Friday, September 21, 2012

Crew Review: Knights and Nobles! Once-a-Week Unit Study


Much as we LOVE history around here, I have to admit, when Homeschool Legacy's Once-a-Week Unit Studies came up as an option to review, my first thought was "No more history!" not because we don't LOVE it, not because I didn't think the girls would enjoy it, but because we seriously are NEVER going to finish American History if we don't keep with it! And I just felt like we needed to not sidetrack from Civil War stuff. So, as I went through the EXTENSIVE list of options to review, I listed several fun sounding SCIENCE units for the girls to choose between, but then I saw Knights and Nobles. And I just couldn't not at least include it in the list, it just sounded TOO fun! So, I sat down with the girls and gave them the option of things like birds, trees, weather, but also Knights and Nobles.And wouldn't you know it, while they thought they ALL sounded fun, the first choice was Knights & Nobles (with birds being a close second, I have to admit, I'm anxiously waiting to read the reviews about birds, it might just go on our wish list!).  And so, into our already history-laden days, came a whole different time period, and country. And the girls have LOVED LOVED LOVED it!!!

So what exactly is this? The Once-a-Week Unit Studies are designed, as the name suggests, to be used once a week. The thought being, this can be a way to add a little "spice" to homeschooling. Once a week, you take a break from all your normal curriculum and instead use these fun, educational, unit studies.

PhotobucketKnights and Nobles is, a four week study on Medieval times. These unit studies are advertised as being "no prep work", as is generally the case with no prep work unit studies, you DO need to reserve the books from the library ahead of time, and pull together a few needed supplies so that you have everything ready to go. This study does a very good job of listing the necessary books and supplies, making it as close to "no prep" as is possible. The one complaint I had about the supply lists was that the book lists didn't always include authors. They DID include call numbers which, if you live near a large library, would add a nice element of teaching children to find books by call number, however, we live near a very small library, BUT I can go online and reserve books from any library in the county, and have them delivered to our small library. Our online system doesn't allow for searching by call numbers though, so without the authors, in some cases I had to guess at which book (when the title was general enough to have multiple books by that title) we needed.

The book lists were extensive including a wide selection of books for the children to read on their own throughout the week, as well as a suggested read aloud for each week (the independent reading and read aloud are intended to be used all week, in addition to your normal curriculum, everything else is intended to be done on the day you choose to be "Knights and Nobles day".

On the day chosen for the unit study, there is a devotional, and then a variety of activities ranging from learning about the art of the time to, building a castle out of legos, etc. Each week has a specific topic related to Medieval life (castles, knights, etc).

We actually have used this almost exactly as intended (shocking isn't it? I'm not sure I've ever said that in a review before LOL). The one "change" we made, other than substituting a couple books that weren't available at our library, is that I decided we needed to spread this out over more than 4 weeks. I found the amount of read-aloud time to be too much for us considering that we do quite abit of read aloud and discussion time with our normal schoolwork. Little Bit can only self-entertain for SO long each day. So, much as I was hoping to have completed the study before the review was due, I decided it was better for all of us to slow down, we are working on finishing up the week 3 read aloud (would be done if I hadn't caught a cold which has meant I've chosen not to expend voice and breath on any read alouds the last 2 days) and then we will start on our final week's read aloud, independent reading, and choose a day, probably next week, for our final week's study.

What did we think? We all loved it! The girls really got into it all. I had to laugh, after they had read several books about how castles were built, and laid out, it came time to build a lego castle. Conveniently I had a lego castle from when I was a kid, that I had kept separate from the general mass of legos that live at my parents' house, so I got it out for them to use for this project. They started out following the directions, but then when they looked at the pictures of the "finished project" they objected, it simply was NOT authentic, thankyouverymuch! So they designed their own castle, and declared it much better, hee hee. (I thought I took a picture of their finished creation, but I'm not finding it, so I must have just thought about taking the picture, sigh . . .)

The "final project" for this unit study is to plan and host a Medieval feast, they have been planning this feast since we started the study. Because of our travel schedule, the feast won't happen for a couple more weeks, but they are anxiously looking forward to it.  We also plan to spend a day at the Renaissance Faire now that the weather is cooling off (I much prefer attending Renaissance Faires in late Sept or early Oct. rather than in August when it's still hot!).

The one caution I would mention is our current read aloud, a book about King Arthur, has abit more references to extra marital affairs than I would prefer, and I would have appreciated being warned of that. The references are quite vague in language, nothing explicit, but since children result in some instances, it is obvious what is going on, and I wouldn't want to field the questions that would arise if my girls were a year or two younger. The unit study is listed as being for grades 2-12, and while we generally say they are in 3rd grade this year, Sassy and MiniMe are currently 9 1/2, making them more in line, age-wise with most 4th graders.

Speaking of age ranges, I think this one is pretty accurate, however I love that some picture books are included to use with younger children. Even Little Bit, at age 3, has enjoyed having her sisters read her some of the "youngest" picture books that were on the list, and she likes being a part of our "school" days. This truly is a study that can be used with the whole family, even including some "stump Dad" trivia so the children can draw Dad into the fun in the evening when he's home.

I should also mention that if you have children in Boy Scouts, there is information included throughout the unit study so that he can earn a boy scout badge for the study as well (I'm sure some of the other reviewers who have children in scouts will go into more detail on this, that's all I know LOL).

So who do I recommend this to? I really can't think of any homeschoolers I wouldn't recommend it to. If you're like us and eclectic, leaning toward unschooling, this is so hands-on that it fits in wonderfully with our normal way of doing school. If you're a more structured homeschooler, be it classical homeschooling, or Charlotte Mason or . . . whatever it might be, because of the "once a week" nature of this it can be used alongside any curriculum and simply provide a fun change of pace for a month or so. Even if you're not homeschooling, this might be a fun summer or weekend activity for your family to enjoy learning about together.

The Knights and Nobles unit study is available for $15.95. You can see the complete list of available unit studies here.  Also don't forget to check out out the Schoolhouse Crew blog, because we were given so many choices to review, you'll be able to see what crew members thought of most, if not all), of the available studies.


Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the above mentioned product in exchange for writing an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are those of myself or my children, as stated.

1 comment:

Eddie said...

This is on our list of units to use next! We reviewed Forest For the Trees and loved that one too.

In fact, they almost all seem to have been a hit, from what I can see on the Crew board. We'll definitely be using them again.