We recently had the opportunity to review a book and unit study from YWAM Publishing, and having already read several of the books, I allowed Kennady to ask for her choice from the list of possibilities. We and other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were able to select from the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then & Now series; and I was a little surprised that her choice was Heroes of History - Orville Wright: The Flyer. We received the book and the Downloadable Unit Study Curriculum Guide.
YWAM Publishing is the publishing arm of Youth With A Mission, so it's not surprising that they specialize in books that focus on evangelism, prayer, discipleship, and ministry. Buying from YWAM Publishing supports their evangelism, training, and ministries operating all over the world serving children and adults. The Christian Heroes: Then & Now series focuses on missionaries, Christian authors, and evangelists like Adoniram Judson, Brother Andrew, and Corrie ten Boom. The Heroes of History series highlights the stories of explorers, inventors, American presidents, and more (examples are Daniel Boone, John Adams, and Ronald Reagan.) A Unit Study Curriculum Guide series provides additional study materials for many of those titles.
We've used some of the books about missionaries as we've studied Geography over the years, and a couple of the books about explorers as well. Last year, we reviewed C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller along with the unit study guide. (You can read that review here: C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller - Christian Heroes, Then and Now) So this time around, I once again allowed Kennady her choice, and she's been learning more about the life and legacy of the Wright Brothers in Orville Wright: The Flyer; and we've been using the Unit Study Curriculum Guide as well.
How did we use it? I've been allowing Kennady to read the book at her own pace, and we've been going over the chapter questions in the Unit Study Curriculum Guide. Since she has been reading the book in her spare time, she's moving a little slower, so checking how much she's remembered using the provided questions is helpful. There are a mix of questions for each chapter - a couple of questions about facts from the chapter, a couple that check comprehension, and a couple of open-ended or opinion questions. The book tells the story of the Wright Brothers, but focuses on Orville. We learned about the brothers' childhood, their first business endeavors, and how they became determined to solve the problems of flight and come up with a reliable and safe Flyer. In keeping with the Heroes of History theme, the book highlights the positive character traits such as hard work, perseverance, creativity, and respect, while not ignoring the setbacks the brothers faced or their mistakes and failings. I especially liked that the book showed their commitment to their goals, and their persistence in achieving success although they had limited education and limited funds.
“It is interesting to notice how some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage, and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles.” —Washington Irving
Kennady likes to collect inspirational quotes, so from the study guide, I printed the two pages of Key Quotes (including the one above) for her, and she chose a couple of them to copy and make into posters.
The study guide includes many prompts for writing assignments, some for creative writing and some ideas for essays or research. There are many ideas for hands-on projects, such as constructing a model airplane, making timelines or powerpoint presentations, designing postcards, and designing a NASA-style "mission patch" commemorating the first flight. There are a few reproducible activity sheets for map work, timelines, and a biography page. We did work on the maps, identifying many of the places mentioned in the book. For those who would like to head out on field trips or to host a family event displaying what the student learned, there are many suggestions as well. In the Appendices, there are many additional books, articles, websites, and other resources listed for further reading and research.
There are instructions and suggestions for using the unit study materials and classroom or co-op settings as well as in a family homeschool. For those who use the unit study in its entirety, it covers a wide range of subjects, and would keep a student or co-op occupied for quite some time. But it's just as easy to use it as we did - picking and choosing the activities that appealed to us and fit into the time we had available. I feel that most of the activities are more suitable for co-op or classroom settings, but are certainly adaptable for homeschool.
What we liked best:
- the biography was presented in a balanced way, with an emphasis on positive character
- although the reading level is suitable for students younger than Kennady (intended for age 10 and up, and she is almost 15), the book is well-written and not "dumbed down" or too simplistic.
- scientific terms and concepts (lift, drag, pitch, roll, yaw, etc) are discussed as the brothers dealt with the various challenges of flight, and because they are in context it's easy to understand
- large selection and variety of activity and assignment ideas in the study guide
What I need to mention:
- the study guide has a lot of material in it, but much of it seemed better suited to classroom or co-op settings.
- a couple of the websites in the resource list are no longer active.
Our bottom line: Once again, the books from YWAM Publishing have proved appealing and engaging. We've enjoyed learning a little history and science along the way as we studied the biography of Orville Wright and were inspired and challenged by his example. The Christian Heroes and Heroes of History series both do a great job of presenting biographies of missionaries and evangelists, inventors, explorers, and world-changers to young readers.
Would you like to learn more about Christian Heroes and Heroes of History? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: http://www.YWAMPublishing.com/
Pricing: Orville Wright: The Flyer (paperback, 208 pages) is available for $7.50 and the Downloadable Unit Study Curriculum Guide 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: Orville Wright: The Flyer (book and unit study) is suggested for ages 10 and up.
You can follow YWAM Publishing on Facebook, on Twitter @YWAM Publishing, on Pinterest, and on the YWAM Publishing blog.
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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