Monday, May 3

Exploring the Life of John Adams with YWAM Publishing {Review}

Disclaimer: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

This past year or so has provided us with some excellent teaching opportunities to discuss the founding of our nation and its Constitution.
 So when we had the opportunity to check out Heroes of History - John Adams, from YWAM Publishing’s Heroes of History, and its accompanying Unit Study Curriculum Guide, it only served to further these discussions...

We read the book together as a read aloud over a week-long period, following 'bunny trail' conversations that stemmed from the text.  I used the study guide comprehension questions - mostly with the younger one - as we went through the story.  I would ask him questions from the prior day's reading to be sure he was with us (recollection can be somewhat of an issue for him).  We also used the biographical sketches and mapwork included in the study guide.  We finished off the unit with a movie screening of the John Adams miniseries.

Book Description
John's heart sank. A British man-of-war was plowing through the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean in hot pursuit of his ship. If the British caught up with the Boston, John would be hanged. He had proudly signed the Declaration of Independence and was carrying the colonies' secret papers. He couldn't be captured now!

Growing up in Massachusetts, longing to be a farmer like his father, John Adams never imagined the vital role he would one day play in the transformation of the colonies into an independent American nation. As the injustices of British rule stirred up the colonies to revolution and independence, this rising young lawyer became an influential member of the Continental Congress and a passionate advocate for freedom.  As a foreign diplomat for the young United States, first vice president, and second president, this true American patriot held firmly to his integrity and left an uncompromising legacy: Independence forever! (1735-1826).

“All that part of Creation that lies within our observation is liable to change... If we look into history, we shall find some nations rising from contemptible beginnings and spreading their influence, until the whole globe is subjected to their ways...
Be not surprised that I am turned politician. The whole town is immersed in politics.”
                  ~John Adams
Geared to students ages ten and older, John Adams and the accompanying Unit Study Curriculum Guide are a fun way to learn more about one of our nation's founding fathers.  The chapter book is written in a narrative style, and while there are no pictures beyond the small black-and-white line drawings at the beginning of each chapter, you’ll be so busy learning that you won’t notice!  

Our son's only dislike about the book was the amount of text on each page.  Though in middle school, he is a struggling reader who has difficulty with pages that look like this.  A well-placed illustration here and there would go a long way toward comprehension and breaking up the monotony of these pages for this type of reader.  He was very interested in the content, but was also ready to give up after two chapters.  We ended up reading it aloud together for that reason.

Unit Study Curriculum Guide
We loved the book, but only used the study guide as a sort of foot note.  I appreciated the Chapter Questions section, because it’s always nice to review comprehension and tie everything together through further discussion, and mapping activities made for some hands-on learning, but the rest of the guide was not as useful for us.  If we were using this book in small group setting, or homeschool co-op classroom, many of the activities would be more applicable.  There are a lot of great ideas offered for groups of children working together to learn about the same thing!

There are several biographies in the Heroes of History series, from Benjamin Franklin to Ben Carson. There’s even a chronological list so you can easily add them to your existing history curriculum.  If you want to use that list to create a year-long course, the Unit Study Curriculum Guide comes with a guide for using all of the books in homeschool, co-op, and school settings. The unit study itself is broken down into eight major sections, as shown below.

Key Quotes
This section has quotes from other famous figures that are offered up as examples of what may have inspired the hero. 
Display Corner
Suggestions and examples of items to collect for display are offered. 
Chapter Questions
Each chapter is allotted four questions to help students focus on vocabulary, factual information and opinion/ interpretation of the information.  Answers are provided at the end of the book.
Student Explorations
     -  Essay Questions
     -  Creative Writing
     -  Hands-on Projects
     -  Audio/ Visual Projects
     -  Arts and Crafts
This section is divided into several sections with writing prompts, research probes, map-making projects, play and script writing, and other crafty projects.
Community Links
This is basically a ‘field trip’ section. 
Social Studies
     -  Places
     - Terms/ Vocabulary
     - Geographical Characteristics
     - Timeline
     - Conceptual Questions
This section offers more traditional and familiar study tips for understanding the geography of the area.  The Conceptual Questions section involves more short projects to help students dig a little deeper in the politics and geography of the area.
Related Themes to Explore
This chapter allows you to see other topics (specific topics in science, history, geography) that can be tackled during your unit study.
Culminating Event
These are ideas for closing out the unit study. 
See what others are saying about YWAM Publishing over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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