TOS Crew: Illuminations (Bright Ideas Press) First impressions

I’ve been playing around with the Illuminations Grades 3-8 files for a couple of weeks now (can September be almost over?). I’ve also received access to the high school files, but haven’t been able to make them work yet. The folks at Bright Ideas Press have been very helpful and I’m sure I’ll wrestle that one to the ground today as well.

First Impressions

I was shocked when I started to look through the Illuminations files for grades 3-8. I don’t know where I got the idea that this was merely a language arts supplement to Mystery of History–it’s much, much more than that!

Complete Curriculum Plan

Illuminations is, in fact, a complete curriculum plan, incorporating Bible and science as well as Language Arts (writing, spelling, copywork, grammar) and, of course, history and geography. You can take parts of the program, or adopt the entire plan and your school year is laid out for you, schedule and all.

Did I say “schedule”?

The program includes a 36-week (Monday through Friday) schedule, plus study guides for three books to read over the summer break following your study of Mystery of History, Volume 1.

You don’t necessarily do every subject, every day. The work is spread out through the week. For example, science occurs in the schedule on Monday and Wednesday, but you can adjust the schedule according to your family’s needs. (Some years ago, we participated in a homeschool choir that met on Mondays, necessitating a less crowded academic schedule for that day.) The schedule can serve as a check-off list for assignments, and includes page numbers in resources for at-a-glance planning and use.

Additional resources

Because this is a curriculum plan, if you want to do the whole program you’ll need to round up some more resources, including:

– a grammar program (a couple to choose from)
– a writing program (two choices)
Christian Kids Explore Biology
– English from the Roots Up
– Natural Speller
– The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide
– The Young Scholar’s Guide to Humanities
(free with registration)

Lesson plans are included for Christian Kids Explore Biology, English from the Roots Up, Natural Speller, geography, grammar, and writing.

There are also a number of reading books, both read aloud and “on your own”, that you’ll want to obtain for the Full Meal Deal. Illuminations contains reading guides for each of the literature selections, with daily assignments (writing, research and other activities) that help students interact with the reading. (I love the graphic organizers!)

Bonus Materials

Included in the program are copywork pages and several bonus e-books.

I’m out of time for this post (kids are sleeping in, and they shouldn’t be–I’ve heard someone’s snooze alarm go off twice, and now it’s ominously silent), and there’s so much more… for example, the planning pages with the literature list are interactive–you can check off the resources you plan to use, for a handy shopping or library list, or as you use them for a quick record of books read.

There’s a lot more to explore here, and I’ll try to keep you updated.

One piece of advice: If you’re planning on using Illuminations I’d build a little pre-planning and preparation time into the schedule, just to set all the pieces in place before you jump in and get started. It’ll be worth it.

There’s also a Yahoo group available, a virtual support group of homeschoolers who are using the program.

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