Friday, March 9, 2012

TOS Review - Creek Edge Press

One of the challenges facing homeschoolers when they don't want to teach out of a traditional textbook is how to organize learning and what kind of assignments to give.  For a few years I designed our own science and history studies which were largely based on reading and narrating, with as many projects along the way as I could come up with.  I would have been absolutely thrilled back then if I'd had the help of a product like the Task Cards from Creek Edge Press.
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As a member of the TOS Review Crew, we had an opportunity to try out some Task Cards from Creek Edge Press.  Author Amy Kate Hilsman started handwriting task cards when she was homeschooling her own children, and now has made the cards available to other homeschoolers.  The non-consumable task cards are designed to pull together principles of Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Montessori educational styles and facilitate discovery-based, research-oriented, independent learning for students in grades K-8.

The task card set subjects covered are:

  • science
  • history, geography, and culture
  • art
  • music
  • grammar reinforcement
There are subsets for science and for history/geography/culture.  We decided to try the Early Modern World Task Cards as part of our history studies.  The set of Task Cards (35 cards) came with a course introduction book explaining how to use the cards and each of the activities, suggesting ways to prepare the student environment, and listing books and helpful tips.  This particular set covers world history from Elizabethan England through the United States Civil War.
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 The individual Task Cards listed assignments and activities including:

  • research
  • map work
  • summaries and biographies
  • suggested literature
  • timelines
  • compiling lists and an information booklet

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In general, the activities on each Task Card should be completed by the student in about a week's worth of work, and the parent would provide materials and some direction, but for the most part students would work on their own to complete the assignments.

Since we were incorporating the Task Cards into our existing social studies curriculum, I went through the cards and picked out the ones focused on the countries that we were studying at the time, and I assigned certain activities from the cards to my students that correlated with our focus.  So we didn't do everything on every card!  For example, from the card pictured above - we studied France and obviously a study of France's history should include the French Revolution.  We had already mapped France and Paris earlier on.  We did some research and my students wrote brief summaries of Storming the Bastille and the Reign of Terror; and I assigned Landon to research and write a biography of Louis XVI by himself.  I took a similar approach using many of the other cards in the set.  I paperclipped the card to Landon's or Kennady's notebook along with a sticky note explaining which task they were to do and when it was to be finished.

What we liked best:

  • open-ended and adjustable activities - I could say I wanted a biography that was one paragraph or two whole pages.  
  • the cards themselves served as the assignment reminders.  Since they weren't bound in a book, I could hand them out and they could be turned in when the assignment was complete.
  • promotes self-motivated study and the value of research and "learning how to learn" as I like to think of it.
What we weren't crazy about:

  • while I love the cards, they don't quite suit our style at present, simply because we have another format we're using for social studies.  As I said in my introduction, if I'd had these cards a few years ago when I was 'making up my own' classical style history study, it would have been PERFECT for that and saved me a lot of trouble.  
I think these Task Cards would be a great help to a homeschooling family committed to Charlotte Mason or Classical style study, and wanting to avoid traditional question-and-answer textbook approach. There's so much room for creativity and individual learning! For younger students who do not have independent reading or writing skills, the parent will have to be directly involved guiding the activities.  And older students who may not be used to this open-ended approach may need more assistance  in understanding how to go about completing the activities.

It's also possible to incorporate the Task Cards as part of another curriculum, but it takes a bit more creativity.  They are designed to be flexible, so it's certainly possible. This is what we're doing, and it is working out fine. My caution would be to a mom or student who strongly prefers everything laid out in black and white with a clear lesson plan and answer key.  Task Cards are probably not the style to suit that particular homeschool personality.

Would Task Cards be a good fit for your homeschool?  Here's what you need to know...

Visit the Creek Edge Press online store to purchase the cards.  Prices vary by set.  Creek Edge Press is currently offering a MidWinter Sale with free domestic shipping on order of $36 or more.  (Code: MidWinter).  You may want to check out the FAQ page, look at examples of the cards in the online Gallery, or check the book lists and supporting links.

Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog for more information, and to read other Crew member reviews.


Note: As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we received a complimentary set of Task Cards in exchange for our honest opinions.

3 comments:

Laura Lane said...

This was an excellent review. Thanks for sharing it with us. It makes me wish I'd tried for the cards. ~smile~

I'm now following your blog.

Thanks for dropping by Harvest Lane Cottage.

Laura
Happy at Home

OSOTM said...

::sigh:: I kinda miss reviewing. But the kids just didn't want to continue. And since they're the ones that have to do the reviews, well, it was better to stop. Looks like a decent resource!

Mrs. Chrissy T said...

Those sound interesting. I will take a look at them. Thanks for sharing the review. Thanks for visiting our blog. Blessings.

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