|Publisher: WinterPromise Publishing
Author: Kaeryn Brooks
Review last updated: June 2013
|Instant KeyPublishers InfoPricing|
Children Around the World
WinterPromise has developed a surprisingly broad curriculum for preschool through high school levels over the past few years. It's a themed curriculum, similar to a unit study but with a few differences. WinterPromise predominantly uses the Charlotte Mason approach to education, but much of the learning occurs around themes as in unit studies. Along with real books it uses ebooks published by WinterPromise, the occasional text or workbook such as SpellWell and Wordly Wise, and your choice of math programs. It incorporates technology such as interactive computer programs, DVDs, CDs, and website links. Like unit studies, WinterPromise incorporates lots of hands-on activities and projects. It's also a multi-level program to some extent so that you can often teach students working at more than one level in the same curriculum.
Similar to Sonlight in one way, you select your core curriculum package called a “themed program,” which might be themed around either history or science. The themed programs and their grade levels are:
- Journeys of Imagination, an introduction to children's literature (PreK)
- I'm Ready to Learn, readiness for math, language, science, etc. (PreK-K) [These first two programs might be used simultaneously over one or two years.]
- Hideaways in History (K-1st grade)
- Animals and Their Worlds, animals and science theme (grades 1-4)
- Children Around the World, culture and geography (grades 2-6) [Has wonderful sections that help children understand the poverty and danger in which many children live. Strong Christian perspective encourages prayer for other countries and cultures.]
- The American Story 1, early American history (grades 1-3)
- The American Story 2, Civil War through the 20th century (grades 2-4)
- American Crossing (grades 4-7)
- American Culture (grades 5-8)
- Adventures in the Sea & Sky, both history and science themes (grades 4-6) [A brief historical overview through the history of sea, air, and space travel that incorporates the science for each area.]
- Quest for the Ancient World, ancient history (grades 4-8)
- Quest for the Middle Ages, history and science themes (grades 4-8)
- Quest for the Ancient World (high school)
- Quest for the Middle Ages (high school)
- Quest for Royals & Revolution, the period of exploration and colonization (high school)
- (Quest for Modern Times will be the final program in the cycle, but it's not available yet.)
Then you also select language arts and a science curriculum (if the themed program isn't from science) from coordinating packages published by WinterPromise. They also sell Horizons Math (for grades K through 6), the Life of Fred math series (from Life of Fred: Fractions up through Life of Fred: Geometry), and Saxon Math for kindergarten level through Algebra 2, although none of the math programs are incorporated into the rest of the curriculum as essential items.
History follows chronological themes in all of the themed guides except for Journeys of Imagination, I’m Ready to Learn, Animals and Their Worlds, and Children Around the World. Timelines are used in most of the programs to help children understand the flow of history and relationships between events.
The key item in each curriculum package is a guidebook. Each guidebook provides basic instruction on how to use the materials in the package; detailed, daily lesson plans, a supply list, and additional lesson plans/schedules for older students who will complete some of their work independently (when appropriate to the level of the guidebook). Guidebook pages are three-hole punched for insertion in a binder. Guidebooks are your planning and your record keeping books. Simply check off assignments as completed. If you want to assign grades, you could enter them in your guidebook, but you might want to keep a separate grade book so it's easier to tally grades.
Guidebooks are very easy to use. They are designed to make WinterPromise a curriculum with very minimal teacher preparation work. Each guidebook directs you in the use of quite a number of books and resources. You can purchase various packages—choose print or ebook versions and either more comprehensive or bare bones packages. Packages do not include the adventure reading books although all of the books are available from WinterPromise by special order. Required novels and biographies are easily available through the library and other sources.
As an example, TheAmerican Story 1 Guide and Exclusives Set for the early grades includes the guidebook and two WinterPromise exclusive items: A New Land (Early American Stories) and Make-Your-Own American History Book (for creating timeline pages). The complete set includes 18 more "history" books that are biographies or brief topical history books written for children. There are two Bible study books, four activity resource books, and seven more books on a "focus theme" of Native Americans. You will need to obtain on your own the ten "adventure reading" books that tie into the historical theme (e.g., Ben and Me and Little House on the Prairie). In addition, you will need timeline creation items which WinterPromise also offers, or you can use your own. You might also want the optional Early American Trades & Crafts Kit . A few of the items are consumable, so you will need extras for additional students, but most are non-consumable.
I mentioned WinterPromise’s Make-Your-Own American History book for The American Story 1. A similar Make-Your-Own book is included in each history-themed package. These unique publications have a variety of activity sheets for students to use for creating their own notebooks. A separate Timelines in History book consists of heavy cardstock pages, punched for a binder. Students use these pages to create their own timelines using either figures sold by WinterPromise, Homeschool in the Woods, or others. Notebook pages from Make-Your-Own books correlate with their respective courses and can be inserted between timeline pages if you so choose.
WinterPromise has started creating “premiere” versions of their interactive notebooks for some of their courses. I reviewed the Make-Your-Own World Travels Diary notebook for Children Around the World. This 286-page ebook is created with full-color but pages can be printed in either color or black and white for children to add to their notebooks. (A print version is available in black and white with selected color pages in the back.) It includes country maps to be colored and/or labeled; “Flags and Facts” pages to complete; “Native Costume” pages that have children add details to drawings of costumes; “Folks to Know” pages and “Things to See” pages that vary from country to country with a variety of drawing, writing, and arts-and-crafts activities; “Culture and Traditions” pages again have a variety of activities; and “Postcard” pages have illustrated postcards on which children can write (writing prompts included). Full-color images at the back can be cut and pasted on to some pages. Some activities are recommended for older or younger students and some for all students. Interactive notebooks that are similar in concept are available for Adventures in the Sea and Sky, Animals and Their Worlds, and Quest for the Ancient World Senior High.
Bible study is included in all themed programs, usually, but not always, coordinating with the program theme. Resources and perspective are Protestant. The Christian (Protestant) worldview carries through the entire WinterPromise curriculum even though some of the books used are secular. The publisher notes in the lesson plans when there might be potential problems for Christians such as evolutionary assumptions.
WinterPromise language arts programs are comprehensive, covering phonics, readings, vocabulary, spelling, handwriting, grammar, composition, and communication, each at the appropriate levels. These programs include some workbooks like Explode the Code, SpellWell, Wordly Wise, and Easy Grammar. But they also include activity books and sets of real books to be used as readers. Reader packages are selected to coordinate with the themed programs. Language arts programs are available for PreK through high school, but only three of the four programs for high school level are available at this time. As I mentioned previously, guidebooks for language arts have the same type of four-day lesson plan schedules that make it easy to use and coordinate all the resources. Language arts programs for beginning readers require quite a bit of one-on-one instruction as you would expect, but once children are independent readers, the language arts programs require minimal instruction.
The nine WinterPromise science programs are intended to supplement the core programs that already have varying amounts of science included. The first program, The World Around Me, introduces children in grades K through 2 to basic science topics such as nature, water, light, color, and the night sky. Hoot & Chirp, Buzz & Bite targets grades 1 through 4 with a study of birds, plants, and bugs. Dinosaur Days for grades 2 through 5 has a creationist perspective. Animal Habitats and Rock Around the Earth (geology and earth science) both work for grades 3 through 6. Equine Science specializes in the study of horses for grades 3 through 7. Human Body and Forensics can be used with grades 4 through 6. Jiggle, Jostle & Jolt introduces energy, electricity, magnetism, and heat at a level appropriate for grades 4 through 7. Slimy, Grimy and Scummy No More teaches conservation science for grades 7 through 9. Students in junior and senior high can take a Human Body and Forensics course that is more advanced than the course for the elementary grades.
These programs should take only between two and five hours per week to complete. All science programs include guidebooks and a number of books, always including some with hands-on activities.
By now, you might be envisioning quite a stack of books for each year, and that is certainly an accurate picture of this curriculum—lots of books and lots of reading to do. But the selected books, especially for younger levels, are often colorful and appealing, and most are real books rather than texts or workbooks. Many of these books are ones you would love to have in your family library.
WinterPromise is designed for a 36-week school year. Schedules are set up for four days per week. The fifth day might be used for field trips, extended activities, reading, or tackling some of the ideas in the curriculum that you don't have time for the rest of the week. It doesn't seem likely that families could actually get through all of the read-aloud books and activities that come in each package, so you will sometimes have to be selective. While there is lot of reading since this is a literature-based program, WinterPromise also incorporates plenty of hands-on and active learning activities. Activities vary depending upon the grade levels addressed. More hands-on, arts-and-crafts type activities are included for younger students while older students are given more research and writing projects. Older students still have plenty of hands-on work such as experiments, active investigations, and practical applications. WinterPromise has made it a bit easier to select among the numerous activities by coding them as to how easy or difficult they are and how much prep time is needed.
While preparation time is minimal aside from some of the more challenging projects, parents/teachers spend a great deal of time actually using the program with their children, especially at younger levels. Most of the books for younger students are read-alouds, and some are read-alouds at upper levels. In keeping with Charlotte Mason methods, children do narration, create notebooks, and participate in activities, all with more or less parental assistance.
You might have also noticed that there's no mention of tests and answer keys. While answer keys come with SpellWell books (in language arts programs) and are optional for a few other workbooks, there are no tests and answer keys for the core programs. Instead, children are writing, narrating, creating notebooks—demonstrating their knowledge through their activities. Parents are also working closely with their children and can easily spot when I child does or does not understand a concept. Nevertheless, WinterPromise guides suggest using games (directions included) if you want to quiz children on retention of information as well as other methods of evaluation.
WinterPromise has gradually been writing and producing many of their own books. These coordinate much better with the themed guides than trying to use books from other publishers. They also help create a consistent Christian worldview. In addition, since most of the WinterPromise books are published as either print or ebooks, the ebook versions present an opportunity for you to lower the cost of the curriculum.
The curriculum intentionally does not align with state standards. Like most unit studies, topics are studied fewer times but at greater depth than occurs in standard textbooks. Ultimately, children are likely to cover all of the required topics, but they are also likely to retain more since learning methods are much more appealing.
The publisher's website has explanations, free sample pages [http://www.winterpromise.com/pdfs/experience/Experience_Children-Around-the-World.pdf], a discussion board and other information that will help you better understand the curriculum before purchasing.
Examples of pricing:
Children Around the World: ebook comprehensive package - $369, or print comprehensive package (without those resources only available as ebooks) - $319, or essential print set - $219;
The World Around Me science program - $109
First Grade Language Arts program $159
Check the WinterPromise website for complete pricing information.
- Learning Styles: all
Suitable for: one-on-one or group plus independent work
Audience age: PreK-12th grade
Need for parent/teacher instruction: moderate to high
Prep time needed: minimal
Need for Teacher's Manual: guides are essential
Educational Approach: Mostly Charlotte Mason and unit study
Religious perspective: Christian(Protestant)
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