April 25, 2016

Heroes of History~ David Crockett: Ever Westward {Curriculum Review}

Our household loves history. Last year we were able to review a great biography unit study from YWAM Publishing and it really fed Little Britches history passion. Needless to say, when we had a chance to review Heroes of History~ David Crockett from YWAM Publishing, he was very pleased and was eager to begin the story.
Heroes of History~ David Crockett: Product Review

Product Information

YWAM Publishing is known for their fabulous biographies on famous men and women throughout history. Two of their most popular series are Christian Heroes: Then and Now and Heroes of History

The Christian Heroes series focuses on men and women who were instrumental for spreading the word of God throughout the world--people like Amy Carmichael, C.S. Lewis, D.L. Moody, Jim Eliot, William Carey and more! Heroes of History focuses on the famous men and women who shaped our world no matter what time period they lived in--people like Daniel Boone, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Carson and many more.

The biographies are geared towards the 10+ age group and there are Unit Study Curriculum Guides available for many of them--turning these biographies into homeschool curriculum.

The paperback biographies are available for $7.50, while the Unit Study Curriculum Guides cost $5.49 (downloadable) or $7.49 (physical CD). Beware though that they are phasing out the physical CD and moving to exclusively offering the downloadable--so you won't find the physical CD option for more than just a couple of them.

We were given a large selection of their biographies to choose from, and Little Britches decided he wanted to review David Crockett: Ever Westward, from the Heroes of History series. We were also given a Digital Download of the Unit Study Curriculum Guide to review.

How Did We Use It?

Because we were able to review this company last year, I was prepared for the format. The book arrived and then we just waited to receive our access to the digital download. I accessed it easily on my Windows 8 through a Chrome browser. It came as a zip file which I saved on my hard drive--I will move it to a flash drive soon. 

Here is what you see when you open the zip drive:

Clicking on the pdf opens up everything you need to get started! You can access everything individually from this menu--clicking on any of the opens with the browser icon will take you to an overview page:
It is possible to access everything you need for the unit study from here if you prefer to see it in this style. The unit study can be accessed by clicking "unit study"--this will open up links to begin the pdf's for the curriculum guide. Or, you can skip all this by clicking "pdf" back on the first menu.

The overview provides assistance in figuring out ideas on how to use the Unit Study information in the different educational settings. It's not necessary to read these, but it might be helpful especially if you are thinking about doing it in a co-op setting. I simply went straight to the Unit Study 1 pdf. This gives you a 70+ page unit study guide for helping you use the book in learning over many subjects. I have found that printing this really is beneficial, so I print out the pages I wanted so I didn't have to keep opening up the pdf on my computer.

The unit study guide provides a plethora of information for you to use including: chapter questions, student explorations, community links, and social studies. Each of these sections is designed to use the book to explore rabbit trails relating to your topic--in our case, David Crockett.
There are six chapter questions for each chapter--the first is a vocabulary word question. The second is a factual questions taken from the text. Questions three and four are for gauging student comprehension of what they read. Questions 5 and 6 are open ended allowing for your student to process what they read and use it to provide their own interpretation for the answers. Although there are 6 questions, we are only answering four. I keep track of the questions in a composition book, because I can write out several chapters in advance, and I can keep record of his answers. 

The sentence for the vocabulary question cracked me up. He definitely knows it's meaning!
The second aspect of the curriculum that we did, was pick parts from the student explorations and social studies to be completed. I like the hands-on projects that are part of the student exploration--and that they give you many different ideas to choose from. Here are two  of the ones we will be working on...

He LOVES researching anything on antique guns--so I know he'll enjoy this
Working on his illustrated pictures for his David Crockett picture book
The social studies provides many ways to use the locations and places discussed in the book. The unit study includes a timeline, and at least two maps (found in Unit Study Part 2 on the file). The Social Studies portion offers up ideas on how you can use the maps to trace journeys, mark key locations, record city name changes, and much more. 
We always do a timeline numbering the events to plot them
We will be using the guide to mark at least one of the four journey's discussed in the book. We will also pull down our large classroom map to finalize the journeys. 

Another activity that is ongoing is our biography fact sheet on David Crockett that is included in the worksheets. Anytime we learn a new family member (sibling, spouse or offspring) or important date we add it to the list. 

In regards to the book, the chapters are long, so although the reading level is on par with where Little Britches is at, we share the reading load. He reads the first 4 pages of the chapter and I read the rest. This works very well for us.

We have been working on this product for 2-4 days a week depending on what we have going on. As of right now we are on chapter six after having done roughly one chapter a week with the reading, chapter questions, and activities.

What Are Our Thoughts on the Product?

Little Britches: I really like all the reading and the activities, but I don't like the chapter questions when I have to write them down. I wish I could answer them all orally, but mommy won't let me. I think David Crockett is cool and the book tells all kinds of stories about him when he was a little boy. I like that.

Me: I think this is a very comprehensive history/literature curriculum. It would be easy to use these books and coordinating Unit Study as a full curriculum for any grade--if you purchased several of them for your school year. Our book has 17 chapters, and working through 1-2 chapters a week has provided me with a lot of great work, thanks to the extras provided in the study guide. The program is very full and allows for you to add as much as you want--and to spread the learning throughout other subjects. There is so much information and ideas in the unit study--more than you would ever use with any one child. It is NOT open-and-go which might deter some, but I am use to unit studies and know that they are giving you far more information than you would ever use, so you can pick what will work best.

I appreciate the "lesser known" stories that are told in these books--especially the time devoted to the men/women as children. That really helps relate their life work more, when the students get to see that they had issues with things in life as children, just as they do. Little Britches thought it was funny that David Crockett didn't like school in the beginning and just wanted to be outside--exactly what Little Britches thinks! He also found it interesting that David Crockett was not called Davy and that it was more of an entertainment nickname. 

There are several activities that I plan on having us do when we are finished with the reading of the book--including looking back over the photos that I have from the two times that I have been to the Alamo in San Antonio. Since that is where Crockett's story ends, it will be a great conclusion for our study as well. I look forward to trying to find a copy of the Walt Disney movie on David Crockett so we can do the compare and contrast activity. I might also find the movie The Alamo and screen pieces of it with David Crockett so that Little Britches and can see how he's portrayed in the movie.

Will we continue to use this product?
Absolutely. I plan on seeing it through to the end--which should be right about when we are done with school for our 2015-2016 year in June. It's a great program and one that I will add to my other YWAM study Daniel Boone on our shelf.

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes, I would recommend this product. I would especially recommend it if someone is looking to combine history and literature AND teach multi-age levels. I believe that this product allows you to do that very well. If you follow all the areas of the unit study, you will have social studies, arts and crafts, science and more! It is easily adaptable for different ages making it a cost effective option.
I don't recommend this book for younger than about 10 years old because the story is presented with more vivid scenes--like the indian encounters. Something for an older elementary student. I would put the book at a 5th grade+ reading level.

Want to Know More?

We reviewed the unit study Heroes of History~ David Crockett by YWAM Publishing. You know how it worked for us, but what about the other unit studies our team reviewed? Make sure you go check them out!
Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
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The YWAM Publishing Blog: 

I am so glad that we now have two of these great unit studies to keep in our library for future use! They are high quality and definitely something those who enjoy unit studies should check out! I plan on snagging the different biographies as they go on sale through the upcoming years because they will be a great addition to our school library!

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