The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Tess Hamre and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Map Trek V1: Ancient World Review by Kathy Gelzer

Terri Johnson
Knowledge Quest, Inc.
PO Box 789
Boring, OR 97009-0789

Based on the belief that history and geography go hand in hand, reproducible Map Trek black outline maps, offered in e-book or print version (as of Spring 2010), were created by Terri Johnson to provide map work for students studying the various periods of history. To date, V1: Ancient World and V2: Medieval World are available. I received V1: Ancient World for review.

In our homeschool, we have found it useful to incorporate geography into our history curriculum when the maps reflect the time period we are studying, and this is the idea behind the Map Trek products. Thirty-three historical maps in two versions are included, plus five additional grid maps which are explained below. The bulk of the maps have both a blank student map and a filled-in teacher map. The maps are clean and attractive. Even the Early Greece map, with a myriad of little islands, is not overwhelming.

Here is a sample listing of the maps included: World Map showing landforms, Mesopotamia, Ancient Africa, Ancient Egypt, Ancient India, Ancient China, Golden Age of Greece, Ancient Europe, and The Roman Empire. Many Biblical maps are included as well: Descendents of Noah, Called Out of Ur, Abraham's Journey, The Exodus, The Promised Land, 12 Tribes of Israel, Solomon's Kingdom, Israel's Divided Kingdom, Palestine During Time of Christ, and The Early Church. The last set of maps is printed on a blank grid page (no map) so that students can draw maps of the world, Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome.

Bodies of water on the student map are shown in a light shade of blue, and major cities are bulleted but not labeled. Accompanying lesson plans for three different grade ranges suggest that students label an increasing amount of the countries, cities, and water bodies. The background is left white for students to color. A globe, wall map, and atlas will be needed for research, and good quality art supplies are recommended to complete the maps. I definitely would second that. Poor-quality colored pencils will only result in a disappointing finished product.

The teacher copy is like the student version except that land is shown in pale green or light brown and all points of interest are labeled. Cities appear in bold print, water bodies and rivers in italics, and countries in all caps. The pages themselves have no page numbers on them. This is both a pro and a con in my opinion; although there are no distracting page numbers to clutter the maps, it can be inconvenient for the teacher.

The product is well organized and has some nice extras thrown in. A page entitled "Why should we study history?" lists four quotes from famous individuals--perfect for entering into your copybooks, by the way. The two-page introduction has specific instructions on how to use the maps as well as some additional suggestions. It is certainly worth taking the time to read this information. A glossary of terms used and a list of geographical regions covered are also included.

Thirty-three weeks of lesson plans for all grades are supplied, with an additional lesson for older children. These lessons are divided into three levels: grades 1-4 (perhaps needing parental help), grades 5-8, and grades 9-12. Each additional level incorporates the younger grade level work with additional work to be done. Occasionally, some research or advanced map exercises are suggested for the older grades. Terri Johnson suggests that parents set aside regular time during history to complete these map lesson plans and also recommends that students keep these completed maps in their history notebooks along with narrations, etc.

We are wandering through the Ancients this year in our homeschool, and these maps have added the missing element. Map Trek has made our history study more interesting and memorable. Besides, my children love making maps! I am planning to use Map Trek for our future years of studying history as well. I think others will want to do the same.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2010