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Medieval World Task Cards Review by Dawn Peterson

Amy K. Hilsman
Creek Edge Press

Creek Edge Press is the provider of the task card approach, which implements the best ofClassical, Charlotte Mason and Montessori methodologies. 

Medieval World Task Cards is a K-8 course covering the fall of Rome through the Renaissance. It comes with 33 task cards nestled in a plastic sleeve for student use, and a spiral bound booklet for the parent/teacher. The parent/teacher guide thoroughly explains the goals of the course, how to prepare the environment, how to approach the tasks, and includes an extensive resource list of several book suggestions, and an encouragement to use similar books you may already own.

This course takes a little initial preparation by the parent (which you will appreciate in the end). Mrs. Hilsman suggests the use of a dedicated shelf, cabinet or emptied closet to house all the materials.  Next, you’ll need to locate and gather core, reference, and supplemental books. Several suggestions are listed under each category, and many of the books can be obtained through library loan. You may also gather books you already own, regardless of whether they match any of the suggested titles - an aspect I particularly love! You can also add any desired hands on science kits, workbooks or other supplemental materials you may wish to use. These can be organized in file folders or other dividers. For the task cards themselves, Mrs. Hilsman suggests using a clear napkin holder, small basket, book stand or whatever else you’d like, as long as it’s easily accessible to the student. For further help or ideas in setting up your environment, I highly encourage you to peruse The Gallery section on the Creek Edge Press website, as it has several photos for inspiration.

The 33 task cards are designed to be completed at the rate of one card per week, but are flexible enough for you to implement them at a rate that fits best for your student. As the student works through the tasks, he/she checks off items as they are completed.  Each card includes a list of things to accomplish for the week, often including: use of an encyclopedia or other informative books for research, vocabulary work, copywork, sketching and labeling, a biographical or literature summary, and creative ways to display newfound knowledge such as an outline, list, poster, collage, display board, compare/contrast, and/or keeping a time line or century book.

An example from card #17 directs the student to complete the following:

  • Encyclopedia Research: Papal Power, Cathedrals
  • Further Reading: Papal Power, Cathedrals, Monasteries
  • Map Work: Label the locations of Cathedrals built in the Middle Ages. Label Roma and Avignon.
  • Make an information booklet that tells about the following: Cathedral Architecture, Medieval Pilgrimages, Monks and Monasteries, and Illuminated Manuscripts.
  • Biographical Summary: Saint Benedict
  • Write a summary that describes the daily life of a monk.
  • Literature: Write summaries of books written about Popes, Cathedrals, and Monasteries.
  • Add St. Benedict, the persecution of the Jews, and the Great Schism to your time line or century book.

Mrs. Hilsman suggests having meetings with the student as they continue on in the course. She gives this helpful advice in the FAQ section of the Creek Edge Press website: “The use of oversight meetings, preferably after the student has completed their work, is encouraged. These meetings happen on a daily basis with younger students and on a weekly basis with older students. The goal of the Task Card Approach is to facilitate the student's direct engagement with the material. The best way to encourage this is to accept the work as it is and to continually encourage increasing attention to detail. With younger students who are using the cards independently, the focus might be kept to simply following through with the tasks. Older students would be expected to show detail, a depth of understanding, and attention to detail in their responses. The focus required to exhibit these qualities provides assurance that a high standard of work has been done.” 

This course is extremely well thought out and designed. I like so many things about it, but I have to say my favorite is how it really encourages student responsibility and the satisfaction of discovering, not only the information they’re directed to find, but in helping them to develop the skills they need to learn in general. This previous school year I implemented a different task card course put out by Creek Edge Press (Physics and Digital Science, which I also reviewed for The Old Schoolhouse) and I had a lot of fun putting together the environment and watching my oldest two (13 and 10 at the time) really dive into it. They enjoyed the discovery aspect of the course (a core element in the task card approach) and would often spend significantly more time on the lessons just because they were enjoying them so much! I knew we’d definitely be using Creek Edge Press task cards for other subjects. In fact, this next school year, we’re looking forward to using these Medieval World task cards more in depth, as we travel through this fascinating part of history together.

I highly recommend this flexible, affordable, thorough, and discovery-based program to all homeschoolers!

Product Review by Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2012