Review: Illuminations and Wondermaps

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Recently, I posted about the new history curriculum we’re using this year, All American History. As part of that review, I was also sent two more products by Bright Ideas Press to review: Illuminations and Wondermaps.

Illuminations from Bright Ideas Press

Illuminations may be the answer to your lesson-planning woes. If you’re like me, figuring out how much and what to do each day and getting it all in your planner is part of the drudge work of homeschooling. With Illuminations, the planning is done for you!


Illuminations basically offers several choices of curriculum resources (except math) that you must purchase separately, and ties them all together for you, so that all you have to do is teach. It uses either Mystery of History or All-American History as the spine and covers:

  • Bible
  • History
  • Grammar
  • Copywork
  • Spelling
  • Literature
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Geography
  • Vocabulary
  • Writing

The lesson plans are based on your choices of the following curriculum (some choices vary depending on which level of Illuminations you’re using):

  • All-American History or Mystery of History
  • Christian Kids Explore science series
  • English from the Roots Up
  • Winston Grammar or Easy Grammar
  • Write Shop
  • Natural Speller
  • Literature selections that should be available from most libraries

There are two levels of Illuminations: 3rd – 8th grade and high school. Included is a teacher’s guide which explains how to use Illuminations and offers links to tutorial videos, and literature evaluation forms. It even includes that titles of Netflix videos that complement the topics being studied.

There are also study guides for the booklists which are included. There are book suggestions both for reading together as a family and for independent reading by your children.

The Illuminations teacher guide also offers the reassurance that you are free to tweak the lesson plans to fit your family’s needs, not use all the materials for which there are plans and even substitute other resources that you might prefer.

I have primarily been using the plans for All-American History since that’s the main component included in Illuminations that we were using. However, I’ve got some tweaking to do during Christmas break and I’m seriously considering adding in some of the suggestions in the area of language arts.

An unexpected benefit of reviewing Illuminations has been gaining a much better understanding of how to pace Easy Grammar. As you may know, we’ve used Easy Grammar for years. We love it, but I’ve never been quite sure how to pace it and we have never finished a level in a year. Using the lesson plans from Illuminations, we’re now moving through Easy Grammar at a much quicker and more effective pace.

Illuminations is available from Bright Ideas Press for $82.50 – $185.00, depending on whether you choose a one semester or one year download or one year on CD-ROM.



We’ve also had the opportunity to review Wondermaps, which has to be the most versatile map program available. It offers a huge assortment of customizable maps:

  • The world
  • Continents
  • Regions
  • Nations
  • The United States, by state or region
  • Historical
  • Thematic, including Native Americans, explorers, Biblical, historical, Chinese dynasties, and 20th century treaties

Within each map set, there are a huge variety of customizations, such as:

  • Black and white outline or color overlay
  • Include – or not – city names and locations, river or terrain names, state/country/historical name
  • Border outlines
  • Continent/country labels
  • Latitude and longitude lines

If you’re using Mystery of History or All-American History, you can access all maps included in those texts with Wondermaps. There are over 350 maps included and the customizations available offer you incredible versatility. You can create and print the map that fits your needs for a variety of teaching needs, including history, Bible, and geography.

Wondermaps is available from Bright Ideas Press as a download or CD for $45.95.

This post contains affiliate links. I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.  Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.

Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. I now use – and love – MOH and I looked closely at Illuminations because I really like the idea of everything being laid out (I previously used My Father's World, which does the same thing). However, I've reluctantly decided it wouldn't be a good investment for us. I am interested in that science program and may end up starting it next year. But I use All About Spelling and Queen (for grammar)…and I plan to use IEW for composition (after trying WriteShop and not being all that impressed). So I guess I've determined that I'm too eclectic for an all-in-one such as this…but I do recommend it for ladies who really feel like they need that guidance.

  2. Thank you for the review!  It did answer some questions that I had.  I am considering this for my oldest daughter who will begin high school next year. I know I am definitely going to get the Wondermaps CD!  It looks amazing!  

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