I love to use biographies and living books for our history and science studies whenever possible. That works especially well when I find a person or topic to study that really has a personal interest for my son. Having grown up in Brevard County, Florida, NASA and the Space Program has always been a part of their lives. We are fortunate enough to be able to stand in our yard to watch rocket launches from the Cape, and my boys grew up watching the shuttle launches (as did I!). So, we were really excited to check out the Digital Unit Study for the book Heroes of History-Alan Shepard from YWAM Publishing. It came in especially handy since we worked on the study before a scheduled trip to the Kennedy Space Center with our homeschool group!
I did this study with my 8th/9th grade son, and even though he could read the book on his own, we like to do history together, so we took turns reading it out loud. He found the biography to be very exciting as it described Shepherd’s journey from a young boy with a keen interest in aviation to an astronaut who would eventually journey to the moon.
The unit study itself comes with a wealth of materials you can use to enhance your understanding of the book and learn more about Alan Shepard. First, there is a short summary biography to give you a brief background, which is a nice introduction, especially if you don’t know a lot about him to begin with. The Homeschool introduction is pretty much a parent’s guide, giving you info on how to use the digital study, suggestions for scheduling, an explanation of each part of the guide, and options for setting it up as a parent-directed or student-directed study. I really like that it offers that option, because it gives you a lot of flexibility. If you have an older child and are in a busy season, you can structure it as more of a self-directed activity without having to plan it all yourself, or, if you want, you can just follow the directions for using it with your child. Like I said, we do history together, but my son completed a fair amount of activities on his own due to life circumstances!
The guide itself is broken into sections, starting with a collection of quotes from a variety of people that relate to the themes of the book, and suggestions for a “display corner” that students can work on throughout the study, where they collect items and memorabilia related to the person they are studying. The third section really gets into the meat of the study, with questions for each chapter. The questions focus on a variety of skills including vocabulary, basic recall, and more open-ended questions that require students to take what they have read and use it to form an opinion or relate it to other knowledge.
Usually, after reading the chapter, I had my son complete the chapter questions in writing on his own, but you could easily do these orally with younger students or with more than one student. The Student Explorations portion of the guide consists of a range of activities that are great for completing the study. Essay questions on a variety of topics give older students a chance to practice their writing skills while also showing off what they learned, and the creative writing topics are a lot of fun. In addition, there are some great suggestions for hands-on projects, which is awesome for students who’s strengths lie outside of writing or narrating.
The guide also offers ideas for mapping and timeline activities, suggestions for other related books, movies, documentaries, and websites you can use for further study, and an outline for a “culminating activity” where students can host an evening event where they show off what they know for family and friends. I think this particular activity would be great if you were doing this study with a large group, in a co-op or with several of your children at once.
In addition, the guide comes with some printables, including an Alan Shepard fact sheet, maps and a timeline. In all, this is a great study for a great price! And, there are tons of people to choose from. To learn more, connect with YWAM Publishing on social media here:
See what other members of the crew thought of this, and the other guides we got to check out, here: