I have met many people who do unit studies and they do an amazing job pulling together lots of materials, keeping it interesting, following rabbit trails and really exploring the subject. Their kids have been well prepared for college and life after living at home. Many of them have encouraged me to try unit studies over the years. In theory I really like them and I really like working on one topic for a while, but I don’t seem to be very good at working in too many cross-curricular projects. I keep trying unit studies though because I have found that they can be a great tool to teach a topic and my kids get excited about them.
I recently had the opportunity to use the Early Settlers in America unit study from Homeschool Legacy. Unlike most unit studies, Homeschool Legacy unit studies are meant to be Once-A-Week studies. They are meant to get the family away from textbooks and bring the family together for learning time. Each unit study available from Homeschool Legacy lasts between 4-7 weeks and is meant for the whole family of children grades 2-12. As an added bonus, the author, Sharon Gibson, has worked very hard to incorporate Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls merit badge requirements into each unit study. This does not mean that you must be a Boy Scout or an American Heritage Girl to utilize these unit studies though! They just enable the scout or AHG to work towards their achievements while doing their schoolwork with their family.
“Each well-rounded unit study fully immerses you and your family in a particular topic while incorporating as wide a range of subjects as possible: family devotionals, quality library reading selections, family read-alouds, history, science, geography, language, life skills, research, art, crafts, music, classic literature, documentaries, field trip suggestions, family game and movie nights, and even some fun "Stump Your Dad Trivia."
Once-a-Week Unit Studies have done all the work for you. Even the included library lists provide you with alphabetically and numerically ordered Dewey decimal numbers to aid you in making your trip to the library quick and painless.”
The last 6 pages is a section on “Getting the Most out of your Once-a-Week Unit Study.” Included is a suggestion to have an inexpensive set of encyclopedias for research which we don’t currently have. I do recommend reading this section before beginning the unit studies because it will help you get more out of your study. Early Settlers is designed to last 6 weeks and costs $17.95.
Over the summer we entered the time of the Early Settlers in North America so I was really excited to try this unit study. I am notorious for not following a curriculum as outlined an sometimes wonder if I make my life more difficult by doing this. This time, since I have had so much going on, I decided to give it a go and attempt a once-a-week schedule since I try to do one major thing each day as a group before turning the children lose for their individual work. I tried not to look ahead in the unit too much because it is meant to be open-and-go and I wanted to see how that would work. I did look ahead to reserve library books though. Even though activity materials are mostly common materials, I found that I didn’t always have the materials on hand so we weren’t able to complete all the activities. Having a page at the beginning of the book listing all the materials for each week would have been very helpful.
We checked out many of the books listed in the weekly units. Although having the Dewey decimal numbers didn’t help me find my books because I typically search the library catalog online and then put all my books on hold, having those numbers would have been helpful if I went and browsed the shelves or if I couldn’t find the suggested materials. I found that all the suggested books and videos we used were of high quality. Some of them will be revisited again for future projects. One of those it the video segment we watched for unit one on the Lost Colony.
Although the Boy Scout requirements listed are for Boy Scouts and not necessarily Cub Scouts, some can be applied to the Webelos program and possibly a couple to Bears or Wolves. My son had already completed most of the Webelos requirements that could have been passed off using this unit, but he would have done several for Communicator, Artist, as well as possibly one from Traveler. For Boy Scouts, this unit covers the Reading merit badge.
We really enjoyed the Stump Your Dad trivia as well. I would usually read the question to the children before we began so they could be thinking about the question and find the answer themselves as we studied. This created a great ah-ha moment for my son as we watched our video about the Lost Colony.
I would have liked to see the chapter on how to get the most out of the unit study at the beginning of the book instead of the end and I felt some activities could have used a little more guidance or research on my part before presenting them because they didn’t lend themselves to open-and-go as easily as others. Despite the few negatives, overall we really enjoyed the Once-a-Week Unit study. I thought the family devotionals were well done and I really liked the tie-in to scouts. The flow of topics made sense to me and helped guide the unit forward. The activities were relevant to each unit and there were many options from discussions to a research paper. This unit study truly could be adapted to all ages. The book suggestions were of high quality and we enjoyed the family read aloud and movie suggestions as well. It was one of the better laid-out and thoughtful unit studies that I have seen and I look forward to using more of Homeschool Legacy’s Once-A-Week unit studies as they lend themselves to our studies.
Be sure to see what other Crew Members had to say about Once-A-Week Unit studies from A Homeschool Legacy. The Crew reviewed a total of 10 different unit studies.