Jul 302018

Disclosure –  I received a free copy of Christmas Around the World Unit Study in order to write this review. I was compensated for this post, but I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

It’s late July. What’s on your mind?

A. It’s hot.

B. I can’t believe that summer is almost over.

C. I really need to figure out school plans for this year.

D. We ought to do a Christmas Around the World unit study this year.

I’m betting the answer is probably not D. However, I know that Christmas always sneaks up on me. We have done a few fun Christmas activities over the years including Borax Snowflakes. But every year I think we should try to do a study focusing on Christmas during the holiday season. But I tend to think of that when it’s too late, and I’m already scrambling to buy gifts, bake cookies, and decorate.

But what if I did start thinking of that now? What if there was a resource that planned a Christmas Unit study for me?

Thankfully there is, and I was sent a copy to review. It’s Christmas Around the World Unit Study by Katie Horner.

Christmas Around the World Unit StudyChristmas Around the World is a a 6-week Geography Based Unit Study for grades K-6. It covers Christmas traditions in 29 different countries plus 1 lesson on Christmas Carols in a total of 196 reproducible pages.

There are 2 informational pages for each country. The first page provides text with information about the celebration of Christmas in the country. The second page includes a list of recommended resources for additional study. There are lists of books and websites that provide ideas to focus on history, home economics, geography, art, music, or math.

Following the informational pages, there are 4 additional pages for each country. For each country there is a coloring page and country information sheet. The other 2 pages include a variety of different activities such as word searches, writing prompts, matching games, and comparison of traditions in different countries.

The book is designed as a 6-week unit study with one country studied each day. Choosing that option, you could start in mid-November and study all the countries before Christmas. But there are many other ways you could use this resource.

  • Add it to your geography studies throughout the year
  • Divide the countries and have each student present what they learned at a co-op or other group
  • Study more than one country per day
  • Divide the countries by continents and study traditions from different regions spanning multiple years

I think I can cross one thing off my Christmas to-do list! You can too. You can purchase a copy of Christmas Around the World Unit Study for $26.97.

Now back to thinking about how hot it is.





Sep 252012

This summer we went on the most amazing vacation to Arizona. In the spring, as we were planning our trip, we were floundering a bit in our history studies. My husband suggested I try a unit study on Native Americans. I thought that was a great idea so I went straight to work on putting one together.

Well, no.

It was a great idea, but I never had the time to even look for a unit study, much less come up with my own.

So a couple of guilty months later, we were starting back to school, and I was offered an opportunity to review a unit study from Homeschool Legacy. Hmm. Let’s see, they have one on trees, horses, birds, Lewis & Clark, Native America, Early Settlers,…

Wait! Native America? The study I was supposed to do last spring? Well, better late than never, right? And now that we’ve visited all those western sites, it will be that much easier to imagine the Native Americans living there. Right?

Homeschool Legacy Native America, is part of the Once-a-Week Unit Studies series from Homeschool Legacy. The studies are designed so that all the activities in the study are done on one day of the week. That is with the exception of reading. They don’t have to be done that way, but I love the concept. On unit study day you can have a very short math lesson (or not) and jump right into the study for the rest of your school day. The other days have students select from the huge basket of  library books on the topic, and read from the family read-aloud. The study includes extensive book lists for all reading levels. (The Native America study can be used for 2nd through 12th grades!) There are a wide variety of activities including map activities, recipes, games, crafts, devotions, and much more. There are suggested field trips and movies for family movie night as well.

The units in the Native America study are arranged geographically. If you start at the first unit, you’ll be introduced to to the Northeast Woodland Nations. This is followed by the Southeast Woodland, The Southwest, The Plains, The Pacific Northwest, and finally the California Plateau/Great Basin Nations. After consulting the author, I decided to begin with the Southwest Nations, both because of our vacation, and the following week, on the Plains Nations, tied in well with my older daughter’s history studies. (I’m breaking all my own advice with history this year. My children are all over the place in their studies!)

Here are some cliff dwellings we visited in Arizona. This is Montezuma’s Castle.

Here’s a closer view.

The book list is huge, and I was able to find a wide variety of books in our library. There were some exact titles not available, but those were easy to substitute. The author includes Dewey decimal numbers for the books, making both catalog and in-person library searches, very easy!

The activities are varied for the different weeks. For example, in the Plains week, we played a matching game that helped reinforce all the ways that the Native Americans used bison. It even suggested making bison burgers. (That one I didn’t do. I didn’t know a local source of bison meat.) In the Pacific Northwest some fun activities include making a family totem pole and cooking salmon on a cedar plank.

Do your children participate in Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girls? These unit studies have special notes to show you which activities can be used to earn badges and awards in those clubs! What a way to multi-task! We’re not involved in either of those organizations, but I’ve always wondered how people found the time for working on all those badges.

Once-a-Week studies are great supplements to other history or science curricula. Or you can use them as a stand-alone curriculum. They’re great for getting your whole family on the same page for at least some of your studies! There are even “Stump Your Dad Trivia” questions. They are super easy to implement.

You can visit Homeschool Legacy to see all the different Once-a-Week Studies they offer. Here is a link for more information about the Native America study. The study is available for $17.95.

Disclosure: I received Native America from Homeschool Legacy in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Mar 022009

Five in a Row (FIAR) is a unit study curriculum created by Jane Claire Lambert for students ages 4-8. The unit studies are based on children’s literature. Each day for five days, the same book is read aloud to the child. After reading the book, there are suggested activities to complete. Each day a different subject is studied with activities that are related to the story. A sample schedule of subjects is as follows:

Monday Social Studies
Tuesday Language Arts
Wednesday Art
Thursday Applied Mathematics
Friday Science

There are 4 volumes of FIAR, with a total of 70 unit studies in all. I received a copy of Volume 3 to review.

  • The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco
  • Andy and the Circus by Ellis Credle
  • The Wild Horses of Sweetbriar by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
  • Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ill. by Ted Rand
  • Henry the Castaway by Mark Taylor
  • The Finest Horse in Town by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  • Truman’s Aunt Farm by Jama Kim Rattigan
  • The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl
  • Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
  • Daniel’s Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Warm as Wool by Scott Russell Sanders
  • The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
  • Climbing Kansas Mountains by George Shannon
  • Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston
  • Little Nino’s Pizzeria by Karen Barbour

Mrs. Lambert purposely chose a wide variety of children’s books to use in FIAR. Some of the stories are funny, while others are more serious. The illustrations are of many different styles, and I found all of the books to be engaging for children. I was able to acquire 10 out of the 15 books for Volume 3 within my county’s library system.

I used FIAR with my 6 year old son and my 2 year old daughter listened in. (Sometimes my 10 year old son and 8 year old daughter listened too.) We completed The Bee Tree, Daniel’s Duck, Truman’s Aunt Farm, and Little Nino’s Pizzeria. We all enjoyed the stories and looked forward to our reading time each day.

I was impressed with the variety of activities for each story. For The Bee Tree, we looked at Michigan on a map, and learned about peninsulas, hexagons, bees, and onomatopoeia. We also made biscuits and ate them with honey.  My 2 year old was so cute saying onomatopoeia. I also added in a few of my own ideas to go with the FIAR suggestions. We read The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive to learn more about bees, and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? to further illustrate onomatopoeia. We also watched City of the Bees, a Moody Science video with more information about bees.

I heard about FIAR about 7 years ago, before my oldest started school.  At the time, I didn’t like the idea of reading the same book for five days in a row.  I thought that would be boring and repetitive for him.  Now, I don’t think that could have been farther from the truth.  The first week my son did ask why we were reading the same book again, but after that he very happily listened to the same story every day.  Both the children anticipated it.  They even asked if it was time to read yet.  They have become really attached to the stories.  That just doesn’t happen with a book that you read one time.

I found that for some books, I liked most of the activity suggestions, while in a few I didn’t find the activities to be as interesting.  Some of the suggestions seemed to be a little too advanced for my first grader, but I probably should try them anyway. I was skeptical about teaching about onomatopoeia to my little ones, but after explaining it, I was surprised to find that they did not have trouble understanding it all.  I very quickly adapted my thinking to the unit study style.  I was soon coming up with my own additional ideas to go with the books.

The very best thing about FIAR is that it helped me to make the effort to have a reading time with my younger 2 children every day.  This is one of my goals that I have struggled meeting this school year.  Reading is so important to a child’s development, and I fear that I have short-changed my younger children, as I have been more focused on teaching my older ones. We snuggled up on the couch with our blankets and read.  My 2 year old pointed out everything in the pictures. It was an extra special time.  How could I not recommend a curriculum that helps that to happen?

In addition to Five in a Row, Volumes 1-4, the company has also written Before Five in a Row for 2-4 year olds, Beyond Five in a Row for 8-12 year olds, and Above and Beyond Five in a Row for 12 years and up. I’m strongly considering purchasing Before Five in a Row for my 2 year old for next year.

Disclosure: I received Five in a Row as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated for this post.