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Review: Pandia Press

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If you read my Weekly Wrap-up each week, you’ve surely heard me mention Pandia Press in recent weeks.  A few weeks ago, we received a copy of their History Odyssey: Modern Times (Level 2) to review.  I’ve been really impressed.  My only complaint — one that has nothing to do with the text — is that I wish we’d had time to get a little further into it before the review was due so that I could give you a more thorough review.  It’s a literature-based program (our favorite way to study history) and the first book was a rather difficult read, especially for my not-formally-diagnosed dyslexic daughter.  Let’s just say that Around the World in Eighty Days has tried to kick Brianna’s butt.

That being said, let me tell you what I loved about it — I say “I” because the jury is still out as far as Brianna is concerned thanks to Jules Verne and his extensive vocabulary.

First of all, I love that it’s literature-based.  As I said, that’s our favorite way to study history.  Nothing gets us into a historical period better than a good book, be it a biography or historical fiction.  The reading list for Modern Times, Level Two includes such classics as:

  • The Jungle Book
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • Animal Farm
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

The spine book is The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, which is required to complete the course.  In addition to the reading, students will keep a timeline, do mapwork, and learn outlining, as well as complete the school-year-long project of writing a research paper.

The Level Two book is designed to be student guided.  It is written to the student and includes daily lesson plans (which can be modified, if necessary, for more challenging reading assignments).  The lesson plans include check boxes so that students can check off each assignment as it’s done.  That may not seem like something worth mentioning, but we discovered, early this school year, that check boxes are an important part of ensuring that all daily work is completed for some students.  Brianna is one of them.

All necessary reproducibles (for the purchaser’s household) student pages, such as maps and notbooking-type pages, are included in the text.  If you order a print copy from one Pandia Press’s preferred vendors (and I’m so very thankful they sent us a print version), you will receive shrink-wrapped, already three-hole punched with a paperback weight cover and end page.  If you don’t know how much that single fact impressed me, then you haven’t been reading my blog long enough.

Another fact that impressed me is that the student text is broken down into 99 daily lessons.  That means that, in a typical 180-day school year, you’ve got some wiggle room so that your student isn’t feeling pressured to complete a history assignment every single school day.  This is particularly nice when some books simply take longer to read than others.

I also love that the appendices give students a thorough working explanation of a few concepts that they may not have encountered before, such as writing a research paper and attribution of sources.  There is also a list of recommended resources, if your student takes an interest in a topic of study and would like to investigate farther.

I honestly think the Pandia Press History Odyssey series may be just what I’ve been looking for.  It offers a fantastic balance of structure, direction, and literature while being written for middle and high school students to complete on their own.

Pandia Press even graciously offers a “try before you buy” option.  You’ve got to go read the details because I want to know if you find yourself nodding your head knowingly like I did when you read their take on trying to find the right curriculum for your home school.  If you like what you see, you can order the e-book for prices ranging from $28.99 to $33.99.  I imagine that the print version prices may vary from vendor to vendor based on retail price and any available discounts.  However, the vendor I checked offered the print versions at prices ranging from $24.95 to $30.50.

While I’m not sure if this is the route we’ll go for elementary school, simply because I wasn’t as impressed with some of the spine material in the Level One books, I’d say that, based on what I’ve seen so far, there is a strong possibility that the History Odyssey series will be our history course of choice for middle and/or high school.

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.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for your review. We have been doing Level 2 in Early Modern this year and I really like it. I love that all the worksheets and maps are right there. I wanted to mention a few things that I have done.

    First, I did order the e-book. I have 2 boys, so that way I could print off two copies and if they mess up a map or worksheet, I can just print another one.

    Second, sometimes we just don't have time to fit in reading the books, and I want to because they are great. So, I try to get some of them from the library on CD. In fact, my kids just listened to Kidnapped by RL Stevenson on a trip to PA and back.

    Finally, I am getting frustrated with Kingfisher. I like that it acts as a kind of timeline, but some of the individual topics are very choppy and hard to make sense of. This is not a complaint with Pandia Press. There is not much out there that is comprehensive enough. I ended up buying a World History textbook so that some of the readings would make a little more sense. Often I will get other library books out, but sometimes I can't find one appropriate to the subject.

    Thank for the review! I'm looking forward to doing Modern Times next year.

    Sarah

  2. Sarah,

    Great idea about the books on CD. Don't know why I didn't think of that. I bet my dd would like that for some of the more difficult reads. She could either follow along or do something else like knit or draw while she listens. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. when you first mentioned pandia press, i went the website to look at it. i like what i see there. we're still debating sending my 14-y/o to high school, but if we continue hs'ing him next year, this is definitely a top consideration for history curriculum.

    i second the comment about books on cd. it really is a great way to fit in (or sneak in!) more literature, and since we listen together (in the van or at lunchtime), it "counts" as family read-aloud time!

  4. oh, and as far as checklists– we need those around here, too. in fact, i think i have created "list monsters". while i don't like to (and don't want my kids to) equate learning with checking things off a list, we do actually run most of our days by "tyranny of the list". without them we are too unfocused… and, y'know… listless.

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