Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Revolutionary Ideas~ A Homeschool Legacy

Revolutionary Ideas~ A Homeschool Legacy ~ That just makes me smile a little bit~ Homeschoolers tend to entertain revolutionary ideas, I think, which is the legacy of many homeschoolers. But I digress, that's not REALLY my topic at hand. ;)

The TOS Review Crew is reviewing a selection of 10 Unit Studies published by Homeschool Legacy. The topics range from natural studies about Weather and Birds to history studies including Knights & Nobles as well as many North American History titles. As you may have guessed from my digression, we received a title based around the Revolutionary War.

Revolutionary Ideas: The Story of The American Revolution is a 7 week unit study, appropriate for families with children aged 2nd grade -12th grade. Homeschool Legacy Unit Studies are set up so that you engage in family read-alouds and individual reading throughout the week, and only devote one day to the rest of the study (it *is* advised that that day be devoted entirely to the Unit Study).

The study includes a wide variety of topics. I'll list them along with a few comments to give you an idea of our impressions. * A note to those with High School Students~ completing one of these history Unit Studies can account for .25 or so of a Credit in History, and I'm sure you can add partial credits for other topics as well (I haven't gotten all that figured out just yet).
  • Bible ~ A weekly family devotional that relates to the topic being explored that week. I appreciate the worldview presented, and the scriptures presented that relate to the opinions and actions of the Founding Fathers. For instance, I hadn't really thought about what may have been preached from the pulpits in the time period leading up to the Revolution, but the week 2 devotional talks about the Great Awakening and it's impact on the Revolutionaries.
  • Quality Literature ~ Lists, complete with Dewey Decimal numbers of books for a variety of ages. I would have appreciated a bit more of a breakdown by age, as my children do span quite a wide range. The Dewey Decimal numbers can be handy if you can't locate specific books in your local library~ just go to that section and choose a book or two with the same call numbers.
  • Language, History, and Research ~ often grouped together with historical research turning into a writing or report-type of assignment. We tended to do these more as a family activity and discussion time, rather than a written or oral report time, as my children have enough writing to do with their other studies.
  • Science ~ because this was a history unit study, there was much less science incorporated. I'm sure that the Nature studies have more science included.
  • Geography ~ With map work based on the colonies and the wars (How interesting to realize how different the borders of some of the original colonies look today!)
  • Arts and Crafts ~ A few interesting hands-on activities to liven things up~ (Have you seen this instrument? We learned about the inventor in this unit study)
  • Art Appreciation ~ Particularly of interest to us, as we live near Boston, where John Singleton Copley lived (Now my children know "why" Copley Square and the Copley Hotel, etc... got their names! ).
  • Music Appreciation ~ how very timely that my youngest was learning "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy". Now we know some of the history of that popular tune the Yankees turned from derision into something like an anthem.
My children (Eldest in particular) enjoy history, and so found our discussion time to be particularly interesting.  I will be forthright and let you know that we didn't exactly use this study as written, but then again, that is one of the great things about homeschooling~ we are notorious for tweaking things (Especially when family circumstances, such as illness come into play).

We used each week's theme as the grid on which we based our discussions. The Bible and History were followed diligently, in "discussion" form. Other activities were done on an "As we had time and inclination" basis, or put into our "To-do" list of activities at a more opportune time. For instance, there are instructions for creating and playing the active game of "Quoits" but because we've had a horrible coughing virus in the house for the past 4+ weeks(And vacation and camp prior to that time), that activity will have to wait.

We didn't get to as many of the read-alouds, as my ability to get to the library was somewhat hampered by both time and the aforementioned illness. However, we DID enjoy watching many episodes of Liberty's Kids (Found on YouTube, Netflix no longer streams this series :/  ), and we requested a few of the movies (Our nights are well.... scheduled this year, so we're needing to watch these during the day... poor dad is missing out!). This is really *not* my normal, as reading aloud is a huge favorite around here, but when the troops are sick, allowances must be made.

Now~ Here are my thoughts on these as "once-a-week" unit studies~
I am a little dubious as to how a family could actually incorporate them as strictly once-a-week.
  • Adding daily reading (Both independent and family) to regular studies that are already fairly literature rich might be asking a bit too much, particularly for high school students~ And reading once or twice a day makes this not really once-a-week...
  • The guide recommends one day be set aside for the majority of the activities, or if that isn't possible, adding one activity  to each day's study~ Personally, I felt that the research/writing portion of the activities would want to be approached more in depth (especially if considering high school credit) than just one day would allow, particularly if one has a child with perfectionist tendencies. (That is why we did this more as a family discussion time, without requiring a final draft of any writing piece~ and from my high-schooler's time perspective this made more sense)
  • The guide then goes on to suggest that another day be set aside for only the 3 r's, read-alouds, and field trips/film day/nights. This would make it a twice-a-week study with daily reading the other 3 days. 
  • * The authors DO mention that this could be a core history study for high school, in which case, the work would be done more in-depth and daily versus once-a-week if I understand it correctly.
My basic opinion is that Homeschool Legacy does a good job of creating a skeleton to work from, but that being able to accomplish it mostly in one day would be doing a disservice to the topic being studied if you are considering high school credit. If your students are elementary and possibly middle-school, then this may be more realistic, but that is not entirely where we are at in our homeschool journey at this point.

I call it a skeleton, in part, because although the literary selections are listed by Dewey and/or call number, it is difficult to gauge whether they are early or mid elementary, or middle school, without looking each one up individually~ And for someone who does a lot of requesting books online and spending less time perusing the actual shelves, this was more time-consuming than I was prepared for. The same for most of the movie mentions~ It was unclear what age groups most of those were appropriate for, and hard to tell when looking at our library website.

I think it is clear by this point that I felt this was not quite as "Grab and go" as I had anticipated based on the description, and takes more time that I expected for a once-a-week study. However, I hope that it is also clear that we all enjoyed the discussions provoked by reading the devotional and historical portions of the guide, the addition of "movie time" to our studies, some fun activities to extend the learning, and that it all was time well spent.

I would like to note that those whose children participate in Boy Scouts of America or American Heritage Girls can receive credit/badges for completing this unit study. This doesn't apply in our house, but I thought  you might be interested to know that there are forms included to guide you through that process. 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about this and/or the nine other studies that were reviewed. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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