Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Alpha Omega LIFEPAC - 5th Grade History

Soon after beginning our homeschool journey it became clear that the social studies curriculum from the parochial school was just too boring to continue. Since we had already selected Alpha Omega LIFEPAC 5th Grade History as part of the 5th social studies curriculum, we decided to give it a whirl earlier than planned. We have now finished 2 of the worktexts in the set and I feel able to comment on our experience.

The curriculum covers the early discovery and exploration of North America to the current day of the United States. It comes as 10 student worktexts with one teacher's guide for all 10 worktexts.

The teacher's guide has answers to all the section questions, self tests and unit tests. There are also alternate tests that can be given if needed. The teacher's guide provides additional activity ideas for each section of the worktexts. We have used some of the activities, but mostly we used our own ideas like Liberty's Kids, biographies, and a study of the Declaration of Independence.

This curriculum is suitable for a student to do on their own with little interaction from a parent or teacher, if that is your need. Some days it is nice that Amber can read her lesson and answer the questions without a lot of input from me. More often we spend a while discussing what she read and adding to it with other activities.

The text itself is more detailed than I expected and definitely more than the simple historic summaries I've seen in Amber's previous social studies books. Amber has found it to be engaging and looks forward to history each day. The worktexts do have a few questions that encourage the student to think and draw conclusions, but it is mostly a factual history and geography curriculum. The teacher's guide does give discussions prompts that require more analysis than the student worktext questions.

The worktexts are divided into sections with questions at the end. There are 3 self quizzes spaced thought the worktexts to gauge understanding of the material and prepare the student for the unit test. The quizzes and tests are fairly detailed and require the student to pay close attention while reading. Reviewing the information before a quiz is usually necessary.

Even interesting away
from home

We selected the AO LIFEPAC History 5, not as a full year curriculum, but as a filler between what Amber had covered in parochial school and where our intended main 5th grade curriculum began.

We have been surprisingly impressed with the curriculum. However, it still isn't a stand-alone social studies curriculum for us. We will continue to us it through all the worktexts as a supplement for 5th grade social studies.

Overall, it is a great deal more interesting than initially expected and more detailed than many social studies textbooks. It is also very reasonably priced. If you are willing to do extra planning and supplementing, this has the basis for a good whole year curriculum.

5 comments:

  1. Hi, I also bought this lifepac and I was wondering what you use with it at your child's school, because this is my only history curriculum for grade 5 and was wondering if it will be enough?
    By the way thank you for your blog it has helped me a lot

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad the blog has helped!

      Last year, for the end of 4th grade, we used the beginning of the the 5th grade Lifepac to fill in gaps in Amber's history education. I supplemented it with narrative stories about the times she was studying, as well as videos, crafts, and many field trips. We also did a lot of discussions to ensure she was understanding more than just the history facts.

      This year for 5th grade we have been using the Lifepac along side BJU Heritage Studies 5th grade. Neither one is exactly what I was wanting, but together they provide a better picture.

      The Lifepac gives a more straightforward chronological study, but fails to explain some rather important details. For example, it's hard to understand the great depression if you don't understand how an economy works. Otherwise you're just reading a bunch of facts about when people were poor. Additionally, how about the cold war and other conflicts? How do you understand the vast differences in the countries if you don't know anything about the different government philosophies.

      The Heritage Studies glosses over many of history details in favor of a more indepth study of things like: how an economy works; or the differences between capitalism, socialism, and communism.

      Between the two curricula I feel Amber has received a better understanding of history than using either one alone.

      We could have just used the Lifepac and continued to do a lot of supplementation, but I had it in my budget to purchase the BJU Heritage Studies, so this made my life a lot easier.

      I do also use Heritage History collections for some of our narrative stories. Amber has enjoyed everything she has read from those collections. I also use Profiles from History Volume 2 and Volume 3 from Geography Matters. Amber absolutely LOVED reading about the historical people from these books. It was probably the best investment I made for history.

      We also watched the entire Liberty's Kids series on DVD. She couldn't wait to watch more, and it made the Revolutionary War study more fun and interesting to her. The series is, of course, fictional but they use as many true facts as possible. It also let her meet historical figures in an interesting way. Often times we had read about the person or event before she watched the episode. That really solidified the information and gave her a better appreciation of what she had learned.

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    2. Hi again, I have been doubting if I want to buy the BJU heritage studies, and wondered if you could do a review on this curricula. If you don't want to it's fine, but would help me out a lot. Nathalie

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    3. Sure. Can you tell me what some of your specific concerns are? Perhaps I can address those too.

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  2. Thank you, for answering so quickly! I will look at the BJU heritage studies, as well as the dvd's and the books. It can be a tricky thing trying to decide what books and curriculum's I want to order from a sample.(I don't live in the united states) But thank you for helping me, Nathalie.

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