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Dayspring Christian Academy-A Pilgrim Story {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

October 16, 2012

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As the holiday season approaches, I love to reflect on our American heritage.  My family focuses, like so many others, on how thankful we are to have so many blessings in our lives.  We especially love to learn new things about the faith of our forefathers and are fascinated by the things and people God has used to bring us to where we are today in this great country.  What a timely review from Dayspring Christian Academy – The Pilgrim Story.

Dayspring Christian Academy is located in Mountville, Pennsylvania.  It is an accredited Christian School that uses the Principle Approach to educating children.  They describe the Principle Approach as being  “a way of life”.  This approach is restorative Christian education – the way it was  in the first two hundred years of our nation’s history.  There is no set curriculum.  Rather, each teacher uses researching, reasoning, relating and recording to become a master in their subject area.  The purpose of the Principle Approach is:  “equipping young men and women to help restore America to her gospel purpose, thereby helping to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.”

Recently, Dayspring Christian Academy developed an online, self-guided, self-paced, interactive course called The Pilgrim Story.  Unlike the live courses they offer, this course does not meet at any specific time.  It is designed so that you work at your own pace and with your own schedule. It was written by Mary Stauffer, a third grade teacher at Dayspring since 1994, and is geared towards children grades third through sixth.  Stauffer has led multiple guided tours of Plymouth, Massachusetts and lectures on the Pilgrim Story in her community.  You get to “meet” Mary in the curriculum of the Pilgrim Story.  This curriculum includes five units with a total of 17 lessons.  There are extension activities including art projects and map-making to help extend the learning for your children.

We used the Pilgrim Story for supplemental history learning with my 3rd and 5th graders.  The program was jam packed with historical information about kings and Bibles and travel.  We chose to break each lesson down into at least two if not three study sessions because they were so robust with facts it was hard for my guys to absorb it all in one sitting.  It took us between 30 and 45 minutes to do each lesson without the extension activities.  I had originally intended for my two children to do this on their own, but after watching the first lesson with them, I was intrigued and didn’t want to miss anything for myself.  My husband watched one or two with us when he was around and my first grader popped in and out as well.  Everyone was interested!

The program consists of a slide presentation that narrates the story of the pilgrims.  At the  beginning of each lesson there are activity sheets, vocabulary, and note sheets you can print to go along with the lesson.  The course encourages each student to make a notebook of these sheets as well as other activities covered during the study.  We tried to always print those up front so we’d be ready as they were needed, but I was pleased to find that once you are fully involved in the lesson material you can still go back and print these pages without losing your place.  The vocabulary sheets were used as reference materials while the note sheets were fill-in-the-blank pages to pay attention to and fill out while the lesson was going on.  These helped to keep my children involved with the learning on nearly every page.  I was honestly surprised at how well they paid attention and could tell me what they were learning!

The Pilgrim Story

At the end of each lesson are review questions and at the end of the units there are tests (choose between multiple choice or essay questions on the tests) which also helped me to check the acquired knowledge of my children.   I read them out loud and the kids took turns answering each question.  Sometimes my first grader would jump in answer some, too!  I would click to select their answer and the program would reveal whether they’d chosen correctly or not then explain the correct answer.

Most of the slides were information accompanied by some sort of illustration.  A man would narrate while the students read silently, however, some of the slides consisted of interactive tools.  For example, one of them was a book where you read each page and clicked for the page to turn; one was a timeline where you clicked each event and read about the item in greater detail and then closed the screen.  My kids enjoyed this change.  Even though they didn’t mind at all being read to they liked the interaction of the various activities as well.

I decided to only make one notebook with the materials we were using.  Instead of having both my children fill out the paperwork, we did all our filling out by me asking questions or them narrating what they had just learned.  I prompted them for the necessary information if they didn’t share it and made sure that both of them were giving answers.  We discussed together, the three of us, what we’d just seen and heard on the slides and then move on as I felt they had a good understanding.  This was perfect for us because I didn’t have to wait for my third grader to hash out his handwriting and it kept his interest level.  It also made it so that I was learning along with the kids and there was nothing for me to review later and “grade”.  This information was as fascinating to me as it was to them so it wasn’t a chore for me to sit with them and learn right beside them.

My opinion?  My children truly enjoyed learning through this incredible interactive program!  We are anxious to finish the remainder of our lessons and finish hearing the entire story.  I would recommend this program to all parents who want to give their children a solid background of history regarding the founding of our country from a Christian perspective.  We worked on it as a family together, but it is truly designed to be of a more independent approach so that the students are monitored but not “hand-held” – either way works well.

Available for $99, you will have access to Dayspring Christian Academy’s The Pilgrim Story for 6 months beginning within 48 hours of your registration.  To see a short, one-minute introduction video presentation of this product, scroll to the very bottom of this screen.

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DISCLAIMER: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received 6 months access to Dayspring Christian Academy’s A Pilgrim Story for the purpose of completing this review. All the opinions expressed here are my own and are offered honestly in exchange for the product. The receipt of the product in no way influenced my honest assessment.
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