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Anyone use Galore Park math or languages?

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We've used the first two levels of French. I liked them fine and saved them to use with my next two. I do think their language programs work better for a parent or teacher that has some knowledge of the language. We tried the Latin, but I needed more teacher instruction. However, we have used their Latin Practice Exercises (not part of Latin Prep or STRWTL Latin) with much success.

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Here are some Galore Park reviews, cut and pasted from the Yahoo group files.  All reviews by me, except when stated:


SY French


I taught this to Calvin when he was 12 and Hobbes when he was 8.  I began teaching them together, but fairly soon split them out, as they needed very different pacing.  In the end, Hobbes completed about half of book one and Calvin book one and part of book two, before both went off the school.


The text was definitely usable with both, but Hobbes needed much more reinforcement.  The programme is solid and grammar based (parts to whole not whole to parts).  It expects memorisation of grammar and vocabulary as a basis for moving forward.  I found it to be efficient and reasonably engaging.


How we used it: At the beginning of every session, I would go over the previous session orally with the boys, repeating out loud the exercises that they had already written, and practising conversation on the theme of the lesson.  


We would then read the new lesson passage together, talk through any grammar points, and I would assign memorisation.  The boys would then do the exercises on paper.


Pros: a really good foundation for further work.  Grammar is not skated over and is fairly well explained.


Cons: the audio is very limited - it is not interactive, so will not get the child talking.  Unless you are a French speaker yourself (I am) I would highly recommend combining the programme with something that could provide more listening and speaking practice.


SY English (previously EP)


We have finished EP1 and are on chapter three of EP2.
EP is a secular language arts progamme designed for children aged 11
to 13/14. We use each book for about a year, taking around 45 minutes
a day. The layout is clean and not too busy. There are two or three
illustrations or cartoons per chapter.
Each book is divided into ten themed chapters. In book one each
chapter includes two prose passages; in book two there are two prose
passages and a poem. For example, one chapter in book one is about
elephants. The first passage is from The Elephant's Child, by Rudyard
Kipling; the second is a letter to The Times newspaper about keeping
elephants in zoos. In book two, one chapter is entitled 'Love' and
contains an extract from Silas Marner, a Shakespeare sonnet and a
description of the life of St. Valentine.
Following each passage are comprehension and vocabulary questions.
The second book also starts to introduce elements of the analysis of
poetry. There is one exercise made up of creative writing prompts -
we do several of these pieces from each chapter. Spelling,
vocabulary, grammar and punctuation follow - many of the examples are
drawn from the passages.
There's a speaking and listening section, which often includes
composing dialogues or speeches, or memorisation. There follows an
extensive list of related books to read. Lastly, there are suggestions
for extra activities (for brighter kids who finish fast in a classroom
Pros: it's an all-in-one program that does a good job of relating all
its elements. The reading passages are challenging, and there is a
range of suggested reading to cover all abilities. The passages and
poems that are chosen are of extremely high quality: these are not
those bland comprehension passages you come across in some school
texts. In the first two chapters of book 2, Calvin has read and
analysed passages by Mark Twain, Cecil Day Lewis (British Poet
Laureate), William Golding and Charles Causley (just missed being Poet
Laureate), as well as extracts from quality newspapers. Following the
end-of-chapter suggestions, he read Huckleberry Finn, The Day They
Came To Arrest The Book, Fahrenheit 451 and Robinson Crusoe.
Cons: this isn't a con for me, but compared to the US standard, UK
grammar requirements are light. You may well find EP grammar to be
very gentle review. Spelling and punctuation exercises may need to be
done orally if you want to adapt to US standards. Some of the
suggested reading is emotionally, as well as academically, demanding,
so you may need to do some pre-reading.
Potentially more important is the lack of specific writing
instruction. The writing prompts are just that: titles or ideas. If
the pupil is not yet writing fluently and you feel the need of help to
get to that stage, you will have to supplement with a more focused
writing progamme.
Recommendation: I love this programme (can you tell?). It's exactly
what I wanted to find. It's stimulating and challenging, but not
frightening for the pupil. Calvin delights in the passages: the look
on his face as he read Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech,
or dove into a poem by Wole Soyinka was unforgettable.
I recommend it for any child of 11 and up, especially one who is
interested in language. A younger pupil can use it, but watch out for
maturity issues. A child who cannot already put together a written
piece in a variety of genres will need some support.
Junior History (review by Melissa)
It is not my primary history - if it were I would think that it needed supplements.  The entire text is only 74 pages.  I purchased it for my daughter - age 7 - entering 2nd grade.  We will do American History three days a week and Ancient History two days a week.  I think it works very well for a two day a week text.  We will do reading and an exercise one day a week and a project one day a week.  There are three exercises for each chapter.  The first exercise has ten (sometimes more) questions for comprehension.  Most of them are who, what, where, when questions.   There is usually one why question and one that asks you to draw something.  We will do these orally - over two classes.  Exercise two is fill in the blank - five questions.  I will have her write these as copywork.  And exercise three is vocabulary - five words.  I haven't decided how to do these yet.  Then there is the To Do section.  We will do these on our second day.  They usually include one story to write, one poster to make and a couple of craft things to do.  I am adding one fiction and one non-fiction book to each chapter.  I am currently working on choosing the books.  Every chapter has this layout. 
I think the textbook is very good as an introduction to ancient history.  It has at least one map for each chapter.  The choice of photos was well done.  I always struggle with what to include and what to leave out.  BUT, it does not have nearly the depth of SOTW or other programs that are studying only ancients for the year.  The maps are nice but there is no focus on geography.  There is an intro to literature and mythology, but no book suggestions. 
I was looking for an interesting, factual, fun ancients text for my daughter to use a couple of times a week.  (We do annual testing and both of my children had weak scores in pulling information from text.)  I think as a text this book is very nice, but it has all of the drawbacks of any textbook.
Latin Prep
Calvin has finished LP 1 and is on chapter 8 of LP 2. This is a
rigorous, secular, grammar-based programme designed for pupils aged 11
to 13/14. It introduces grammar and vocabulary systematically and
provides lots of practice in translating sentences Latin/English and
English/Latin. Each chapter also includes longer passages for
comprehension, translation and grammar work. The passages usually
concern Greek Myth or Roman history.
The layout of the book is enlivened by cartoons. The text is written
to the child, with some appropriate humour mixed in. One is sometimes
asked to translate ludicrous sentences, which Calvin particularly
enjoys: 'Master, the friends of the poet are murdering the inhabitants
with books' is one of his favourites from book 1. Absurd sentences are
of course harder to translate, as you can't guess them. There is a
word list at the back of each book and a pronunciation guide at the
front of book 1.
Calvin and I do most work orally - this is quicker and makes for a
nice snuggle time. We spend about 90 minutes a week, including
memorisation, and get through just under a book a year.
Pros: logical and fun, with review integrated into the exercises.
Cons: the noun cases are presented in UK/Commonwealth order, rather
than US order. This can be solved by having the student write out the
nouns in your chosen way as part of the memorisation process. Very
occasionally there will be a grammar point that could do with an extra
sentence of explanation. This is a rare occurrence and not something
to worry about.
SY Maths (previously named Maths Prep)
We have finished book one and are on the second chapter of book two.
Maths Prep is designed for students aged 11 to 13/14. It is divided
into chapters, each of which concentrates on a particular aspect of
maths. Each chapter has an introduction, which often links maths to
its history, then a series of exercises which build on each other. At
the end of the chapter will be a summary exercise, extension questions
(often very challenging!) for brighter pupils, and an end-of-chapter
activity. MP explains how the maths works and expects understanding,
but also practises standard algorithms.
The text is enlivened by cartoons but the overall look of the page is
somewhat dense. It uses a larger sans-serif font, rather than the
smaller serif font used in Latin Prep and English Prep.
The contents of each chapter are picked up and reviewed in the
following book, but there is no continual review during the year. The
author recommends adding in weekly review questions from the other
maths books sold by GP.
Pros: the explanations are logical and the exercises present
interesting word problems. The program requires the pupil to think
hard about how to apply what s/he has learned, rather than just
plugging new numbers into previous formats. The historical notes
develop nice links with history studies.
Cons: the lack of continual review makes MP less easy than other GP
products for a non-specialist teacher to use. You are responsible for
finding and assigning review questions - they are not a part of MP.
The alternative is a lot of forgetting and relearning between one year
and the next.
Recommendation: recommended for teachers who are prepared to add in
their own review to the program, or for very mathy students, who will
thrive on the extension questions and not forget much from year to year.
Religious Studies For Today
The book discusses, rather than preaching, and provokes wide-ranging
philosophical/political/moral discussion. It will have been designed
to be used in schools that may have a nominal Christian affiliation,
but that include many children of different faiths or none.
It covers passages from the Old and New Testaments. The aims
(according to the introduction) are to explore issues which surround:
"- human existence
- the existence of God
- our responsibility towards our planet
- our responsibility towards each other
- the teaching of Jesus
- personal and public morality
Each chapter normally contains the following sections:
- summary of the set Biblical text
- commentary on the text
- questions on the commentary
- contemporary issues
- Common Entrance (exam style) questions
- scholarship (higher level exam style) questions"
The first chapter discusses Genesis 1-2 v 25. The commentary mentions
particular words used in the translation, the differences from the
Babylonian creation story, the historical relevance of the sabbath
(and the reason that P - the writer - stressed it), fertility as a
concept in the region - fertility gods (Baals) in Canaan. There follow
comprehension questions on the commentary.


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I bought Junior Maths 2 for one of my kids but decided not to use it; I stuck with MEP. It is very direct and covers one topic at a time. For a review, you'd have to revisit past chapters.


The Math is great, but read the intro. You need to spend a little more time planning before using it. It is divided into topics so that you can find each topic. You are not supposed to start at the beginning and go through the book.


Here is a direct quote from the forward of the book. " It is not laid out in any teaching order but rather by topic.The author envisages a chapter being revisited during the course of the year."


You are supposed to skip around. Just to give an example in Junior maths 1:

ch. 1     Place value: Units, tens, and hundreds

ch. 3     Addition, pairs that match up to 10

ch. 4     Subtraction from 10

ch. 9     Writing sums of money

ch.1      Writing numbers in words and digits.


So, you start with one part, then you go back and do the next part of that topic. If they have forgotten it, you quickly review and then teach the new part.


We Love GP. We use Latin Prep as our main Latin and I will use Junior Math again when my dd gets to it age wise. 



ETA: This is specifically for junior Maths. I believe when you get up to the 10+ SYRWTLM you go in sequence.

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The Math is great, but read the intro. You need to spend a little more time planning before using it. It is divided into topics so that you can find each topic. You are not supposed to start at the beginning and go through the book.

To be honest, I didn't end up using it because it turns out my child knew about 3/4 of the material. ;) It also struck me as very good, but maybe for someone else, not for this kid! ha.


But thanks for your explanation of how you used it; that's very nice.

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