Monday, July 23, 2012

Knowledge Quest Timemaps - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

I have known about the Knowledge Quest (and Bramley Books) company for at least a decade. I used to use Tapestry of Grace as my curriculum, and KQ worked in conjunction with the creators of TOG to create maps that corresponded with assignments. Before that it was very difficult to find the correct blank outline map for the student to use to map Europe before the Congress of Vienna, or to map Ancient China, or the Fertile Crescent.
Knowledge Quest Maps also provided the answer keys, so Mom didn't have to scurry to correct maps after the student slaved to find the items requested by the assignment.

But even with the Knowledge Quest maps available at that time, I still had difficulty understanding the way the history and geography wove together. I would read the history of the era, and my head was fuzzy about just where the Fertile Crescent was, or I would look at the map of Britain but not really understand where the Visigoths came from, or where the Celts started, and where they went when the Angles moved in. My brain couldn't mesh the maps with the history readings.
And somehow Terri Johnson at Knowledge Quest figured out that moms and kids were still having these difficulties with the maps, and she continued to brainstorm and work to come up with a solution. This year I learned that Knowledge Quest had now released TimeMaps!
She read my mind! I couldn't wait to see these! I learned that the Schoolhouse Review Crew would be reviewing KQ TimeMaps, and I was selected to do the review! Oh joy!

My TimeMaps Collection arrived as a download; it is also available as a CD set. It contains "TimeMaps" for the following important historical periods (and more TimeMaps are still in the works!):
The complete set costs $44.95 for an electronic download, or $49.95 for the CD set. Individual titles can be acquired for $9.95 for download. Individual CDs can be purchased in "bundles" of three CDs for $24.00. (Classroom Licenses are also available.)

We immediately opened up the maps and began scrolling through them. Each map starts with a screen where you can choose "Start", "Worksheets", or "TimeMap of World History". We ended up settling in on The Black Death, so we clicked on "Start".

The TimeMaps work using Flash Player. The maps are beautifully, yet simply displayed to highlight the area of study. There is a white square in the upper right corner that tells the approximate date of the map on the screen.  There is a way to scroll through the passage of time, which we quickly did. We were stunned by how quickly the black death spread. I kept trying to get my volume to work, but finally figured out that there is no audio with the maps.  Below is a screenshot of a different TimeMap, but it shows you the features I am talking about:
After our initial perusal of the maps over the passage of time, we went back to the beginning page to dig deeper into what these maps have to offer.  Each map page has the options at the top to select more information ("i"), or to quiz the student ("Q"). (Where the above map has "i" crossed out, other maps have "Q".)

Each picture on the map, when you point and click, reveals more information about some aspect of the history. (The "Roman Galleon" information is what comes up when you click on the picture of the ship.) Each place on the map where there is a little "i", when you click on it you also receive more information about the history and geography.

After perusing my way through most of the maps, I was beginning to think surely I was missing something. What I was getting out of these maps just seemed incomplete -- I am familiar with this company's products. I thought there must be more and I was missing it. As I lay in bed one night (when my mind wouldn't go to sleep) I was pondering this all, and determined to look at it the next day with new vigor, to dissect it and figure out if there was more.

That next day was the day I realized that my downloads also came with PDF files that I had been missing. If you open files a certain way, other file types are not visible, and I had just been missing these. The PDF files are Teacher Notes for each of the study areas. Now we're talking! I knew I was missing something. 

So, yes, the Teacher Notes were a very important chunk of the big picture. They vary in length from one map to the next. They include an introduction, activity suggestions, commentaries on the maps, a fabulous blank timeline template for each map, and more maps for both the student and the teacher.

I would add here, also, that the product provides "Quizzes" and "Worksheets" that are questions available on screen. The teacher can require the student to write down the questions and answers, or the two can go over the material together orally.

  • These maps really fill a need for understanding geo/political changes through the history of the world. These changes and progressions can be difficult to understand when piecing together written text with historical maps. Looking at other historical maps, it can be difficult to even figure out if the map you are looking at is from the time period you are studying. These maps are clearly marked, so you can know where Gaul was in 500 BC, when they attacked and what route they took, etc., etc. Using these maps it is possible to see while you are studying, "This route was taken around these mountains;" "This attack took place over water;" "This route was taken because of this particular geographic feature of the terrain," ...that sort of thing.
  • I really like all the added information using the click on the graphics and the click on the "i" for more information.
  • I really like the Teacher Notes. (I can't believe how long it took me to figure out they were there!)
  • I like that the Teacher Notes give links to further on-line maps for further learning and understanding. I like the exercises laid out there, and I especially like the suggest class questions to ask the students each time to get them thinking.
  • I really like the topics that are available so far.
  • I am hoping TimeMaps will be created for general European history, showing the progression of the historic battles over Great Britain, who initially lived there, who attacked whom, who moved in, who moved out, etc. as it progressed from Celts, to Romans, to Celts, to Angles, etc.
  • I am hoping TimeMaps will be developed for the Expansion of the British Empire, to show their expansionism efforts during the period when "The sun never sets on the British Empire".
  • I am hoping TimeMaps become available for the French Revolution, the Congress of Vienna, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the timeline of battles between the French and the British, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Hundred Years War, The War of the Roses, etc. This has so much potential!
What I Didn't Like:
  • I am still scratching my head over the fact that there is no audio. I think this would be enhanced for the audio-learner types (like me) if whatever visual window was clicked open had the option, with a little speaker button, to have the audio read for the student.
  • I think this product would be better if the "Worksheets" opened up as printable PDF files. 
Here is a sample of how the TimeMaps work, from their website. The music is catchy at first, but I end up turning it down pretty quickly:

I received a complete digital download of TimeMaps in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation.
This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review.
To see more Crew reviews of this product, click the link below:
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