, etc. This year we got to follow that up with a start into Illuminations.

Illuminations is to be used in conjunction with MOH 3 and provides additional resources to get the most out of history by tying it in to your other subjects. Through dynamic read alouds and intriguing read alones, the kids can really sink their teeth into the time period more than just the 20-30 minutes a day spent on history. Last year I spent a good bit of time digging around for books that we could enjoy together to correspond with a topic or time period that piqued our interest. Illuminations does the looking for you, and provides in depth study guides to make the most of it.

ProductIllimunations 3
Details : A supplementary guide for Mystery of History users to tie in Language Arts and other subjects to the time periods and topics being covered in the MOH 3 book. We received the materials geared toward 3-8 grade, but there is also a high school level product.
Price : $82.50 for first semester, $165 for full year when it is available (January 2011)

What we loved . . .

  • Lots of information to get started. Within the product itself there are instructions, summaries, tips to get started, and links to videos and such. There are also a number of online helps including reviews, Yahoo! groups, book lists, and companies to buy additional books through.
  • All in one, or not. Illuminations includes lots of subjects (mostly Language Arts related), and provides room in the planning pages for those not incorporated into the material. Geography, science, literature, spelling, and of course history are all part of the plan. But, you don’t have to use it all. Whatever you want you use, and if you don’t you can write right into the lesson plans how you plan to change, delete, or supplement the plans they put in place.
  • Great product. As with just about everything that Bright Ideas Press puts out, they have created a high quality product. This is a great resource that seems to have thought of everything. And, it is huger than huge. The amount of materials, schedules, lesson plans, etc. is a bit mind boggling at first. But they walk you through how to make the most of it. We have really enjoyed the books that they recommended to go along with MOH 3 and the conversations they prompted as a result. And, since we could find them at our library, there has not been an additional expense to enjoy these books either.
  • Quality study guides. Reading good books is a huge part of our homeschool. But, just to read them and walk away, loses some of the benefit. The study guides help prompt real conversations and grasp the meaning and lessons of these pieces.
  • Huge time saver. Yes, you could do this all on your own. You could dig through online book lists and your library’s card catalog, and various homeschool curriculum sites and catalogs and find the books. Then you could spend weeks coming up with comprehension questions, digging up background materials, brainstorming activities, compiling copywork passages, and divvying up the work over a school year. You could. But, they have done all that for you, and done it well.

Some considerations . . .

  • Requires other materials. In order to fully enjoy all that they have taken the time to lay out for you, you would need to purchase some other books. These include read alouds as well as science and English academic books.
  • You should take some time prepping before diving in. While the schedules and structure is all done for you, it still takes time to get ready to use this product. They give you a handy checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything from ordering materials to setting up notebooks. It will take an investment in time to start this off properly.
  • Somewhat costly. Illuminations is a massive project. They give you lots of material and ideas. And, they obviously put an enormous amount of work into creating this helpful tool. So, it only makes sense that you would have to put out a good chunk of change for it. However, because it is so adaptable to various ages and is reusable it will likely be worth the investment over time, especially if you plan to use the grammar and science that they have designed their materials around as well.

Even with over a month to explore Illuminations and begin to use it in our homeschool, I feel like I have just started to scratch the surface.  I look forward to continuing to read the books and use this in conjunction with MOH 3. If you think this might be a fit for your family, I would encourage you to read some more reviews, and watch some of the videos to see if it will click with your home’s teaching and learning styles. It is an up front time commitment to pull it together, but then is a daily time saver while still providing a high quality education for your kids.

Take some time to read some other TOS Crew reviews on this product, over at the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Bright Ideas Press as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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