Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Illuminations {Bright Ideas Press}

illuminations-logo-09-1Before I get started, let me just make one thing perfectly clear…!

Now I must confess that while I don’t generally like being told what to do {Ahem}, yet I really like the idea of a structured program “doing the work” for me by laying everything out, day by day. No muss, no fuss.

However, I’m also open to tweaking things to better meet my or my children’s needs. And so with that in mind, ladies {and possibly gentlemen}, I present…Illuminations!

Illuminations High School Year 2 from Bright Ideas Press is digital “wrap-around program” for the Mystery of History (MOH) or All American History(AAH) series. Both MOH and AAH serve as the “spine” to Illuminations, which covers a cornucopia of subjects including :

  • Bible
  • History
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Literature
  • Language Arts
  • Humanities
  • Life Skills sample-pages

Okay, time for another confession: I don’t actually own MOH or AHH. So in order for me to use this program, I had to supplement with what I already have {which I admit, is quite a bit} and from the library. Smile 

Back to the review!

Once you’ve successfully downloaded the program, you’ll be greeted by a bright, colorful “clickable” screen which lists the following:

  • Quick Start
  • Browse By Subject
  • Browse by Date
  • Contact Info/License

Quick Start

This is where you’ll find all your “How to Use Illuminations” type information. It’s loaded with an Introduction by Subject, a User’s Guide, Book and Program Checklist, Literature Evaluation Forms and more. Super easy to use!

Lesson Plans {or “Browse by Subject / Browse by Date”}

The weekly lesson plans are {again} extremely easy to use and in {get this} fully-customizable PDF format, making “tweakers” like me rejoice. I loved how everything was laid out, both by subject and by date {weeks 1-36}, making lesson preparation a breeze.

All I had to do was click on each week’s lesson and voila`! Fantastically simple, even for yours truly. Winking smile 

Want to know what’s even more fantastic? While each day’s lesson plan covers a specific page in each book {according to MOH’s required & supplemental lists}, I found them painless to modify, based on our current materials. I didn’t feel lost or left in the dust—ever! {And as most people who’ve met me in person will tell you—that’s really sayin’ something!}

Contact Info/License

{Pretty self-explanatory, yes? } This is where you can look up Bright Idea Press’ phone number for any and all help you may require, as well as browse their online catalog.

Oh and a quick word about their Customer Service: It’s excellent! I enjoyed my email conversations with Tyler Hogan, who made everything easy {there’s that word again!} for me to understand. Thanks again, Tyler!

Literature Guides

In addition, Illuminations also offers Literature Study Guides to be used in conjunction with their program. I received guides for The Book of Acts, Book of Malachi, and Homer’s Iliad.

These guides are short {about 2 weeks} and offer a good variety of lessons—both written and hands-on. There’s a fair amount of critical thinking, map/geography skills covered, making them a great choice for students who get “bored” easily and are looking for a challenge.

Each guide also includes a handy Answer Key.

Final Thoughts

I really, really, really like this program. {Yes, really.} It’s fun, thorough and incredibly simple to use. Even if you don’t happen to own/use MOH or AHH, Illuminations can be just what you need to spice up your current curriculum or homeschooling method.

Illuminations High School Year 2 is available for $47.50 for the 1st Semester or $95 for the year {digital download prices quoted}. Also available on CD.

Literature Guides are available for $10-14/each. Click here for more information.

{*Disclosure: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received free digital copies of the above programs for free in exchange for review. No additional compensation was provided, nor was I required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed in this post are my own.*}

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