Friday, March 15, 2013

State Studies – My Thoughts

I’m preparing to do an introduction to VA state history with my daughter, Haylee, for 4th grade starting in June.  I’m keeping in mind that while my oldest son, Hayden, is starting 9th grade at that time, he will also need to work in a more in-depth VA state history course at some point during his high school years.  Thus, my search for appropriate state studies has begun!

When Hayden was in 4th grade, I just had him read an old public school texbook called Silver Burdett VA History & Geography.  We read a daily selection and just verbally discussed any questions at the end of the chapter.  Good enough for an introduction, but not great for making the information stick.

Knowing that Haylee is less of an avid reader than Hayden was at this age but also more of a creative kid, I know she would benefit from something with hands-on activities.  Those interactive elements will really help cement the reading for her. 

One day this week, I received an email through the Homeschool Giveaways site that advertised the State History from a Christian Perspective studies from A Helping Hand.  I have to say it caught my attention!  I checked out the site but couldn’t make a decision right then.  I asked around but only found one personal friend who had already bought it, but she hadn’t actually started using it yet.  She wasn’t overly impressed with the content…her comment was something to the effect that there wasn’t any information there you wouldn’t find in a regular textbook on the subject.  Still, though, I liked the interactive elements for Haylee, and that’s what I was really after.  I loved how it’s designed to be used in conjunction with the Abeka My State Notebook to create a keepsake scrapbook of your state.  It just so happens that I already have a older but brand new copy of the My State Notebook in my bin of “school extras” that I’ve accumulated over the years, so that’s one less portion I’d have to purchase to use this program. 

I printed out the 6-page downloadable description of the program and showed it to Steve when he came in from work.  We both liked how we could use it for a group study for both Hayden and Haylee at the same time since it’s designed for grades 3-12.  The study includes optional in-depth assignments to enrich the learning for older students.  After looking at it and showing it to the kids, we all decided we’d give this a try.

I tried to watch the video on the website, but it wouldn’t load for me for some reason.  It may have something to do with my AdBlocker program.  In any case, I placed my order, being sure to “like” their page on Facebook and mention it in the comments on my order for 1/2 price shipping (when placed within 24 hours).  If you watch the video and tell in your order comments what the suggestion is in the video, you get another 1/2 price shipping offer, which combined, gives you free shipping, saving you $6.  I commented on my order about not being able to watch the video, and Joy Dean, the author of the program, gave me other links to watch the video and offered me the discount anyway.  That was so nice! 

After watc50 States Under God Coverhing the video this morning, I have to say I was wholly impressed with the way she combined her individual state study with her Fifty States Under God and Geography of the Fifty States studies to make a complete 1- or 2-year study.  When put all together, it looks like a truly wonderful program!  And she even includes an all-in-one schedule that allows you to study each state in the order it joined the union, inserting your individual state study when you get to it, and also studying the geography of each state all along the way.  How cool is that?  If you have time to watch the video (about 20 minutes), I highly recommend it. It really explains nicely each element of the program and how they can all work together. 

Now all told, this gets a bit costly.  It’s like this:

  • Individual State History
    • Master Lesson Plan Book – $11.95
    • Student Booklet (1 per student grades 3-12) – $14.95
    • My State Notebook (1 per student in grades 3-8, not needed for grades 9-12) – $9.45
  • Fifty States Under God – $33.95
  • Geography of the Fifty States – $26.95

In addition, the site offers activity books for the little ones ages 3 through grade 2 if you want to include your littles in the group study:

When you consider, though, that you can include all of your children in the studies for your cost, it’s not so bad.  I can only imagine that they will get so much more out of it by correlating the 3 topics together and seeing how it all fits in history, all the while incorporating the hands-on, interactive elements for learning fun!

So my final thoughts are that I’m seriously considering purchasing the whole shebang and seeing if we can make this work.  You can speed this up or spread it out as much as you’d like, and I like that flexibility.  After all, that’s one of the benefits of homeschooling, right?  So my initial thoughts are that I may not even “schedule” this into our master schedule for the school year, but go into it with the intention of covering 1 state per week over a period of 50 school weeks.  I think that’s entirely doable. 

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please leave them in the comments while I mull this over some more!  Smile