Friday, June 27, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Veritas Press

History is one of my favorite subjects but it is the most challenging to teach to my daughter who has special needs. She is such a literal, hands-on learner that it is often difficult for her to comprehend things outside of her personal experiences. That is why I always look for engaging ways to teach the subject. I am happy to report that we found a great tool for that with Veritas Press.

For the purpose of my review I received a one year subscription to the Veritas Press Self-Paced History program. We chose Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt for our course.

We also received a set of the Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards.

I absolutely love that Gess is learning history from a solid biblical perspective! The Bible is part history and it is reliable so that should be the way we teach it.  The program starts with creation and adds in historical events on the timeline as they happen.  Having these components in unison is important to me.

The Veritas Press Self-Paced History is a complete one year course that it done totally online. Do you know what that means? I don't have to do any work!  It is a course that my child can complete independently. In fact as you begin you are asked to promise that you will not help your child with the work. With my daughter having special needs she seldom gets to work on her own. She tends to need my help and instruction for at least some things, especially math. But with Veritas Press she logs on and completes the work all by herself! That makes her feel more grown up and gives me a much needed break.

I do have access to go in and check to see how she is doing.  In the parent section you will find a supply list, card sample, and reading list. We didn't do the additional reading with it, but that is available if you choose. You can also see what lessons they have completed and the scores they received on worksheets and tests. Gess recently completed her review test for units 1 through 4 and got a 100%!  Her total score is a 98% which is pretty great for independent study!

Of course I still help my daughter if she has trouble understanding something but I do not give her the answer to questions.  She really hasn't needed my help much for anything. The work is pretty straightforward and the system is easy to navigate. The only time she got confused was when she needed information from her flashcards but that was because we started before we actually received them.

It is important that the student be prepared before they take the test as the test scores cannot be changed once they are submitted. You can repeat any lesson at any time, but it will not change the score of the previous session. You do appear to have a chance to retake the test if you don't actually hit submit at the end. During one test when Gess got stuck on a question she went back into the lesson to the section where the answer was, viewed the video until she heard the answer, and then went back to the quiz and started over again. I was cracking up. She didn't ask for my help or anything. She seemed to know exactly what to do and where to go to find out. That was pretty ingenious to me!

The program itself is easy to navigate and really enjoyable. Once the student logs in, the program begins with the lesson right where they left off. Gess did about one lesson a day 4 to 5 days per week except the week she was off at camp. She loves doing these videos. They are narrated by a character named Simeon along with the Sphinx of Egypt, who apparently can talk. There are a few others you meet along the way as well.

Each lesson will have about 26 slides but none of them are very long. Each segment has a different purpose. They start with an intro from Sphinx and next is the memory song. This is great because every day they learn part of a song that will help them memorize all 32 main events of Old Testament and Ancient Egyptian history. Gess loves the song and has it pretty well mastered, at least the first part since for now they are only focusing on the first 16. Here she is singing along one morning.

She would sing it more if there was a way to access it without starting a lesson but since it is at the beginning of them its not hard to find it if you want to do that. They also have the lyrics in a printable format under attachments.

After you sing the song Simeon comes and starts teaching you about history. He will teach you vocabulary words, names, and important events. When the lesson is based upon Scripture, which the earliest lessons are, they actually have it on the screen so the child can read along. Here is a Scripture they were using to teach the kids about dinosaurs.

They break the lesson up by having interactive activities to help you retain what you are learning. These are usually pretty fun and fairly easy, even for my Gess. Here is one about what sacrifice Cain and Abel offered up to God. This one really cracked Gess up. You had to place the item on the correct alter. You were given options like bananas and cute little bunny rabbits. Gess giggled when each of them burned up on the alter. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing but it definitely helped her to remember who offered what sacrifice.

Here are a few other examples of interactive reviews and games.

As I mentioned earlier some of the questions are off of the Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards, which they do show briefly in the lesson itself. While these cost extra you really need these in your hand to complete some of the lessons. They are also good to review by themselves.

The front has a beautiful illustration with its title and a Scripture reference when there is one. They are numbered as well as color coded - blue for history and purple for bible. Some of them have both colors.

The back of the card has the title of the event, important information about the event, and the date that you need to know for quizzes and tests. There is also a list of other resources for teaching it.

Gess has absolutely loved the program and has really excelled at it. Of course so far she is still in very familiar territory as it has not yet gotten to the parts that are not in Scripture. She finds Simeon and the other characters entertaining and they explain things clearly.  Having several interactive activities is also a plus. She seems to enjoy those very much as well. There are even a few you can do offline. We intend to the build our own ark soon. This is one program I have truly not had to help Gess with at all.  It's very rare that she calls for me and when she does it is usually because she forgets some of the information is on the card rather than from the video.

While I wouldn't mind more information in the parents section, I can see enough to know that she is comprehending her work. However, I do not like that the student is unable to change their score if they have a really bad test. No matter how many times you repeat a lesson, it will keep the first score. However, I do understand that they want their scoring system to be as accurate as possible but when you have a child with special needs that is a concern for me. For now though, Gess has done great so that hasn't been an issue for us so far.

The Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt is $199 and is for students in grades 2-6. This gives you full online access for one year starting from the day you actually begin the class. If you order the corresponding flashcards I suggest that you don't start until you actually receive them since they are essential to the class. I will admit that the price is not usually in my budget, but because my daughter rarely has things that allow her to work totally independently this one is worth it to me. We will probably purchase other sets after we complete this one.

The Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards are $19.95.

To learn more visit the Veritas Press website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below. There you will get to read about other courses that Veritas Press Self-Paced History has to offer as well as some from their Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I which is for students age 12 and up.

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