Wednesday, March 14, 2012

TOS Review: Creek Edge Press Task Cards

Creek Edge Press Task Cards are a slightly different approach to homeschooling than my family is used to.  What you receive with each set is a teacher/parent guide and a set of cards.  The tasks are designed to be largely self-directed, which I thought was not new to us.  However, these tasks are meant to be open-ended, meaning there is no set end point to each assignment.  The child decides when they are finished, which is new for us.  My children are used to lessons - whether they be in book form, video, or on the computer - that have stopping points.  This is not a bad thing, being open-ended.  It's simply different.  If you feel this approach isn't right for your family, I feel that these cards could still be used in a more guided way.  The sets are specifically meant for grades K - 8.  Most of the tasks are reading-centered, meaning that the lower grades would probably still need a lot of help, anyhow. 

The website explains how the Task Cards can be used within several different styles of homeschooling:

Classical – The tasks point to key vocabulary that students will use in future years of study.  The tasks encourage students to read, think, and respond.  The research tasks facilitate a habit of reading for detail, preparing the grammar stage student for work in the dialectic stage. 
Charlotte Mason – The tasks rely on narration, in a variety of forms, as a primary means of response to reading and listening. The student encounters meaningful ideas and beautiful expression within the materials chosen for study.
Montessori – The parent prepares a learning environment and the student engages in research tasks indicated on the cards. While the topics on the cards are specific, the tasks are purposely open ended to allow for individual investigation and response at the student's pace.

The guide suggests how to set up a sort of learning center devoted to the cards and the subject being covered, allowing the child to work through the cards at their own pace, and providing diverse materials for them to learn from.  Task Card sets are available in subjects focusing on most areas covered by homeschoolers:  Science;  History, Geography, and Culture;  Art;  Music;  and Grammar Reinforcement.  There are no specific book titles or materials required to complete the tasks, which makes it easy for a family to be flexible with their supplemental materials.

I received the Physics and Digital Science set for my review.  After reading through the cards, I saw a pattern emerge:  read about a term in an encyclopedia, read about the term some more in some supplemental books, define the term, make a list about the term, take pictures and print them, make a poster or booklet about the term, then display the end result.  The cards are not all exactly the same, but this pattern is definitely recurring.  The guide describes these as "hands-on" activities, and while the parent is encouraged to put science kits in the center, the activities on the cards are definitely more reading and writing centric.


I like the idea of the Task Cards.  However, I'm not so certain about the Montessori style of learning.  Since this area of science is not our focus this year, I feel like it's a good way to try the cards and the style out by having my children complete a card per week.  The other thing I would say about these cards is that the sets are produced by a homeschooling mother, not a large company.  The cards are printed on card stock, but meant to be non-consumable.  I would highly suggest laminating the cards before handing them over to your kids.  That would allow students to mark off each task (using a wipe-off marker) as they complete it, and still protect the cards from wear and tear.  

Creek Edge Press's Task Cards can be found on their website,  Sets begin at $18, and replacement cards are also available.  Right now, using the code "MidWinter", you can score free shipping on orders of $36 or more!

***Note:  I received a set of Task Cards in exchange for my review through TOS Homeschool Crew.  All opinions are my own.

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