Thursday, June 18, 2020

Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I was excited to review Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1878-1915: 17 Student Workshops with 120 Activities from Rebecca Locklear. My middle child is my outdoorsy one. He loves learning survival skills, knows how to tie a dozen various knots, and can talk your ear off about living in the wild. I am always looking for new books and ideas to feed his hobby. With well-over 100 activities, including many based around survival, I knew this eBook would pique his interest.

Rebecca Locklear wrote this study to bring light to a long-forgotten organization. The U.S. Life-Saving Service dedicated their lives to saving others. From 1878-1915, these men watched the coasts for signs of distress and worked to rescue those whose ships were sinking. These surfmen were the precursor to the U.S. Coastguard and many of their procedures for search and rescues were carried over. Rebecca's great-grandfather, "Skipper" Eldredge, devoted 15 years of his life to this service. It was in his honor that she created this study.

The study is divided into 4 units with 17 workshops:

  • Unit 1: Life at the Station House
  • Unit 2: Working Together
  • Unit 3: The Culture of Character
  • Unit 4: Relevance Today

Each workshop, or lesson, begins with a description of its objectives and a list of needed materials. It also notes the age range that the material is geared toward, varying between grades 4-12.

The introductory workshop is packed with background information. It explains what the purpose of the Life-Saving Service was, including how many men were on each crew, what their responsibilities were, how they lived, how they trained, what tactics they used for rescues, what they ate, what they wore, and more.

Each subsequent workshop focuses on a specific aspect of life. The teacher is given reading materials, questions, and exercises to aid in the learning. There is a variety of activities throughout the lessons which cover cooking, drama, skits and improvisation, music, poetry, games, stories, videos, and other engaging hands-on projects.
There are additional sections in the book to further your study. There are projects involving art and music; research ideas that include archaeology, Coston Flares, rescue devices, ships and safety, social issues, and much more; information on why ships sink, and recipes for food sampling of the time. There is also a glossary with 35 sea terms with brief descriptions.

I have been using Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service as a unit study with my kids ranging in age from 5-12. I read them the background information for the lessons and then we talk over them further. As much as I love hands-on learning and incorporate it daily into our studies, these discussion have been my favorite aspect. We've talked much about duty, sacrifice, good deeds, integrity, perseverance, hard work. selflessness. We've thought about how it would have felt to be a surfman, to be his wife, to be his child.

We made molasses muffins, used clues to guess various sea creatures the men ate, laughed at true stories involving skunks, identified types of ships by their silhouettes, translated Morse Code, used critical thinking to figure out if rescues were successful in true scenarios of the past, created our own citrus smelling salts, practiced polite manners, learned how to find the good in poor situations, and partook in other interesting activities.

We're getting ready to start Unit 4, which explains how the Life-Saving Service is relevant today. I'm excited, because this section covers steps for survival in emergencies, gives a list of survival essential items, teaches how to handle being cold and wet, and other life skills. 

We are very much enjoying this study of Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1878-1915: 17 Student Workshops with 120 Activities. Many of the activities are geared toward larger groups and would be great for co-ops or scouts. We were able to easily adapt things as needed though and were able to complete the exercises with our family. I love that the book is filled with photographs of everything from the surfmen to their drills to shipwrecks to the stations and more. They help bring the explanations to life.

There is much to be learned from the lives of the Life-Saving Service crew. These "storm warriors." Angels in oilskins. Surfmen. I think their testimony is best summed up by their motto:

 You have to go out, but you don't have to come back.

You can connect with Rebecca Locklear on her website and Facebook. You can also sign up for a monthly email filled with teaching tips and the latest news about her resources.

Some of my Crewmates also reviewed The Mayflower at Cape Cod which is a book that connects the year 1620 with life today using stories, activities, and research. You can read reviews of that study and also more of Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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