May 1, 2018

Exploring a Storybook Life with Laura Ingalls Wilder and YWAM Publishing {Curriculum Review}

Heroes of History~ Laura Ingalls Wilder {Product Review}
We have settled into the fact that our family is a literature based learning school style. We love to read read read! History is one of the areas where literature based products are the most useful to get away from boring textbooks. YWAM Publishing has a GREAT line of historical biographies on men and women throughout history who have contributed to the Christian cause, or were key parts of world history in general. We previously have worked through Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Orville Wright (you can read the previous reviews of YWAM Publishing on my blog), but this time, we picked the Heroes of History- Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Storybook Life to review! My son was curious to see whether or not all those Little House on the Prairie stories were really true or not...

About YWAM Publishing


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 offering 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!

Our Thoughts on the Product

Let me start by saying, I knew what I was getting into with this product, since this is the fourth 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, clicked "start", went through the files and printed off most of it. (they are clearly labelled.) 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. {I went into detail on how this worked on my review of David Crockett}

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-ring binder, so that I could keep it handy. Last time we used a composition notebook to record our answers, but this time I just filled the binder with extra lined paper to use. There is no lesson plan to follow--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. THIS time however, I did not do any of the reading! My son (age 12) has gotten to the part where he LOVES reading the books that go with his studies. So he knocked out each chapter. Once he was done reading the chapter, he 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.

I required him to answer everything in complete sentences, but if one of the question was going to be very wordy (usually question #6), he would verbally give me the answers. This routine worked great. He used the Kindle for finding the online dictionary to confirm his vocabulary definitions.

Here is a sampling of what a set of questions looks like:

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 primary locations from the book as listed in the curriculum guide--the path that Laura Ingalls Wilder took with her family and then her husband.
Once the book was completed, we did a few of the extended learning activities. One of them had to do with maps and the region Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in...
We completed #5 and #6 on this list. We got out the atlas and some other states books and did some research into the Mississippi River, and the Midwestern states agriculture.

Noting the midwestern states Laura lived in and their top production for agriculture
in the Hands-on Projects, we were encouraged to trying cooking some of the foods of Laura's time, as well as listen to the music of the time period.

 It was very easy for us to do this because I own The Little House Cookbook, and the Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We were able to pick out recipes to try (Johnny Cake, Ginger Water, and Birds Nest Pudding), and then listen to some of the songs that Pa would have played for Laura on his fiddle.


I especially like the Musical Memories book, because it contains old photographs of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family--a GREAT supplement to go with the YWAM Publishing curriculum guide and study!

My son says the most interesting thing he learned was that Pa Ingalls never had a legacy of descendants. None of Laura's siblings had their own children, and Laura's daughter Rose remained unmarried and childless. My son pointed out that the story of the Ingalls family proves that a legacy is more than children. It's WHAT those children do that really leaves the legacy. I felt that he was spot on and it was a very deep comment for a twelve year old to make.

I loved that his book kept my son's attention. Because of our journey through the Little House on the Prairie series, I felt that it made him enjoy the biography more--it backed up what was in the stories as being true. While this biography wasn't as "boy friendly" as his previous three ventures into YWAM Publishing materials, he enjoyed it just as much.

After using it for four separate biographies, I STILL 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 15 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. In many ways the program is open and go--for they just grab the book and comprehension questions and go to town. But obviously if you wanted to incorporate more of the extra activities you would have some planning to do.

Want to Know More About YWAM Publishing?

Over the last several weeks, we have been reviewing Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Storybook Life from the Heroes of History collection by YWAM Publishing. This is just ONE of their many biographies, so I encourage you to visit some of the other crew members to see what they picked for their own review!
Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}


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I still love this product, and I will be very thankful to have now FOUR of the biographies and curriculum guides for us to use in the future!

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