Island of the Blue Dolphins
The 1961 Newbery Medal Winner. When disaster strikes, Karana's people leave their island home to begin a new life across the sea. But Karana is left behind and must learn to survive many years alone while keeping alive the hope of an eventual rescue.
Please note that a brief synopsis of many of the books included here are provided in our Library Builders section. Study guides for the same book are often available from several publishers, so we found it more efficient to give a description of the book only once.
A wonderful adventure! That's what author Dorian Holt believes that learning should be. She's done her best to provide everybody moms and students alike with the means of making it such. How would you choose to spend your school time? Reading through textbooks and completing workbook pages? Or by reading Justin Morgan Had a Horse and raising frogs? I think most of us (and our students) would choose the latter. But we moms are afraid that it's either too much work or just plain too overwhelming and time-consuming to construct such a study. Besides that, we wouldn't even know where to begin. Well, Mrs. Holt knew where to begin. As a result, the rest of us unit-study-phobic homeschool moms can merely walk in her footsteps and teach the way we really want to teach in our heart of hearts.
I have to confess to being a unit-study-phobic homeschool mom. I spent a number of minutes just staring at the impressive stack of papers that constitutes each of these volumes. Then I began thumbing through them. It was at that point that I decided that I, too, could become a unit study mom. First of all, there's a very comprehensive and thorough organizational structure. The five-year scope and sequence is enough to take your breath away. Second, there are detailed daily lesson plans. Detailed, yes, but flexible. Third, the curriculum itself provides the predominant amount of instructional material needed. Additional resources are just that resources and references not something to be coordinated and incorporated into the daily work. Fourth, lots of real books are suggested and referenced. The library is your friend. Fifth, projects are carefully chosen, interesting, and, most importantly, doable. Sixth, book lists and materials-needed lists (easy-to-find stuff) are clearly presented at the beginning of each unit. Seventh, there's enough detail provided to give you confidence but not enough to cause your eyes to glaze over. Are you convinced yet?
There are five years of Adventure unit studies planned. Currently, three are completed. A World of Adventure (Book 1) covers Ancient Egypt through the Age of Exploration. A New World of Adventure (Book 2) covers the years 1600 1800 in American history and a study of Canada. Westward and Onward (Book 3) covers 1800 1860 in American history and a study of France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Scandinavia, and China. The two studies still being prepared and not yet available include: A Nation Torn and Mended (Book 4) which will cover 1860 1900 in American history and a study of other world regions and Adventures in a Modern World (Book 5) which will cover the 20th century of American history and a study of other world regions. Each of the studies covers skills and concepts for grades 4 through 8 and each will include a year (180 days) of lesson plans for all subjects except math. We're talking Bible, language arts, history, geography, science, and fine arts. The stuff is organized around a chronological historical study, employs quality age-appropriate literature and a plethora of "real books," incorporates a biblical and Christian worldview along with a Bible and character study, allows the student the satisfaction of in-depth inquiries into a wide breadth of science topics, provides lots of hands-on activities, and wraps it all up with the necessary language arts skills. Can you think of anything else you would like to see in a unit study? Starting with an overview of world history up to the point that American history begins, she continues with a closer, more specific American history study through the remaining time periods. In one masterful planning swoop, Mrs. Holt resolves the dilemma of "which do we study first - world history or American history?" It's really important to start with the first book, Mrs. Holt explains. It works best that way and you will avoid the gaps and frustrations that come from trying to jump into the middle of a series. Besides, there's something very satisfying about starting at the beginning of a study that you know has been very carefully laid out and intends to cover all necessary skills and topics. The studies are designed to be flexible not taskmasters. If for any reason the 180 day schedule does not work for your family, the author invites you to slow it down. She doesn't want you to lose sight of the goal developing a love of learning. There are lots of other aspects of flexibility built into these volumes, as well. For one thing, they can be adapted to include either younger or older siblings. The author is beginning to provide Little Adventurers Supplements which make the adaptation for younger students even simpler.
A lot of thought and consideration has gone into the development of these studies. The author believes that learning should be FUN. Learning is an ADVENTURE, after all. Accordingly, in this curriculum, informational input is in the form of readable talking points amidst an environment of warm and snuggly parent/student interaction; learning together, reading together, creating together, working together and recording together. What about output? How do we know there's learning taking place? Traditionally, "output" has meant tests. Not here! Rather, students are encouraged to keep notebooks compiled over several years state studies, country studies, US Presidents, etc. Suggestions are provided for starting and keeping notebooks, but much of the good information floating around about notebooking would apply. Also, lapbooking notebooking's newest cousin is another option. Memory work, presentations, and games each provide possibilities. In fact, games are such a positive output meter that Book 1 has its own accompanying game Worlds of Adventure Game which features laminated game boards (3), game pieces (for 2-8 players) and Question and Answer Booklets (3300 questions total). An accompanying schedule incorporates the game activity into the daily lesson plans.
It's impossible to do justice to the scope and sequence covered in these volumes. To give you just an idea, here are the science topics covered: Book 1 A World of Adventure: desert biomes, geology, botany, astronomy, and oceans. Book 2 A New World of Adventure covers: insects, weather, simple machines, inventors and inventions, electricity, electrons, charges, ions, electricity in history, mammals. Book 3 Westward and Onward: rivers, mountains, amphibians, the ear and the eye, water, reptiles, brain and nervous system, forest biomes, pre-chemistry, health and nutrition. You can see the pattern emerging topics from each of the major areas of science life, earth, and physical. To give you glimpse at the depth involved in each of these topics here is what the study of amphibians includes: characteristics, features, examples, classification, frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, caecilians, lifestyles, stages, metamorphosis, body structures and systems, and survival. There is an Amphibians Project that includes interpreting graphs. Are you beginning to get the picture? The scope and sequence for each subject area - language arts, history/geography, fine arts, and Bible (character training) is just as comprehensive and thorough and as well-organized. Any specific year might not conform exactly to a particular grade's "standards," but taken as a whole across the middle school years, these studies represent a rigorous academic package. There's a blend of educational philosophies here as well. The extensive use of real books melds with a Charlotte Mason approach. The rigorous academics will be appreciated by those in the classical camp, although the American history emphasis is a little stronger than usual. Those wanting a strongly Biblical and Christian approach to their children's education will be satisfied. What more could you want?
Each volume of the curriculum is a binder-ready (hole-punched) collection of prepared material we're talking lots of pages, folks! Book 1 is almost 800 pages. Book 2 is nearly 1500 pages. Book 3 is more than 1200 pages. I think it's safe to say that you will want more than one binder per year at least I would. All those pages in one binder just wouldn't be easy to pick up. Each of these volumes is written to and prepared for the teacher. Not scripted, but packed with instructional material laid out in easy to follow daily lesson plans. For instance, Unit 3 of Book 3 is titled Battling on Land and Sea. There are 21 days of daily lessons plans in this unit. Day 36 of Book 3 provides nine pages of instructional material. A scripture passage is read together and discussed (talking points provided). Scripture memory work is listed. Language Arts includes new vocabulary words from Justin Morgan, comprehension and discussion questions (with answers) from two chapters of the read aloud (Justin Morgan). Spelling is a word art project forming spelling words into the shape of an amphibian (examples given). Grammar study is on pronouns, and writing a descriptive paragraph about the night. Social studies concerns the causes of the War of 1812 (two pages of instructional material) and beginning a folder project on the War. Science study is (of course) amphibians particularly metamorphosis with several instructional pages and a metamorphosis wheel project. Follow-up vocabulary work includes Latin roots for metamorphosis and a couple of words from Justin Morgan. Fine Arts is a biographical study of Goya with a project demonstrating his technique of highlighting with the use of contrasting colors. Additional literature listed (you choose what you want to read) for the unit includes 21 books on the War of 1812, 11 books about James and Dolley Madison, 12 books about Louisiana, 8 books about Maine, 7 books about Vermont, and 47 books about amphibians. There is also a listing of activities from resource catalogs that apply to the unit.
A packet of Student Pages is available for each volume. These provide all the worksheets mostly grammar exercises - needed to complete the curriculum and are reproducible.
The Little Adventurers Supplements [currently available for Book 1, A World of Adventure] allow for easy integration of K-3 students. These are designed for adding younger siblings to the study but do not change the general target audience of the curriculum (i.e. grades 4-8). The author makes it very clear that these supplements do not include comprehensive phonics, math, or handwriting instruction but offer reinforcement and enrichment to those basic primary studies. The Supplements include lists of suggested age-appropriate books, a daily list of necessary supplies, and a day-by-day set of add-on lesson plans which differentiate for emergent, beginning, and continuing learners. Sometimes they refer back to the appropriate main lesson or offer alternative age-appropriate activities. The scope and sequence of the activities provided here is amazingly full-bodied; however, they are only designed to be used in conjunction with the complete Learning Adventure study. ~ Janice
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.
Very comprehensive and versatile study guides from a Christian perspective for selected novels. According to the publisher, the focus is on "teaching thinking and communication skills using literature as a base." A myriad of skills are covered here: reading comprehension, analytical and critical thinking, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing, and listening (I guess that's the "Plus"!). Total Language Plus is really both literature and language arts combined in one program. Novels have been carefully selected to either display a high moral tone, or to provide a basis from which to teach Biblical discernment. Most are Newbery Medal or Honor books; all are generally thought of as quality literature, have depth, and are high-interest.
One small teacher's manual presents the how's and why's of the program. It provides an overview and philosophy of the program, sample lesson plans for a typical week, and instructions for teaching each component of the program. The appendix contains a writing helps section and a summary of basic spelling rules. Also included here are answers to common questions about the Total Language Plus program. The program requires minimal teacher involvement as students work through most of the material on their own. While some work is done on separate paper, most exercises are worked directly in the student worktext, which is not reproducible. The only condition under which copying is allowed is when teaching multiple students simultaneously out of the same study guide.
The beginning of each book contains a variety of critical thinking activities, correlated to chapters in the novels, which include projects, drawing, writing assignments, and a puzzle. Some of the writing assignments require research or lengthier essays, while "Personally Thinking" questions require shorter written answers to questions that apply concepts in the story to the student's life or require the student to think and make judgments about story events and characters. These activities can be used at any time during the unit at your discretion, but you will probably want to use several of the shorter writing assignments per week if you want to include composition skills in the program.
The rest of the guide is broken down into weekly units. Each week, the student reads a section of the novel and answers comprehension questions pertaining to those chapters. Daily oral language exercises contain short paragraphs to be dictated to the student, practicing listening and memorization skills and reinforcing spelling and grammar. Passages are chosen to emphasize Bible truths that relate to the story or are actual excerpts from the literature. Other exercises practice an assortment of English skills, with Friday's exercise a summary of "problem words" for the week. Each day, students complete a section of their vocabulary worksheets, including the compilation of a glossary of vocabulary words for which students supply definition and part of speech. Vocabulary review sheets are included at the back of the book, and you can assign these to review and reinforce learning. As a culmination of vocabulary work, a final review test and answer key is provided. Daily spelling exercises also revolve around words from the novel. At the end of each week, a spelling test is administered on the words studied that week. As you can see, far more than reading and comprehension is covered here! Using this program you should not need separate spelling or vocabulary programs. Depending on the activities you choose, and the emphasis you place on composition skills, this may suffice as your total English program. Each book contains 5 to 8 units and will take about 8 to 10 weeks to complete. Plan on using about 3 to 5 guides per year.
Guides are available at five grade levels. Advanced high school guides contain more extensive writing activities that teach composition techniques, showing the student how to organize and plan their writing, as well as suggesting what points to include. They also contain oral readings for the selections to incorporate speech and drama into the program.
Lower-priced guides (see Out of the Dust and From the Mixed-Up Files...) are Focus Guides, which "focus" on specific writing skills and omit many of the varied language arts activities found in the other guides. While containing comprehension and analysis questions like other guides, they also feature comprehensive writing assignments relevant to the novel. Focus guides have less content overall than other guides and will take about 3 weeks to complete.
These are excellent literature study guides which cultivate appreciation in literature, improve reading comprehension, and encourage development of insight. The guides are meant to be used by the teacher, although they contain student reproducibles. In the regular guides, chapter by chapter analysis includes student directives, chapter vocabulary and a chapter summary. Student directives are questions about the chapter that can either be used as discussion questions or as a guide for the student to use in developing his own summary. Vocabulary sections contain both word and description. The summary is intended for use by the teacher and gives pertinent details about each chapter. Many chapters are followed by a reproducible skills page which cover literary concepts such as character development, setting, elements of a narrative, plot development, etc. For example, in the guide to My Side of the Mountain, the flashback device is used in chapter one. So, following that chapter's analysis is a skill page on Flashback Development in which students learn about how the flashback is used effectively in the chapter. Other skill pages focus on other non-literary (but essential) skills such as outlining, sequencing, categorizing, comparison and contrast, etc. Another unique and appreciated feature is the incorporation of Writer's Forum pages. These are sprinkled throughout the guide and provide writing opportunities based on the novel. Some guides contain more of them than others: My Side of the Mountain includes three such pages which explore conflict, reality (vs. artistic "license") and a page which contains eight different writing suggestions to use for a culminating presentation. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry has five such pages on a variety of topics including poetry, discrimination, and round vs. flat characters. Some of the guides also include a final, culminating project. Besides all of this, tests are included at the end of reading "blocks" (My Side has them every five chapters, Roll of Thunder has them every three). These include multiple choice, vocabulary and essay questions. Each book also contains a reproducible page to use for student summaries and chapter vocabulary plus answers for all skill pages and tests (including model essay answers). Challenging Level guides are formatted somewhat differently, with much more emphasis on reading strategies and analysis. Chapter by chapter discussion still centers on questions, vocabulary, and summary, but there are many more Strategy (the counterpart to the middle school level skill pages) and Writer's Forum pages. These are just excellent, exploring and examining many literary constructs and techniques. For example, in The Giver, while studying chapters 1 through 5, Strategies include: Beginning a Book, Setting and Mood, Irony, Plot - The Design of a Story, and Foreshadowing and Flashback. During this same span, three Writer's Forums are included: "Shades of Meaning," "Anecdote," and "A List of Rules." As with the lower level guides, testing occurs regularly at the end of specified chapter "blocks." Tests no longer include multiple choice answers, but concentrate on vocabulary and contain more essay (both short and long answer) topics. Again, answer pages in the back of the guide contain suggested responses for all student exercises and tests. While chapter summaries are usually sufficient for answering chapter questions in the regular level, the challenging level guides (thankfully) include answers to these questions also. These guides are well conceived and highly recommended.
Units include: Into a New Land - America's founding; Life in the Colonies - colonial life in early America; Revolution and Beyond - the War period, the establishment of a new country, and the writing of the Constitution. Resources listed below - you will need two additional biographies, one of Benjamin Franklin and the other of George Washington. We carry several options.
Imagine a classically-based history course where your child reads great history books and period-related literature, keeps a running timeline of the period studied, writes outlines and summaries of important people and events, completes history-related map work, and does all of this without extensive planning on mom's part. Although it may sound too good to be true, luckily for you it's not! Author Kathleen Desmarais has done an awesome job of combining an excellent variety of resources and activities and presenting it all in a very straight-forward, professional way that takes the stress of lesson planning off of you and puts the accountability and expectations squarely on your history student.
History Odyssey is basically a series of study guides, with one guide covering one era of history (Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern, or Modern) in one year. There are three levels to the program, so if you completed the whole series, you would cycle through world history three times - once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school education. The first level is intended for grades 1-4, the second level for grades 5-8, and the third level for grades 9-12. There will be twelve guides when the series is complete; currently, there are still several guides in production. The guides are loose-leaf and 3-hole punched, designed to be placed in a binder. You'll probably want a thick one; students will be adding a lot of material!
Although the same eras in history are covered in each level, the expectations on the student become more sophisticated, following the classical education progression. In Level 1 (the grammar stage), students are encouraged to approach history as a great story as they read (or are read to) and complete map work, History Pockets activities, copywork, and coloring pages. This level will require more attention from the parent than the two upper levels. Depending on the reading ability of the child, some reading selections may need to be read aloud or read together. There will also be copies to make and supplies to gather for each lesson. Level 2 (the logic stage) introduces the timeline, outlining as a writing skill, research, and independent writing assignments. Students are expected to read all assignments on their own, and critical thinking and analysis are emphasized through the assignments. Parental involvement should be reduced at this level, as parents should be only checking the quality of each day's work and making sure that it has all been done. By Level 3 (the rhetoric stage), students will be reading much more demanding history selections (including classic literature) and will be writing plenty of expository, descriptive, narrative and persuasive essays. Research, timeline work, and map work are continued from Level 2 but are more in-depth at this level. For each level, history, geography, and writing are strongly represented. Although the writing practice is extensive, you will probably want to be using a separate course in English and writing.
Now that you're familiar with the basics of the course, let's look at the lessons. Lessons are presented to the student in a checklist-type format. All assignments, including reading, timeline, writing, and others are listed for each lesson with a box to check when the task is complete. In Level 1, lessons are structured a bit differently, in that there is some parent preparation (highlighted in gray), a "main lesson" of assignments, and then several "additional activities" listed. Lessons typically include a mix of readings from resource books, map work, timeline work (in the upper two levels), and writing assignments/copywork to be added to the student's master binder. Exceptions may be lessons which ask the student to begin reading a required book. In this case, a recommended time frame is given in which the book should be read, and follow-up writing assignments may be listed. Occasionally websites may be listed to check out more information, but these are not absolutely necessary to the course if you are not able to visit them. Following the lessons, you'll find worksheets referred to in the lessons, outline maps used in map activities, and several appendices. Although the guide is not reproducible, the author does give permission to copy the maps and worksheets for your family's use only.
There are several important aspects of this course. First of all, with the exception of Level 1, there is little parent preparation. A "Letter to Parents" at the beginning of the guide explains the course, while the "How to Use This Guide" lists required resources and other necessary supplies, describes the organization of the student's binder, and briefly discusses several aspects of the program. For the upper two levels, parents will be primarily making sure the necessary books and resources are on hand and ensuring that each lesson's work has been done and is complete. This leads to my next point, which is that at the end of this course, the student will not have "completed a workbook," but will have compiled their own meaty notebook with all their work from the course. Instruction is given at the very beginning of the course on how to organize the student's notebook, and from that point on, the student will be putting all of their work into the binder. The binder will be not only a tremendous keepsake but a collection of all work done in the course. Finally, the timeline is a very important tool used in Levels 2 and 3 of History Odyssey. This can be made by you, or you may choose to purchase Pandia Press's very attractive Classical History Timeline, which is described below. Events and people studied are added to the timeline throughout the course, and when they're finished with the guide, the timeline can be folded up and included in the student's binder.
One bonus to the course is that they use well-known resources and literature that you may already own! Level 1 heavily uses Story of the World books, A Child's History of the World and History Pockets. My sample of Middle Ages Level 2 lists the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Story of Mankind, Usborne Internet-Linked Viking World, The Door in the Wall, Tales from Shakespeare, Beowulf: A New Telling, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Castle (by David Macaulay), The Canterbury Tales, and many more. Check out the lists of resources beneath each History Odyssey Guide below - I'm sure you'll see many familiar
If you're looking for a study guide for a specific book, Novel Units probably has it covered! They produce hundreds of literature guides - only a sampling of them are listed here.
Teacher Guides are 30-40 pages - not voluminous, but enough for good coverage of the book. Format of the guides vary somewhat by grade level, but have some common elements. They begin with a synopsis of the book and its author and some pre-reading activities that serve both to provide background for the novel study and initiate student involvement and thinking about the story. Chapter by chapter (in some guides, multiple chapters) lesson plans contain vocabulary words, discussion questions (with answers), and suggested activities. Some guides also include writing ideas. Literature concepts/skills appear here and there. Some guides contain reproducible graphic organizers to aid student analysis. All include some culminating questions and activities. Again, these vary in scope and type by guide. There are no objective or essay tests, but each guide ends with a student assessment page that provides a list of projects or exercises to be completed to help evaluate student understanding.
Student Packets although not available for every book vary somewhat by grade level and book. Student packets may include: activity pages, study guide, graphic organizers, writing and/or listening and speaking prompts, critical thinking challenges, quizzes and unit test. Answers are included in the back, along with an essay evaluation form (i.e. rubric). Student packets are not reproducible.
Really, each of these components can function as a stand-alone product and can be used without the other, but for a more comprehensive study, they are best used in concert. There is very little overlap between the two, even in the chapter-by-chapter questions - but completing the questions in the Student Packet will help prepare your child for the more in-depth questions found in the Teacher Guide. If your child is working independently on a novel, the Student Packet can be used alone (if available). If you want to do little written work and put more emphasis on discussion, the Teacher Guide can be used by itself.
Please note that some guides have been written to correlate with a specific edition of a book. Some of these editions are now out of print, and we do not carry all versions mentioned. Where multiple editions are available, such as Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the page numbers given in the guide may not correlate exactly.
The best way to describe these wonderful books is "literature and Bible study rolled into one." Truly from a Christian perspective, these classic and award-winning books are examined in the light of God's Word and a Biblical worldview. The author sent us several review copies and they are wonderful!
Each guide includes:
- a concise synopsis of the book
- information about the book's author
- background information pertinent to the story
- suggestions for activities relating to the subject matter
- introduction of literary terms
- vocabulary exercises for each section of reading
- comprehension, analysis, and application questions for each section of reading with discussion of related Biblical themes
- a complete answer key and suggestions for further reading
Their brochure states "Our goal is to teach students of all ages to examine what they read, Christian or secular, classic or contemporary, and value the truth it contains as measured against the Bible." A worthy goal indeed! If you want to study great literature from a Christian perspective, here's your answer! If in doubt, try just one - we're sure you'll be back for more!
Progeny Press guides are available in two formats: softcover staplebound booklets and CD-ROMs. The CD-ROMs originally featured printable .pdf files, but Progeny Press is now transitioning these to interactive .pdf files. Inspired by a tax software, these files are able to be used by the student on the computer, or printed out. Questions in the files have text boxes to type in or buttons to select, so you won't have to print worksheet pages if you don't want to. Plus, users can grade their answers and leave notes as well! Upper Elementary through High School CD guides are now interactive, while Lower elementary