When teaching history, it isn’t enough to memorize people, places, and dates. To truly internalize the information, students must be encouraged to thoughtfully consider the events in their context, as well as the repercussions of those events, as we often continue to feel the effects today.
History is a subject that seems to self-select for certain study methods. One of the reasons so many homeschool parents favor the Principle Approach is that it not only emphasizes learning from a Biblical worldview, but when using this method, the student researches the subject thoroughly and keeps all of their work in a notebook- in essence, creating their own ‘textbook’. The idea is to encourage students to take ownership of the subject they are studying.
Utilizing the Principle Approach, Dayspring Christian Academy offers a self-paced 6-month online course for grades 3rd through 6th called The Pilgrim Story for $99. Packed with information from primary sources, engaging assignments, enrichment activities, and spiral review, this interactive program provides comprehensive instruction in this era of early American History, highlighting principles of Christian character.
After purchase, The Pilgrim Story will be available within 48 hours. The first step is creating an account with your own unique user name and password, and then you will have access to all features of the program, such as a user profile, course administration, and reports for tracking student grades and percentages.
As always, begin the course by reading and watching the tutorial which explains how to use the player and implement the program itself. You are introduced to the instructor, Mary Stauffer, and all lesson components are explained, including the use of the Contents and Resources tabs, primary source material, and student notebook. This is very important- one of the reasons people become frustrated by new curriculum is that they do not lay the groundwork for success by reading and following instructions before beginning to use the curriculum. Even with a self-paced course like The Pilgrim Story, which requires moderate parental involvement, parents and children should take the time to prepare for the course – for example – by printing the pages needed for the student notebook and obtaining additional resources listed from the library.
Each lesson starts with a reminder of how to navigate the player and use the Resources tab to download and print all student materials. These vary somewhat from lesson to lesson, but each includes a student notebook page and a vocabulary list.
There are 5 units and a total of 17 lessons. Each lesson consists of audio narration of slides with text and pictures relating to the subject, and will take from 30-45 minutes to complete. The student notebook pages help the child learn how to take notes, and interspersed through the slides are activities, quizzes, and essay questions to help students focus and think through important content. Each lesson ends with a quiz, and lessons following Lesson 1 begin with multiple choice questions for review.
Each unit is completed with either an essay or multiple choice test. The parent must grade the essay, but for the multiple choice test, instant scoring is available in Course Administration. The teacher and student can also choose to see the answers.
- King Henry
- Geneva Bible
- Life in Scrooby
- Liberty of Conscience
- Leaving England
- The Second Escape Attempt
- Preparing to Go
- Leaving Leiden
- Conditions on the Mayflower
- Building Christian Character
- The Mayflower Compact
- The First Winter
- Spring 1621
- The Wampanoag People
- The Rest of the Story (covers 3 years of life in the early colonies)
We found the information provided dispelled many myths surrounding the lifestyle, events, and motivations of the Pilgrims to leave their home country and travel to America. The pictures and text were visually appealing. Essay questions offered opportunities for oral discussion or composition practice. A variety of review methods helped maintain interest. The Pilgrim Story is rounded out with a virtual field trip to to Plymouth, MA, led by Mary Stauffer, the creator of this course. She has led over 20 tours of the Plymouth area, and often lectures about this time in our nation’s history.
Noah reviewed The Pilgrim Story and took notes. Some things he liked about the program:
- Simple interface
- The narrator had a nice voice
- Controls were easy to find
- Lessons start with instructions for how to use the player
- Each lesson has its own resources and vocabulary list
- Each lesson had its own list of references
- There were quotes that were formatted nicely for printing
The only negative comment he made was that the player size could not be expanded nor could he zoom in on the slides.
We used this program on PCs with Windows Vista, and our default browser is Google Chrome. We did not experience technical problems using The Pilgrim Story.
The website provides very detailed hardware and software requirements. Briefly, they are:
- PC with internet access- either DSL or cable
- Internet Browser- recommended current versions of Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox
- Cookies enabled, pop up blockers off
- Program that can read .doc files
- Macromedia Flash Player, PowerPoint or PowerPoint Viewer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and a media player such as Windows Media Player.
These are all available as free downloads. You can also use cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive to backup assignments such as essays, and share access to those documents.
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