Monday, July 13, 2015

Our review of Adventures in the Sea and Sky from Winter Promise

The program

Adventures in the Sea and Sky by Winter Promise
  • Adventures exclusives, which includes the main guide, the Ship's Log (student text), An Unfurling Sail, Sailors Whales & Astronauts, Under the Sea & In the Air, and The God of All Creation
  • Pirate and Sea Monsters packs
  • Older Learner's Guide
  • We skipped the timeline, timeline figures, world maps pack, and field trip pages. You can see them under Notebooking Resources.
  • I bought all the scheduled books (Theme Essentials, Theme Completer, extra books the Older Learner's Guide scheduled, Adventure Reading) from Half Price Books, Amazon Marketplace, and such instead of Winter Promise.
  • We did not use the Winter Promise language arts or math recommendations. 
  • I collected a stack of literature that wasn't scheduled (some were Older Learner recommendations) and Honor read from his choice of these books daily in addition to the scheduled literature.
  • We added more science reading as we saw fit, relying mostly on our personal library. Most of these didn't make the pictures.
  • Disclaimer: We didn't get to everything in these pictures. More details later. 

 The boy, Honor

    • used Adventures in the Sea and Sky for sixth grade.
    • loves all things science related, strong STEM student
    • looked at samples of various options and chose Adventures himself
    • solid reader
    • looks a little like Ron Weasley
    • Boy Scout
    • loves being on a competitive swim team
    • took 4th place at a recent juniors Jack & Jill west coast swing dance competition
    • performs in a WWII hangar show for veterans, seniors, VFWs, American Legions, Alzheimer's units, and more
    • nicknamed "Bill Nye" at Boy Scout summer camp

    The review


    Overall: Two hearty thumbs up! Five stars! 
    How we used it
        I put together a master binder with 36 weekly tabs. I put the schedule from the main guide and the Older Learner schedule behind the appropriate tab, along with any loose pages from the Captain's Log and such that he'd need for that week. I penciled in notes, and the few changes we'd agreed on ahead of time. The schedule from the main guide was intended to be the parent's schedule to do with the student. Honor doesn't need that much hand-holding, so he used it as his own checklist instead. It had the links to websites that he'd need to do on his time and such. The Older Learner schedule replaces the independent work schedule from the main guide.

    Schedule and independent schedule from main guide

        Honor did complete the Captain's Log pages, but I didn't require him to spend much time on them. I prefer discussion based evaluation. His pages could look rough for a concept that he could explain inside-out and backwards, and I was okay with that.  I wasn't so sure about the simple cut and paste activities, but Honor did them without a single complaint. 
       An Unfurling Sail was the main history spine for the first 18 weeks. The extra books went deeper. It was worth having for that cohesive spine. 
       Sailors, Whalers, and Astronauts covered daily life for the ships and spacecraft sections. Honor loved this resource!
    Captain's Log
        Under the Sea and In the Air was the science activity book. Honor did the majority of these activities independently. There were a handful we deemed not worth the time to set up and just discussed them instead.
        The God of All Creation has three Bible lessons a week, loosely correlated to what's being covered in the other resources.  After awhile we dropped the copywork and Honor just read and discussed the lesson with me.  It was interesting, but not really how we do Bible study.  I'll probably skip this if I use this program again. (Honor read 3-4 chapters in an NIV or ESV Bible daily, and read through some church history
    (History Lives series) that somewhat correlated to the history
                                                                                                         period he was studying instead.)

        The Pirate Pack wasn't really appropriate for Honor's maturity level. He would still play with pirate swords for fun, but has no desire to make one from cardboard. He kept an eye on this one as scheduled and we adapted some of them to make more quality items that would last through some serious play.
        The Sea Monsters pages, on the other hand, Honor loved! Those were right up his alley. He was disappointed to find the end of that one. (You don't need to print every page. I saved ink by skipping the introductory page for each creature, and just printed the pages he actually wrote on in grayscale.)

    Sailors, Whalers, and Astronauts

    Non-WP Books
        We liked all of these, and some became favorites. I can't pick any I'd want to be without. The large books from the Older Learners schedule like History of the Ship, Flight, and such were fabulous as well. 

    The Older Learner Guide
       This was billed as grades 7-8. Due to Honor's high interest I bought this to make sure he'd be satiated. It came with extra book recommendations, extra assignments that the regular independent schedule left out, and 3 week long activity ideas. We really liked some of these extra activities, but spreading them out to three weeks didn't work so well. Once Honor got going he didn't want to just do a third and set it aside. We did the ones we liked as we ran into them, and didn't worry about scheduling them evenly.
    Under the Sea & In the Air

         At the beginning of the year it wasn't easy for Honor to get a day's work done in a day. This was his very first super structured curriculum. After he adjusted to the flow he ran the program himself and started flying through it. He plugged along steadily, absorbing knowledge on sailing, orienteering, ocean science, aerodynamics, the history as the technology developed, and more. He really grew with this set. His responsibility to just do your work and then be accountable to mom for the quality of work grew by leaps and bounds!

        Then somewhere in the flight section (weeks 19-27) it seemed like he'd outgrown it. He could rip through two lessons a day. Easily. He still very much enjoyed the topics he was learning about, but working down the checklist was feeling more like a chore. I suggested he work through the schedule horizontally, book by book, and then go back and fill out the Captain's Log pages. This was the amount of reign loosening he needed. The astronomy Log pages didn't get completed. He's covered so much astronomy already most of this wasn't new to him. He enjoyed the books anyway.

        Winter Promise says this program can range from grades 4th to 9th. 5th-6th grade is the ideal sweet spot in my opinion. I wouldn't use this with a 4th grader unless they were sturdy readers with strong interest. Even then it would demand a LOT of the mother to use it with a typical 4th grader (assuming this 4th grader isn't a tag-a-long with older siblings); many of the spines would require being read aloud. A 7th grader who isn't already a STEM nut would likely do fine. I would not use it with an 8th or 9th grader, even with the Older Learner guide.

    Captain's Log

        Would I use this program again? Absolutely! He was exposed to far more concepts and had a much more thorough year than he would have had if I'd tried to build this on my own. I'd probably want the younger sibling to be at a slightly lower level than Honor was when he started Adventures. Honor was at the upper end of the skill levels this program would be a good fit for, and a bonafide STEM nut, but he still benefited and thrived.

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