I had always heard so much about Amanda Bennet's unit studies and have been wanting to try them. Over the past month we have had the chance to preview two of the units, one complimentary copy given to us through The Homeschool Village, and the other I purchased (because I liked the first so much!). We have been working our way through Astonishing Animals and Sunny Seashells. This post contains our thoughts about the unit studies and will hopefully answer questions you may have about them!
To preface this review, I found it quite helpful to read Unit Study Basics at Amanda Bennett's blog before I started. She is a wealth of information! I also got some advice from Tristan (@Our Busy Homeschool) and she offered me some very concrete and practical tips. We reviewed a Download N Go ebook. Amanda Bennett also offers unit study adventures (a 4 week study) for children grades K-12.
The Download N Go ebooks are unit studies (designed for children grades K-4) that bring unit study and lapbooking together. The ebooks are availabe for easy download and generally are around $7, although I've been seeing a lot of them on sale recently. (You can also enter for a chance to win one at The Homeschool Village today!) The bang for your buck is amazing! I used them with a six and nine year old, each child working at their own pace.
Each PDF file ebook contains:
- Five days worth of internet linked lessons about the topic. There are videos, coloring, question and answers, map work, matching activities, journaling, vocabulary, spelling, Bible verses, poetry, and many other activites included in each unit study.
- A section of lapbook elements at the end of each study, so when your are finished with the study (or you can do them concurrently) your children can make a beautiful lapbook to go along with the topic of study.
- A list of suggested resources/books to go along with the topic.
- Suggestions for you, the teacher, to guide you and your students through the study.
- Fun Family Ideas at the end of the study to extend learning.
- A very cute certificate of completion to include with your child's finished product.
How we used the ebooks:
- I downloaded the unit study onto my computer (I'm working on an iMac). It automatically went into my downloads folder, but I will keep a separate "unit studies" folder as we do more of these. I also emailed the file to myself, and then used it on my iPad (this was AWESOME!!) and opened it in iBooks. For us, this was the way to go, but we also did them on our desktop computer. (*note - some of the images in the study did not show up on the iPad, so it was good my children had printed copies in front of the, too. All links, however, were fully functional.)
- I always keep lots of three pronged/2 pocket folders on hand. I printed the sections of the ebook I thought we would use and made a folder for each child. There are approximately 4 double-sided pages for each day, so it's a lot of ink to use. I printed in black and white, double-sided, and left out pages I didn't think were important to print.
- I went through the book list and reserved several of the books from our library; this was the best thing to do, because my children had these books around for free reading. The book choices were excellent. To me, this was one of the best things about the unit study!
- At first we all sat around the computer - the children had their folders and recorded answers while I navigated the links and the ebook. My nine year old is perfectly capable of running it herself, so she can work on the study independently!
- When I discovered we could put the unit studies on our iPad, we sat on the sofa and went through the study that way -- very cool, and in my opinion it was easier to navigate that way.
- We always had lots of crayons, colored pencils, and pens on hand because sometimes it calls for mapwork in color. And, it's just more fun to have fancy office supplies on hand.
The kids' favorite area to work on their unit studies... in our music room by the large bookshelf - enough room for them to lay together and work in their folders!
- We loved the format! Having EVERYTHING ready for you (right down to the supplementary book list) was invaluable. It took us about two weeks to complete a unit study - five days worth of activities - we didn't do unit study work each day.
- The way Amanda Bennett has included so many other subjects in a unit study is amazing to me. The geography component was particularly impressive to me (and I know she is now partnering with National Geographic Maps).
- Having the lapbook components to print is wonderful! Once we finished the unit study I printed some lapbook elements for my children and just let them have fun. The instructions were very clear, which made it a great independent activity. They knew all of the information and had such a sense of accomplishment!
- Older children (I think 8 and up) can run the computer themselves for the activities, but I enjoyed doing that part because I was learning, too! If you have several children, I could see children working together on a unit study while mom is helping another child with something else.
- We didn't do everything in the unit studies - I think they are designed so you can pick and choose. Some of the activities were clearly too difficult for my youngest, so I enjoyed the freedom to tailor it for each of my children. They also contain A LOT of information and could take a long time if you do everything!
In short, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND these unit studies, and we will be using many more in the future. Let your child take a look at all of the titles available and have them choose what they'd like to learn about. I think you'll be glad you did! To quote my nine year old daughter "I love these unit studies because you learn SO MUCH STUFF and it's fun and educational!"
*Please note that I have been provided a complimentary copy of this resource by The Homeschool Village specifically for review purposes. If you visit The Homeschool Village you can also read others' thoughts about the Download N Go Unit Studies AND A GIVEAWAY!