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Winter Promise: The Good The Bad The Ugly


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#1 hsmom4

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 08:59 AM

I am looking at their American History course for my 3rd grader (next year). It looks good, but I want to be prepared for all the problems that may occur with using it.

How does it compare to Sonlight?

Thanks!

#2 OhElizabeth

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 09:34 AM

The truth? I'd never be able to implement TT without WP AC. I had a little baby last fall, after 9 years of a full night's sleep, my space and body to myself, etc. I've lost my mind and have nothing left to give to it. My dd CRAVES history, loves history, adores it, wants 2 hours a day. So the schedules in WP aC that have the selected projects all scheduled out are a godsend. The preprinted pages for TT are the only reason it is happening.

The bad part? Number one, I'm with Heather in VA in my guess that they never read the books. Some of the books overlap unnecessarily in content, so that you don't even bother to read them. Some books are listed as read-alouds that could be readers. Some books are listed at the totally wrong time period (Daniel Boone while you're reading about colonial living???) Some books (Blood in the River) don't get read aloud by a hormonal woman postpartum no matter how good the content, haha. Blood in the title is an automatic nix! And the worst part is that the classic, truly not-to-be-missed books of SL3 get skipped. I never would have known what a big deal this was, except that I happen to have core 3 as well (yes, I'm a junkie), and the books we've read so far from it are AMAZING.

Bad part #2? They are so heavy on paper crafts it isn't funny. We're in Colonial right now, so I'll comment on Explorers. In Explorers they skipped all the mapping and all the bio booklets. Call me crazy, but those are pretty fundamental academic activities. Without the bio booklets, you do no synthesis or comparison of motives, countries, etc. I don't know how they can claim it appropriate for upper grades when they chop out all the synthesis and thought, sorry. Also, because it is SO heavy on paper crafts, we were on the verge of getting burnt out. My dd is starting to revolt against the coloring, which she never liked anyway (she's never been a colorer), and we've been modifying activities left and right. Instead of a paper treasure chest, we make a real one. Instead of just the overlays, we really dress up. The ideas and topics are good, but you have to kick it up a notch and make it real, make it your own. Some of the activities in TT are very good. I don't know, maybe I'm over-picky, since activities are the main thing my dd craves. (She's going the Cincy convention in costumes, if you can imagine. She's totally into this.)

And that brings me to knock #3: the schedule. If you want to do 2 hours of a history a day, you're going to end up recombining the lessons. They've broken some of the TT lessons down into 2 or 3 days. If you start combining and putting them back together, you throw off the scheduling of the state study, your correlated art study, etc. But if you only want to spend 45 minutes a day and do just want they say, you'll stay perfectly on track. I pulled out my state and art study stuff last week and will have to do them separately. That bugs me because that was part of the ease, the attraction of it, to have them all coordinated. :(

I know that sounds like a lot of knocks. In fact, I've wondered whether it's really working for us. It has other flaws. The trivia cards in the IG and the question cards for the review games in TT (which WP didn't bother to print) don't really fit our goals for memory work following the VP pattern, so I'm having to go back and type those up. On the plus side, once I'm done, I'll have the review system for VP that I always wanted! So for my little history junkie, the perfect combo turns out to be:

WP AC for hands-on
SL3 for read alouds
TQ for book basket
VP for memory work

Or if you aren't a junkie and just want to do history 30-45 minutes a day and be happy, do WP AC. I don't think WP AC is perfect, but without that schedule and all the preprinting, I personally wouldn't have been able to implement TT. If you can do it without, more power to you; I know many moms here have. It's just *I* couldn't. The direction I'm headed now is running all those things parallel (SL3 and WP AC, VP cards, and book basket) and just going with the flow. She's only 4th grade, so I have plenty of time. It's a good mix for us, because it's getting pretty close to what she dreamed of. Ok, what she really dreams of is a history re-enactor living with her and talking history all day long. Can't swing that, so this will have to do. And really, I think WP AC is probably the best thing available right now for a hands-on loving 4th grade girl. I don't know about any other age, and I certainly can't speak for boys. But for a hands-on loving 4th grade girl, it is probably the closest thing you're going to find to what they want. From there just bolster any perceived flaws by adding in books and read alouds.

BTW, I'm rearranging some of the weeks for colonial to make it more logical. I'll probably tell about it in my thread on the WP AC board. I made a detailed thread when I first started, and now I'm just trying to do weekly check-ins. We visited Williamsburg and Jamestown last year, so we're battling boredom with the topic. I'm rearranging and making sure what we do is fresh, compacted where it's not, etc.

Edited by OhElizabeth, 18 March 2009 - 09:38 AM.


#3 hsmom4

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 09:59 AM

Thanks so much. This is a great response...one question that will help make your post readable to me - what is TT?

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 10:07 AM

Well I have a 4th grader currently doing American Story 1, for her age it is much too light. But I ordered before the new American Crossings was available which is geared more for her age. I had a baby in Nov. I needed to order early so we could do some ahead and take the much needed break when the baby came. The areas that I feel are too light are mapping and there is just no discussion. If you like the discussion questions in SL you won't find anything like that in WP. I think mostly because WP is based on the Charlotte Mason approach and instead of question/answer type discussions they want you to have the child narrate back. That is fine, if that is what you are looking for.

I thought the lack of mapping was due to the age thing, but as Elizabeth above stated in doesn't seem to be any better in AC. I also agree with Elizabeth in the fact that we miss the wonderful SL readers and read alouds. I have been adding many of them in with WP this year.

We did Core 1+2 before coming to SL and my dd loved the Usborne Encyclopedia but hated CHOW. She has preferred the history readers in WP over SLs spines. But like I mentioned above we have missed some of the great SL titles and we've been adding them. We haven't found it to be hard at all to add those books, but I'm speaking specifically of the light schedule in AS1, it may be different trying to add them to AC.

My daughter loves the paper crafts, and they were a huge hit for us in the beginning, however we are now starting to experience burn out. I almost always had to help her color them, because she got tired of that quickly, and so did I. My daughter told me that there are just TOO many activities, and I agree, but we were trying to do almost all of them because of her age. We've gotten to the point where we just pick and choose now. There were no preprinted pages in AS1, so I've been having to copy them all at home with my scanner and printer. Having said all that though, we do really enjoy doing paper type crafts over big projects where we have to gather a ton of supplies, so WP has been a good fit in that area. I think as long as you don't try to do everything, you'll be ok.

I'm currently undecided for next year. If we stay with WP we'll be doing QAW, but right now I'm really leaning heavily towards TOG. It seems to have all the things that I feel are missing in WP like the Mapping, Teacher's notes, the literature worksheets, discussion questions, and more Bible study. If we do TOG we will add in some lapbooking or other paper crafts.

Oh and another negative that I just thought of was the time it took me to receive everything. I had ordered a complete package from WP. Some books came from WP, some from Amazon. It took me several weeks to get all the books, and one I have never received. I had to call WP a few times before someone called me back. However, I will say that Don Brooks was very nice and apologized. I think they would bend over backwards to make you happy. I never called them back about the missing book, since it's only a read aloud no more than $5. I figured I would just check it out at the library. They said in their current catalog that this should now be better. However, if I do decide to go with WP, I think I'll only order the guide and get the rest from Amazon.

Edited by aquiverfull, 18 March 2009 - 10:14 AM.


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Posted 18 March 2009 - 10:10 AM

The bad part? Number one, I'm with Heather in VA in my guess that they never read the books. Some of the books overlap unnecessarily in content, so that you don't even bother to read them. Some books are listed as read-alouds that could be readers. Some books are listed at the totally wrong time period (Daniel Boone while you're reading about colonial living???)


:iagree: OK, I hesitated to write anything here but as someone who purchased AS1 after wondering about it for so long myself, I do feel the need to answer a question specifically about the good, bad and ugly. :lol: I intentionally searched high and low to buy the program used, knowing that I was then getting a great price so that even if the progam didn't work for me, I would at least have my curiosity satisfied AND end up with a bunch of great books for my early elementary study of American history. So, now that's what I have, a bunch of great books. Again, I bought AS1 and I know Elizabeth is talking about AC1. You didn't specifiy which program you were thinking of buying so getting input from people who know about both might be good. I also hope Snow White posts because she loves WP AS1 and that's a good viewpoint to have. I think the reason I don't love it is that I'm very particular about history being aligned. What Elizabeth said about times and books not seeming to be aligned was what I found in AS1 also and it bothers me no end. The biggest reason I wanted to buy a program was to save myself the trouble of piecing it all together myself, the drudgery of sitting down to come up with a reading schedule where I make sure that our chapter books are ligning up with our readers are ligning up with our picture books are ligning up with our blah blah blah. Well, I didn't get that with AS1 so for me, I'm using the schedule as just another resource, extracting the useful web links and book/movie recommendations to make my own schedule.

As for how it compares to Sonlight, I don't know. I've only ever seen Core 1 from Sonlight, as a friend let me borrow it. Of course, they don't align their readers with their history until Core 3, so I didn't care for it.

Bad part #2? They are so heavy on paper crafts it isn't funny.

My dd is starting to revolt against the coloring, which she never liked anyway (she's never been a colorer), and we've been modifying activities left and right. Instead of a paper treasure chest, we make a real one. Instead of just the overlays, we really dress up. The ideas and topics are good, but you have to kick it up a notch and make it real, make it your own.


Again, :iagree: I'll add to bad part #2 by saying that my kids enjoy a paper craft once in a blue moon but most of the time, they are actively playing, pretending about whatever we're learning and reading about. In fact, I've named our 2 year American history program (the one that I'm making on my own now) ReLiving History baed on the way they pretend play their way through life. :lol: I have bought and sifted through a great number of resources for real, authentic projects and handicrafts and that's what we'll be doing.

And that brings me to knock #3: the schedule.

I pulled out my state and art study stuff last week and will have to do them separately. That bugs me because that was part of the ease, the attraction of it, to have them all coordinated. :(


Yes, my original dream when purchasing AS1 was that it would all be aligned beautifully and that I could just plug in TX history and art/music study and that it would all be peachy and perfect with minimal effort for me. No, since I had to rearrange everything anyway, I'm just going to do it all from scratch.

WP AC for hands-on
SL3 for read alouds
TQ for book basket
VP for memory work


This is probably pretty close to what I'm planning, only not with those exact resources. Also, I can see the WP hands on paper crafts being more for DD and those won't be required, just if you happen to be in the mood. I did purchase the VP American history cards and enhanced cds (which are AMAZING!). I will probably use them to direct my flow and even add in a few additional cards of my own. I like the concept. I've picked mainly biographies and kept many of the AS1 Adventure Reading books for read alouds. My readers have also come from AS1, although heavily suppemented because DS6 is quite the reader and also is showing a serious history bent at his young age. I'll definitely do a book basket because I have way too many resources at this point to purposefully plan in the schedule. :lol:

Or if you aren't a junkie and just want to do history 30-45 minutes a day and be happy, do WP AC. I don't think WP AC is perfect, but



My but is different! :lol: But if you're not a completely insane uberplanner, you'll probably be perfectly happy with it as is and be happy just to open and go every day. This is going to make me sound nuts but I actually do think it's a fine program. I've just got dreams of way more integration of subjects and timeframes. I am glad I bought it because it satisfied my curiosity and is a good resource. Plus, I do think the books are good and age-appropriate.

#6 JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:53 AM

I can't speak to the American History sets but based on some of their other sets I can't imagine they have looked through all they recommend. Sometimes it seems as if they planned the weeks based on a table of contents not the contents. I'm not always sure that they have proofed a lesson plan by trying to work through it. The internet links are frequently dead and the material just doesn't mesh with itself.

They do pick some great books though but so do many other programs. If you have an older child I think that some of the selections are a bit light.

#7 OhElizabeth

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:56 AM

I have to agree with Aquiverfull's comments on ordering from them. It was a really hairbrained approach (send whenever, I had to call to prompt them, blah blah), and I certainly wouldn't buy a full core directly from them, given the hassle, sorry. I mean I hate to influence their business negatively, but if I *order* something, it's because I want to *receive* it. I called, asked about my stuff, and the response was "Oh, you wanted it???" Like yeah, I wanted it NOW, not 10 years from now, not 10 weeks from now, but NOW. (shaking head)

That's interesting to hear someone else getting burnt out on the TT stuff! When I saw the new Civil War pack from TT, I just groaned, as it looks so much the same. Oh, I'm sure there will be some good things and stuff worth my money, but it's almost becoming formulaic (same board games each time, same overlays, etc.), same thing, new theme.

As for the op, well I guess I took her post to mean she has a 3rd grader and is looking for next year. Well if she has a 2nd grader now who will be 3rd next year, that's her call. The level of the read-alouds is totally different with the two sets (AS vs. AC). AC using Time Travelers (TT) as the spine, and the text you read from that is a bit higher level than AS. If the read alouds from AS seem right on the level of your dc, then I would go AS. If the read alouds seem much too young and AC's look more appropriate, then AC will fit better, my guess. And no, we would have had no problem doing this (AC) in 3rd grade. Some of the stuff would have been harder, but you're going to tweak anyway. It really depends on the kid. So look at amazon to seem samples of what they use and decide.

As far as WP AC2, quiverfull, have you looked at the info on it yet? I looked when they first posted, and they aren't scheduling TT at all for that. TT wasn't out for Civil War even, so they couldn't include it. That means it's enough different, it might be a worthy add for the hands-on. Or maybe I'll just do TT and proceed forward myself, I don't know.

I totally agree with Kristine's assessment that WP AC is fine but will be most satisfactory to those who are not prone to tweaking, to someone who is happy to just open it up and use it. If you're looking for it to be TOG with a daily schedule (lots of thought, lots of discussion, lots of lots), it ain't. But then, nothing is.

#8 daughterofsarah77

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:20 PM

I'm confused by one thing...if TT part of the AC curriculum, or is that just something you are using in addition to it?

#9 SnowWhite

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:46 PM

But if you're not a completely insane uberplanner, you'll probably be perfectly happy with it as is and be happy just to open and go every day. This is going to make me sound nuts but I actually do think it's a fine program. I've just got dreams of way more integration of subjects and timeframes. I am glad I bought it because it satisfied my curiosity and is a good resource. Plus, I do think the books are good and age-appropriate.


I'm so glad someone said this. I am sitting here, in my perfectly content with WP AS1 state, feeling a bit inadequate because I don't find it lacking, LOL. Then I look at my SECOND grade ds who is learning ALL about Early American history (which most of my 4th and 5th grade students in public school would have been CLUELESS about) and I see how very much we have accomplished with really so little effort from me, and I sigh with contentment.

WinterPromise Good: *If* you're not an uberplanner or a history fanatic, American Story 1 is going to be plenty for a 2nd or 3rd grader. It's really all there! There is no book basket to fill at the library (and pay the $3 fine for on a regular basis when you can't get your library trip accomplished on time). The books are fantastically visually appealing. Many key titles (Sign of the Beaver, Little House on the Prairie) are included. We have really enjoyed the websites and some of the videos as well. It's a four day schedule, which means you can look forward to regular music and art classes on Friday (or participate in a co-op without getting behind on your theme). I really can't say that I fault the sequence or coordination. We might have studied about Ben Franklin on week 10 during colonial times and again on week 18 during the Revolution, but he was alive during colonial times and during the Revolution and contributed to both. Besides, I tend to fall behind or get ahead in some books, so nothing ends up "lining up perfectly" anyway. I guess I'm just way too easy.

WinterPromise Bad: Oh, do I really have to? hmmm.... I guess we did get sick of the 3D Interactive maps, but nobody put a gun to our heads and said we had to use them all! Right now I am not enjoying doing a whole chapter segment in Pioneer Sampler, as it seems to drag on. However, I think that is because I'm accustomed to WP's Charlotte Mason style small bite scheduling. *If* I ever had the shipping issues the previous posters describe, I'd consider that bad, but I never have!

WinterPromise Ugly: The only thing I don't like very much is the Make Your Own Notebook. It seems like a supplemental textbook, really, but at least it doesn't take up much of our time. It does fill in "gaps" in the lit material, so that you learn about 36 Indian tribes while reading If You Lived With books about only 3 of them, and you have a page for each president.

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 01:39 PM

Elizabeth, I very briefly looked at AC2. We have previously had some American history so my dd requested not to do AH again, and since I know she will get American history again later, I'm not too worried about it. So mainly I've been looking at QAW and S&S.

I have to say that I do enjoy the 4 day schedule and I do believe that AS 1 is perfect for a 2nd grader. To be fair to WP, I think my problem with the curriculum is mostly the fact that I felt my dd was too old for it. They don't recommend AS1 for 4th grade in their catalog. I may have enjoyed AC much more, but it was not available at the time I needed to order. Also, I think they use a Charlotte Mason approach and I feel like maybe I'm looking for more of a classical approach.

As far as the notebooking pages, those have been a little hit and miss with us. Some of them (mostly ones where she had to draw a picture or do the fun decoding things) my dd enjoyed, however I have found most of them to just be more stuff to read, not really what I would consider Notebooking. I have found that some don't tie in anywhere. There was one on the Eerie canal and we had no book that even mentioned the Eerie canal so I had no idea what to do with that one. That has changed in the new AS1 they do have a reader on the Eerie Canal now. So I can relate to Elizabeth's complaint that a few things really didn't line up well. They substituted a few of the books also when I purchased it. Instead of the American History mini books, I received a time line book without a schedule. Needless to say that one has just sat on the shelf, since I never took the time to schedule it in. They did send a John Adams book ( I don't remember what it replaced) but it did have a schedule with it.

Overall, WP really hasn't been that bad for us, but I believe it is just not what *I* want in a curriculum at this point.

#11 Homeschooling6

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:39 PM

We enjoyed AS1 a few years ago. My dc liked all the books. We didn't do all the notebooking though. We picked what crafts to do. There are a lot but you can pick and choose.

I haven't had any major customer service issues. They have always been very friendly and prompt.

One thing to remember, just like any other literature program (MFW, SL etc.); the guide is to help you. You are in control. You don't have to feel guilty if you don't do everything in the guide. You can skip things and still learn :)

#12 Lucidity

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 04:19 PM

I chose to do both Sonlight Core 3 and WP AS 1 with my 8 and 11 year old. I thought my daughter would appreciate the slightly younger books and the hands on crafts. I also, mistakenly, thought I could easily combine the two and I even tried adding in Time Travelers (TT). Nuts, I know. :)

I think they are both good programs, but I lean heavily towards Sonlight now after trying to use both. I ended up choosing Sonlight as the core and I just now add in the extra books I had from WP where they fit in chronologically. Same with the "crafts". I adore the questions from Sonlight for each book and I feel Sonlight flows so much easier. However, as Siloam/Heather once mentioned, WP is more of a unit study approach. If that's what you like, then its perfect. If you don't care for that approach, you might want to rethink it.

One thing we have kept from AS1 is the Native American Focus, except that we do it once a week on Day 5. Along with any other crafts that we'd like to do (3d maps, colonial americal, etc.).

My plans next year are to do the same as this year really: Sonlight 4 with AS2 readers and do the African American Focus on Day 5 each week.

The extras you get in the WP guide just aren't enough, to me, to trump Sonlight. I can find my own wonderful websites to go along with our time period just by googling (and I get to "plan" but not a whole curriculum this way) and I just do a search at Netflix to see what movies might go with the time period.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who tries everything though. :D Maybe I should look at Veritas Press........

#13 siloam

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 04:53 PM

WP worked great here for my hands on learners (who LOVE paper crafts). We did AS 1 a couple years ago before they added TT and changed the Encyclopedia to another text.

SL doesn't work here (as much as I might enjoy the more mature meatier books myself) because it doesn't have any hands on my kids need and because I have one sensitive child who can't handle the amount of death/dying/sadness in the books. Now they usually have a point to them, it isn't gratuitous, but when you have a child that can read The Boxcar Children then that night at bed time will get upset and ask if dh and I are going to die and if they will have to go live in the woods, well SL is just too much. She completely shut down after reading Mountain Born in core 1 and it took a while of her doing WP for her to be OK with read alouds again.

Heather


#14 HollyinNNV

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 05:04 PM

We used Animal Worlds and Quest for Middle Ages.

Why we no longer use WP:

Too many paper crafts
Too much history
I do not think the books were pre-read, either.

For our family, history is another subject-not what everything needs to be based upon. It took me several years to figure that out.
Holly

#15 daughterofsarah77

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 05:09 PM

So is all of the hands-on in WP simply paper crafts? I was assumming it would involve things like "doing" activities too...am I wrong?
I keep going back and forth between WP and SL...but I'm wondering why I can't just add some activities to SL to make it hands-on...is that a crazy idea?

#16 SnowWhite

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 05:23 PM

Oh, no, the crafts in WP are NOT just paper crafts. Amer Story 1 is the *one* program that does have a couple of paper craft books (3D Interactive Maps and Colonial America). Animals and Their Worlds has a couple of craft books that have you constructing paper towel tube or Kleenex box animals. However, that is not NEARLY all there is to the crafts in WP.

Especially the new Early American Trades and Crafts activity booklet (used to be a kit before the new kids' products retail regulations) is full of crafty type stuff.

Some of our favorites have been:

Warrior Armband (fake leather and beads)
Fishing Lure (feathers and string)
Plum Stone Game (paint on pebbles)
Finger spinning with cotton balls

There are also some food activities we've done lately in More Than Moccasins, and some that we still want to do from that book and Pioneer Sampler:

Make butter, fruit leather, fish soup.... You get my drift.

Check out More Than Moccasins, Lewis and Clark:Corps of Discovery and Pioneer Sampler for examples of non-paper type crafts for Amer Story 1.

#17 daughterofsarah77

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 05:25 PM

Thanks Snow WHite, that is what I was hoping to hear! That had been my initial impression of WP, but after haning around for awhile, it seems I hear about all these "paper crafts" and that's all!

#18 littlebug42

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 06:10 PM

We just started AS1 and it is a huge it around here. My girls are responding well to the LA, the history and are drooling over some of the science programs as they read the catalog online over my shoulder. We attempted Sonlight last year and while I wanted to like it so much, after a few weeks of reading a book and answering questions over and over again, it was old fast. Also, my daughter really does not like to read fiction and it is like pulling teeth to get her to do so. This has made WP perfect for us. She LOVES history and with her readers aligned with the history, she has been very happy. School is enjoyable for us again. I absolutely need the ease of the IG because between working 28 hours a week and homeschooling my 2 girls, I have no time or energy left for planning. With the IG, I can leave things out if I don't think they will benefit us and I know where to add things in because the bulk of it is already done for me. I have looked at pretty much every program out there and am a huge WP fan. The website for TOG alone confuses me so much, I don't even think I could attempt that program.

As for the customer service, I had a few items missing from the original order and 1 error in shipping. The error was corrected immediately and the other items followed in about a week. I have no problem with this. This year I tried to piece things together from Amazon, Rainbow, etc but I am actually planning on just buying as much as possible next year from WP. The prices were pretty comparable in most cases to Amazon and personally, I would rather my money go to the small, family run company as opposed to Amazon if the price to me is going to be about the same anyway.

#19 OhElizabeth

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:16 PM

SnowWhite, maybe that's the problem for us with the craft kit? I got it, assuming it was age-appropriate, because it was listed under WP AC. She hasn't even asked to do anything from it. :(

TT is 80% papercrafts. You can adapt it to be more real, but most of the day-to-day stuff is papercrafts. For my dd, it has to be built, sewn, or something you use for re-enacting to be a real hands-on history craft. But she's picky. So far in colonial all I've seen is dried apple faces. Cute, but not what she's looking for. And there are no other activity books in AC, just whatever is in TT. Oh, there's a punched tin activity a little later. But like I said, for day in and day out, MOST of the stuff seems to be papercrafts.

AC2 is going to be a bit different, because they're scheduling pages from books that have activities. Does that mean you'll actually get the activities done? :)

#20 daughterofsarah77

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:57 PM

Ok so what is TT and is it part of what WP includes as part of their curriculum?

#21 jenn&charles

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 09:17 PM

I am looking at their American History course for my 3rd grader (next year). It looks good, but I want to be prepared for all the problems that may occur with using it.

How does it compare to Sonlight?

Thanks!


I've used Sonlight, TOG and WP (among others) ;) . My fave is WP (although TOG comes in a close 2nd). Of WP's history programs I've only used AS2.
Besides that I've also used WP's Animals & Their Worlds (for science) and Children Around the World.
AS2 and AW were my faves. I have a lot more mixed feelings about CAW.
I'm getting ready to use Sea & Sky and really looking forward to getting back into WP's history type cores.

So here is my version of the good/bad/ugly:

Good:
WP has more age appropriate books. More of the titles they include are visual and/or non fiction (as compared to SL). Otter gets so much more out of the WP books than he did from SL titles.

WP has lots of different activities as well as movies and websites scheduled in. Even if we don't do or use them all, it's nice to have the option. With the combination of the great books and activities, Otter retains what he's learning. He has also really loved their kits.

Another thing I really like is that they have weekly themes. This makes it SO easy to plug things in, take things out or tweak (and I am so totally a tweaker). If you like SL books - you can add in your faves VERY easily. It's harder to tweak SL because their weeks aren't organized like that.

The schedule is very non-overwhelming. I don't believe it's light, but it does allow for plenty of time to add in extras and just get your regular work done. If my throat gets sore, it's only because I've added things in. With SL that was just a matter of course. :rolleyes:

They have a couple unique themes. I LOVE their Sea & Sky program. It's so different and fun! S&S mixes in science with history and is going to be a great fit for my boys.

They work with charter schools. I know that charter school parents are sometimes looked down upon by homeschooling purists, but for my family this is one of the only ways we can afford our materials. SL doesn't have any kind of option where they will offer a package minus the Christian materials (that I know of). WP puts together a charter package, charges for the guidebook (that they usually give away free in a package) and then gives the parent the discount on the Christian materials based on the value of the guidebook. For Animals & Their Worlds that meant I got all of the Christian books for FREE.

The forums they provide have a very positive, helpful and friendly atmosphere. The WP users seem to be very supportive of one another.

WP is easier (in my opinion) to combine ages. It's easier to keep kids in the same core. With SL I could only do that so long. After awhile I had to do different Cores and that was a total pain and killed the special unity/fun between the kids they had studying the same material.


The bad:
Even though I like that WP encourages notebooking, I don't like many of their notebook pages. Some of them seemed text heavy and they have a very homemade clip-arty feel to them (to me). I am very picky about that kind of thing. Some of my AS2 state notebooking pages looked like they had a bad day at the photocopiers.

I also don't like the look/feel/writing of some of the WP "exclusives". They don't feel/look professional to me. Their Children of Many Lands book which appears to be professionally illustrated, has quite a few grammatical errors. That is really irritating.

Some of the books have mature material in them and there is no warning or I believe the particular material in question is just totally not suitable for the age group the core is designed for.
This is NOT a common occurrence though. Also, WP did apologize for one of those instances I posted about on their forum and said a warning was left off because of an error and would be in a future guidebook.
I also must say they are very responsive to user feedback about things like that. I've seen a book get pulled and replaced because of that.

Their are no discussion questions and no mapping assignments tied to the read-alouds!
For me this is good and bad. I never ended up using most of the SL notes so I'm not really missing much, but it is nice to have that sort of thing available, especially for the older grades. TOG has this ave. covered the best (in my opinion). It's also not that hard to just look something up on the fly as we read. We have a globe nearby in our school area as well as maps on the Internet.

I don't like their CAW program like I hoped I would (although my kids really do and have learned a LOT and that's what matters in the end). I also have to say that I have the FIRST year program which had a lot of kinks they seem to have worked out. I feel kind of like a beta tester. ;)

Their science programs aren't my style.


The ugly:
I don't think there is anything I've come across that's ugly.


Also - some people have complained that things are scheduled in - in a choppy kind of way, but I've never had a problem with that. Sometimes in a lit based program you have to "fit" things in and there is never a perfect fit. If we were reading something for American history and it was happening before we got to that time period officially, I just explained that we were getting to that, but had to start the book a bit earlier in order to finish it on time. Neither Otter nor I ever had an issue with that.

They also sometimes get a bad rap about communication and shipping issues but I've always had a good experience in that area. A few of my books came in "late", but never so much that it interfered with my doing a core.

Anyway, I really like WP. They aren't perfect, but they are easy to use with a great mix of materials. WP is Otter's fave part of the day. Every once and awhile I'll do our school schedule out of order and Otter always asks to please get to Winter Promise. :D
He remembers doing SL and has told me that he likes WP much better.
So do I.

Edited by jenn&charles, 18 March 2009 - 09:22 PM.


#22 ChildofGrace

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 09:47 PM

I am looking at their American History course for my 3rd grader (next year). It looks good, but I want to be prepared for all the problems that may occur with using it.

How does it compare to Sonlight?

Thanks!


Hi.

We've used AW, QAW, QMA, and are now using AC1 (combined with SL 3). Here are a few thoughts...



The Good:
  • WP uses some terrific spines! We especially loved MOH 1 & 2.
  • Many very visually appealing history reads.
  • IMO, WP does a great job of not only covering the facts of history, but also of giving a great feel for the culture of each time period. I would say this is my favorite aspect of WP.
  • The Brooks are absolutely wonderful people to work with. I have only had one difficulty in receiving an order, but they did their utmost to make the situation right.
The Bad:

  • We were a little disappointed to find the MOH lessons not scheduled as written. WP chooses to schedule the lessons by country, rather than chronologically, (and I do understand their reasons for doing so) thus really eliminating the possibility of using MOH's pre-tests, quizzes or tests. (I wouldn't normally test for history, but my kids love Linda Hobars' tests! It was kinda like a game for them!) And I had to edit several times on the fly when reading something like, "As we read yesterday..." or "Remember when..." because we had not actually read the lessons being referred to yet.
  • My kids have not been very impressed with the craft/activity opportunities. They enjoyed Hands and Hearts kits much more.
  • In using QAW and QMA for high schoolers, we found that, although the reading wasn't difficult, WP took alot of time to complete just due to the amount of books/activities scheduled daily.
  • Some mature content is scheduled without prior warning.
You know, the more I've considered the WP/SL comparisons, the more I believe it is an apples/oranges thing. They really are very, very different. WP is not about learning from historical fiction at all, while SL is all about that.

Just my two cents.:)

Edited by ChildofGrace, 20 March 2009 - 12:18 AM.


#23 OhElizabeth

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 10:54 PM

ChildofGrace-So did you end up using the WP order for MOH, or did you rearrange and put it back? I've been wondering that for some time, whether I'd want to do it in the WP order or not if I did QAW...

Also, just to the general populace, I've been thinking for the last little bit about my statement that TT is 80% papercrafts, and I think that may have been over-hasty. What it actually is is that 80% of what WP has *selected* from TT is the papercrafts. If you look at the activities TT gives with each lesson, there are more hands-on things. I actually sat down this evening and made a list of the activities that remain in the week of AC we're working on (week 11 of the IG, I rearranged some) to see what hands-on we might do:

make a dye chart using veges, berries, etc.
hornbook -- now here again, this was a paper craft, but I just happen to have the wood one from a H&H craft kit to use
rebus puzzle--papercraft
sampler embroidery--WP didn't select this (did they?), but it's in the TT instructions
quilling
Nine Men's Morris, Fortune Catcher, and Cat's Cradle--paper or string games
silhouette

So those are ok. WP definitely has a bent toward selecting the paper crafts, but there are more dynamic things in there. And really, how many involved projects do you have time for in a week?

#24 BizyPenguin

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:05 PM

You won't really know if a program will be a good fit until you (and only you) try it in your own homeschool. KWIM? That said, I think WP is wonderful, but we tried AC1 and it flopped for us for various reasons. I have never used SL, so I can't compare WP to that. I will add what I, personally, see as pros and cons to WP...

*If you're not the type who likes to plan, WP can be a life saver. Everything is planned for you! On the other hand, if you're a tweaker, you might tweak yourself right out of the program and the schedule might drive you crazy.

*WP isn't cheap and they don't have the best resell policy. On the other hand, you can just buy the IG and some of the exclusives and use your library for the rest. This can save you quite a bit. Regarding the resell policy, I've heard many moms resell WP stuff anyway b/c they say that the policy isn't legally binding.

*WP customer service is known to be hit or miss. When they do respond to you they are very very nice and helpful. Sometimes, though, they don't respond. They've recently added more customer service reps, if I'm not mistaken, so I think their customer service will improve.

*WP books seem much more engaging than SL books. Some SL moms say WP has too much twaddle. I suppose it's a matter of opinion. I, personally, like the looks of WP books more.

*WP has hands-on activities, but SL doesn't. Hands-on kids will love WP. Hands-off moms will have nightmares about glue sticks and scraps of paper everywhere. {{Shiver}}

*Some WP programs include preprinted assignments and projects neatly packaged. Buy them or you will regret it!! (I'm speaking from experience here!)

*WP is literature based with a Charlotte Mason flair.

*WP has one of the most beautiful catalogs out there. They do a very good job of making you drool and dream of their programs. Don't be surprised if you fall asleep with the catalog. (I've done it...LOL!). Just do your homework first and be sure this is something you're ready to commit to and invest in since it's not cheap and since you can't always judge a catalog by it's cover ;)

Edited by BizyPenguin, 18 March 2009 - 11:12 PM.


#25 Guest_Alte Veste Academy_*

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:16 PM

Don't be surprised if you fall asleep with the catalog.


:scared: How did you know?!?! Must. Find. Hidden camera. :lol:

#26 ChildofGrace

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:57 PM

ChildofGrace-So did you end up using the WP order for MOH, or did you rearrange and put it back? I've been wondering that for some time, whether I'd want to do it in the WP order or not if I did QAW...


I used QAW as written. For QMA, though, I used MOH 2 for about the first half of the year as WP scheduled, trying to give the tests and quizzes (much) later than scheduled just for the fun of it. (My kids were asking for them because the older two remembered them from going through MOH 1 a few years prior.)

However, I finally opted for revising the WP schedule in order to utilize MOH 2 chronologically. I'm not sure if it was worth the work or not.:001_smile: Rescheduling the readings wasn't a big deal, but the website and dvd suggestions took a little time.

I've corresponded with Karen Brooks about this issue, and she explained their strong feeling that students will retain more history if studied by culture, rather than chronologically. It is quite interesting to really delve into Egypt or Greece or Rome for a period, so I can see her point. It was just a little difficult for me to use MOH that way, as it is written specifically to present history chronologically, and to integrate Biblical history with secular. Obviously, studying Ancients by culture didn't kill us, so I try not to make too much of it. It's just something for people to consider.

#27 OhElizabeth

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:01 AM

That's helpful, thanks! :)


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