Homeschool Legacy publishes a variety of units studies for grades 2-12 on a variety of subjects, including pirates, birds, horses, and American history. These studies are unique in that they are designed to be used “once a week” for 4-8 weeks, depending on the study. “Once a week” means that the bulk of the activities are done on one day. On the other days of the week, the student will read (or listen to) books about the subject and possibly watch a related movie. This set-up makes it great for families who want to try out unit studies on a trial basis or continue using a textbook approach four days a week, but add a little “fun” or group activity to their existing schedule.
Emily has been using We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution, for the past few weeks. This 8-week study of the Constitution is designed for grades 4-12 and is in PDF format. Each weekly lesson includes:
- A list of suggested books and videos. Other resources may be substituted if your library doesn’t have the suggested ones.
- A recommended book for family read-aloud
- A family devotional
- Research activities
- Other activities, such as cooking, matching games, field trips, art appreciation, and drama.
- Links to online resources, such as short videos, paintings, etc.
The 8 lessons in this study cover the state of the new nation (under the Articles of Confederation), Constitutional Convention, Bill of Rights, legislative, executive, and judicial branches, amending the Constitution, and national symbols.
We’ve used unit studies before and they have been family projects. This time, I decided to have Emily work on the study by herself, since she prefers to work more independently now these days. Although this isn’t exactly how the study was designed, it worked well for us. My main responsibility was locating a variety of books on the weekly topic. Some were recommended resources from the library and others were similar books that we already owned. She could have done this herself, but I did it as a time saver. I was happy to see that using the specific books listed isn’t required. Our library didn’t have some of them, but similar books worked just fine.
We started each week by doing the devotional assignment together. The devotional for this particular study focused on the faith of the founding fathers and how their faith affected their views and the writing of the Constitution. Many quotes were included that reflected or repeated passages from the Bible. We looked up each of the corresponding verses and had some good conversations about how Biblically literate our founding fathers were and how many people today might hear these quotes and not take note of the references to scripture.
We also watched some videos together, including a movie about the writing of the Constitution and National Treasure.
Other than that, Emily read through the material, followed the web links to learn more, read through the books I had gathered for her, and wrote out definitions and essays as assigned. She also did a hands-on activity each week. The first week, she made hoecakes, as George Washington may have eaten. Other activities included doing a “Preamble Puzzle” to help her memorize the Preamble to the Constitution (which she did in a surprisingly short time), playing a matching game to learn the Bill of Rights, and coloring a political map of the US with red and blue states. There was generally only one hands-on activity per week, which suited us well, since Emily prefers reading, discussion, and videos to hands-on learning.
Emily spent about 2 hours a week on the unit study in addition to reading and video time. After she finished, I asked her questions about the material to find out what she had learned.
Each week included a memorization assignment, such as related Bible verses, the Preamble, and part of the Declaration of Independence.
One unique characteristic of the Once-A-Week Studies is that they are aligned with American Heritage Girl and Boy Scout badges. Activities that fill badge requirements are marked so that students are able to earn badges while doing their schoolwork. It’s great to be able to count schoolwork to meet scouting requirements as well.
We really liked all the included links that are embedded into the PDF file. They included informative videos, maps, articles, and even a fun video of Barney Fife trying to recite the Preamble to the Constitution.
We found this Homeschool Legacy Once-a-Week study to be enjoyable and easy to use. I think it might be a challenge for many students at the lower end of the age range, but it was just the right amount of challenge for my ninth grade student.