As part of our ongoing unit study for this year on U.S. Geography and History, we have been settled around the Revolutionary War. We have done our usual: lots of reading, mapping, projects, writing, and videos. What we were lacking was a good read aloud. As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I had the option of choosing one of two biographies from the Heroes of History series from YWAM Publishing: Jim Elliott: One Great Purpose or George Washington: True Patriot by Janet and Geoff Benge. The George Washington book would fit right into our current studies of the American Revolution, so I chose it. GREAT CHOICE!
I will admit, I was reluctant to read a 224 page biography to my children of ages 9 and 8. But, the recommended age range for the books was 10 and up, so I decided to stretch the kids and give it all I had. I didn't have to do a thing but just read the book. They were so engaged in it that I never got a complaint as to it's length or the heaviness of it's content, including dates, people, and historical events. They were completely absorbed in the story, and so was I.
George Washington: True Patriot is beautifully written with just the perfect blend of relevant facts and dates and interesting stories. Truly, the writing was just brilliant! The story takes you through George's entire life, starting as a young boy and ending with his death. There is a great emphasis on his leadership in the Revolutionary War. I learned so many things that I did not know about George Washington. Where were these books when I was a kid? I am so happy that my children had the opportunity to read this book. They learned things they will take with them for a lifetime, and will be able to relate so much more to the events of that time! It also gave them a true understanding of what characteristics make up a good patriotic leader.
Each Heroes of History book has a companion Unit Study Curriculum Guide. Wow! There was a huge variety of activities from which to choose. This was definitely where the broad age range came into play. Although many of the activities were too advanced for my children, there were still plenty that they could do.
At the end of each chapter we went through the Discussion Questions provided in the Curriculum Guide and defined the vocabulary word.
As we are learning cursive handwriting, I had the kids write some of the Key Quotes in cursive. I just printed off some free patriotic handwriting paper, printed the Quotes on the whiteboard, and had them convert them to cursive. Then we discussed the meaning of the Quotes. We found many opportunities in our everyday lives where the Quotes came up as still true today.
The Curriculum Guide has some mapping activities, so we printed off the provided maps and spent some time mapping major cities, historical places, rivers, and geographical regions.
Finally, for fun, we "did" a sampler. Instead of sewing one, I printed off a sampler from the internet and had the kids color each "x" with markers. At the end it looked like a sampler. They did this one day while listening to me read the story aloud.
The Curriculum Guide has activities for all ages. Young children might enjoy the Display Corner activities. Older children would benefit from creative writing, dramas, movie critiquing, and a large culminating event with food, music, costumes, and oral presentations. For additional learning, the Curriculum Guide also provides a list of other related books and resources (movies, National Geographic articles, and internet sites), which includes age levels for each (which I think is a helpful feature).
A neat thing about this book and study guide are that they can be kept and re-read when the kids are much older and many of the older activities can be completed.
I have browsed through the list of other Heroes of History books and curriculum guides. There are many to choose from! One that caught my eye was John Wesley from the Christian Heroes of History series. We are Methodist and I would love for my kids to learn more about the life of this influential man! I would like to read many others, such as Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Meriweather Lewis, and Laura Ingalls Wilder! In fact, next year, our unit study will be based on the Little House on the Prairie books. I know what our first read aloud will be!
If you are studying any aspect of American History this year, I highly recommend that you look at the list of titles available in this series from YWAM Publishing. They are very cost efficient and will be worth every penny spent.
The cost of George Washington: True Patriot is $6.99 and the Unit Study Curriculum Guide for George Washington is $7.49. They can both be purchased from YWAM Publishing. The book comes in paperback, audiobook, nook, and Kindle editions. The Curriculum Guide comes in paperback.
You can read other Crew members' reviews about George Washington: True Patriot and Jim Elliott: One Great Purpose by going to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.