Tag Archives: unit study

Milton Hershey, a YWAM biography ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

It is no surprise to those of you who read this blog that our family enjoys the YWAM Publishing biographies. We have a shelf full of these biographies and we look for them everywhere we go. Each of the biographies they publish, whether part of the Heroes of History or part of the Christian Heroes series or part of the series for the younger students, are well-written and interesting to read. Combined with the unit study materials, these biographies make for a great study with your students of any age. We received the Milton Hershey: More Than Chocolate biography, along with a download of the unit study. (The site says that you must be a register user to take a look at the available unit study.)

YWAM is a company with a mission to reach the people of the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They train many people to go out to share the gospel but they also publish materials that help students see the Christian character of many people from our history. That is what their unit study and biography series is all about.

The Milton Hershey biography was a joy to read. My youngest daughter, 12 years old and in 6th grade, read it with me. We thoroughly enjoyed reading about the life of Mr. Hershey and all the challenges he went through. It was quite a surprise to us both to learn how many business failures he had in his life and how much he had to overcome in people not believing in him. We marveled a his perseverance and success, and applauded how his mother and his aunt and a couple of friends continually assisted and encouraged him. We were startled to learn that Mr. Hershey was first successful with carmels, not chocolate, and that he lost a huge amount of money at one point. We were thrilled, though, when he weathered that storm with the full support of his workers and came back stronger than before. We were surprised to learn that he built a huge factory in Cuba to provide the sugar he needed at his Pennsylvania factory.

But most of all, we were so please to read about his philanthropic adventures. While his success in the carmel and chocolate making businesses were exciting to read about, it was heart-touching to read about the ways in which he paid back (plus!) the people who invested and supported him – how he provided for his mother and his aunt beyond anything anyone expected of him; how he set up a town (Hershey, PA) to provide a beautiful, wholesome place for his workers to live, so unlike his early experiences of company towns; how he created a place to work where the employees shared in the success and were fully invested in the business.

But again, there was one thing above all else that we marveled at – the foundation he created to care for orphan boys. This foundation was probably the thing that was most successful for Mr. Hershey and his wife, Kitty. It was where their impact lived on the most. They touched the lives of hundreds of young boys and men who needed it, providing healthy and wholesome food and education, teaching them how to be strong, productive members of society. The boys made him proud!

The Milton Hershey biography is a joy to read and we are so happy to add it to our shelf. In addition to reading the biography together, Miss J used some parts of the unit study to further enhance her learning. She worked on the biographical sketch of Mr. Hershey. She completed the printout of the timeline of Mr. Hershey’s life and work, along with some of the more important world happenings, like wars and economic hardships. She marked the included map for important places from the story. She created a piece of artwork with a saying from Mr. Hershey. We talked about some of the questions from the unit study that go along with each chapter of the book. We did a taste test of a couple of different chocolates and read up a bit more on the processes of making both caramel and chocolate. We made some caramels. (They definitely were not soft ones, though!)

We made caramels, which is how Hershey started out.
printable pages from the unit study

The unit study is a downloadable product. There are two parts to it that are most applicable to the book. One is the blank maps, timeline, and biographical sketch to fill in. The other is the unit study that includes suggestions on teaching the book and unit, as well as additional suggestions for supplemental books, sites, and resources. There are 8 parts to the study guide.

  1. Key Quotes
  2. Display Corner
  3. Chapter Questions (answers are included)
  4. Student Explorations
  5. Community Links
  6. Social Studies
  7. Related Themes to Explore
  8. Culminating Event
screenshots from the unit study

As you can see, the unit study provides a lot of material to use as you feel is appropriate for your students. It is highly adaptable and can be easily modified to fit your students, age levels, interest levels, or ability levels. There is plenty here to fill a week or a month, depending on how you choose to use it. It worked well to allow us to take a much needed 2 weeks break from our normal history curriculum to work with this unit. Miss J had a good time and was able to choose activities that really brought the story alive for her.

We are always pleased with the biographies presented by YWAM Publishing and recommend them for all ages. I even enjoy reading them myself. The Heroes of History series includes a large number of people who have influences the history of America. If you would like to see other ways to incorporate the YWAM biographies and unit studies, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew and click on any of the links in the link up at the bottom of the page. Each link will indicate which biography they reviewed so you can find some that sound particularly interesting, or just randomly choose a few to see what they did. Either way, you’ll see real families incorporating these great products into their educational times.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Want to read more about the biographies we have used? Check out these previous reviews.
Jacob DeShazer

George Washington Carver

Amy Carmichael

Gladys Aylward

Clara Barton

C.S. Lewis

U.S. Life-Saving Service: a unit study ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Exploring the U.S. Lif-Safing Service

A time from the past can be interesting, fascinating even, when approached through story and activities to help get the full “feel” of the time. Rebecca Locklear enjoys history and sharing that history through activity and story. She has a background in several levels of teaching and writing materials for teachers. Knowing the strength of integrating hands-on with other aspects of learning, Rebecca Locklear has created two unit studies. We have used Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1878-1915: 17 Student Workshops with 120 Activities with our family. She also has one titled The Mayflower at Cape Cod – Stories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with life today that other families on the Crew worked with.

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Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1878-1915: 17 Student Workshops with 120 Activities is for teachers with students in grades 4-12. It is 120 pages and we received it in PDF format. There is a purchase option for both digital and print on her website. The book covers everything from how the US Life-Saving Service came about to what daily life was like to how and what they cooked, medicine to survival skills. There is a lot of information packed into these pages.

There are 17 lessons, or workshops. Each is set up very well for teachers, with the objectives of each workshop and activity clearly stated. It also includes a list of materials needed for each workshop. In addition to the 17 workshops, there is a section on “Expanding the Life-Saving Vision Through the Arts” which includes visual art and musical art. There is also a list of topics that might be of interest for further study with a short summary of the information. Appendix 1 covers the topic of why ships would sink. Appendix 2 is recipes. A glossary and a list of sources closes out the study.

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We found the story and information part of this study most interesting. As a family, we read the Introductory Workshop. It discusses much of what the purpose of the U.S. Life-Saving Service was about, how you became part of it, and what life was like. This was a great introduction to service, which my girls knew nothing about.

We really enjoyed looking at the many authentic photographs included and the explanation of them. A few of the pictures included things in the description that we didn’t understand so we did some quick research to answer those questions that we had. One thing that we looked up was a map of Massachusetts, especially finding one that focused in on Chatham, which is the station that is referenced quite a bit. We also looked up the other stations mentioned, including some in MI, CA, and WA.

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After our initial gathering together as a family, each of the girls chose something to read and work on. One of the girls wanted to know more about the music, as violin is a instrument dear to her. So we pulled up the Perform Music section. We read about the instruments that might have been around and we sang the song Buffalo Gals, which is included in the book. Other songs were listed and we sang some that we knew and pulled up some others to listen to.

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Our youngest enjoys learning through video and in the workshop Molasses and Gingerbread, she learned a lot. There is a short discussion on molasses and a link to a video on how it is made. We watched a couple of other videos as well because it piqued her interest.

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It led us to read the included story about the wife of a captain who watched men in Louisiana stomping on something, probably sugar cane, and causing her to never eat molasses again because she didn’t want to eat something anyone had stomped on with their bare feet. We had a fun chat about that and also a quick review about the timing of this (it was in the 1860 but the specific date is unknown so these could have been either freed men or slaves working the sugar cane) and a review of the Civil War.

Jumping off points can happen all over the place with a unit study like this. It is rich and full.

We were unprepared for this approach to the U.S. Life-Saving Service. This is promoted as a book and so we were expecting a lot of reading and longer stories, with a few activities to bring it to life. This is more accurately a unit study, in my opinion, as it is a lot of activities with short quotes or readings from primary source material as the jumping off point.

This will work well for a classroom setting, a co-op setting, or a family with multiple ages wanting to study together. It could also work as an independant study. There is a lot of flexibility in the use of the study and it would be simple to adapt activities to fit the level and ability of the students involved. Rebecca Locklear has created a wonderful unit study with Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1878-1915: 17 Student Workshops with 120 Activities . There is a newsletter that she sends out that includes teaching tips and student resources among other information. You can sign up for it from the Contact page on her website.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew has been reviewing these two unit studies. You can read about the other families experiences by clicking on the image below.

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Life Saving Service

50 States Study for upper elementary

50 States Study

We have been going through the 50 states, learning them and learning a bit about them this fall with our upper elementary student. She did the states a few years ago and she has worked some on Texas history and US history, but knowing the names and placements of all 50 states is something we desire for her to learn. So, we tackled it this year. And she is doing super well.

50 states activity notebook

The weekly plan includes working through two of the states from the USA Bundle that we received from The Crafty Classroom. We are using the National Geographic book titled Our Fifty States. It includes beautiful pictures of each state, giving all of the information needed to complete the page for that state in the printable from the bundle. We are also playing a game or two each week or doing a puzzle of the states.

Make A State

Games that we have used include the Name That State Game from the Make-A-State Activity-Pak by Home School In The Woods. We have also used the Stack the States game, available on Kindle. There is a US history game that we have called American Trivia. It includes bits and pieces about the states so we have included it a couple of times.

Puzzles that we have include a cling film one that can go up on a window, a 100 piece puzzle with images of all the states and their main economic item, and a magnetic one where each piece is one state. We also have a table cloth that is a picture of all the states and I try to put it on the table every few weeks. (This was a fabulous project a few years ago when we were studying the states. We got glittery paint and marked where all of our family members lived. Great geography lesson for younger students.)

And, if you don’t know the song, Fifty Nifty is a great song for learning all of the 50 states in alphabetical order. With a catchy tune, it can be learned fairly quickly and will stick forever in your brain. I used it when I taught elementary music and by the time my students left first grade, every one of them knew all of the states in order. Music is a great tool!

With so many easy to use tools, perhaps your study of the states will be easy and fun. Also, check out a previous post about learning the states. It has quite a few hands on projects and a list of books. Some of the materials are duplicated here but these are some resources that we didn’t necessarily have back then.

Blessings,
Lori

50 States Study for upper elementary

LitWits Literature Kits ~ a Crew review

LitWits

With some books there are just tons of fun, interesting activities that can be done to engage more with the story. LitWits developed just this kind of thing – creating immersive activities to go with classical or interesting stories. These are in person classes they hold. These in-person classes have been so popular that the creators decided to go digital with their events and create a whole new product – LitWits Kits.

These LitWits Kits take a treasured story and allow you to engage with it in fun, hands-on, and interesting ways. Whether it be through activities of doing what the characters do or cooking/baking and eating something the characters do, the types of activities help the students really learn more about what life might have been like for the people at that time and in that place. We received four LitWits Kits:

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All Creatures Great And Small

We have been working with the kit for All Creatures Great And Small. This is a long book – over 400 pages. It is honestly a book I didn’t read until I was an adult but I really enjoyed it. It was easy to encourage Miss J to try this one out. She is 10 and we have been reading the book out loud together. She has seemed to really enjoy it. I would note that I have been skipping some of the words and phrases used as common, every-day language in this story, editing as I go.

All Creatures Great And Small is about the life of James Herriot, a veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales of England starting in the late 1930s. As a new vet, he kept a diary of different calls he was sent to and the people he kept company with. We get the benefit of this record as Mr. Herriot learned that taking care of animals in real life was quite different than the schooling he received. Called out often in the middle of the night or sent to a call that was relayed to him as something completely different than it was, he learned to cope, manage the people and the animals, and to enjoy thoroughly the life of a country vet.

LitWits worksheets

The LitWits Kit for this included activities that helped the student experience what a call could have been like when received in the night and Herriot had to get ready in the dark. It included a suggestion to try Yorkshire pudding, which we made and ate. We listened to people speak with a Yorkshire accent, which is really hard to read out loud in the book. We looked up pictures of the Yorkshire Dales to see what the countryside looked like. We pulled out some music to listen to that was reminiscent of the time and place. We also looked at some bits about the anatomy of animals that are mentioned in the story – cows, horses, sheep, and more.

Yorkshire pudding

There were a few activities that we chose not to do, such as a collage of images. We also chose not to set up an area of props related to the story. We did, however, choose to print out the learning pages and complete most of those. These included using an anatomy chart for a horse and noting different part of the animal and their names. We marked a map and a timeline related to the story. We have a page about work ethic and the themes of the story. We have not completed that one yet since we are not yet finished with the story. These five pages were simple yet brought out different ideas to consider.

Screenshot 2019-11-19 at 8.50.07 PMThe Secret Garden

This kit will be the next one we do, as we just read through this story a few months ago. When Miss J saw it on the list, she wanted to see the activities related to it. She remembers much of the story so we will probably do a review of it or watch a movie. We have printed out the learning pages and she will enjoy having tea with toast and marmalade. She will skip rope and do things related to gardening, direct connections to the story.

 

Screenshot 2019-11-19 at 8.49.51 PMThe Hobbit

This kit was chosen because the girls’ dad was reading this story to them. Miss J has been enjoying it so she thought it would be fun to see what was included in this kit. Food plays a prominent part so we will experience some of that. An engraved sword will be created and runes made. These are just a couple of the fun activities in this kit.

 

 

Screenshot 2019-11-19 at 8.48.56 PMA Wrinkle In Time

This kit was chosen because it is a story she has seen the movie for but not yet read. The takeaway section for this kit has some neat looking links and the activity for the solar system looks interesting. There is a fun dress up activity.

LitWits Kit Navigation

The kits are located online. Once purchased, visit the LitWits site and login. You will then have access to your purchased kits on your account.

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Once you click on Access My Kit, it opens up to the kit.

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The kit is navigable by scrolling, clicking on one of the numbered sections at the top (as seen above), or by clicking on the numbered sections on the side (as seen below).

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You can also choose to print the entire kit with a simple click of the button, which produces a printable PDF file. The sections are the same in all the kits, differing only by the information included to reflect each book. The 10 sections are:

  1. Welcome
  2. Overview
  3. Prop Ideas
  4. Hands-on Fun
  5. Bookbites
  6. Takeaways
  7. Hand-outs
  8. Learning Links
  9. Great Quotes
  10. Copyright

Overall Thoughts

I do like these. They are simple and fully prepared with minimal prep time for the teacher. They do dig a bit into the book and provide a slightly different look at the story. There is much here to do.

I would like to see the activities really ramped up to a level that appeals to the students that should be reading the book. Much of what we skipped, we skipped because it wasn’t appealing and we didn’t really see that it added to the understanding of the book. Putting on Wellington boots and running just doesn’t seem in line with a 400 page book of challenging vocabulary and themes.

checking out carbolic soapThe challenging vocabulary not being addressed was a miss, in my book. There was so much that could have been done, especially in All Creatures Great And Small. For instance, there are multiple mentions of carbolic. We talked about it, looked it up, and used some to wash up with, smelling that smell that is talked about in the story.

Another point I would like to see addressed is the broken links. In All Creatures Great And Small, I found several links that were broken. Also, being directed to a generic Pinterest board or outside site for links was disappointing. I often could not find what I was sent to the Pinterest board for and many of the pins for All Creatures Great And Small were duplicates, making what I was looking for even harder to find. Having to do my own search on Goodreads was disappointing and we did not find strong quotes.

A Good ResourceLitWits Kits

Overall, this is a good resource, especially for someone looking for interactive book units. Perhaps they are a better fit for younger students than older ones but there is still plenty to be gained from each of the kits. If you are looking for a book study that has hands-on activities and ideas, LitWits may be just what you are looking for so please take the time to check them out.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews from other families who used LitWits Kits, many of whom will have chosen different books to explore. Just click on the image below.

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Homeschool Complete Unit Studies ~ a Crew review

Homeschool Complete post image for unit studies

Unit studies are these wonderful packages of study that combine several different core areas of study under one topic. Homeschool Complete offers a number of different
Unit Studies that are packed full of learning and fun. We have just finished up two unit studies, having used John Adams (a one-week study) and Pioneers (a three-week study).

Homeschool Complete is a curriculum choice that has seen success. Created by Debra Arbuthnot, these studies are what she used to homeschool her own children. Her children have now graduated college and she is sharing her successful curriculum with others. In addition to her family education, Mrs. Arbuthnot has 27 years in public and private education.

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Homeschool Complete offers stand alone unit studies, complete year-long curriculum options, reading curriculum, and bundles of these products. Visit the website to take a look at all that is offered.

During this review period, we used two of her unit studies – John Adams and Pioneers. These studies are set up on a four-day per week schedule but you can adjust it for five-day weeks if that is what you do in your home. Alternatively, there are some suggested activities and reading that would allow to you go further with the study if you would rather do that on day five of your week.

Each study includes all of your core materials – reading, writing, math, science, history, fine arts, and PE. Every day does not include all of these areas but most are covered every day. To complete everything on each day’s activity list take around 2 -3 hours, depending on how much you adjust and your own children. We skipped the math in both of the studies because our daughter is at a different place in her math skills than these studies include. Even with that, we often spent an hour and a half – 2 hours on the study each day.

If you are a bit intimidated by the thought of covering everything with one study, have no fear. There are pages at the beginning of the study on how to use the study and the guide, how to approach teaching new skills, and tackling calender time if you use it in you home (it is included in the study). There is a complete skills list and a complete materials list, including having it broken down by lesson, at the beginning of the PDF.

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John Adams is a one week long 54-page unit study covering, you guessed it, John Adams. In this 3rd-4th grade level study, there were picture books to read and discuss, writing activities, historical adventures to learn, biographies to read, weather to talk about, and so much more. From singing patriotic songs and doing some physical activity to working on workbook pages (included in the download of the study), there is a variety of activity for each day.

Homeschool Complete Adams study and worksheet

We did have to make a trip to the library for this study to get the picture books, but, hey, we love trips to the library! We found the main picture books for the study, as well as couple of additional ones to keep around. We also substituted the chapter book for out-loud reading because it did not correspond to the study and was a character my daughter did not like. We gathered a few supplies, like crayons and pencils and the printed worksheet, and started off.

Homeschool Complete Adams study

Each day we would work through a picture book. Then we would work through the activities for the day. These included working on contractions, recalling information from the book, reading a non-fiction passage and writing answers to questions over it, creating art work to go with an event, creating a Venn diagram to compare two people, writing paragraphs and poetry, and movement activities.

 

By the time the week was out, we had a pretty good grasp of the life of John Adams, his wife Abigail, and the work he did as President. It was a good study.

Homeschool Complete Pioneers

Pioneers is a 3-week study for grades 3 through 6. At over 150 pages, it is packed with all your core materials and a bundle of activities to help your student experience life on the prairie. This study has a main book – Little House on the Prairie – that you will need to obtain separately. With the addition of a few materials for activities such as baking vanity cakes or making ice cream or growing crystals, you’ll have three weeks of fun reading and activity to learn about life during the pioneer times.

 

I did much of the reading out loud for Little House and then we used it as the jumping off point for the lessons after that. There are comprehension and discussion questions to go along with each reading of three to four chapters. Then there are worksheets, included in the PDF download, to further thought and practice writing. Each worksheet has some cursive practice and some words to work with in reading, spelling, and/or alphabetizing. Most have a short passage to read and then answer questions about, practicing full sentences. In these, we discussed weather, grasshoppers, and temperatures, to name a few. Miss J created graphs, mapped travel, labeled parts of grasshoppers, practiced reading charts, and worked on the long jump. She also work on music rhythms and time signatures.

Each day was a new variety of things to do and ways to do them. It was a good variety and kept things fun and interesting for her. We were able to take a couple of the activities and modify it to be able to go outside and work when the weather was nice. We found this study to be very adaptable and easy to use. With everything included for you, you can use just this study and feel confident that you are covering plenty of material with your child.

Homeschool Complete worksheet modification eboard

Thoughts On Homeschool Complete Unit Studies

The unit studies are so full of activity and learning! You won’t be disappointed. Do recognize that your child may fall at a different understanding level for some of these. For example, the Pioneers study is listed for 4 different grade levels. There is no way the math in that study can work for all 4 levels so be prepared to adjust for your own students. But that is the beauty of these unit studies. They are so full of activities, that skipping a few things or modifying them doesn’t diminish the quality of the study. It still is full of core study activities centered around a theme.

Some of the activities don’t quite fit clearly into the theme but that is to be expected when you are trying to create a truly comprehensive unit study. An example is that for PE one day, there was a discussion of flexibility. Not a bad item to discuss and the activity was kind of fun for my girl but it didn’t really fit into the theme. Doesn’t matter – we covered PE that day!

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All in all, I really like these unit studies. They are packed full of materials, ideas, and activities to keep the students engaged and interested. They material is flexible and can be adjust easily as needed to fit your family. There is enough material included in the downloadable PDF files that you wouldn’t miss it. You can even choose to pay for the unit study to be printed and shipped to you if you would prefer that route.

COUPON AVAILABLE: Use the code CREW2019 and can get 10% off your order until 3/31/2019.

Homeschool Complete Discount

A while back, we also used the unit study on Soccer. I did not write a review here on my blog for it but you can find it on the The Old Schoolhouse Product Review page.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Homeschool Review Crew families have used a number of the unit studies as well as different grade levels of the All-Inclusive Curriculum. Please click through the banner below to visit the main post to read more reviews of Homeschool Complete.

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Paddington Bear from Branch Out World ~ a Crew review

paddington-

Branch Out World is a company that we were gifted a study from several years ago. So when the chance to review their Paddington Bear – a literature based unit study in their Picture Book Explorers series – came available, I was very happy to volunteer.

Miss J may be in 4th grade now but we never out grow picture books, especially of beloved characters such as Paddington Bear. When we can connect that book to learning across several disciplines, it becomes an even more treasured experience. Branch Out World makes this possible through the studies they create.

Branch Out World is a company that is run by a home educating family. Their studies grew out of their own experiences in teaching and their love of books. Each of their literature based studies has a connection to the UK – author, setting or illustrator – as that is where the company is based. It is fun seeing those connections. They offer the Picture Book Explorer series but they have additional products in their online catalog. From the literature studies to lapbooks, they have much to offer.

Paddington Bear study

About Paddington Bear 

We received a PDF download of the Paddington study and got a copy of the book from the library. I thought we had the book but when it came time to pull it off the shelf, we had a different one. The one from the library worked just fine.

The study is written to cover all subjects in five days. Each day, were you to do all of the activities, would take a couple of hours. The study covers the following topics:

  1. Exploring the Setting – London, Peru, maps, flags and more
  2. Exploring the Words – author, vocabulary, some grammar work, and more
  3. Exploring the Pictures – illustrator, design, architecture, and more
  4. Exploring Science – bears, steam, foam, and more
  5. Exploring Math, Crafts, & More – activities, recipes, numbers, lines, and more

There are multiple activities in each of the sections and it is very easy to pick and choose what works for your learners. This study makes it easy to work with multiple levels of learners, as well. Adaptations occur easily.

For instance, we were working through the part on immigration, doing the work and talking about what one might take with them. Miss J took a look at me and asked if we could make a suitcase for Paddington and keep all the pieces in it instead of making a traditional lapbook with folders. Worked for me so we detoured (or rabbit trailed) and created a bright red suitcase, just like Paddington carried with him to London. Some of our papers had to fold to go into the suitcase but it is now a nice compact record of this study, keeping all of the papers and booklets in one place.

suitcase

After that detour, we popped right back into what we had just finished talking about and continued on.

Each day, we did several activities but we never completed an entire day’s work in a single day. We were doing other things and this was a large chunk of time. However, if this was the entirety or majority of the school work we were doing, I would have completed a full set of activities. Again, though, there is no need to complete every single activity, nor will ever single activity fit every child. So pick and choose and make it fit your learner’s needs.

maps and Paddington Bear

What I Think

I really enjoy this series of literature studies. As I mentioned before, we have done the working on a mini bookstudy on I Took The Moon For A Walk. It was a fun read and study and I was very pleased with it. These are great for learners from very early elementary up through middle school, though you might need to add some difficulty or research to it for the upper end of that. It would be easy though – the middle school student could do the research for steam, for example, and then make a presentation to younger learners.

Paddington Bear was a fun study and we were able to make so many connections – immigrants and stories we had read, London and maps we had done before, bears and comparing with Smokey Bear, and lots more.

It is easy to forget how adaptable these types of units are but I was reminded again how much I enjoy doing them.

Blessings,
At Home.

Other families with learners of different ages also reviewed Paddington Bear. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about their experiences.

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Silverdale Press White House Holidays Unit Studies ~ a Crew review

Silverdale Press White House Holidays

Over the past few weeks, we have spent some time working through some unit studies on holidays. Silverdale Press LLC has a unique set of unit studies available – White House Holidays Unit Studies. These are a set of studies on various holidays and their connections to the White House, particularly when the President set them aside as national holidays.

There are six holidays covered in this unit study set:

  • Labor Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Valentine’s Day

Each holiday unit delves into the history of the holiday, including important background events or occurrances that influenced the creation of the holiday. The history, the political settings and background, the presidential influences, and traditions all play an important role in how each of the national holidays came to be. Within each holiday, the White House and those in it played an important role.

One of the richest parts of these unit studies is the inclusion of primary sources. From the inclusion of speeches to photographs to letters, these primary sources are an important part of understanding history. Their inclusion here really strengthens the understanding of the background and history of these holidays that are celebrated and remembered nation-wide.

Each study has three to five lessons. Each lesson includes an overview, a materials list, learning outcomes, and a lesson plan. An answer key is also provided in a separate document. With each lesson there is a number of activities to accompany the lesson. Some unit studies have separate lessons for K-6 and 7-12 while other studies have the same lesson for all of them with different activities for the two levels.

White-House-Holidays-Unit-Study-Veterens-Day

Veterans Day

We started with Veterans Day and worked with a K-6 student and a 7-12 student. This is one of the studies that has different lessons for the two different age groups. That actually made it a bit difficult to do these lesson together because the readings for the older group were much more detailed and included much more information. So, I ended up working with Miss J on the K-6 lessons and Miss E worked on the 7-12 lessons by herself.

There are 3 lessons in this study and it begins back at Armistice Day (November 11, 1918) and World War I. The history of that day, how the world responded, and what the aftermath of WWI was like were all a part of this discussion. The poem in Flanders Field was discussed and the symbolism of the poppy. The lessons talked about the effects on the economy of entering the Great War. We learn more about President Wilson and future President Hoover. The taxes and loans system was also a part of the discussion. We also covered President Eisenhower’s childhood, service, and presidency while moving through WWII and into the Korean War history. President Eisenhower changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 so that all veterans of military wars and service would be honored, not just those from WWI.

We did several activities related to these lessons. We created poppies (K-6), talked about the poem In Flanders Field (included in the study for K-6)), and completed a crossword puzzle (7-12). We talked about our own military history and family and friends we know who have served in the US military. Miss J created food conservation posters while Miss E studied the 14 points from Wilson’s speech on lasting peace and then wrote her own 14 points (we ended up with 12, I think) in response to Wilson’s Fourteen Point Speech (a primary source included in the study). The discussion about the 14 points was really quite interesting and thought provoking. For our final activities, we listened to the girls’ dad play Taps on his trumpet and talked about the significance of that. We looked at how to display and store the American flag properly. We looked up online the various monuments to veterans in Washington, D.C., and talked about some of the ones we know of closer to us, as well.

This was a fun and interesting study to cover. It tied in really well with the study of WWII that Miss J did not too long ago and the timeline she has for that was very helpful in studying this holiday. The presidents that were influential in the history of this holiday were interesting to learn about and seeing history come together is fascinating.

White-House-Holidays-Unit-Study-Labor-Day

Labor Day

The Labor Day unit study includes three lessons. There are separate lessons for the two age groups, allowing for independent study or group study within age groups.

The Labor Day study delves into child and immigrant labor and the poor conditions that were experienced by workers 100 years ago. From tenements to factor work, the life was hard. Studying photographs of the time helped us understand a bit more about children working and how families struggled to survive. Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the people that tried to make things better. This study covers her life and work for the children and immigrants. Looking back on others who tried to bring light to the conditions of workers, we saw folks back in the 1880s organizing “labor day” parades to bring some hope and light to the workers. The lessons also talk about unions and strikes, including the Pullman strike and President Cleveland’s response to it. A discussion of economics and how a strike can affect much more than just the single company was part of the lesson for us.

labor day parade

We analyzed photographs as primary source documents and discussed what it showed about child labor and tenement conditions. We looked up the life of Eleanor Roosevelt and read an article she wrote. Miss J studied the picture of the first Labor Day parade and then created her own placards to carry in a parade. She and her sisters then had their own Labor Day parade. We visited the Library of Congress and looked up images related to Labor Day. We read parts of speeches from presidents related to labor.

This was an interesting study to do as it tied in with some of the stories and movies the girls have seen regarding child labor and working conditions in factories. It was a good discussion about why things needed to change and to see how the change came about.

Martin-Luther-Kind-Jr-Unit-Study

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The MLK, Jr. study has five lessons. The materials for these lessons are the same for both grade levels, with the differentiation coming in the activities. The written materials were a big long for the K-6 level in my opinion, so I ended up not have Miss J complete very much of this one. We read together some of the relevant bits of the text and we watched the videos that were relevant to the lesson. She worked with Miss E on the timeline and map some. Miss E did most of this study on her own. She read each lesson and completed the activities for them. I always pre-read the lesson and knew what discussions we would need to have, so we did take time to sit down together for those discussions.

The study covers the history of the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s own personal history. From the bus boycotts to the Ruby Bridges case to the relevant court rulings, from President Eisenhower to President Kennedy to President Obama, there is a huge amount of information in this unit. Most of it is written text or video links, with inclusion of court verdicts and speeches as primary source documents.

video on MLK Jr

Many of the activities in this study are responses to information and call for answering questions, particularly for the older students. We did these as interactive discussions because that really opens up the discussion for understanding rather than just a response to a question with a text to look back on for an answer.working on MLK Jr study

This study, as written, is really too much for the K-3 or K-4 levels. There is just too much information. Had we spread it out over three or four weeks, it might have worked fine but there is just so much text and the information is very difficult to process for that age. They are so trusting and don’t understand much of prejudice and treating others badly. That makes this study, as written, something that just doesn’t fit well.

Other Studies

There are three other studies that we have not used yet.

The Thanksgiving study has five lessons. It begins at the search for freedom in the New World and includes primary source documents of two men who experienced life in the New World in the 1620 at Plymouth Plantation. The study looks at the history of harvest festivals and moves all the way through having students look up the current president’s Thanksgiving proclamation. Many presidents have had a prominent role in Thanksgiving over the years and those roles are covered in this study. There are a number of activities to go along with this unit and quite a bit of information. I can see this one easily taking at least a couple of weeks to work through with younger students. The text is the same for both age levels but there are different activities, including more in depth readings and analysis of primary source documents for the older group.

The Christmas study has four lessons. It covers Mrs. Kennedy and The Nutcracker tradition, Mrs. Ford and gingerbread houses, and Mrs. Bush with her story books, to name just a few things covered. From baking to reading presidential Christmas addresses, there are quite a few activities to choose from for each of the lessons. The text is the same for both age levels with differentiated activities. The activities will be a lot of fun and for many families will co-ordinate with their own holiday traditions. Once again, there is quite a bit of text and when you add the activities that include a written text, there is a lot here for younger students. It would be best to break the text up over a few days for each lesson, making the unit take a few weeks to work through. After adding in the activities, this unit could easily occupy a month.

Valentines Day is one that doesn’t really interest me much. I have only glanced at the history of it here. The overview in this study includes a page of possible credits for high schoolers, something I didn’t see in any of the other studies.  There are many love letters between presidents and their loved ones included in this unit study.

reading from computer

Final Thoughts

These are fine studies that really address the history of holidays, something we don’t see a lot. I am looking forward to seeing any additional holidays that are to be added in the future, as they are planning more.

Blessings,
At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought of the White House Holidays Unit Studies. Some of the families worked with a writing program instead that is titled Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers, aimed at ages 14-18. Both programs are from Silverdale Press LLC. Click the banner below to read reviews.

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YWAM – Amy Carmichael ~ a Crew review

YWAM Amy Carmichael review

We are thrilled each time we are selected to review any of the YWAM Publishing  titles, whether Christian Heroes: Then & Now  or Heroes of History . This time around we were given the title Christian Heroes- Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems and its corresponding study guide.

These titles are loved. When a new titles comes into our home, or appears on the shelf at the library, it immediately ends up in a bedroom being read. I don’t even see the book until the oldest giggly girls has finished it. This book on Amy Carmichael was no different.

YWAM Publishing is a company that is committed to publishing materials that encourage Christians to make a difference in this world. The focus of their materials is prayer, mercy ministry, homeschooling, evangelism, and discipleship. When you purchase from YWAM, you are also sending money to help the needy around the world as a portion of every dollar spent is directed towards YWAM’s ministries.

Amy Carmichael book from YWAM

Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems

This is the story of Amy’s life. From a young age, Amy knew God was calling her to a life of serving him. She began serving him simply, by helping others carry hard loads and listening to his word. She then began serving the shawlies, those who worked harder than most to provide for their families and we looked down upon by many Christians at the time. In helping the shawlies, Amy began to face some of the backlash that she would face all of her life – the Christians who were supposed to love everyone and help them cause problems for Amy because they did not want those “dirty” people in their buildings for worship.

Amy trusted God and he got her through a lot – buildings that needed built, ill health, and many, many other things. Amy knew that God was calling her to go to a foreign mission field and she just knew that it was in Asia. Even after being turned down by mission groups situated there, Amy decided to just get there and leave it to God to figure out where she would be and who she would work with. God did. And Amy spent time serving others in Japan, until she got ill. Again. She returned to the UK to recover.

After a time, Amy ended up in India. It turned out to be the place God had been preparing her for. Amy saw the great need in India and began her work there with diligence. She took in those whose family abandoned or disowned them, which was not unusual for Indians who chose to become Christians, if they were not killed by their families. Amy continued to teach and trust. Through her trust in God, many came to her to be loved and to learn of God.

After going to India, Amy never left. She served those in India until she died. Amy became Amma (mother) to hundreds in India, rescuing temple children from a life of horror or loving those who were unloved by their families.

Tamil language sign

Downloadable Unit Studies/Curriculum Guides

The YWAM biographies make fantastic unit studies. The curriculum guide that you can purchase for download to go along with book features a format that gives plenty of suggestion for you to pick and choose those parts and activities that benefit your students. I did not print the entire guide; rather, I printed those pages that we were going to use for our study.

We chose to use Key Bible Verses, Chapter Questions, Student Explorations, and Social Studies. There are also sections on Display Corner, Community Links, Related Themes to Explore, and Culminating Event.  There are appendixes for books and resources and answers to chapter questions.

For Key Bible Verses, the girls each chose at least one verse from those that were important to Amy Carmichael and illustrated it. I also asked them to memorize it. Chapter Questions was a section we actually did out loud. We had a book conversation one day and used these questions to guide the discussion. These can be used a variety of ways and the answers are in one of the appendices.

India Fact Sheet

For Student Explorations, there are a large number of possible activities for the student to choose from. There is no way a student could tackle all of these hands-on projects. The options include essays, creative writing, charts, graphs, audio or visual projects, arts and crafts projects, or language examples. Miss E chose to illustrate a couple of the language examples and also chose to work on some needle work. Miss L chose to make a birdbath out of materials we had in the yard. Miss J looked up information on some of the jewels and precious gems that Amy named her children after. We also visited a gem show and looked at some of the gems from the book.

In tackling the social studies section, we used the printouts that came with the study guide, printing out a sheet to fill out on India and three maps. The girls each researched information on India and completed that sheet. They also used an atlas and online searches, plus a map in the book, to mark the maps with places that were important in the story of Amy Carmichael. It is good to know where places are in the world and, since we had studied India last November, it was a good way for us to relate the story to places we had talked about during that study.

We chose not to do a Display Corner and the Community Links since we had done that last November with our India study. The Display Corner is just that – a place to put a variety of items that relate to India and the story. Community Links is a section that encourages you to find places and people within your community that might have something to do with your study, in this case it might be an Indian restaurant or a religious group to visit. Related Themes to explore touches on other ideas and topics related to the story and gives a few resources for that. The final section we did not use, again because we had done something like this back in November, is to create a big final event celebrating all that was learned.

The curriculum guides to go along with these books do a great job of broadening the horizons of the students, pulling in ideas to help the reader better relate to all that is happening in the story. These unit study/study guides can be as in depth as you desire for them to be but I would definitely suggestion using them, as they open up the discussion and ideas.

reading Amy Carmichael

Our Thoughts:

Miss J (age 9) – It was really fun and it kind of hung me when we couldn’t read another chapter. I learned a lot about Amy Carmichael. She was a very nice woman and she took care of many children, about 500. I think kids ages 5 and up would like this book.

Miss L (age 11) – I think that one of the reasons I enjoyed reading about Amy Carmichael’s life is because she trusted God so much in everything she did. That is a really admirable quality. It also lead to many unique situations in her life that don’t happen to other missionaries or in other Christian’s lives. Most of the time it is easy to forget how it would be if we did everything for the faith and how different that lifestyle would than what most of use are actually living. I liked reading about her because she always did her best no matter what the situation was and recognized that she needed to be doing all she could all the time. I think this make her really interesting to read about and it put her in a lot of situations that other people would not be willing to enter. You see multiple examples of Amy’s willingness to do whatever it takes, even if it makes her different than everyone else. I like how the book covered a lot of things in her life that might seem insignificant or just straight out different from everyone else but she didn’t care how small it was. One thing I like about these books is that they tell the story to inspire you and I think Amy was a really good role model. Once you read the book about here, you can’t really imagine what the series would have been like without her.

Miss E (age 14) – I really liked how Amy did not give up. I really like reading and learning about other cultures and Japan and India are some of my favorites. I like that the biography is written more from Amy’s point of view. It is more like a story so it is easier for me to read and understand. I like all biographies but it is easier to read when it is written like a story.

My own – I really enjoy reading the YWAM biographies on Christian Heroes. They put before the girls quality role models and people who trusted God to direct their lives and their paths. They are interesting and exciting, keeping the girls’ interest and spurring them on to read and understand more about the world that is much bigger than what we know.

YWAM is coming out with two new biographies shortly: Benjamin Rush (Heroes of History) and John Newton (Christian Heroes). We have reviewed YWAM titles in the past, including Gladys Aylward, Clara Barton, and C.S. Lewis. We also have a large number of these biographies on our shelf. We definitely recommend them!

Blessings,
At Home.

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Creation Illustrated ~ a Crew review

Creation Illustrated review

I am so thrilled to share this new review with you guys! Creation Illustrated is a new company to me that I have just fallen in love with. They have a beautiful quarterly magazine and  in-depth unit studies that correspond to the magazines.

Creation Illustrated 

Creation Illustrated has been around since 1993 and has a mission to share biblical truth through their work. The company is dedicated to the eternal impact that sharing this truth has. They also want to share character-building lessons through the blessings we have with God’s creation. These are simple, yet impactful, ideas that will touch any who choose to listen and hear.

Creation Illustrated is edited and published by Tom and Jennifer Ish, a Christian couple. They are a family who chose homeschooling for the education of their daughter. They understand what many families are looking for in unit studies and science curriculum. You can read much more about their lives and their mission on the Creation Illustrated website.

GrandCnyn-Spread-F17

The Creation Illustrated magazine is stunning and gorgeous. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time reading these magazines and since I like print copies of magazines better than digital ones, I am ordering a subscription. The photography is just beautiful and a joy to look at. More than that, though, articles that have a biblical base and bring creation into focus on God are what I enjoy reading and having around for my girls to read. The articles are well-written and interesting. This is a magazine I would be happy to have around all the time.

The unit studies that are available are interesting and quite different than other studies we have used. Snow Unit Study and Pine Trees are the two we have been looking at and using recently. Well, we have completed Pine Trees and hope to work fully with the snow study soon. These correspond to the Winter ’18 Digital Edition and  Fall ’17 Digital Edition of the Creation Illustrated magazines. When you purchase the unit study, there is a link to the digital edition of the magazine on the resources page.

Creation Illustrated Unit Study Pine TreesWe took last week to use the Pine Trees unit study. It worked perfectly for us as we needed something different for school as we prepared for a leadership convention. We spent about an hour a day with the unit study and completed it in about three days. The time varies a bit from child to child. My 13 year old and my 11 year old were able to do this independently except for the math page and a tad bit of the vocabulary. My 9 year old needed assistance with most of the study.

Fall 2017, Vol. 24, No. 3The unit study is correlated with an article on pages 6-10 in the Fall ’17 Digital Edition titled “The Enduring Pine Tree.” This is an article that discusses not only the scientific side of the pine tree but also the biblical side. Included in the article you find much information on similarities and differences of pine trees. There is information on how to identify the type of pine tree. From the early stages of growth to Miss E reading the magazine article on pine treesthe fully mature tree, we learn much about the pine tree. Alongside the scientific information, we learn about many biblical references to pine trees. The scripture is quoted and cited, which makes it easy for the student to follow up with the scripture in their own copy of the Bible. The article is a very enjoyable read. When you pair it with the stunning photography, it is just a beautiful article. (There are many other articles in this edition of the magazine – the Grand Canyon, kangaroos, and recipes to name a few.)

After reading the article, we opened up the pages for the unit study which I had printed for each of the girls. The unit study consisted of a page with resource links, vocabulary, spelling, a Bible study, a geography study with mapping exercise, identification of three types of trees, scientific information activities, comprehension questions, a math page, an art/drawing activity, a creative writing exercise, and a word search. There is also an answer key. The resource links are for the Miss L working on pine trees unit studymagazine, articles, and videos that will help the study complete the study. I actually missed these when I printed the study because I was so excited to get to the pages and we worked harder than we had to on some parts of the study that first day. That’s okay – we got internet search practice in!

While the girls were not thrilled with having to do a unit study during this particular week, I did catch from them that it was a pleasant one to do. They seemed to enjoy it pretty well and I know they learned a lot. I learned a lot, too, and I grew up around pine trees with a forester dad.

I liked that the more difficult parts – the classification of the tree with Miss J working the pine trees word searchLatin names, for example – were an easier activity, such as matching. The vocabulary was a challenging activity because the words were difficult. I did have to help all three girls with this, even with an electronic dictionary at hand.

This is a great study that really helped us grasp a lot about the physical characteristics of pine trees but I really liked the Bible study that was included. I did not realize that pine trees were specifically mentioned so many times in the Bible. The students are asked to look up several scriptures and note the mention and what the tree was used for. It was an interesting look into God’s word. It would have been great for the scriptures used to be included in the pages to print, though it wasn’t hard for the girls to just look it up on their Bible app.

Creation Illustrated Unit Study Snow There is also a unit study on snow that we will be using before too long. It corresponds to an article on pages 19-22 in the Winter ’18 Digital Edition titled “The Intricacies of Snow.” The activities in this unit study are much the same as those in the study of pine tree, though, of course, related to snow. I can’t wait to see my girls complete the art activity where they draw the different snow crystal shapes. The Bible study will have them looking at the references to snow in the Bible and evaluating their favorite verse. The creative writing activity will correspond to fun in the snow. There is much more there, too.Winter 2018, Vol. 24, No. 4

The unit studies created by Creation Illustrated are such fun and they have more than just these two. There are studies on bears, manatees, fragrance, badgers, dragonflies, and the Joshua tree. They are aimed primarily at grades 5 – 8, though they can easily be used in grades 3 – 8. The studies are mostly independent for grades 5-8 but there is much that will be interesting and beneficial for the 3rd – 4th graders. These studies are downloads and are able to be used for multiple students – always a bonus!

CI Sum15 Cover Pages

I have really enjoyed getting to know Creation Illustrated better and am pleased to be able to share this company with you. I look forward to seeing more from them. Their newest edition, the Spring 2018 edition, is on the presses now and will soon be out. The corresponding unit study will be on butterflies and should be available on the website soon.

Blessings,
At Home.

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2018 Winter Olympics Study – activities and STEM challenges

Winter Olympics study

One of the things I have been noticing as my girls get older is that there just don’t seem to be as many resources shared for older students. It is not that they aren’t out there but it does seem that those in existence are being sold only. Sure there may be a single activity shared for free to encourage you to purchase the whole set but sharing an entire study for older students just doesn’t seem to be done often. In addition, I know that many older students are so involved in their courses of study, trying to meet hours or course credit requirements, that “other” things just get left out.

As a hope to fill a piece of this hole, I am sharing what I have put together with anyone who is interested. Use some of it. Use all of it. Use none of it. It is all up to you but here it is. No charge. Happy Winter Olympics!!

Click on the title below for the download.

2018 Winter Olympics

Blessings,
At Home.

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