Tuesday, March 13, 2012

TOS Crew: Creek Edge Press

As I've mentioned before, one of the benefits of being a homeschool curriculum reviewer is being introduced to new products that I might otherwise never have come to know.

The Task Card sets from Creek Edge Press is one that I'm glad I didn't miss. Elegant in its simplicity (a set of roughly 4" x 6" index cards, plus a slim, comb-bound teacher's manual), a set of the history cards can constitute a full curriculum with an entire year's worth of work, or be used to supplement a textbook-based history study. There are also card sets in the topics of science, art, music, and grammar.

The approach is based on a synthesis of ideas from Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, and Montessori methods. You can read more about the author's educational philosophy here.

These card sets are designed to be used with students in grades K - 8. Like many of the best homeschool resources I've seen, this approach was developed by a homeschool mom while educating her children. Each card in the set contains a simple checklist of tasks for a student to complete, with an emphasis on research and reading, allowing the young learner to explore the material and come to own it by summarizing historical and literary material, putting together graphic representations (posters, collages, and display boards for example), drawing and sketching, writing in response to prompts, doing mapwork and keeping a timeline or century book.

The emphasis is on fostering independence, though the author offers guidance for using the cards with emergent readers. In the Introduction (teacher's guide), there are suggestions for using the cards with learners of varying ability, for scheduling, for physically organizing learning materials, and for evaluating progress. We received a set of Early Modern World Task Cards, so that's what I'll be describing in detail.

The Early Modern World study goes from the Conquistadors and age of exploration through the American Civil War. There are 34 sets of tasks (some sets take up more than one card). See an example of an individual task card below:

As you can see, the student begins by reading an encyclopedia article on the topic at hand. Older students might be expected to outline the article, while younger students might just copy the article title. The author provides a booklist of suggested titles for study; you could use these or similar books of your choice. The student reads on the topic (or the family might read aloud together), does mapwork, narrates or produces a written summary, and adds events to the timeline. Other cards include making sketches or posters, comparing and contrasting two ideas or people, and more. The tasks lend themselves well to notebooking.

Think of the cards as a guideline for study; you supply the books and materials and the cards act as assignment sheets, a framework on which to hang your studies. The emphasis is on interacting with the material, looking for details, summarizing what you found, synthesizing information and making it your own, not just reading a paragraph and picking the best multiple-choice answers in a reading comprehension test.

History studies with Creek Edge Press follow a four-year rotation (as set forth in the book The Well-Trained Mind), with an optional fifth year dedicated to American History (though American History is also integrated into the World History studies. You can also take a year to do Geography and Culture. Each history set is $20, or you can get a complete set of history cards for $90. Order here.

Check out Creek Edge Press and all their materials, including scope and sequence lists and resources, at the Creek Edge Press website.

Read more TOS Crew reviews of product at this link.

Disclaimer: Our family received a set of Early Modern History Task Cards for review purposes. No additional compensation was involved.

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