Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Wonder of Wondermaps

Because Mom Said

I've been a fan of Timberdoodle for years, they're a great place to find fun and often hands-on homeschool supplies! I'm also a fan of Bright Ideas Press and so I'm extra excited that my first review for Timberdoodle happens to be a Bright Ideas Press product, and a super cool one at that!
Wondermaps is a one stop software for all your mapping needs, for all ages. That's not hyperbole, I really believe that's the case. The main menu contains four categories; The World (Continents, Regions, Nations), United States of America, Historical Maps, and Thematic Maps.  You click on The World and it brings you to a list of continents. Click the continent you desire and then Pages and you have a selection of maps. Click the map you like and you'll see blue and black links. Blue links will bring you to another map, black will give you a detailed map with choices.

Let's say I clicked on Spain & Portugal ('cause I just did), the map includes Graticule, Graticule Labels, Country Names, Borders, City/Town Locations, City/Town Names, Rivers, River Names, Terrain, Color Overlay, and Black and White Overlay.  Everything but the last option is checked and I'm looking at a fully labeled and colored map. This may be a great option if I merely wish to have my students view the map, point out various areas to me, and the like.  I may even print it as is to be placed in a notebook for reference. But what if I want them to color and label their own maps?  Or what if I don't want Graticule showing because I have no idea what that even is and I don't have time to look it up for inquisitive kids? Or what if I want my younger kids to simply color an already labeled map and my older kids to label an already colored map?

Easy.  Just uncheck what you don't want shown and it disappears. Check what you want, uncheck what you don't, and print. Totally customizable and totally easy. I love it.


 The other thing I think is super cool?  The Historical and Thematic Maps. Click on Thematic Maps and you'll see a world map with various icons scattered around. These include American History, Explorers, Native Americans, World Wars, Biblical Maps, 20th Century Treaties, and Chinese Dynasties. Unit study moms should love these!  Click on Historical Maps and you may choose from The Ancients, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance Reformation and Growth of Nations, or Revolutions to Rising Times. We're studying the Middle Ages right now so these are the maps we chose.


After learning about the Barbarian Invasion, as well as the life of St. Patrick, we printed off the Wondermaps and set to work. Some of my kids chose to color the maps, some preferred merely tracing the route in colored pencil or marker and keeping the page clean.  They had to wait a few minutes to have the sheets in their hands, as mom was having way too much fun adding and subtracting items from the map, but it was really a quick and easy process.  If you're anything like me and you don't always (or ever!) prepare and print everything in advance, this is simple enough to open, choose, and print in the midst of your homeschooling day. I love it.  (Did I mention that I love it?)


There's also a Teacher's Guide where you can find a Quick Start Guide, Tutorial Video, and User Manual. Plus you get two bonus workshop mp3's (Loving Geography and Packing a Punch with Timelines and Maps) as well as six bonus resources (50 Bright Ideas for Using Outline Maps, The 5 Themes of Geography, How to Make a Salt Dough Map, History & Geography, 16 Easy Mapping Projects, and a sample unit entitled, Joseph's Journey). Oh, and if you happen to be using Mystery of History or All American History, you get the added bonus of having a list of maps used in each book.  Yep, pretty cool.

Wondermaps is currently available through Timberdoodle for $44.95. Be sure to check out the other goodies you can find there and stay updated by liking Timberdoodle on Facebook!



  
 A Wondermaps Tutorial, for your viewing pleasure...


*Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team, I received a free copy of WonderMaps in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.* 



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