Layers of Learning Unit 4-7: Civil War, National Parks, Plate Tectonics, Post-Impressionism
Layers of Learning Unit 4-7 is a complete unit study for history, geography, science, and the arts.
- History: Civil War
- Geography: National Parks
- Science: Plate Tectonics
- Arts: Post-Impressionism
Layers of Learning Unit 4-7 starts with the history of the American Civil War including the Underground Railroad, the argument over slavery, Abraham Lincoln, life of a soldier, conditions of the war, major battles, innovations in technology and methods, and Reconstruction. Next we learn about the national parks, how they were begun, their purpose, where they are, details about certain parks, and conservation. In science we continue the study of the earth with plate tectonics, the underlying theiry, mechanisms of plate movement, and faults. Finally in art learn about post-impressionism including the artists Cezanne, van Gogh, Seurat, and Gauguin.
Year Four begins with our American Government before covering American history, regions, people and economics. African history, modern East Asia, India's Independence, Israel, the Cold War, and Latin America are also studied within their chronological significance. Science topics include heat and temperature, motors and engines, energy, earth structure and plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanos, mountains, chemistry, food chains, animal groups, habitats and conservation. Patriotic and Modern Music, Tall Tales, Romantic Art, Impressionism, Post Impressionism, Expressionism, Abstract Art, Modern Art, Photography, Theater and Film, Architecture and more are covered in the arts.
As a firm believer in the value of unit studies for homeschool families, I was delighted to have the opportunity to review this well-written, family-friendly curriculum. Written for a wide grade range of 1-12, parents with younger children will easily have enough materials to include their little ones in the topical studies, making this truly a unit study for all ages!
Well-organized, flexible, with hands-on activities and projects, Layers of Learning offers a family approach to learning that follows a chronological, four-year cyclical approach to history. Families may choose to use subjects independently or together for a one-year comprehensive curriculum in social studies (history and geography), science, writing, and the arts. Just add phonics/reading, spelling, and mathematics at grade level to complete your homeschool year. The curriculum is in the process of being revised, with Year One currently available. Year Two is expected in late 2023, with Year Three and Four in the planning stages.
Year 1 begins with the First Civilizations and concludes with Ancient Rome in History; Maps and Globes through continents and the oceans in People and Planets (Geography); History of Science and an overview of science branches are covered in science; with Art looking at the purpose, supplies, and elements of art as well as ancient art from early history. Divided into nine units, each subject’s unit includes teaching notes, library lists, activities, and enrichment ideas. Within this, activities are further divided into three grade levels: 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Parents can easily move between levels to meet student needs, making this a great option for a struggling or gifted learner! Main concepts are explained and include numerous suggestions for library books, websites, and You-Tube videos. Updated weblinks are also found at the publisher’s website. You choose what fits your family’s learning goals! Additional layers (carefully selected rabbit trails) are included to go deeper into one topic. Religious events are studied for historical value. Integrated throughout, the Writer’s Workshop contains writing lessons and suggested writing prompts are included for proficient writers. Corresponding Printed Student Journals are available for each subject (used throughout a four-year cycle) or use a notebook of your choice. Add quality children’s history and science encyclopedias to your bookshelf, a few library books, and ordinary household or art/craft items. Purchase includes information to download a printable packet of student resources, which includes reproducible activity pages, images for the printed Student Journals, and more.
Limited quantities of the classic Layers of Learning individual units are available. Each unit is designed to take two weeks, although based on the number of resources included, these could easily extend into longer periods of learning. The units are divided into 4 areas: Explorations (hands-on activities), Experiments (Science), Expeditions (field trip suggestions) and Explanations (additional teaching notes). Written to be a comprehensive, yearlong unit study, some families may prefer to utilize this holistic learning process to supplement textbook learning. With the ability to purchase each unit independently, this is an excellent way to try out the program, to supplement your current curriculum with hands-on activities or to manage your homeschool budget. Recommended for the study are a 3-ring binder, a children’s encyclopedia (for example the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (#018005 or #000979 or the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia #003618), a student atlas (DK Student Atlas #057764), and a Science Encyclopedia (DK Encyclopedia of Science #004894).
As a mom who loved to incorporate thematic learning and unit studies, I appreciate the author’s attempts to make the courses easy to use, engaging and adaptable for family learning. If you are struggling to teach all subjects to all your kiddos, take a close look at Layers of Learning! It might just be what’s been missing in your quest for success! Reproducible for families. ~Deanne
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.