Monday, November 22, 2010


I have always enjoyed history--it was one of my very favorite subjects in school!  When I was in school though, we learned about specific events and specific time periods individually, like pieces of a puzzle that do not really go together.  Years ago, I was introduced to The Mystery of History by Linda Hobar and my love of history was rekindled.  Before we ever began studying The Mystery of History in our home school, I had it beside my bed reading it each night.  It was exciting for me to see all of the puzzle pieces of history finally fit together and I was thrilled to see exactly where the characters and stories from the pages of my Bible fit into history as well.

Because we have enjoyed The Mystery of History so much as a family, we were delighted to find out that Bright Ideas Press has developed a curriculum to complement it--with History, Bible and Science working together.   Illuminations is a wrap-around program for The Mystery of History (or All American History, if you prefer) that studies a variety of subjects chronologically.  It covers Bible, Literature, Language Arts (including writing, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, copywork, and notebooking pages), Geography, History, Science, Life Skills and Humanities (including poetry, theatre, music and art).  You can purchase Illuminations in two levels:  3rd-8th Grade (with some activities for Early Learners) and High School.  We were able to use both.

A literature-intensive curriculum, Illuminations offers Christ-centered literature study guides, a weekly schedule grid, lesson plans for all of the scheduled subjects, graphic organizers and other teacher helps such as grading grids.  It is laid out in such a way that it requires little teacher preparation.  You can either print out the weekly lesson plans or use them right off of your computer.

To best reap the benefits of Illuminations, you would need to acquire personal copies of the literature you will be using (some are included as free e-books and many are Bible passages) and choose the programs you want to use for your family.  You can buy the works of literature you will study or make great use of your local public library for the selected literature.  When we received our copy of lluminations, one of the very first things I did was go online and request that our local library start collecting a few of the books we would need through interlibrary loan.

Illuminations schedules writing, spelling, grammar, copywork, notebooking pages and humanities in a mostly four-day school week giving you the option of using Friday as a catch-up or rest day.  Writing and Grammar have multiple options for you to choose which program works best for your family in your home education environment.  You will need to purchase either The Mystery of History or All American History as well as choose from one of the following options for Grammar:  Winston Grammar AND The Blue Book of Grammar, OR Winston Grammar Advanced OR Easy Grammar OR Grammar Punk.  We already own Easy Grammar so it was an easy choice for us!  Other resources that you need to have on hand are English from the Roots UpThe Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide OR Hands-on Geography.  Most of the activities planned  for Geography come from The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide.

Because the McBlessings are in 4th, 6th, 9th and 11th grades, I often find myself making circles between them to help out when needed and explain concepts and ideas.  The beauty of Illuminations is that they can all be studying the same basic subjects.  The completely customizable lesson plans make it easy for me to plan for the entire family and to make substitutions where necessary.  The  four-day schedule makes room for the many activities that keep us on the go.  I wear a chauffeur's cap most days shuttling folks to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Art, Crown Club, Piano, Baseball, Softball, Gymnastics, LEGO Robotics League, Reading Club and Church Activities like AWANA, Choir, Bible Drill, Band Practice and Worship.

As you can imagine, with four children I encounter a wide variety of learning styles.  Illuminations includes hands-on activities that my younger children really enjoy (the compass Treasure Hunt was a big hit!) and also gives suggestions for using Drive-thru-History DVDs and Netflix movies that everyone enjoys.  We like to sit down as a family and watch movies together and the MainMost and I were pleased with the ones recommended by Illuminations.

I was particularly impressed with the extensive literature guides for both age groups.   The in-depth, Christ-centered study guides include questions, answers (in the teacher's guide only), mapping skills, ideas for written reports and project suggestions.   The High School McBlessings were able to work on the different literature requirements individually with no help needed from me.   The  Bible passage studies from Acts and 1 Thessalonians were most excellent and the Bible Reading Plan is a useful tool for us.  Centered around the life of JESUS, it offers a way to keep everyone growing together as a family--and that is really what home education is all about.

Illuminations can be purchased from Bright Ideas Press here as a download or on CD-Rom.  We used Illuminations 2 which is the complement for The Mystery of History, Volume 2, The Early Church and the Middle Ages.  You can purchase the first semester or go on and purchase the full year. Grades 3 - 8 cost $82.50 for 1st Semester, $165.00 for Full Year, or $185.00 for Full Year on CD-Rom.  High School cost is $47.50 for 1st Semester, $95.00 for Full Year, or $115.00 for Full Year on CD-Rom.

~~I was given the opportunity to use and review Illuminations as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew thought of Illuminations here.~~ Pin It Now!

1 comment:

  1. [...] school year and we were super-impressed.  (You can see how we used it and what we thought of it HERE.) Now we’ve been introduced to the crème de la crème of geography through their new map [...]


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your heart with me!