For my latest TOS crew review, I was given a free sample of Illuminations by Bright Ideas Press. I chose to review Year 1 (grades K-8) of the program because I would like to start studying ancient history with my children. I have to say, I was very impressed by how thorough and well thought out this program is!
The sample came as a digital download complete with weekly lesson plans, lesson plans by subject, graphic organizers, and guides for books for family read alouds and student read-alones. Illuminations is a complete program with all subjects except for math, but of course, you can pick and choose which parts you want to use. I found the files easy to navigate, and I had no problem finding what I needed very quickly. This was nice in comparison to other digital programs I have used, which required flipping through multiple pages to find what I wanted!
Illuminations Year 1 is based on The Mystery of History, volume 1, and that book is necessary to complete the program. Other than that, books can be checked out from the library (I found most of what I needed available through inter-library loan). There are options given for writing, grammar, and spelling, and if you choose to use the recommended books, daily lesson plans are included. Science is based on the Christian Kids Explore series (also by Bright Ideas Press) and the year 1 study is on Biology.
I really enjoyed using MOH with my kids, the lessons were short and easy to understand, with plenty of activities and even quizzes and reviews. I had looked at this book earlier in the year, and now, I wish I had gotten it then! Daily Bible study is also included, and together we read through parts of Exodus and Genesis while we were reviewing this program. My kids enjoyed the read alouds and read-alones, and the included guides made it easy to generate discussions about the books.
The science outlines give directions for the teacher and the students, as well as activities, and the history activities are based on the activity guide for MOH. I cannot emphasize enough how much easier this made planning for me. 🙂 Up to this point, I had been doing my own program, and while it has been working, it was so nice to just look at the weekly grid and see what we were going to do next!! I can see now why people enjoy using an all-inclusive program. With the planning done for me, I could spend more time learning with, and enjoying, my children.
I plan to spend some time gathering the rest of the books for Illuminations, so we can complete the program next year, and I will definitely be planning to save for Year 2. The cost for a download of the full year is $165. For a CD-ROM it is $185.00. You can also download by semester, which will cost $82.50. This price may seem high, but when you consider that all you need to do is add math and whatever extra subjects you would like, it really isn’t that much, and I think it is well worth it!
Illuminations includes a section for early learners, as well as high school programs. The plan for the K-8 program is to have a total of 6 years of study, 3 of which are completed now. The Illuminations website has very informative and helpful videos that explain the program in detail and you can check it out here:
This has been one of the BEST programs I have reviewed so far, and I am very excited about doing more with it in the year to come! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!