In the beginning of my homeschool journey with my kids, I decided that I wanted to teach history chronologically. I read several books on classical education and was interested in the philosophy, but found that I was far too eclectic to hold to such a rigid format for our schooling style. However, over the years, I have found that using some of the philosophies of classical education has worked for us. We have studied history chronologically and have memorized historical facts from timelines, etc. Recently we had the opportunity to review the online class, Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation. When I was looking at the Veritas Press website in preparation for the review, I was very impressed with the samples and the free two-week trial (scroll to the bottom of the page). I had my husband watch some of the samples with me and we were both mesmerized. We were also offered the Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards as a complement to the course.
About the Company
Veritas Press was created by Marlin and Laurie Detweiler after reading a book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson, recommended by a friend, and realizing that Christian Classical education was the direction they wanted to go in training their children. They had difficulty finding Christian materials and tools that would help them in this new journey, so they began to create their own materials for use with their own children. This led them to form two Classical Christian schools, develop their own publishing company and most recently begin and online classical academy. Their focus is decidedly Christian and teaches history from in a chronological format. Their first products were the Veritas Press History and Bible flashcards. Now the company is well-known in the classical and homeschooling community for providing quality products as they seek to restore the culture for Christ by reaching the hearts and minds of our children with the truths of God’s Word.
About the Products
$199 for one year’s access to the course for one child. Additional children can watch the lessons for no additional cost, but if you want them to use the worksheets and graded assignments, they need to pay the additional fee for a separate login. Each child should be a minimum of age 7 the first day of class. Geared for 2nd -6th grade.
Literature kits are available, but not required. The courses are self-contained so the literature is not necessary, but can add depth and interest if your family loves good books.
optional Literature Kit, Level 1 – $92.52 (2nd-3rd grade)
optional Literature Kit, Level 2 – $159.06 (4th-6th grade)
This Self-Paced History Course gives you access to the program for one year and you can work through the lessons as fast or as slowly as you like. There are a total of thirty-two events covered over the course of the year and each event is covered by five lessons. The general recommended pace is five lessons a week for thirty-two weeks, with four review weeks spread into the plan.
After you register, you simply login and this is the screen you see first.
You can then immediately launch the lesson from the button in the middle of the page or choose to view your grades or other courses using the tabs at the top.
The lessons include worksheets, quizzes and tests that are weighted and graded. The student has a cumulative grade that is automatically calculated and can be viewed at any time from the my grades tab. Once a worksheet, quiz or test is taken, the grade is permanent and cannot be changed. You can back up the lesson and repeat the exercise, but the first grade remains. Here is an example of what the grades page looks like from the student login page.
When you are ready to begin the lesson, you get a series of slides with pictures, videos, activities and games to complete. All the events included in the lessons are introduced one at a time on timeline cards in the lessons. There is also a song that lists the events and the dates and is sung for the student in each lesson. Here are some samples of the different types of slides.
An opening screen, giving you the course title and lesson number.
Each lesson is narrated by two men dressed in character. They explain the historical content and entertain the student along the way. In this particular course, there is even a talking gargoyle.
This worksheet includes a matching activity. You drag the content under the pictures to the correct term.
Drag and drop mapping activities help reinforce learning.
Games are a part of nearly every lesson. If you answer review questions correctly before the game, you get an advantage during the game.
Here is an example of a worksheet with multiple choice answers.
Quizzes are mostly multiple choice with correct answers highlighted in blue after you make your choice and incorrect answers highlighted in red. You have immediate feedback on your choices. You cannot change your answers after you click next.
Since this is an online course, you will need to check the computer requirements before purchasing the course. There is a list of computer requirements here, but if you are like me and don’t know all the specs on your computer, check your computer’s compatibility with this course on the Veritas site. I ran this test on my laptop and it took less than 2 minutes. We used the course on laptops running Windows 7 and Windows 8 and had no problems loading the videos or pictures. We did have a lesson freeze mid-lesson a couple of times, but we were able to log out and log back in and fast forward the slides to our place in the lesson. Some of my crewmates who used iPad for this course stated that because of the lack of Flash Player on the iPad, they had to use a special third-party app to run the lessons.
The complementary product we were provided with was the Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards - $19.95. This set of 32 full-color coated cardstock event cards can be laid out and used as a chronological timeline or used as flashcards. The front of the card names the event and includes a beautiful work of art to study.The back of the card displays the dates of the event and gives a description for you to study. There is a list of resources at the very bottom for further study of the event.
How We Used These Products in Our Homeschool and Our Opinons
I used this for my 10-year old. He logged in four to five days a week and watched the lessons over breakfast. We all learned things from the lesson by default of hearing the lessons while eating. On days where he had worksheets or quizzes, he used the flashcards as a reference. I didn’t allow him to use any helps when he took a test. In the beginning, he was unaware that worksheets and quizzes were graded and he failed a few of them. He was frustrated when he realized that it affected his grade. He is usually a very conscientious student, so he had an opportunity to learn a great life lesson. As he moved through the course, he was able to bring his grade up gradually. He never complains about doing his history and he really enjoyed the games and the activities included. We didn’t purchase the optional literature kit, but I was able to get some of the titles from the library and he has enjoyed reading these in his free time. He reached lesson 21 this week and will be doing a calligraphy project that is recommended. He will copy Psalm 23 and color the scroll work around the paper in colors of the period. His opinion of the product was highly favorable. He was enthusiastic about completing the lessons and he laughed at the talking gargoyle. We loved the beautiful pictures and the narrators were witty and charming. I cannot say enough good things about this program. I loved the self-contained nature of the materials. It required no preparation or teaching from me. This was a great fit for my self-directed 6th grader. I am unsure whether or not my 2nd grader would happily complete the material. I believe he could easily watch the lessons, but I think the quizzes and worksheets would be a bit over his head and would possibly frustrate him, especially the fact that they are graded. Having used literature-based history in the past that requires lots of reading aloud by mom, this was a nice change of pace for us. This would be great for auditory learners. The events song that is sung in each lesson is catchy and I found myself and my son singing along after a while. It is kind of corny, but I think it is definitely memorable. Overall we give this program a thumbs up and will continue the course until the end.
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Check out what others thought of the Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Explorers to 1815, Veritas Press Self-Paced History: 1815 to Present, Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt, and Veritas Press Self-Paced History: New Testament, Greece and Rome by clicking on the graphic below.