May 31, 2017

Unit Study on Orville Wright, the Flyer from YWAM Publishing {Curriculum Review}

We are a family that loves books, especially ones with historical settings. We also love to use books as a stepping stone into many adventures with unit studies. Two years ago, we fell in love with a unit study on Daniel Boone and were excited to have another chance with David Crockett. Needless to say, when we were given yet another opportunity to review a unit study from the Heroes of History series of books from YWAM Publishing this year, my son eagerly picked Heroes of History- Orville Wright from the list. 

About YWAM Publishing and the Heroes of History

YWAM Publishing is a company determined to produce quality biographies and unit studies on men and women who are considered heroes—either to the Christian Faith, or to history itself. With that in mind, they have created two series Christian Heroes: Then and Now and Heroes of History and offer an extensive collection of biographies of men and women throughout the ages, who need to be recognized for their accomplishments.

Here is a sampling of the titles included in each series:
Christian Heroes: Then and Now
Betty Green, C.S. Lewis, David Livingstone, Gladys Aylward, Jacob DeShazer, Corrie ten Boom, and more!

Heroes of History
Christopher Columbus, William Bradford, Captain John Smith, William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Meriwether Lewis, Milton Hershey, George Washington Carver, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Douglas MacArthur, and more!

These books are available in print, digital, and audiobook form.

Most of the books also have a coordinating downloadable unit study curriculum guide, which includes reading comprehension questions, as well as extensive ideas for turning the books into full unit studies. There are maps, research topics, timeline, hands on projects, and more included in these study guides. These allow you to take your book into other subjects like geography, history, culture studies, science, and more!

We were given the Heroes of History: Orville Wright~ The Flyer with the Downloadable Unit Study Curriculum Guide to review.

Our Thoughts

Let me start by saying, I knew what I was getting into with this product, since this is the third time we have been blessed with a biography set from YWAM Publishing to review. So I already had a game plan! Once I received the zip file with the unit study, I downloaded it and printed off most of it. I wanted to have the reading comprehension questions ready to go for each chapter, as well as have all the additional extended learning activities available for me to reference. 

Next, I went through the extended learning activities and highlighted ones that I was interested in doing. I put this unit study printout in a 3-hole folder, so that I could keep it handy. Next, I grabbed my son a composition notebook for recording his answers to all the comprehension questions. We did this the last two times and it worked great! 

There is no lesson plan--but because each chapter has coordinating questions, I think it is fairly easy to create your own!

Once I had it all ready to go, I also printed out the biography page for my son to fill out as we went. It lets him note the birth/death dates, the full names, the family members, profession, etc. This is very handy as we can fill it in while we are reading. 

I also made the decision that he and I would share responsibility for reading the biography for the unit. So some days, he read a chapter and then we discussed, other days I read the chapter. And some days, we shared reading of the chapter. Once we were done reading the chapter, we went straight to the comprehension questions for the chapter. They always followed the same routine:
1. Vocabulary word—to be defined and used in a sentence
2. Questions 2-4 came straight from the reading
3. Questions 5-6 mentioned events or people from the reading and then had critical thinking questions to take the student beyond the reading and apply their own thoughts.

Here is a sample set of questions…

My son hates looking up words in the dictionary, so I had him explain what he believed the word to mean, and then if he was right, use it in a sentence of his own creation. He was correct with definitions 90% of the time, so I was very happy with that. The questions taken from the reading were always easy and he could find them in the book. My one requirement was that he had to write questions in complete sentences. Because questions 5 and 6 always involved more—thinking shall we say—I always let him pick ONE of them to complete. He would read each and we’d talk about what it was asking, and then he decided what he wanted to answer. 

We worked through this book one chapter a day about 3-4 days a week—and spent one day a week on an extended learning activity. With this schedule we were EASILY able to complete the entire book and reading questions, as well as several of the additional activities. 

Included in the unit study guide, were maps that could be used for geography—we pulled out one and he marked the two primary locations in our book—Dayton, OH and Kitty Hawk, NC. We also calculated the distance between them. 

As for the extended learning activities—I think this was the part that he enjoyed the most. We chose three activities to do: Study the mission patches for NASA and design one for the first flight in 1903, build your own model of the Wright Glider, and use a model kit to build one of the airplanes the Wright Brothers flew. 

We visited the NASA website included in the guide and spent time looking at the different patches. We actually recognized some of the missions from our current Astronomy course we are doing—so he really enjoyed that. Then he drew his own patch in his notebook.

We did two versions of the “build your own” airplane. I did some Pinterest searches and found a toothpick model airplane design that he and I worked on. It created the Wright Glider. 

Secondly, I supplied him with popsicle sticks, tooth picks, and cloth and he started on his homemade version of their glider, guided by the books we got from the library with plenty of photos. 

But hands down, his most favorite was putting together the mini metal Wright Flyer that I purchased for him. It took 4 days of painstaking attention to detail, including a day to fix an error---but even after wanting to give up, he persevered and got it completed. And boy was he happy! It's only the size of the palm of your hand, so very tiny!

I think that of all the three units we have done from YWAM, this has by far been his favorite. He related so well to the story of the Wright Brothers, as he too has a tinkering mechanical mind. He enjoyed the descriptions of the equipment and gadgets. And interestingly enough, we watched some shows on TV that were “historical fiction” and because of our study on the Wright Brothers, he found some ERRORS in their history. He pointed out that they had the wrong bicycle for the year the show took place—that the safety bicycle was still brand new and cost a quarter of a person’s wage—so doubtful that many people had one yet. And then he laughed when a flying machine themed episode had “two brothers from Ohio” mentioned. He was happy that they got the year right for that episode. And then we were previewing another review product, and as soon as he discovered it was totally about aviation, he was dying to do it—especially since the first unit was…all about the Wright Brothers!

At the library, I think he brought home every single young adult biography on the Wright Brothers and has poured over the REAL photographs and captions. We finished the biography with YWAM, but it merely wetted his appetite for MORE! He told me, “Make sure you write in your review that I LOVED this product! I LOVE how the book was written, and I found the extra stuff fun to do.” And it’s true. I never had any groaning or moaning. He would bring the curriculum to me because he wanted to do it. THAT is a true sign of a good curriculum in this house. 

This company really has created materials that work well for our family and our love of Unit Studies. I am so happy that I have been able to just let him take off with this curriculum, and it reminded me yet AGAIN what kind of curriculum I need to use for our family. Orville Wright has earned his place next to his two predecessors Daniel Boone and David Crockett, on our shelves!
(Here are my reviews of Heroes of History- Daniel Boone and Heroes of History- David Crockett if you want to see some more!)

Want to Know More?

Our family has been reviewing Heroes of History- Orville Wright from YWAM Publishing over the last month. You have seen how much we have enjoyed our study, but there were MANY more other heroes who were explored by our review crew. Make sure you go and visit some of their pages too!
Christian & History Heroes {YWAM Publishing Reviews}
Here are the social media links for YWAM Publishing, so you can stay up to date on all their news and sales!
Facebook * Twitter (@YWAMpublishing) *  Pinterest (@YWAMpublishing) * BLOG  

We have had just a wonderful journey with our study on Orville Wright and his brother and really opened a new world for my son to explore! If you are looking to do an in depth focus on a period of history, or a person of history, I encourage you to check out YWAM Publishing!

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