Education Review: Wondermaps from Bright Ideas Press

Maps, maps, wonderful maps, Wondermaps! I love maps! I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a map that didn’t interest and fascinate me. Bright Ideas Press has introduced an amazing new set of maps called Wondermaps, and they generously sent me a complimentary copy for this review.

Wondermaps is a computer software that includes a collection of more than 240 maps that can be easily customized to fit exactly what you’re studying in your family. The software includes maps for both the United States and the world and is divided into four main sections:

  • The World / Continents / Regions / Nations
  • United States of America
  • Historical Maps
  • Thematic Maps

In the United States portion, you can select to view maps by region or by state. In the World section, you can view an entire continent or a region. Once you reach the map you want, you’re able to start customizing using 11 options. Each options has a little eyeball beside it – if you click to remove the eyeball, the option will be turned off; if you click to make eyeball visible, the option will be turned on. The options are:

  • Graticules (which I figured out refers to the latitude and longitude lines)
  • Graticule labels
  • Borders
  • Country names
  • Rivers
  • City/town locations
  • City/town names
  • River names
  • Terrain text (mountain ranges, etc.)
  • Color overlay
  • BW overlay

By adding and removing various options, you can create the exact map that you need – whether that’s a color instructional map for teaching your child the names and locations of places or a blank outline map for quizzing how much he remembers. The maps are printable, which is nice when you don’t want your child to do all of his work at the computer.

The Bright Ideas Press website has a video that you can watch on how Wondermaps can be customized. I enjoy the customization of the maps, but there are some things about Wondermaps that surprised me.

  • The software does not contain an individual map for each country of the world. When I clicked on Africa, I realized that I couldn’t click on any of the countries except Egypt. The rest of Africa is split into just four maps: Northern, Northeastern, Western, and Southern. Only 22 of the world’s 195 countries get their own individual maps. Somehow Scotland (not an independent country) gets its own map, but Poland does not.
  • Some of the labeling on the maps confuses me a bit. For example, on the map of Asia (and on the World alphabetical index), I can click on the word Vietnam but not on the names of any surrounding countries. When I click on Vietnam, though, instead of getting an individual map of that country, I get a map of Southeast Asia with the countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and parts of their neighboring countries.
  • On some of the maps, especially the World maps, I felt that things were difficult to see or too “busy.” However, I was able to zoom in to make things clearer – although, of course, the map didn’t cover as much area at that point, but that’s to be expected.

I think if I had realized Wondermaps isn’t “all inclusive” with maps of every country, I wouldn’t have been disappointed about that part. Overall, it’s a very nice resource for creating customized maps for homeschool studies.

Wondermaps is available from Bright Ideas Press for $49.95. The software will run on any computer that has Adobe Reader v. 9.1 or higher.

Thank you to Bright Ideas Press and The Old Schoolhouse Crew for sponsoring this review.

© 2011 – 2012, Cindy. All rights reserved.

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