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Apr 27, 2016

YWAM Publishing TOS Crew Review

We really used to enjoy using unit studies, but have gotten away from them with the hoop jumping I've been feeling the need to perform for the state.  YWAM Publishing has just what we needed to bring some fun back to school.  One of our favorite units when the boys were small was about the moon.  YWAM's Heroes of History title, Alan Shepard: Higher and Faster and the corresponding Digital Unit Study was a great introduction to this company.

We received the book in the mail and an email to access the Alan Shepard digital unit study.  The book is a 240 page paperback with a recommended age range of ten and up.  It covers Alan's life beginning with his pre-teen years in East Derry, NH. 

I quickly downloaded the files and found that they opened up in a nice site with tabs and a nifty design, but I couldn't get to the files.  I called my gEEk over and he quickly found the source documents so I was able to open the PDF files.  That's all I really wanted anyway!

The main study guide PDF consisted of the following sections.
  • Key Quotes
Quotes by Alan Shepard and other related notables are listed.  These can be used for memorization, inclusion in a unit display, copywork, or any number of other uses.
  • Display Corner
    I think the favorite part was creating our display corner. 

  •  Vocabulary
Last year, I started a simple dictionary for Mal and Xav to each have.  I just put 26 pages in a portfolio folder, each page labeled with a letter of the alphabet.  We used it for a while, then changed to a vocabulary workbook.  With this unit on Alan Shepard, we got them back out and began writing out the vocabulary word for each chapter, looking it up in their dictionaries, determining which definition applied if there was more than one, then writing a brief definition in their own words.  This part could get time consuming with them, but I think the dictionary practice was well worth it.  They seem to be able to remember more of the vocabulary words this way.

  •  Questions
  1. One factual question
  2. Two comprehension questions
  3. Two opinion-type questions.
I chose to let them answer the questions orally and we had some great discussions some day.  The answer to this section can be found in Appendix B of the digital unit study.
    • Student Explorations
    These are an assortment of tasks that you could choose to assign that include essays, creative writing, arts and crafts, A/V, and hands-on projects.  The boys are currently making rockets with their dad, and Xav and I look at moon topography maps, which were a couple of the hands-on items in the list.
    • Community Links
    These are ideas for classroom visits and field trips, an excellent list.
    • Social Studies
    This extensive section has ideas for several geography studies that relate to Alan Shepard's life, a timeline (Appendix C), a much longer list of related terms and vocabulary.  One nice thing in this section is that the words are cross referenced to the page of the book that they first appear on.
    • Related Themes to Explore
    Want to incorporate cross-curriculum learning?  This is a good place to find related topics to study in other subjects at the same time you study this Alan Shepard biography.  We call those rabbit trails and we run down these, unplanned, often!
    • Culminating Events
    Plan a fun party and invite friends and family to hear all about Alan Shepard and his life.  Show off what you know!
    • Appendix A is a related book and resource list, beginning with other biographies, and including articles, websites, and videos.  Several other YWAM Heroes of History biographies are tied in here also.
    • Appendix B - Chapter questions answers.
    • Appendix C actually is a separate file and contains the reproducibles needed for the Social Studies activities in chapter 6.
    The Alan Shepard Digital Unit Study lists far more activities than I could do on one go 'round with the boys.  I really appreciated the variety of projects for all ages that YWAM provides.  I was able to choose selections that were both enjoyable and educational.  My punks certainly like the read aloud aspect we chose to use (no one can complain that someone moved their bookmark, because they weren't both reading it simultaneously) and, surprisingly, answering the chapter questions and discussing what was happening in the book.  Merrick was sometimes able to be involved, which made him a happy guy.

    Some of the activities, I thought, will be better suited to Redhanded Homeschool when the boys are a bit older; essay questions, for instance.  I anticipate being able to use the Alan Shepard digital unit study again in junior high or high school.  And I'll get to be much more hands off!

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