Christian Cottage Schools Unit Studies
Each of the four volumes in this series contains curriculum for a full year of study. While History and Science are to the fore, all subjects are integrated except for Phonics (for younger students), Grammar (for older students) and Math. You may want to supplement with a separate spelling program for younger grades where a systematic approach to spelling is preferred. Opportunities for writing, both creative and expository, abound. One day each week is set aside as a writing day, allowing the student to synthesize and summarize the week's learning. Literature is integrated via a list of well-chosen, "classic" literature and read-alouds that complement each unit of study. Bible is "built-in" as units use biblical illustration and references in addition to specific scriptures quoted for devotional and memory work. An ambitious work, comparable in scope to the Weaver and KONOS, this curriculum has been thoroughly tested by families enrolled in the Christian Cottage Schools. Like the Weaver, lessons generally follow a chronological flow from Creation (in Volume One) to the year 2000 (the end of Volume Four). Like KONOS, it's emphasis is on hands-on activities. As with any unit study curriculum, outside resources and reference materials are an integral part of the study. As a whole, this curriculum falls somewhere in between KONOS and Weaver as far as the amount of self-contained textual information - probably closer to KONOS. After poring over the volumes, I'd sum up the major strengths of this curriculum as usability, balance, and organization. It's extremely teacher-friendly. Charts, lists, and resources are organized by grade level to help mothers use the curriculum with children of varying age and skill levels. Texts aren't totally cast aside, but are used as tools (if desired), along with other resources and references to complement the activities. Each volume is organized into 10- and 20-day sections (or units) with five-day cycles (see below). A concept scope and sequence details, by subject, topics covered in the volume and which unit(s) they're covered in. Units can be taught in sequence or not. Vol. I, for example, has two suggested, alternate options; one presents topics chronologically, the other, seasonally. Thoughts on scheduling, along with a sample lesson plan page, are included. Within each unit are five basic components: Activity Calendars, Resources, Main Points to Study and Vocabulary, Scriptures of the Month (or Day, depending on Volume), and Daily Activities. Main Points to Study breaks down the concepts to be mastered by each of the four levels: Primary (K-3), Elementary (4-6), Intermediate (6-8), and Advanced (9-12). These build from one level to the next - that is, Intermediate study points listed are in addition to those from the lower two levels. The flip side of this page has Vocabulary. Again, upper levels build on the lower, containing additional words to master. Each unit contains Scriptures of the Month or Daily Scriptures, correlated to activities or related to subjects studied in the unit. Activity Calendars simply lay out the daily plans for each level in grid form, giving you a quick look at how the study will be implemented. The Resources section lists appropriate textbooks, library resources, correlated literature, videos, and sometimes other references. Often, these are broken out by level or age ranges are included. Short summaries and comments accompany each to help you select ones for your study. Included among these are the resources referenced by the authors in compiling the study. The heart of each unit is the Daily Activities section. These are the specific, daily plans, including hands-on activities and easy-to-do experiments, that are the foundation for the unit. They are interesting, well-thought out lessons. I particularly like the emphasis and "fleshing out" the authors have given to them. Rather than overwhelm you with an overabundance of sketchy ideas, they've carefully selected an activity per day and supply background information, materials needed, and clear direction for each. For some lessons, you will want to locate visuals from supplemental sources. Beyond the Primary level, you will want to assign reading from a basal text or resource book to expand on the textual information. Specific suggestions are included for balancing activities with bookwork according to age and on how to integrate textbooks with unit studies. With the information provided in the Resource section, it should be easy to select books and supplements appropriate to the grade level and activity. Since all children work on essentially the same activity (increasing in complexity according to level), the program lends itself well to cooperative effort. Sometimes, the activity is intended as a group project - ideal in a homeschool setting. As with any activity-oriented study, you should scan the lessons in advance to allow time to gather materials needed. The authors state that the daily plans are designed in five-day cycles, with three "bookwork" days, followed by one day of primarily unit activities, and one day of creative writing. In looking through the units, this pattern is not always apparent. It seems as though it was a general goal, but not a "rule," so the activities and learning are not compromised by having to adhere to a rigid structure at the expense of the logical "flow."
Each volume has its own particular emphasis, while maintaining a generally chronological flow. Volume I is