When we had the opportunity to review a book and unit study from YWAM Publishing, I had a pretty good idea which one my daughter would ask for. We checked out the list of possibilities from the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then & Now series; and the Unit Study Curriculum Guide series; and her heart was set on the book and unit study about C.S. Lewis. We received C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller and the C.S Lewis Unit Study Curriculum Guide.
YWAM Publishing is the publishing arm of Youth With A Mission, so their specialty is books that focus on evangelism, prayer, discipleship, and ministry. And buying from YWAM Publishing also supports their evangelism, training, and ministries operating all over the world serving children and adults. That's good news right there! The Heroes of History series currently has over 25 titles, highlighting the stories of explorers, inventors, American presidents, and more (such as Ben Carson, Harriet Tubman, and Milton Hershey). The Christian Heroes: Then & Now series focuses on missionaries, Christian authors, and evangelists like Jim Elliot, William Booth, and Corrie Ten Boom. There are over 40 titles in that series as of now. A Unit Study Curriculum Guide series provides additional study materials for many of those titles.
Kennady chose C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller from the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series, along with the accompanying Unit Study Curriculum Guide. She is a huge fan of all things Narnia, so she wanted to learn more about one of her favorite authors.
How did we use it? Kennady loves to read, and this book was totally her choice, so I let her read it on her own, at whatever pace suited her. She did tell me plenty about what she'd learned about the author's life and experiences, and how these had influenced his writing. She greatly enjoyed learning about his fascination with hearing and telling stories, and how he used the stories to talk about truth, faith, and life. Although we knew that Lewis had come to Christian faith as a young man, and that he was friends with J.R.R. Tolkien, we did not know that he had once professed to be an atheist, or that he and Tolkien were members of a small literary group called the 'Inklings'. Kennady and I both were very interested in how Lewis developed the ideas that became his best-known book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. (The Narnia Chronicles are beloved books and movies in our home, by the way!) The image of a faun with an umbrella had originally come to Lewis when he was a teenager; he incorporated that image into a story of a group of evacuee children, and figured out how to work a large wardrobe (one his grandfather had built and carved) and a lion he named Aslan (he'd had recurring dreams about the lion) into the story. All this and so much more is included in the biography, and Kennady found it a fascinating read.
We waited until Kennady had finished reading the book to do some of the activities suggested in the Unit Study Curriculum Guide, but it is set up so that parent/teacher and kids could do the projects and go over the comprehension questions following each chapter of the book. The Unit Study Curriculum Guide includes:
- Writing assignments - essays and creative writing
- Hands-on and audio/visual projects
- reproducible activity sheets
- Bible study helps related to the book
- Suggestions for field trips and service projects
- Suggestions for planning an event at the end of the unit study, with project displays and presentations, music, food, and activities
The CD has the complete unit study as well as detailed instructions for using the material in a classroom, in a homeschool setting, or in other groups such as a church or co-op setting. There is a lot of material, and I liked that it can be used in its entirety as a full unit study that covers many subjects, or by picking and choosing from the activities as needed. We took the "pick and choose" route and did a couple things that most appealed to us and that fit into our already full school schedule. In my opinion, the unit study is geared more for slightly younger students (Kennady is 14, and the suggested age is 10+), and might be most useful in a small co-op or in a homeschool where two or more siblings are doing the study together. The Culminating Event is especially suitable for a co-op, classroom, or for a whole family.
We chose our activities from the Student Explorations and Social Studies sections of the Unit Study, so Kennady did a comparison of the movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to the original book, and worked on a graphic display showing all the cover art of Lewis's books. In the latter, the assignment suggestion in the guide was to make a physical display of all the books, using any that the student owns and borrowing the rest from the library. I thought it an interesting assignment to view all the cover art, but unless one is putting together the display for the suggested Culminating Event, I didn't see the point in doing it with all the physical books. From the Social Studies section, we chose to do some geography work, identifying the locations mentioned in the book on the included blackline maps and filling in the United Kingdom Fact Sheet.
|I told her to make the map colorful! LOL|
She still learned some geography so it's all good.
What we liked best:
- well-written and engaging story of the author's life, suitable and interesting for a wide age range.
- the whole idea of a series celebrating Christian missionaries, authors, and business people as true heroes is wonderful!
- the books are appealing on their own, but the addition of the unit study resources greatly expands the possibilities for using the books as curriculum.
What I need to mention:
- we found that many of the unit study activities were better suited for groups than for individual use.
Our bottom line: We've used books from these YWAM Publishing series before, and once again I was very impressed with the appeal and quality of the books, and how they highlight the faith of men and women in history and make their stories inspiring and interesting to young readers. If you are looking for a way to include great biographies of missionaries and evangelists, inventors, explorers, and world-changers in your homeschool, these books and unit studies are an excellent way to do that.
Would you like to learn more about Christian Heroes and other Heroes of History? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: http://www.YWAMPublishing.com/
Pricing: C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller (softcover book, 189 pages) is available for $7.50 and the C.S Lewis Unit Study Curriculum Guide (on CD) is $7.49. Visit the Christian Heroes: Then & Now and Heroes of History pages at the website for a list of all available titles and unit studies. The books may be purchased individually or in sets.
Age recommendations: C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller (book and unit study) are suggested for ages 10 and up.
Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. Crew members reviewed many different titles from YWAM Publishing so be sure to check out all the reviews!
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