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Bright Ideas Press Review by Diane Wheeler, Tina Rice, and Christine Field

The Mystery of History - Volume One
Creation to the Resurrection
By Linda Lacour Hobar
Bright Ideas Press

"These are super, Christian homeschooling resources." -- The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

If you are a family that is interested in studying history in an in-depth, Bible-centered, chronological fashion, let me recommend to you The Mystery of History, published by Bright Ideas Press. This 472-page volume is packed with information, projects, and suggestions to make history a favorite part of your family's school day.

For families that have several different ages all studying history together, this is a great book. Each lesson includes recommendations for younger, middle, and older grade students. Mrs. Hobar has a good balance between accommodating the developmental needs of each stage while still challenging each child to do all he or she can.

This is a text designed with a thirty-six week school year in mind. Each week includes a pre-test, three lessons, a review, and an exercise or quiz. Topics start with Creation and include the Sumerians, the Israelites in slavery, King Tut, Homer, Ancient Native Americans, Buddha, the Peloponnesian War, the Han Dynasty, and Jesus' death and resurrection.

Take, for example, week twenty-one. The three lessons are Ezekiel; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; and Buddha. I was particularly interested in how Buddha would be taught since the book is written from a Christian worldview. I was very impressed. Rather than talking down about the false beliefs in this religion, there is a brief and compassionate description of the life of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) and why he came to the conclusions he did. As Mrs. Hobar says, "The study of other religions in the world should not make the Christian uncomfortable. It should remind us that people are desperate to find peace in their lives." This is how I want my children learning about people from other cultures and faiths.

Another significant part of this study is the keeping of a timeline. I am often frustrated by timeline instructions because we have next-to-no wall space in our home. How can I make a timeline that will be used, and keep it from getting smashed into the back of the closet? Mrs. Hobar has an excellent solution -- using a foldable sewing board. This is not very expensive and creates a portable, collapsible and durable timeline option.

Memory cards are another part of the weekly routine. The front of each card has the title of the lesson as given in the Contents. The back gives details of the volume, important dates, and a very, very brief summary of the lesson. The children can use these in many ways to memorize key names and dates or to see the flow of events in history. They are easily filed in a card box or a small, card-sized binder.

One of the greatest things about The Mystery of History is Mrs. Hobar's writing style. She does not talk down to children and does a great job of communicating confidence in their ability to learn. As mentioned before, she treats other cultures and faiths with respect without compromising her strong Christian faith. Above all, she obviously loves history! Her enthusiasm, and attention to fascinating aspects in history, can easily make a love of history contagious for our children as they work through her book.

To order The Mystery of History, or to see the many other things offered by Bright Ideas Press, see their website at Do you have budding historians, or more reluctant students? Are you hoping someone will help you with your planning, and that they will understand that you have many ages to teach simultaneously? Mrs. Hobar is the woman you have hoped for, and The Mystery of History is an investment you will not regret!

-- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Bright Ideas Press publishes numerous homeschooling resources. They are dedicated to bringing practical, fun, and affordable Christian resources to homeschoolers everywhere. I reviewed The Scientist's Apprentice by Hilary Welliver, Over Our Heads in Wonder, Science and the Sky by Esther Yant, Hands on Geography by Maggie Hogan, Student History Notebook by Maggie Hogan, and Gifted Children at Home by Janice Baker, Kathleen Julicher and Maggie Hogan.

Gifted Children at Home, by Janice Baker, Kathleen Julicher and Maggie Hogan, is a guide to finding the best educational options for your gifted child. Chapter titles include, How Do I Know if my Child's Gifted?, Homeschooling 101, What to Teach, Activities for Gifted Children, Record keeping, and more. This is an enlightening book to have on hand if you think you have a gifted child and a vast resource for any family blessed with a gifted child. This book also contains a 16-page resource section of curriculum suppliers, correspondence schools, on-line learning, magazines and organizations for the gifted, a guide to distance learning, and forms to keep track of your gifted child's high school education.

The Student History Notebook of America, by Maggie Hogan, is a softbound notebook for documenting any study of America. It is appropriate for children in grades 1-12. The 100+ pages include lots of writing space, maps and a timeline. The maps are terrific! Sample journal pages are included along with a detailed resource section and a teacher's guide. The cover is very durable and will hold up to daily use by most students.

Hands on Geography, by Maggie Hogan, is designed for geography education in the elementary grades. This is not a workbook or textbook, but rather a great teacher resource for the study of geography. There are wonderful outline maps, games, and 12 chapters covering everything from Joseph's Journey (from Genesis) to a geography bee. Some of the activities are hosting a passport fair, making a missions relief map, constructing a timeline, and making a field guide. History, Bible study, book making and group projects are also included. The map activities are really neat. This is a useful resource for studying geography.

Over Our Heads in Wonder, Science and the Sky, by Esther Yant, is a sourcebook of Bible studies with science activities for grades K-5. I LOVED the reasons to study the sky. My favorites were: The sky can always be observed - day or night, rain or shine; The sky is free - you can study it with your 5 senses; and The sky can teach us about God and His creation. Readings, discussion, and activities about wind, storms, stars, planet Earth, and more are included. Lots of experiments and year-round projects are presented. I really like the weather activities and the heat index chart.

The Scientist's Apprentice, by Hilary Welliver, is a one-year curriculum for elementary grades. The Scientist's Apprentice has 4 units that cover astronomy, anatomy, Earth science, and oceanography. There are lots of fun, hands-on activities included. My kids love words games, and there are plenty included that will please them and teach about science at the same time. The experiments are easy to perform at home with common household items. A week-by-week plan is included in the teachers' guide. Some additional books are required; they are listed in the teachers' guide. This is a flexible and fun science curriculum that you and your children will enjoy.

If you want to know more about these and other Bright Ideas resources, check out their website at You can read more reviews, learn about the company, and order online. These are super, Christian homeschooling resources. Check them out today.

-- Product Review by: Tina Rice, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Bright Ideas Press...Continued

Maggie S. Hogan is a familiar name to many of us. She is a speaker and writer, and is the co-author of The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide. I had a chance to peek at her latest offering from Bright Ideas Press, called Hands-On Geography: Easy and Fun Activities for Exploring God's World. She wrote this book to help us to give geography a greater place in our studies because, as she notes, our culture is geographically illiterate. She believes Christians have a special call to know about the world because how are we to be witnesses for Christ if we cannot find the locations to which Christ might call us?

She starts this volume with some ideas for preparing for The National Geography Bee, a motivational program sponsored by the National Geographic Society and open to home school teams. The rest of the book is dedicated to ideas, teaching tip, reproducibles, projects and resources for teaching geography throughout the elementary years. She shows us the value of homemade games and homemade books, maps and outline maps. One chapter explores the preparation of a country notebook and a passport fair around the world night, which we have done with our kids through our local support group. She touches on missionaries, genealogy, nature, language arts and history as they relate to geography. No matter what curriculum you use, or what approach you take to teaching, this volume is a treasure trove of projects and activities to help you help your children know more about God and His world.

Also available from Bright Ideas Press is The Scientist's Apprentice: A Complete one-year science curriculum for elementary grades by Hilary Welliver. The book is divided into four units: astronomy, anatomy, earth science and oceanography. Each unit is jam packed with experiments, activities, art and songs. Also included are reproducible student activity sheets and reproducible teacher planning sheets. Let's take a walk through the anatomy unit so you can see how much fun this is. Activities include tracing the body o butcher paper and labeling the parts, making a handprint and a footprint, learning a body parts song, creating felt body parts for younger children to play with, examining cheek scrapings under a microscope, making a skeleton out of paper plates, and much, much more! The activities are surrounded by an engaging discussion of the concepts. In addition to having fun, students learn about observation, record-keeping and the building blocks of the scientific method. This provides a great foundation for the "higher level" sciences as the child progresses through school. This book is a great source for meaningful activities to get kids excited about science and to give them a great elementary foundation.

Another science resource from Bright Ideas Press is Over Our Heads in Wonder: Science and the Sky: A Sourcebook of Bible Studies with Science Activities for Grades K - 5 by Esther Yant. This volume is full of any-time-any-where activities covering clouds, rainbows, the sun, stars, snow, wind, storms and air. Subjects covered include science, Bible, writing, math, reading, art and research. This book can be used as a unit study, a daily devotional, a science class or language arts project. Truly versatile, Ms. Yant has given us a great way to explore God's wonders in the sky!

Do you suspect, or absolutely KNOW, that you are dealing with a gifted child? Then you simply must check out Gifted Children at Home: A Practical Guide for Homeschooling Families by Janice Baker, Kathleen Julicher and Maggie Hogan. This volume is the COMPLETE guide for meeting the needs of gifted children. These ladies have the personal experience and knowledge to guide us to the best for our kids. Their books first helps us figure out how to know if our child is gifted and helps us to decide if home schooling is appropriate. Then it moves to the nitty-gritty of the task: what to teach, how to choose curriculum, acceleration and grade skipping, preparing for high school, record keeping, entering contests and more. What I appreciated most about this book was their respect and consideration for parenting the whole child - their brains, their bodies, their hearts. It is written from the perspective of wanting to see the development of the whole person, not just their superior intellectual abilities. If you read only one book about teaching gifted children, this should be the one. It provides thorough, complete, but also heartfelt and mommy-tested advice and ideas.

-- Product Review by: Christine Field, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Publisher's Note: I had to make a quick comment here. Maggie Hogan and her family are a treasure to the homeschool community. With a name as well known as Bright Ideas Press, it could be easy to get a 'big head', but not Maggie. She is so down to earth and FUN. We at TOS love Maggie Hogan and Bright Ideas Press!