Friday, February 27, 2009

Cadron Creek: Prairie Primer

I'd head about the Prairie Primer for years, but had never had a chance to give it a good look, until I received it for review, as part of the TOS Crew. The Prairie Primer is a combination of two of my favorite things~ A literature-based unit study, and the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, so we set out to experience the Pioneer Era through the Primer.
(Cost: $50 for a sturdy paperback study guide)

Each book in the Little House series is set up to be a month-long unit, with 9 complete units, which is enough material to take one through an entire school year, or two, depending on how quickly one goes through the material. We dug into the first Unit, Little House in the Big Woods, with gusto.

One thing I have to mention right away, is that so often this series is considered a "Girl" series, I think because the main character and author is a female. However, the history and so many of the topics covered can't be pigeon-holed by gender. I find it sad that so many boys miss out on this rich look at our cultural heritage, especially when there are topics covered that typically appeal to boys... Let's see... in the first week we looked at bears, whittling, the history of guns and firearm safety, animal tracking, and one that we didn't cover, but was suggested, discecting owl pellets... all VERY boyish in appeal, I think.

One aspect that the kids and I really enjoyed is one of the main reasons Margie Gray wrote this unit study, mentioned in the introduction: "The Prairie Primer has been devised to help parents impress upon their children the way to walk faithfully with the Lord. It is a tool to encourage the productive exchange between parents and their children in academic subjects and godly development. The "Little House" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder provide a springboard for learning Biblical charachter qualities in the setting of American pioneer history...... Above all, the Prairie Primer emphasizes studying the Word of God. There are daily Bible readings with character and word studies. Apart from the Little House books, the Bible will be the main text."
This is what my children have requested that we use for our morning read-aloud/character study next year, regardless of what we choose to use as our main curriculum, which I think speaks volumes about the value of both the books and the study!

Now, regarding the Prairie Primer as a main curriculum, I believe that it is very thorough and full of many rich learning opportunities. You can dowload samples of the first week's planning guide, the first day's study guide, a listing of the topics covered throughout the entire primer, and sample activities and a worksheet to get a glimpse of what is offered.

The first part of each week's planning guide lists books and items that you will want to gather for each week, depending on which activities you choose to use. As with most unit studies, the Prairie Primer includes many more activities than you will be able to go through in each week's time-frame, which enables you to pick and choose, tailoring the study to your specific family's needs and/or interests. It took me awhile to get into my head that I didn't have to do EVERY single activity mentioned, and needed to choose just one or two things to really dig in and research each week. Once I figured that out, it was much more enjoyable from "mom's" perspective.

Again, the Bible readings and character studies, as well as the comprehension questions for each chapter were my favorite portions of the unit, and what I found the most valuable. My kids enjoyed learning about pioneer life, and some of the differences between our culture and the culture of the pioneers. They wish that we made fresh butter more often, we HAVE been having cornmeal "pudding" with maple syrup more often, and they are ever so glad that we don't have to butcher our own meat! ;)

My only "Con" with the whole study is that it isn't set up intuitively for me from an organizational/recording work standpoint(just personality, I think), and that there were many other materials that I felt I needed to gather for each week's unit, which was a little more time-intensive from a teaching standpoint than I have been used to. However, much of that ties in to my trying to do it "All" to begin with. If you like to lapbook, and don't want to reinvent the wheel, or want a shorter version of many of the "suggested reports", I will mention quickly that HomeSchoolShare has free lapbooks that correspond to each of the Little House books. (You can find them here) I didn't find these until recently, but I think that they may really help this unit "Click" for me from that "organization and recording" side of things.

This was the perfect fit age-wise for my two kids this year, in particular, as it is intended to be used during 3rd to 6th grade, which is the precise span of my two "schooled" children this year.

There are two more Unit Studies offered by Cadron Creek which other TOS Crew members reviewed: Further Up, Further In, A Chronicles of Narnia study geared for 4th to 8th grade, and Where the Brook and The River Meet, and Anne of Green Gables study for Jr.High/High School ages.

If you really like to dig into an era, or a series, then I think that you may enjoy checking out all that Cadron Creek has to offer.

1 comment:

Thanks so much for letting me know you were here. I appreciate "thoughtful" comments. :)


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