Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Knights & Nobles

I think my kids would live in Fairy Tale Land if they could. Kings, princesses, castles, knights, dragons, crowns, jewels - it's all just so exciting! That's why I knew they would find a study on knights and nobles intriguing.

Why has Sharon Gibson from Homeschool Legacy created a Once-A-Week unit study on knights and nobles and many other topics? Well,  a unit study is a comprehensive way to learn about a topic. In order to fully understand all aspects about it, you immerse yourself in it and apply that topic to all subjects - science, language arts, literature, math, history, Bible, music, art, etc.. This method helps you learn more, retain it longer, and have fun while doing it.

Since this is a once-a-week study, you study it - yep, you guessed it - once a week. All the planning has been done for you. There is a lengthy list of books and videos at the beginning of each week's plans that corresponds to that week's topic. The list is in numerical and alphabetical Dewey decimal order for you to easily find the books from the library. Also, even if your library doesn't have those certain books, you can use the Dewy Decimal numbers to find the proper section where like books can be found. The suggested study schedule is to read the chosen books daily, complete your regular studies 4 days a week, and only this unit study 1 day a week, along with another day for a complimenting field trip and family movie/game night. A typical unity study day will consist of a family devotional, the chosen reading material, and any accompanying activities. 

Each week is broken down into specific topic:
Week 1 - Castles
Week 2 - Kings & Queens
Week 3 - Knights
Week 4 - Life on a Manor

We didn't completely hold true to the once-a-week part. I admit it. We cheated. But I couldn't possibly tell my little ones (6, 4, 2) that they couldn't learn more. They very much enjoyed learning about castles, royalty, and life during medieval times. Jake (6 yr) has recently fallen in love with the game of chess. Not only did he learn that the game originated during the Middle Ages, but it was interesting to note the name of the pieces and compare them to the rank and power of those living during that time period. Another game that the kids have really taken to and is also from this age is marbles. It's interesting to learn just how far back some things date. We learned the meaning of the rhyme "Blackbird Pie." Have you ever wondered why 1) the cook baked birds in a pie for the king, and 2) why the birds didn't die? Yeah, me too. Now I know, but you'll have to get the study to find out! {grin} We even practiced juggling like a minstrel. (Oh, how I should have taken video, especially when my 4 year old attempted to juggle hotdogs. That was . . . interesting.)

It's really neat when our regular activities are supplemented by what we are learning. Jake learned about archery with his dad when they went hunting. He loves using his own toy bow and suction-cup arrow to shoot around the house, like Robin Hood. There is also a lesson on the armor of God in Ephesians 6. Our pastor just did a sermon on that last week, which complimented our study well. Using those times when life meets learning really helps cement the knowledge in your mind. To me, that's what homeschooling is about, incorporating learning into our every day life. I love when I can say, "Hey, this is just like what we talked about . . . " and delve into the subject more.

Of course, our absolute favorite activity was constructing our very own castle out of Legos. (I know, not surprising in the least.) You should have seen Jake's face when I suggested making one. That boy is obsessed with his Legos, and he was very excited to make it a family affair. As we were all sitting there, surrounded but thousands of pieces, laughing and having a good time, Alyssa (4 yr) said, "This is a family day for sure!" We're still adding to it, but it's already pretty cool with a working draw bridge, mote and crocodile, turrets, throne room, and dungeon. Oh, yeah. Any study that incorporates Legos is a winner.  

These unit studies are good for not only school, but for earning badges for Boy Scouts, American Heritage Girls, and 4H as well. There are directions for a working catapult (much simpler than this one we made) a recipe for making butter, and many other activities that can be completed for credit.

My kids greatly enjoy hands-on learning. I am determined to use unit studies more this year. These from Homeschool Legacy are fun, cover a wide-range of activities, can be used with multiple ages, and are meant for the entire family. Of course, this is only a 4 week study. If you want to dig even deeper into the topic, there are plenty of book titles listed that would easily help you find information. My kids would sit and listen to me read all day if we could. I especially appreciated the living book choices. Reading a book that is above their heads gives us the perfect opportunity to stop and explain and learn even more. We talked about the origin of last names, how Jesus is the King of kings, monks, the Plague, and so much more, just from reading. Sure, it takes a lot longer to finish a book, but our goal is not to see how many books we can knock out in a year. Our desire is to teach our children and give them a well-rounded education. One of my favorite discussions was about peasants and money. The children wanted to know if we are rich. At first, I had to chuckle. We are not rich. Or are we? We have a roof over our heads, drawers over-flowing with clothes, pantries full of food, way too many toys, gadgets and frivolities . . . a loving family, a merciful Saviour, a future in Heaven . . . We noted just how much we have and how many people in other countries have so little. Jake said, "We should go there and give them money. I would give them all my money!" Alyssa chimed in, "Well, I would give them a penny." Then Zac, my crazy energetic 2 year old quipped, "I would give them my hair."

I think we have some more teaching to do.

This specific study is best for grades 2-12 and costs $15.95. Remember, there are many other once-a-week studies available from Homeschool Leagacy as well. You can read reviews about Knights & Nobles and the other choices on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog

* Disclaimer: I received this study in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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