Imagine yourself driving along in your history studies. Whether approaching history chronologically or topically, do you drive straight through your curriculum, merely glancing at the road signs and pushing to the end? Do you set your cruise control and plan to arrive in record time? Or do you prefer to meander through the journey stopping at various points of interest, not worrying about how long it takes to get to your destination?
We've been on many a road trip where it's all about arriving by a deadline (actually this is our plan 99.9% of the time that we travel). This past summer, however, we took one heavenly trip in which extra time was built in for the express purpose of seeing a few sights. I have to say, it was a lot more fun when we took time for some side trips along the way. It really helped break up the monotony and provided some neat memories. So too, with homeschooling, taking some time for a side trip can make all the difference in how much the journey itself is enjoyed.
Unit studies are one great way to pull over from the journey and dig a little deeper into a specific topic. You may choose to pause from your main book and take time to investigate geography, research a people group, a political philosophy or even an influential person in history. As part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, our family had the opportunity to take a side trip by exploring more about William Tyndale through the unit study, "William Tyndale: God's Smuggler" published by Soli Deo Gloria Resources.
Just as most of our real-life road trips usually only allow for minimum stops (food and bathrooms are generally required now and then), I have often been too focused on finishing our textbooks or workbooks to take a detour and enjoy some of the scenery. Therefore, I really appreciated the chance to stop and learn more about Tyndale with my kids. It's not often that we abandon some of our "normal" textbooks and instead take in some special sights as a family.
For this particular study, it was recommended that at least one movie be viewed and one book read together as a family (other books could be assigned for independent reading). The study was laid out for completion in one week but you could certainly extend the activities beyond that time frame (especially if you chose to read aloud more than one of the recommended books). The suggested movies could be rented through Netflix or Amazon Video on Demand (the one we chose to watch was $1.99 for a 7 day rental at Amazon; this allowed us to watch it at the start of the study and again after we completed it).
The study included a general introduction of who Tyndale was, information on men who were contemporaries of Tyndale (to be placed on a timeline) as well as significant events surrounding Tyndale's life. Moreover, this study covered a brief historical background of the time period and some additional information about the Plague. Other than the obvious study of history, this product also incorporates geography (with mapping activities), language arts (through vocabulary words and other activities), and also touches on science. Arts and crafts are also included in the form of links to free coloring pages online (note: one site required registration to access activity pages) and some other hands-on projects.
One thing I really like about the Soli Deo Gloria website is that for any of their unit studies, you can see a sample of the product and also see the recommended resource list for the study. That way you can check and see how readily available those materials are before purchasing the study. Soli Deo Gloria carries a number of studies on a variety of topics (ranging in price from $5 to $28).
Add a spark to your history studies with one of the following titles:
- Native Americans
- Colonial America
- Lewis & Clark
- Civil War
- Westward Ho! (westward expansion of America)
- American Presidents (1776-2004)
- Civil Rights Movement
- World War II
- History of Flight
Or how about a study to enhance your science/geography/geology studies:
- Oceans and Marine Life
- Sierra Leone, West Africa
- The Mighty Mississippi River
- Map Skills
- The Human Body
If you are looking for Christian materials you might want to purchase one of these titles:
The William Tyndale study was available as an e-book. This format is a very helpful resource for the "spontaneous" teacher (a.k.a organizationally challenged or one who flies by the seat of his/her pants). That means that if you come across one of the above topics and want to do some further exploration, you can order it on the spot and begin it that same day (that same hour!). If you save your unit study to a flash drive, you can even take the learning on the road.
Some titles are also available in print format. View the complete catalog listing to see which titles are available in e-book or printed formats.
The advantages of using unit studies include:
- change of pace/break in routine work
- chance to study all together as a family--all ages
- picking and choosing which activities most interest your student
- flexibility to spend as much or as little time on the topic as you have available
- having activities and discussion starters prepared for you
- Due to the unfortunately transient nature of internet links, several of the suggested links in the William Tyndale study were not active. Perhaps links could be routed through the publisher website where links could be kept updated.
- Offer some simple materials within the study itself. One suggested activity was to create a chart of people who had influenced Tyndale. It would have been a wonderful convenience to have a ready-made chart included to print and go.
- There were no actual activity pages within this study. Links to other places provided the coloring pages and games. I personally prefer to have something that is completely laid out for me. If a coloring page is recommended, I want it at my fingertips. Some sampling of ready to go pages would be a tremendous blessing.
- Some photos and more detailed instructions would have been helpful with the suggested activities. A photo or diagram of a completed timeline for those who have never used/created a timeline would also be helpful (having a blank timeline ready to print would be even better).
The Bottom Line
While I wish there had been some ready-to-print materials included in the study, I would still say it is worth the $8 price. There is some preparation required on the teacher's part but what is included is still a good value for the money. Activities can be adapted for a variety of ages/grades which helps maximize mom's teaching time. This particular study is an economical way to see whether unit studies are a good fit for your family.
William Tyndale: God's Smuggler $8
Soli Deo Gloria Resources
Read other reviews for this publisher at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of the William Tyndale unit study in exchange for my honest evaluation of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and I received no other compensation.