Guns for General Washington
A great read about young Will Knox and his brother, Henry, who undertake the daring and dangerous task of transporting 183 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston to help George Washington win an important battle.
Unit Study Curriculums are "complete" curriculums based on the unit study approach that are intended to be used over a longer span of time (typically a year or more). They generally have an organized structure or flow and incorporate as many subject areas as possible. Typically, organizational materials and methods are provided along with some instruction for use. Broken into logical segments or "units" of study, they are intended to comprise the core of your curriculum.
What is a "unit study"? Briefly, it's a thematic or topical approach to teaching as opposed to the traditional by-subject approach. Rather than teach each subject separately, a unit study attempts to integrate many or all subject areas into a unified study - usually centered around a particular subject or event. Obviously History (the study of events) and Science (the study of "things") are well-suited to unit studies, and usually form the "core" around which other subjects are integrated. Subjects like Bible, Geography, Government, English (writing), and Reading/Literature, Music, Home Economics, Life Skills, and Art, are usually easy to integrate around a core topics. Remaining subjects (Math, Phonics, Grammar, Spelling) can be integrated to some extent via related activities. Each, however, has its own "system" (progression of skills, mastery of "rules") which must be followed to some degree. Since one of the additional advantages of a unit study curriculum is the ability to use it with students of varying ages and skill levels, these subjects are generally taught apart from the core curriculum. This may be as simple as assigning pages in a grammar or spelling book, or using a separate "program" for Phonics and Math. Unit studies also tend to be more activity-oriented than the traditional approach, a real boon to kinesthetic learners. Advocates of the unit study approach site studies showing that children learn best when learning is unified rather than fragmented and when learning is more participatory than passive.
Memoria Press now offers complete Curriculum Manuals and grade-level curriculum packages for PK-10 using the classical methodology. Recitation is used in every level for memorization of basic facts, systematic phonics and good books are used for reading education, copywork is used for teaching Bible truths, and music and art are included for enrichment in the early (K-3) levels. Each Curriculum Manual contains complete lesson plans for a one-year course of study.
The Curriculum Manuals are well-formatted and easy to use. In the front of each book you will find a checklist of the materials needed at that level, an explanation of this curriculum, instructions for lesson implementation, a recommended schedule and blank schedule for your own planning purposes, and 33 weeks of detailed lesson plans. Lessons include assignments from the books used at each grade level, as well as activity suggestions. The appendices include a variety of material for that grade level, and may include: prayers, letter activities, recitation, memory verses, read-aloud book list, poetry list and selections, and a paintings/music list for kindergarten and first grade. These pages are reproducible for family or classroom use.
Although most of the guides have been available for several years, the curriculum was restructured in 2015, with many of the programs originally included in 3rd grade now with a slower pacing to span 3rd and 4th grade. Guides for grades 3 and up have been modified to reflect this change, while the lower-level guides have only had minor changes. If you are already midway into the program with the original guides, you can still continue in that track with the older guides, now titled Acclerated Classical Core Curriculum Manual. You can find these along with the complete list of curriculum resources used with them on our website.
We have complete grade-level resource packages, consumable packages for “refill,” new user packages for levels that reuse resources from a previous level, read-aloud packages for each level and science and enrichment packages for the early levels. Curriculum resources are also listed individually (see website for specific contents of consumables and read-aloud packages). Please note that several of the programs include First Form Latin and Classical Composition, which should be completed in order, regardless of what is in the grade level package.If you have a student entering the program after fourth grade, you will need to start them in Classical Composition: Fable Stage and/or First Form Latin instead of what might be in the package.
This series is for the parent who wants a good classical curriculum which is outlined and ready to use. Simply open the book and follow the instructions. You will be well on your way to a quality education for your young ones. ~ Donna
There will be families who are very thankful for the appearance of this curriculum; for years it's seemed as though classical education and special needs might be incompatible. Then comes Cheryl Swope who just...does it. Not only did she start walking down the classical path with her special-needs twins, but she quickly realized that it was the very best possible educational path for them. The combination of systematic repetition, language skills emphasis, gracious implementation and quality content has reaped amazing results, transforming their challenging lives into those with meaningful expressions of beauty and service.
Simply Classical Curriculum, written by Mrs. Swope, begins with essentially a set of lesson plans coupled with a choice reading list and moves gradually into the Memoria Press Classical Core resources. If you take a quick look at these lesson plans you may conclude that this approach is simply a typical classical program slooooowed way down. You're not exactly wrong, but you're not exactly right either. It's rather that the possibility of slowing way down is built into the lessons. The daily collection of lessons - rich in quality literature - progress slowly and surely through the process of laying a very solid foundation in classical learning. The plans/program offers 10 key features:
- The rich, beautiful content of a classical Christian education
- A slower pace with ample review
- An emphasis on books with elegant illustrations to cultivate a taste for excellence
- A multi-sensory presentation of material
- Oral language components
- Skills checklists
- Integration across subjects
- Themed levels
- Socratic questioning
The Curriculum Manual for each level provides parents all the tools they need for success including the program overview, readiness assessment, list of required curricula and read-aloud/enrichment books or supplements, supply list, teacher notes, suggested schedule, lesson plans, and the week-by-week chart for recitation and memory work. The detailed readiness assessment for each level covers language, cognitive ability, emotional development, fine-motor skills, and gross motor skills and is followed by a set of skills in each area to develop during this level of the program. Other than making sure you have the required resources and supplies for the day prep is practically nil. Organized in a two-page spread, grid format, the weekly lesson plans provide assignments and brief teacher notes to support the lesson. Beginning with Level 5 & 6, combined levels are available in either a One Year Accelerated Pace or Two-Year Standard Pace. Simply Classical provides children with significant special needs or other learning struggles the opportunity to excel with a classical education. Parents of struggling learners will appreciate the slower pacing, review and predominately oral lessons that help children succeed.
Curriculum manuals and curriculum/read-aloud books are available separately. Where available, we offer different packages to simplify ordering. The Core Curriculum Packages include the Curriculum Manual plus the books/workbooks used throughout the year. The Read Aloud Packages include all the books used as read alouds for the year. New User Add-On Packages are available for levels that reuse resources from a previous level. The Supply Packages are a collection of school supplies that are needed to complete the program. ~ Janice/Deanne
When several very talented authors create a curriculum that combines the educational philosophies of Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason, you know its worth taking a look. Designed to incorporate Dr. Beechicks educational principles in their entirety, this curriculum attempts to guide students in building their thinking skills through the knowledge they gain, not as a separate process. The Trail Guide to Learning program is a very comprehensive unit study curriculum that incorporates reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, science, art and more into a study of history and geography. Math is the only core subject not covered. Currently, three complete levels are available: Paths of Exploration (for grades 3-5), Paths of Settlement (for grades 4-6) and Paths of Progress (for grades 5-7). These first three levels focus on American history and are designed for the elementary grades (although they are adaptable for students at the top or bottom of each intended grade range so you could use Paths of Exploration with a 2nd grader or 6th grader). These make up the first segment of a planned complete curriculum series that will cover U.S. History (elementary), World History (jr. high), and Modern U.S./World History/Government/Economics (high school). While this review will undoubtedly be modified as this ambitious curriculum continues to be published, most of this review will focus on Paths of Exploration (POE), Paths of Settlement (POS) and Paths of Progress (POP).
Each level is organized into six topical six-week units. In POE, the units are: Columbus, Jamestown, Pilgrims, Daniel Boone, Lewis & Clark, and Trails West. The units are fairly discrete, and do not blend into each other. Each topic is covered exhaustively, however, with relevant cross-curricular content. Units are divided into six lessons, which are further split into five parts, so each level features 180 daily lessons in all. The authors make a point that although the lessons are broken down into daily chunks, there is enough review built in (particularly on Fridays) so you can be somewhat flexible with scheduling. Specific teaching instructions are provided for students in Grades 3-5, with a different animal track symbol designating each grade level suggestion. These assignments can be easily found in each lesson, or you can view the Lessons At A Glance in one of the Appendices to see a whole lesson broken down by skill area and assignments, with handy checklists for completion. As students progress through the course, they will add their student pages, artwork, and other projects into their Student Notebook (Notebooking Pages for Paths of Exploration are no longer available in pdf format. You can purchase the actual printed pages - 3-hole punched, blackline format, with activity pages included for all six units), a permanent record of the year. Reading material and additional activities are found in the required resources. that you will need for each unit. Please note that student pages are now a separate purchase for POE but are included in digital format for POS and POP until those are revised.
Lessons are written for ease of use for both teacher and student. Although the directions are written to the student, notes in the margins are intended for the teacher. No answers are given in the lesson content, which makes it easier to share the book. Each lesson begins not with specific knowledge-based objectives, but with several "Steps for Thinking" which are the larger ideas behind the topics students will learn in the lesson. In Lesson 1 in the Columbus unit, these include: "1. Journeys are made for a reason. 2. Knowing the reason for a journey helps you understand the decisions people make along the way. 3. Planning ahead and making preparations are essential for a successful journey." These are the ideas that should come up in discussing lesson content later on.
As you might expect from a curriculum co-authored by Debbie Strayer (author of Learning Language Arts Through Literature), language arts is heavily emphasized in every lesson. Each daily lesson segment begins with copywork and dictation, with assignments given at the three grade levels. Reading follows, with the student reading selected sections or pages aloud to the teacher. Then the teacher reads several pages from a more advanced book used in that lesson and reads the discussion questions, or the student narrates a provided assignment. Word Study, which encompasses vocabulary and spelling, is next, and typically is tied into the reading or the copywork. Again, several different grade-level specific assignments are provided. For example, in Unit 2 (Jamestown), Lesson 1, students look at words with apostrophes that they find in their reading book, A Lion to Guard Us. Theyll examine words with apostrophes, and learn the difference between an apostrophe that signals a contraction and an apostrophe that shows belonging. They also make a word list of names of people and places in their notebook and look at words that make the j sound with the dge combination. Throughout their reading, students will also make vocabulary cards for words that they might not have come across before. The guide stresses that these are not flash cards for memorization, but making the cards will help children remember the word and its meaning. That may sound like a lot, but remember that lessons are weekly, not daily.
Geography, history and science are well-integrated integrated into each lesson. History is naturally absorbed from the books the students read (and listen to). A related geography lesson is provided just about every day, which ties in beautifully with the units topic. For example, in the Columbus unit, students learn about compasses, directional terms, globes, maps, culture and worldview, the oceans, the continents, navigation, ships, map skills, using a map key, and more. Students will also locate the places they are reading about on maps, and become aware of where they are and why this is important to the events studied. In POS, students will also study the states as they work through the curriculum. POP emphasizes scientists and inventors, so students will soak up biographical details as well as science concepts.
Because history and geography often go hand-in-hand, and because the curriculum is published by Geography Matters, I had expected the geography lessons to be top-notch. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the science topics are related to the unit topics. Science can occasionally seem like an afterthought in unit studies, with vague assignments for the student to simply "research a topic." Here the topics are relevant and the content is good. Looking again at the Columbus unit in POE, students will learn about science topics that directly affected Columbus expedition, including oceans, air and ocean currents, the sun, stars, constellations, the solar system, weather and how it relates to climate, the moon, the early history of astronomy, spices, and the senses. There are several outside resources that you will use again and again for science material, including The Handbook of Nature Study and the North American Wildlife Guide. Although much of the science work is researching and reading, hands-on experiments from The Handbook of Nature Study are also used. It is worth noting that science is not covered every day like geography, but makes an appearance about 2-3 times per week.
The later sections of each daily lesson may be devoted to writing, art, drawing or another project. Writing activities are the most frequent of the three, and include a lot of variety in the assignments. Students may write fiction based on a place or event they have learned about, use a graphic organizer to identify the parts of a story, make lists, write about something learned that day in their own words, create poetry, make a book review card, write a friendly letter, and much more. Many of the art activities combine drawing with one of the topics covered in the lesson. Art or drawing is included about twice a week, with some activities contributed by homeschool art pros Sharon Jeffus and Barry Stebbing. The Lewis & Clark unit in particular uses Sharons book Lewis & Clark Hands On heavily and often combines art and writing activities. Although art is covered consistently, dont worry too much about investing in a pile of art materials from what I can tell, youll primarily be using the basics (drawing paper, construction paper, colored pencils or crayons, glue, modeling clay and possibly some paint).
The final portion of each days lesson is devoted to independent reading. Student and teacher will work together to find a book that interests them, and the student will read for 20-30 minutes (depending on their age) and record their reading time in their Reading Log. The reading material is completely left up to you and your student(s), which offers them the chance to read other books outside of the historically-based ones theyll primarily be exposed to.
Part 5 of each lesson is less structured, and is designed for completing any work that has not been finished, or for exploring some additional activities. Instead of assignments in each subject area, a bulleted list of activities is included, followed by several enrichment activities. In the unit on Daniel Boone, Part 5 of Lesson 4 suggests that you: review the Steps for Thinking, trace the Appalachian trail on an outline map, review the spelling words from the lesson, complete a week-long observation of your neighborhood, walk a hiking trail in a nearby park, and do a Daniel Boone crossword puzzle. Enrichment activities include researching General George Rogers Clark and making a list of facts about him, and finding a story or video about Daniel Boone and comparing it with the facts learned during the Daniel Boone unit.
There are a few things to note about this curriculum. First of all, it is written from a religiously neutral viewpoint, so it is an option for those of you ordering through charter schools. There is however a strong emphasis on good character, and many units spend some time studying the best qualities of historical figures. If you want to incorporate Bible study into the curriculum, you can either supplement your own program, or purchase the optional Bible study supplement, Light for the Trail directly from Geography Matters. Also, as noted previously, math is not included, so you will need a separate math program. Testing is not built into the program (the student notebook takes the place of assessments), but Geography Matters does offer an optional Assessment CD if this is important to you. Lastly, there are a number of resources that are required for use with the curriculum. These are listed below. Many titles have been chosen to accompany specific units of the program, while others are used all year long. - Jess