TOS Crew: Pandia Press

Pandia Press is another publisher that was new to me this year on the Crew. They publish history and science curricula. I had the opportunity to use one of their History Odyssey courses. History Odyssey is a literature-based history study with some geography and writing thrown in. The approach is based on the Classical method of homeschooling from a secular viewpoint.

We received Middle Ages, Level 2 in hardcopy format, and Early Modern, Level 2 as an e-book. The hardcopy format is 3-hole punched papers, with color-printed cardstock front and back covers.

The e-book comes in PDF format. The book is intended for use by one homeschool family, but licensing for groups and co-op classes is available.

I love the interactive features in the e-book. Click on any entry in the Table of Contents, and you’re taken to that page. Click on a book title in the bibliography and you go to the Amazon page. Click on a website listed in a lesson and you’re taken to that website. (Note from the publisher: Websites were current at the time of publication, but as you know websites come and go. Use proper parental discretion and oversight when your student is accessing the web.)

Another interactive “goodie”: checkboxes that you can actually check, and then print out the completed checklist for your records. But more about that later.

Early Modern, Level 2 has 89 lessons (compared to Middle Ages, Level 2, which has 113 lessons). Lessons include historical fiction (book and resource list available online) and selected primary sources, timeline and mapwork, student notebook, activities, research, and writing.

Checklist organization

This is more a guide than a textbook. Lessons are made up of checklists with brief descriptions of reading assignments and activities. The self-motivated student could simply follow the checklist for a full year’s history course; alternatively, the parent can use the checklists for lesson planning, adding assignments to a student’s daily assignment sheets, for example.

Prerequisites

It is assumed that the student knows how to create a three-level outline and write a summary, so be prepared to teach this material if you haven’t covered it already. Our 6th grader is just starting to do outlines and summaries, and so needs much more help in this area than our 8th grader. Thus, using this curriculum in our family (we had a month to actually use this resource before writing this), I’d be working closely with our youngest, letting the 8th grader do the activities independently (with oversight, to make sure they got done). The historical fiction reading selections are suited for reading aloud together, while others are meant to be read and summarized or outlined.

Appendices contain source documents used in the lessons, as well as blank maps and worksheets. There are also instructions for writing a biography and an essay,  and evaluating historical sources, plus a list of suggested additional resources.

Activities are heavily weighted towards reading and writing. Some speaking (“Give a presentation”) is also included. Our Middlest, a bibliophile from her earliest years, thrives on this approach, while Youngest, a busy sort of person who has difficulty sitting still, struggles. She loves readalouds, but reading nonfiction, such as source documents and academic works (like the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, one of the spines for the course) is sheer torture for her.

Thus, while one of our girls would excel with this approach, if I were to continue with the History Odyssey guides, I’d probably keep on reading the historical fiction aloud together, but find a more activity based approach for Youngest’s studies (doing art, not just collecting pictures or reporting on them, crafts, cooking, music, etc.).

Pricing and Ordering

More information is available at the publisher’s website for the History Odyssey series, including Table of Contents, Lesson Sample, and Book and Supply List for each volume. As a wonderful service to customers, there’s also a “try before you buy” feature, where you can download the introductory material and first few lessons from any of their books, both science and history.

Pandia Press provides a list of sellers where you can order print copies of their books, or you can buy the books in e-book form here. Level 1 e-books range from $28.99 to $31.99, Level 2 and 3 e-books are $33.99. Print copies are somewhat more. (Early Modern Times and Middle Ages, both Level 2, were available for $42 from one of the publisher’s distributors.)

To read more TOS Crew reviews of science and history products from Pandia Press, click here.

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