Monday, April 29

We Were There with Charles Darwin on H.M.S. Beagle

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At only 22 years old, Charles Darwin set sail on a five-year voyage around the world!  While not particularly fond of school, he loved being outdoors and collecting natural things (especially rocks and beetles).  On the voyage, his job was map the coast of South America and make scientific observations in the area.  He spent most of his time in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and the Gal├ípagos Islands.


While journeying through South America, he noticed interesting differences in bird beaks, and wondered how they had developed so differently.  He observed their habitats and actions, sketched the different species, and took thorough notes.  He also observed that the birds not only had different beaks, but behaved differently and even carried themselves differently.


Though he is most famous for his Theory of Natural Selection, Darwin did not actually develop and publish it for nearly thirty years after the voyage!  The theory says that organisms possess heritable traits that enable them to better adapt to their environment compared with other members of their species will be more likely to survive, reproduce, and pass more of their genes on to the next generation – in someone else’s words, “survival of the fittest.”

There is a difference between evolution and adaptation, though these two words are often confused.  Mutations in the DNA sequence that are carried on to the next generation are a form of evolution.  Adaptation, or natural selection, is a change that helps an organism to survive which is taught (or given through genes) to the next generation. 

Our spine novel is We Were There with Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle


Access the complete unit in the 'We Were There' Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes THIRTY-SIX unit studies covering World & American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the the ancient world through post-WW2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.


  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.


These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

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