Tuesday, September 18, 2012

REVIEW: Native America Once-a-Week Unit Study by Homeschool Legacy



I was so fortunate to get to review the Native America Once-a-Week Unity Study by Homeschool Legacy.


FROM THE WEBSITE:
 
Native America Once-a-Week Unit Study Who says learning can't be FUN? Discover many of America's Native American nations and their very different lifestyles with this fascinating Once-a-Week Unit Study.
  • Fascinating, NO PREP, 6-week unit study
  • Appropriate for grades 2-12
  • Enjoy family devotionals that focus on kindness, bravery, reverence, peace, generosity, and honesty
  • Children choose from a wide variety of quality, library reading selections that focus on various regional nations and span a four hundred year period of time
  • Enjoy quality, family read-alouds
  • Get to know the Northeast Woodland, Southeast Woodland, Southwest, Plains, Northwest Coast, and California/Plateau/ Great Basin Indians of North America
  • Meet a famous Iroquois Indian who had a profound affect on the Founding Fathers and our United States
  • Introduce yourselves to some famous Native Americans
  • Enjoy some classic poetry and Native American music
  • Study the science of anthropology
  • Make some Native American food
  • Make a Cherokee Indian children's game
  • Explore geography
  • Enjoy educational, family field trips
  • Discover the “ancient cliff dwellers” and their present day descendants
  • Learn Indian Sign Language
  • Watch documentaries
  • Enjoy quality language and research assignments
  • Create Indian arts and crafts
  • Enjoy Family Movie Nights that revolve around your unit study
  • Have some fun with "Stump Your Dad Trivia"
  • Do you have a Boy Scout in your family? He will earn his Indian Lore Merit Badge while completing his unit study assignments.
  • Coming Soon! American Heritage Girls will soon be able to earn their Native America Merit Badge.

PRICE:  $17.95 with FREE SHIPPING on orders of $50 or more!


OUR EXPERIENCE:
 
Let me start by saying that we are totally new to the whole unit study concept.  I’ve heard of them, I’ve had friends who used them even exclusively as their homeschooling curriculum, but I have never purchased or tried to do one myself.  I’m the regimented, box-checker type of homeschool mom.  I tend to use boxed curriculum or public school textbooks and supplements and plan everything out to the day for the whole school year in advance, so I never even imagined we’d ever have time for an “extra” like this in our homeschool.

My 3rd grade daughter, Haylee, is doing an introductory study of American History this year, which involves studying Native Americans throughout the year.  My 8th grade son, Hayden, is doing an in-depth study of American History this year, so he is also reading a fair amount about Native Americans.  Because of their age difference, I’ve not been afforded a lot of opportunities to combine their studies in any subject over the years.  I thought this unit study might just change all that, so I decided to give it a try.

Not only did this unit study allow them to work and study together, but it has made me a believer in how much fun this type of study can be!  To give you an idea of what to expect, I’ll take you through our first week’s experiences with this unit study.

First, the text gives you a suggested schedule of how to lay out the study for each day of the week.  The once-a-week concept refers to only doing the more involved activity portion one day a week, while doing snippits in conjunction with your regular curriculum on the other days.  It also gives you a suggested reading and video list each week.  There are LOTS of choices, so there would surely be some on the list that would be available to you at your local library. 

The very first week asked us to study the Northeast Woodland Nations.  We were instructed to read aloud The Song of Hiawatha (which we easily found online) and discuss the family devotional, which is provided in the study.  It suggested some photography to view for art appreciation and asked us to read a biography about the true Hiawatha to see what he contributed to the Iriquois Nation.  It also asked us to research the Iriquois Confederacy.  In our search, we came across this wonderful page online that fulfilled that research and expanded upon what we were learning in the unity study itself.  It was a wonderful free resource that talked about many of things we’d read about and helped tie it all together.  If you chose, this was also an opportunity to have your child use the research to write a composition, but I wanted to keep this fun, so we just discussed it.  I found that the kids got really into it, so that was enough to satisfy me that they were learning in a fun way!

Then the study suggested that we listen to some Native American music online while completing some art assignments.  For this, I went to Amazon and played clips of Native American music while they worked on the art projects.  That was fun, too!  The study explained about wampum - what is was, and how it was used.  Then my daughter and I worked together to make purple dye and dye some “wampum beads” made of ditalini pasta to make a wampum bracelet.  She thought that was pretty cool.  She wasn’t feeling well that day and had a fever, so the quietness of this activity was perfect for her.

While we worked on that, my son and I discussed the meaning behind the Iriquois Belt pattern that is now the Iriquois Flag.  He and I were both fascinated by that, and he worked on drawing and coloring in the pattern using purple and white colored pencils.  This helped solidify the meaning in his mind so that he could explain it to his dad later in the evening.

The study suggested you make an anthropology chart on poster board to show facts about how each of the Nations lived…what natural resources they had, their food, materials used in their homes, clothing, and weapons, and their means of transportation.

Then for our life skills/family night activity, the study told us about “the three sisters” plants that sustained the Northeast Woodland Nations and gave us recipes for preparing Three Sisters Iriquois Soup and Native American Fry Bread.  We saved the cooking portion for the weekend so I could get what I needed for the recipes.  We were all looking forward to trying them!  We’ve attended local annual Native American Pow-Wows in the past because my husband’s family has Cherokee roots, but we’d never tried the food before, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  Boy, were we in for a treat!  I will say that it took most of my Sunday afternoon to prepare these dishes.  It definitely involved some preparation and lots of dishes.  But it was so worth it!  The soup was delicious, and even my very young children ate it.  And the fry bread was SO very yummy!  Most of us ate ours with honey drizzled over it as the recipe suggested, but my daughter had hers with powdered sugar.  The best way I can describe it is that it’s definitely a cousin to a funnel cake, only better because it has a denser bread dough texture and isn’t as greasy. It was definitely a treat!

While we worked through these assignments, it also dawned on me that the way these Native American Nations are broken up in the weekly studies lines up very well with the History Pockets offered by Evan-Moor in book form or by download from TeacherFileBox.com.  I already had these printed out as a planned supplement for my daughter’s studies this year, so I grabbed the History Pocket on the Northeast Woodland Nations and used the activities right alongside the first week of this unit study.  I know many homeschoolers have these books in their home libraries, so I wanted to mention that it paired very nicely with this product!  The activities seemed to marry nicely with the wonderful activities suggested in this Once-a-Week Unity Study from Homeschool Legacy!

This unit study continues in week 2 with the Southeast Woodland Nations, week 3 with the Southwest Nations, week 4 with the Plains Nations, week 5 with the Pacific Northwest Coast Nations, and finally week 6 with the California/Plateau/Great Basin Nations.  Each week of this study continues to be just as interesting and engaging as the first, and we look forward to continuing to use this product in the coming weeks, stretching it even further with the additional materials that I have on hand. 

I can’t say enough good things about this Native American Unity Study!  I loved how it brought all of us together to work on a topic that could be shared by all at varying levels of involvement and difficulty.  I feel like we all learned from it in a meaningful way, and the hands-on activities helped to solidify in their minds what they had learned in our studies.  This is a versatile product that can certainly be used independently or as part of a larger study you may be doing on Native Americans.  I definitely recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Check out what other Crew members had to say about this and many other Once-a-Week Unit Studies by Homeschool Legacy by clicking the banner below.

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I received a digital copy of this unit study for free for review purposes, but all opinions are mine and reflect my family’s honest use of the product.