Monday, April 12, 2010

Expedition Australia!

"Expedition Australia"
Download n Go Series
by Amanda Bennett and The Old Schoolhouse
P.O. Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615

Just download this ebook and head for Australia because everything's ready to go. Laid out in a five-day format, all links and activities are included for lapbooking, videos, suggested books and worksheets. Reading, spelling, vocabulary, science, geography, art, math and social studies are incorporated each day, along with a little music and fun and games. Did I mention FUN?! This Unit Study is best employed using the PDF to access all the links, an internet connection, and a printout of the ebook for student activities.
Designed for ages 4-10, older students can use it as a basis for a more detailed study, taking the science and research a bit further and supplementing grade level math. Minimal supplies are required for the lapbooking activities - glue, scissors, pencils and markers or crayons. We used staples instead of the brads for making the mini-books. I wanted to try loading it on the Itouch, to make it even more portable, but didn't get to it.

My six year old son is not very fussy with his artwork, but he did enjoy mapping out the Great Barrier reef, Canberra, Perth, the Great Victorian Desert and the Oceans surrounding the continent. Uluru Rock in particular made an impression on him, maybe because he liked to draw it. Koalas were, by far, his favorite animal of the week, and he now understands words like marsupial, aborigine, outback and constellation. He enjoyed learning how to read the thermometer and more clock-reading practice as we researched and compared times and temperatures in Australia with our own town. We also marvelled at the different stars visible in the Australian night sky as compared to what we see here in Arizona. Our nature walks took on new meaning as we compared our high-desert land with parts of the Australian outback.

The Download and Go series is the most user-friendly of the Unit Studies we have tried to date. There are links on each page for activities included in the back of the ebook, with a link from the activity back to the page you were on. There are also family fun/party ideas for an end-of-unit celebration, as well as a Certificate of Exploration. Extra study links are also included at the end of the unit. At only $7.95 for over 70 pages of fun learning, we are looking forward to trying out some of the other 15 titles in the series.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Wanna Be a Firefighter!

This past month at the Homestead School we've been changing things up a bit.  We've taken a break from our normal classroom routine to do some in-depth studies on individual topics.  This is called the Unit Study method, and incoporating the 3R's, science and religion into a Unit Study is quite a challenge.  Luckily, we had some help from our friends at The Old Schoolhouse, and we would like to share our experience with the curriculum we obtained from them for our adventure.

"When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Firefighter"

Wanna Be Series - Ebook, PDF

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
P.O. Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615

Being a newbie at the unit study method, I printed out this colorful Ebook and just started right in with my 6 year old son. There is a LOT of reading at the beginning, which I now realize I should have broken up into several daily sections and interspersed with the other subjects and internet activities. Needless to say, our first run was not as fun as it could have been. After I took a better look at the table of contents, I began marking different pages to do each day for math, science, copywork, etc., and the unit proceeded more smoothly. The text provides a balance of reading, vocabulary, spelling, ASL finger spelling, math, science, social studies, geography, handwriting and scripture verses.

We learned the history of firefighting from bucket brigades to the early days of fire insurance.  A firefighter tells what it's like to work an average shift, as well as how to become a firefighter and how much firefighters get paid in different parts of the United States.  We also learned about Wilshire the Firehouse Dog, and the role dogs play in helping firefighters.  We learned more about robots and robotic arms, which we had opportunity to work with on a previous field trip.  We did not have a chance to build our own robotic arm model, but the supplies were simple and we did have them on hand.

I am also a newbie at lapbooking, and did not think to make a lapbook to go with this unit. It does not include suggestions or activities for lapbooking, but it would be easy enough to modify for that activity and I definitely recommend it. Especially for active, curious 6 year old boys. It breaks up the tedium of reading and worksheets and gets them cutting, pasting, coloring, drawing, and creating, thereby more actively participating in the learning process.

Although this series is written for ages 4-10, it contains so much detailed information that it could be easily modified for older students. We felt the need to supplement this particular unit with extra math, grade level reading with some of the suggested books, and searching you-tube or elsewhere for appropriate videos.

All basic materials are included with "I Want to be a Firefighter". If desired, additional materials can be gathered together for suggested science projects, activities and lapbooking. Quizzes, puzzles, coloring pages, worksheets and answer keys are included. The internet is not necessary to get the full benefit of this unit study, but makes it more interesting. Useful websites are listed in the back of the ebook; one could also search for additional sites, videos and activities to liven up the presentation. Parents will want to acquire appropriate supplementary books from library, arrange a possible field trip to a fire station, or a visit with firefighters.

With over 70 pages of detailed information, this Unit Study is well worth the price of $8.95.

Other titles in the series:
Veterinarian, Chef, Military, Pilot, Doctor, Police Officer, Missionary, Artist, Farmer