Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Philosophy Adventure - A 2014 Homeschool Crew Review

In March I was offered the opportunity to review Philosophy Adventure, by Home School
Adventure Co. I was pleased to review this product. I have long been trying to read the writings of philosophers to my son, without either of us having a good grasp of who each philosopher was, when or where they lived, etc. Philosophy Adventure was an excellent product to expand our understanding!
I had recently begun seeing advertisements for Home School Adventure Co., but was really unfamiliar with them. Going to their website, I found that they have not only Philosophy Adventure, but also a Mere Christianity Journal (and we were just starting Mere Christianity!), Philippians in 28 Weeks (a program for memorizing the book of Philippians, that dove-tails well with Philosophy Adventure), and The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions. Philosophy Adventure was the best fit for us. My son doesn't like to be told what to journal about, and he memorizes scripture best when he decides on his own which verses he wants to memorize. So Philosophy Adventure it was!
This is a beautiful, professionally created curriculum that focuses not only on reading about philosophers, but also works to impart to the student critical thinking skills, creative writing skills, oratory (speech) skills, all wound up with a Biblical world view. This comprehensive curriculum teaches history and geography as well!

We received three digital downloads: the Philosophy Adventure Reader, the Philosophy Adventure Student Workbook, and the Philosophy Adventure Teacher Resources. The way we regularly used the curriculum was to start with the Reader. I would read the information about the philosopher, and then I would pause and ask questions. The Student Workbook was also reinforcement, giving my student questions I didn't think of, and a place for him to record his answers. I love this digital technology -- these are "writeable" PDF downloads, and when the answers are recorded they can then be saved. This saves money, because I don't have to print out the workbook for my son (even though he and I both prefer a printed copy).

Dipping into the Teacher's Resources, I printed out appropriate two-sided memory cards (and I loved that they lined up perfectly when printed -- all I had to do was cut on the little lines!). These worked really well! My son was even surprised himself when he found himself remembering minute details about the philosophers -- when they had lived, where they were born, what they believed in, where they had traveled, who they had known, what quote they were known for, what phrase they were known by. These cards really helped cement in the facts.
The Teacher Resources also contains an Introduction for the teacher, Timeline Resources, Master Maps and Keys, for teaching the Geography portion, as well as Quizzes and Answer Keys. We did not opt to use the quizzes, but I used all the other sections of the Resources. In the future I will probably have my student integrate the timeline materials included about these philosophers into another timeline that we were previously using in our home school.

The Reader itself covers eight philosophers (Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Protagoras and Democritus). These philosophers are "pre-Socratic", as in they lived before Socrates. The Reader also contains
writing checklists (think "instructions"), and the creative writing assignments for each of the eight philosophers covered. The Reader also has appendices covering additional recommended resources, and also telling the woks consulted to create the book, and gives credit for the images contained, all wrapped up with a very helpful index.

Within the Reader, each covered philosopher has his own section, broken down into seven sections per philosopher. The first section focuses on the idea of helping the student "Write Skillfully"; the second section focuses on "Think Creatively"; the third section teaches the student to "Speak Articulately". The fourth and fifth sections seem to focus specifically on geography and philosophy, and the last two sections are partially titled: "Direct from the Source", and "Biblical Worldview".
The Student Workbook is broken into three sections. The first section focuses on Notebook Pages, Maps, and Creative Freewritings for each of the presented philosophers. The second section is called the "Write, Think, Speak Journal", and again has a section for each of the philosophers. The third section is called "Checklists", and is basically a training section learning polished writing. It is subdivided into "Start", "Substance", "Structure", "Style", "Polish", "Peer Critique", and "Evaluation". These are steps to polished writing that my now-graduated students learned with another curriculum, so I am familiar with them, but I had not worked with them with my current student. Sadly, he has continued to resist my (albeit meager) efforts to guide him, even with this curriculum, so we will have to continue to work on this.

I really liked the way the philosophers were presented chronologically -- it really helps me to remember the timeline correctly when I covered them that way. I really liked the assistance in pronouncing names correctly ("zee-nof-foe-nees", not "Zeno-fones", like I had thought...). I thought the Student Workbook was really well done. My only regret is that I received a digital copy instead of a printed copy, because I can tell it would be easier to enjoy the materials to their fullest in a printed copy. With all the colorful pages, I would not be willing to print it out on my own -- too expensive. So we will continue to work from our digital copy.

These are sold in various combinations. To receive a printed Reader, a printed Workbook and a CD of the Teacher Resources costs $89.95. To buy a printed Reader, a digital Workbook on CD and a Teacher's Resource CD costs $69.95. To get all three resources on CD costs $49.95, or you can get all three resources as a digital download (what I received) for $39.95.

Hot news! I just learned that the author is extending a discount to my readers!
The code is for 10% off any download purchase.

Code: CREW-10
Expires: May 15

This discount actually applies to any of the Home School Adventure Co. products, so feel free to follow the links I provided to you.

The Philosophy Adventure materials are geared towards 6th-12th graders, but middle-school-aged kids will generally need parental guidance/assistance. My son is 8th grade, and we did the program completely together.

So, my son is a reliably difficult student to please. He is forced to study subject matter he does not care about. I asked him what he thought, but other than making demeaning comments about philosophers and about not caring about school, he had nothing to say about these products specifically. ::sigh:: Not much excites him educationally. So you will have to rely on my opinion. I consider it worthwhile to study the philosophers, and I consider Philosophy Adventure to be a high quality product that delivers its information well. I like it, and I think you will too.

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