July 25, 2013

Blue Manor Academy Curriculum Review and Giveaway

Over the last 6 weeks I've had the blessing of reviewing a Christian Preschool Curriculum from Blue Manor Academy.
Blue Manor Academy is a new company offering inexpensive complete Preschool and Kindergarten curriculum! Here is a blurb from the site regarding their company:
We believe "An elite education begins in the home" and have designed our books to help you give your children an early start.  We offer both a complete Preschool Curriculum and Kindergarten Curriculum, as well as several individual learning books sets. 

Since Baby Britches is getting ready to turn three, I thought he would enjoy the Preschool Curriculum so he could "do" school like his brother. We've been working on it over the last few weeks and I want to share my thoughts on how it went...
Here are the Pros:
One of the things that Blue Manor Academy claims is that their Preschool Curriculum is easy to teach and requires no preparation. And I agree 100%! I could simply pull up the e-books we were going to read and then go. No other materials are required.
Each of the books gives a summary of what it will go over on the first page and any extra information or advice the teacher/parent may need to know before working through each book. 
I loved that I could do it at any time during the day. I didn't have to pull out books or worksheets or materials. I simply brought it up on my laptop, pulled Baby Britches up with me and we started! Each of the books are easily done in 10-15 minutes which means even if you have a LOT of children who are in the Preschool age range you could do it with each of them individually and not have a lot of time invested into it.
I also liked that the wording was simple enough for Little Britches to help him go through a book too. I found that he was a lot more receptive if he had his brother reading it to him--or there with him to answer the questions with him.
This program is all about repetition. I find that this works great when the children are in the 2-4 year old range. They learn so quickly with repetition. It was after just 2 days of doing the e-book on Basic Colors that Baby Britches had picked up 5 new colors! Not only could he identify them by sight, but he was SAYING THEM! 

If you have not been following my blog, let me pause to share that Baby Britches was diagnosed back in May with severe Expressive Language Delay and has been in speech therapy once a week. Thus, the fact that he was easily repeating the colors by name so quickly is HUGE. And even better, it has carried over in our therapy sessions as he now easily names colors he had no comprehension of prior to using this curriculum every week. His speech therapist is delighted!
One thing that surprised me was that even though the photos used in the curriculum are real life and not more whimsical, it hasn't made Baby Britches less interested. I know that a lot of curriculum graphics are inclined to be cutesy images to make it more "kid friendly" but this experience with the Blue Manor program has shown me that it isn't necessary.

Here is a photo of Baby Britches working in the Basic Colors book:

In the following video you can see an example of what the Alphabet Letters book is like. There is no frills or fancy images. It's just the stripped down basics. You can hear Baby Britches saying the letters he sees...

We still have some letters to work on...but you can see how each page of the book is very clear and how he responded when he saw each letter.
The Blue Manor Academy site claims that you can use their curriculum "just 15 minutes a day, 3 to 4 days a week"...which is what we have been doing and it really does work. The retention is definitely there.
Another pro about the curriculum is that once you get it you have it...forever. And since it is completely digital, it's not taking up space on anything but your computer or flash drive. And if you have ever purchased a complete paper curriculum, you KNOW what a space saver that is! We don't have an iPad or a Notebook or anything like that--but this program would be PERFECT for someone who does because you could take the whole curriculum with you wherever you went!

Even though we haven't had a chance to work through all the books yet, from what I have flipped through myself I can see why the company can claim that it's a complete curriculum! Here is a list of what your Preschooler will learn:
"With this program your children will learn to read, recite the alphabet, count, recognize prominent historical figures, understand general concepts, identify basic anatomy, shapes, colors and money, lay a foundation for physical excellence, build a strong vocabulary of common occupations, terrain and weather, animals, electronics and transportation, learn to use their senses to discover their world, and more importantly develop healthy social skills by practicing social etiquette and building positive character traits."

I think that would be a most excellent start to any education, don't you?

Now the Cons...

Just as the fact that the curriculum is completely digital is a pro, I also list it as a con. Because I DON'T have an iPad or the like--no, not even a Kindle or Nook--I am limited to working on this curriculum from my laptop. I can't just hand a book to him or to Little Britches to work with him on. And yes, I admit it...I am NOT a huge fan of digital resources. So I can only work with him on it when my laptop is available.
I also find that some of the phrasing of the books is above Baby Britches head...now I KNOW he's only two and turning three shortly and that it's to be expected...but I found some of the pages to be very wordy--especially when trying to explain character traits or social etiquette or other concepts--thus I had to put it into words he would understand. Some of the questions asked were also something that with his speech delay he wasn't capable of doing (like saying full sentences or repeating certain words and such). So we had to work around that and we did make it work in a way he could understand. But because this program is geared for age 2-4, it is something that would probably be an issue for others too.

You can see a sample page here from the Five Senses:

For someone as young as 2 or with speech delay like my own son the response to this simple question is not so easy. For instance, he looked at this page and then just pointed and said "Nose" and "Flower". And when I asked him the scripted question, he didn't have an answer. But if I asked him, what do we do to flowers, he knew that we sniffed them and demonstrated without telling me in words. So we had to pretend to sniff things to understand what smell was since he can't quite understand the concept yet.
Just as I put the simplistic graphics as a pro, I'm going to put it here as a con. I found the lesson book pictures boring, even if he didn't. LOL! I wanted them to be more whimsical and fun, BUT that was not the case for the readers. Those were kid friendly and fun---but since we aren't even near the reading stage, I am just exclusively working with the lesson books themselves.
Another thing that I might put as a con is that the curriculum is heavy on the biblical family and stereotypical roles of the mother/father. Now that isn't bad in one sense...since that is my own personal beliefs of what a family looks like and the roles each parent plays--but for someone who does NOT have both father and mother or has non-traditional views on the roles of the parent, there are some pages that might require improvisation.
And last but none the least--if you are looking for a secular curriculum without Christian influence then obviously this program would not be for you. The title even gives you a clue that it's a Christian based program with godly principles and biblical foundations. But for our family, this would NOT be a con, since we seek out biblical based curriculum for our homeschool classroom.

In summary, I do recommend this program to anyone wanting an inexpensive all inclusive Chrisitian preschool program to kick off your child's education. At just $39.99 you will receive 23 books plus a "how to" teaching manual, making it a great price for such a comprehensive program.

Yes, I am giving away a complete set of the Christian Preschool Curriculum to one randomly drawn winner!

Get entered to win using the following widget! Deadline to enter is July 31, 2013 @11:59pm EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't have Preschoolers? There is a Christian Kindergarten Curriculum too!

Don't need Preschool or Kindergarten? Then check out their individual book sets! They include levels 1-3 in subjects like Math, Geography, Vocabulary, Anatomy and more! Simply scroll down on the curriculum page to find all these great books!

f you hurry, you can take advantage of a special deal going on from now until the end of the month of July use the code July10Gift for $10 off any e-Book in the Store!

Yes! Any e-book or e-book set! 
Since most of the e-book sets are under $6.00 you can apply that $10 to more than one! 
That is a great deal and gives you a chance to try out Blue Manor's products for yourself! 

Did you know you could snag ANOTHER $10 by becoming a Blue Manor Academy subscriber too? Simply go to the site and put in your email address to get subscribed and viola!

I hope that I've piqued your interest and you will check out this excellent program--click here to get started!

Blessings to you and yours!

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