TOS Crew Review: Knowledge Quest--Map Trek e-book set


I first "met" Knowledge Quest maps when my family was using Tapestry of Grace a few years ago. We have since discontinued using the curriculum, but I know that one component I did like very much was the mapping section. When I saw that Knowledge Quest published map e-books that could be used with any history curriculum, I was very excited! Up till then, I had been using maps from a book that I had to photocopy. That was inconvenient to have to make a trip to make copies. Either that or I had to hunt around on the Web for suitable maps for the kids.

As it is summer, our kids have been taking a break from their "regular" subjects so we can do some specialized or different studies that we did not otherwise have time for. With our upcoming trip to China to pick up our new daughter, Anah, I thought this would be the perfect time to do a study on Chinese history. Enter Knowledge Quest maps!

Company Information: Knowledge Quest is a homegrown ministry of Todd and Terri Johnson. Like many homeschool suppliers, their products were created out of a need in their own homeschooling journey. They started with black and white maps and then moved into other history, geography and timeline-related products. (I am personally interested in investigating Ann Voskamp's geography books! But I digress.) Recently, they added apps to their lineup of product offerings.

Product Reviewed: Map Trek e-book set, which includes six volumes (Vol. 1 Ancient World; Vol. 2 Medieval World; Vol. 3 New World; Vol. 4 Modern World, plus 2 US map sets). Total pages: almost 590!

Price: $47 for downloadable e-books; $55 for hardcover version plus CD-ROM; $39 for CD-ROM; or in individual downloadable e-book volumes for $14.95-19.95 each.

Age Range: Grades 1-12

Parental Preparation: None really. You can use the suggested maps to build your notebooking assignments for your kids.

How We Used It:

As I mentioned above, our family is preparing to travel to China (can you say "field trip"?). In preparation for the trip, I looked through all the e-books for the maps related to Chinese history. I printed off 3 copies each of the maps, one for each of my two older kids and an extra one for me or for my 4-year-old. Just like I thought, when Jonathan saw Janna and Matthew with maps, he wanted one for his own. There went my third copy. This product definitely works for the whole family!

Even though my high school daughter already went through Chinese history in brief a few years ago, I thought it would be good to review it with her. My 6th grader did not have any previous study. Using Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World series as a start, along with a few other web-based maps, articles, books, magazines, etc. I pulled together some resources to coordinate with the maps. (I am not using a pre-packaged curriculum here---just making it up as I go.) As we would read, whenever we got to anything that mentioned a location, we would use the internet and try to figure out where it might be. I had looked at the Lesson Plans included with each e-book for a list of things we could label on the maps, but I wanted the maps to also places to jot down descriptions of events as well.

One way I am using the maps is to make a layered collection of maps, an idea I got when we used Tapestry of Grace. I printed out the Teacher's Answer Map on cardstock for sturdiness. It was beautiful!  (You can always print out a plain map but I was wanting to save time!) Then using inexpensive write-on transparencies, we outlined each of the dynasties on a separate sheet. Each transparency is  a different color and includes specific information about each dynasty.

We work on our Chinese history unit study about twice a week and are planning a family day where we will study different aspects of Chinese culture. The maps will be a place where we write down the locations and dates, so that when we travel to China in the fall, the kids will have a rich resource to refer to during our visit.

What We Liked:

#1 reason I like these maps: having the maps in e-book form. This is so convenient! I could print up as many copies as I need without having run to the copy store! If the kids make a mistake, I could easily print up another copy. I only print out what I need, when I need it.

The Lesson Plans included with each volume of maps gives us a start, but I didn't feel limited by it. I appreciated the "Levels" of detail for different ages of my kids. The younger ones could include the minimum, and the older ones were given more challenge. Over the years, as we revisit the different time periods of history, the kids can add more to their existing maps instead of starting over. The teacher maps are in full color and labeled so I can check my kids' accuracy...and make my own reference notebook!

What We Didn't Like:

Nothing! The product is well-done, thorough and reasonably priced. It doesn't take up any space on my bookshelves, and it can be used for years and years to come. Can't beat that!

Overall Summary:

As I look at the maps, I am envisioning all kinds of uses for them already! One of them is creating a Bible atlas for use in study with my kids using the maps in the Ancient World (Vol. 1) set. What a wonderful way to make the world of the Bible come alive! If you do not homeschool your children, I would suggest purchasing this volume to create such a resource with your kids as you go through Scripture. Of course, the other maps can also be useful for school projects. If you do homeschool, this is a basic resource to add to your curriculum as it can be used in so many ways.

Interested? Check out the Knowledge Quest maps website for their current linkable catalog, along with all kinds of articles on how to teach geography. Be sure to check out their Globalmania page, which provides a free 7 month plan to effectively help your kids learn world geography. They'll send you more freebies and samples when you sign up for their mailing list!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Knowledge Quest's six e-book Map Trek series at no charge in exchange for my honest review. For more reviews on this product click the banner below!