Monday, May 16, 2011

Wonderful WonderMaps

"Maps could become your favorite part of teaching." Bright Ideas Press website

I love being on the TOS Crew. As I have freely admitted before, I am a curriculum junkie. I just love trying out new stuff. I have this insatiable curiosity about innovative ideas and different ways of doing things, and I am always interested in finding out what else is out there, even if what I have at home (or available on the Internet) is perfectly fine. 

Well, being on the TOS Crew is just about as perfect a "job" you could think up for me because not only do I get to see all sorts of amazing new curriculum and educational products, I also get to tell you my opinions about them, and don't we all just love to say what we are thinking? I mean, that's why we blog, right? In any case, I am writing today to tell you that last month I was chosen to try a new product from Bright Ideas Press called WonderMaps, and I am very excited about it.

Wondermaps is a customizable collection of over 350 different maps:  60+ world maps, 60+ US maps, 100 hisorical maps, and 25 Biblical maps.  With nearly endless possibilities, WonderMaps makes it easy to integrate map study into a variety of lessons for a variety of levels of student.

WonderMaps contains four main types of maps:  World (continents, regions, nations), United States, Historical, and Thematic Maps. It also includes maps for The Mystery of History and All American History programs.

WonderMaps is designed with easy-to-use layers that allow you to turn on and off customizable features with just one click.

You can select from: color or black and white, topographical features, political, reference, outline, with or without cities, capitals, and country names, rivers and their names, latitude and longitude, and more.

The maps can be made more detailed for older students, or kept very basic for younger students.  You can view very detailed maps on screen while you teach a lesson, then print up a blackline version for your students to complete themselves.

Here's what we thought about WonderMaps:

  • Mom: I thought the program was very easy to download and begin using. Without having to read an extensive manual, I was able to print up a world map for Tex to track Phileas Fogg's journey (in Around the World in Eighty Days) with just the features we wanted. It took only minutes compared to the ten to fifteen minutes it took me to search online for a free one of similar quality we could use. I do love FREE!,  but sometimes convenience is worth it. I think this is one of those situations. I do like this program and I think that if you plan to make geography a regular part of your school day and you have the money, this is a good investment.
  • Hubby: I liked it because it was a convenient tool to use to show the kids where recent news events were occurring. I was able to pull up a map with just the features we needed in moments.
  • Poppy: I think it is great! Heather opened the program for the first time when she was over at our house, and I immediately saw how useful it would be for Bible studies. I asked her to print up a few maps for me to use. They were just what I needed.
  • Tex: I think it is interesting. It sure is easy to use. I have used it several times already for my World Geography study, and will probably use it a lot next year when we start Ancient World History. I am glad we have it.
    If you would like to learn more about WonderMaps, please visit their site HERE. You can also view this tutorial to get an idea of the many features included with this program.

    • The included Teacher's Manual has additional MP3 workshops for you to listen to, and contains other great resources you will love, such as 50 Bright Ideas for Using Outline Maps, 16 Easy Mapping Projects, and How to Make a Salt Dough Map. 

    • WonderMaps is available as a download, or download plus cd. 
    • This is the first edition of WonderMaps and once you buy, you will be able to register the product on the Bright Ideas Press site, so you can receive free updates as they create them. That means that if they create new historical maps, you will get them, and if they tweak anything to improve the way the program runs, you will get that as well.
    • WonderMaps is available for PC or Mac computers, but you must have Adobe Reader 9.1 or higher installed.  
    • You can install the program on two computers within the same family and make a back up copy.
    • Here's a bonus for you: If you subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse magazine, check the Spring 2011 issue (page 30) for a 20% off subscribers-only coupon code.
    To see what others on the Crew thought of WonderMaps, visit the Crew Blog HERE.



    Disclaimer: I received a free copy of WonderMaps for evaluation purposes. I did not receive any other compensation for writing this post. The opinion you see here is based on our family's experiences. I would not recommend a product we did not like, but I cannot guarantee that you will feel the same about a product we enjoyed. I you have questions I did not answer, please feel free to contact me.

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