Pearson’s myWorld Social Studies series for kindergarten through sixth grade was developed for the public school market, but they have created affordable homeschool packages by providing the teacher’s guide on DVD-ROM. Each homeschool bundle includes a student workbook and two DVD-ROMs: myStory Video and Teacher Resource Library.
These are social studies courses that try to cover a broad range of topics. For example, first graders study citizenship, rules, buying and selling, goods and services, jobs, maps and globes, continents, oceans, the environment, cultures, families, traditions, technology, and a few stories of iconic Americans such as Davy Crockett and Paul Bunyan. Titles of the courses and their grade levels are:
Here We Are (K)
Making Our Way (1)
We Do Our Part (2)
We Are Connected (3)
Regions of Our Country (4)
Building Our Country (5)
Growth of Our Country (6)
The fourth grade text really starts to concentrate attention more narrowly, focusing only on the United States. It begins with a geographic overview then provides a brief historical summary in a single chapter. Our government and economy are covered in the next two chapters. The remaining chapters cover the U.S. by region, going more in-depth on the geography and climate of each region, highlighting important resources that come from each, examining settlement and growth, and concluding with a snapshot of the region at present.
Chapters often open with a story to engage student interest. The myStory Video DVD-ROM for each level has short video presentations that might be used at this point. These might be interviews, animated stories, or documentary type presentations. These are usually interesting but not essential.
Lessons are meant to be interactive with a parent or teacher leading discussion, but by about fourth grade level, students should be able to work fairly independently through most of each lesson. Lessons often have students use visual organizers on their activity pages to help assimilate information they are learning. Courses stress reading skills and require some writing, so at the beginning of each student book there are brief reading and writing skills tutorials. (There’s also a page directing students to a Pearson website with tutorials on such things as interpreting graphs, working on specific reading skills, and interpreting physical maps, but this site is not accessible to homeschoolers at this time.)
There are reviews in the student books as well as quizzes and tests on the Teacher Resource Library DVD-ROM. Some tests and quizzes are editable so you may add or delete questions as you wish.
Many questions in the student books require sentence or paragraph answers that might vary. Some are open-ended and totally subjective. For example, p. 135 of the fourth grade book says, “Think about your future role in the United States economy. Write how you can prepare yourself to take part in it.” The next activity directs students to, “Draw a picture that shows you taking part in the economy.” While these types of questions help engage students who might be more creative or artistic, they might not be useful for all students. On the other hand, quizzes and tests ask questions with predictable answers-- generally matching columns and multiple-choice.
Lessons focus on attitudes and concepts as well as information. Content throughout the program leans slightly toward the left politically and philosophically, which is typical of most curricula written for public schools. For example, disproportionate attention is given to minorities and women in lieu of white, male historical figures. New Deal programs are viewed as the solution to the Great Depression (grade 4, p. 61 and teacher’s guide). A family is defined as, “a group of people who live together” (grade 1, p. 26).
On the other hand, this series incorporates economics better than do most other elementary grades social studies courses. For example, concepts such as barter and supply and demand are introduced in second grade, and fourth grade teaches the difference between market and command economies.
Having to access the teaching information through the DVD-ROM is likely to be annoying for some parents, but it does make the program affordable. This will largely be determined by how much you actually end up using the lesson presentations from the DVD. Aside from teaching the lessons, you also need to access the DVD for answer keys which becomes more important as you move beyond the first few levels. Of course, you can print these out if you wish.
Parents looking for a secular social studies program and who prefer to teach content that students are learning in public schools should find myWorld Social Studies a good choice.