Thursday, November 14, 2013

Christmas Comes to America {Homeschool Legacy Review}

Some of my readers may remember that a while back I had an opportunity to review a fun product from Homeschool Legacy called The Forest For the Trees by Sharon Gibson.  It was a really fun once-a-week unit study that allowed for both girls to do the same subject at the same time even though they were quite far apart in age!  Not only that but it combined a subject that you don't normally find offered for multi-ages: Science.

I was totally thrilled when I was given an opportunity to try out another product from Homeschool Legacy, the once-a-week unit study called Christmas Comes to America!

Now that Christmas is right around the corner (my favorite day of the year), studying about this holiday is coming at a perfect time!  I'm excited to tell you about what we've been doing over the last few weeks, how we have been using this unit study, and I have some pictures of our awesome craft projects!

Homeschool Legacy is a Christian Curriculum and so each lesson is biblically centered.   In fact, each lesson includes a devotional which recognizes God’s hand in Christmas and the true reason for the season.   Memory verses are included!  Each unit study encourages family time offering recommendations for family game nights, movie nights and field trips. 
Another great feature of Homeschool Legacy’s Once-A-Week Unit Studies is that they are Boy Scout and American Heritage Girls friendly.   Help your child earn their next merit  badge by completing the requirements in the unit study…  Wow!  It is completely laid out for you, no research or extra effort necessary.  Upon completing the requirements in the Christmas Comes to America unit your child will earn the Music badge.
Homeschool Legacy unit studies are recommended for grades 2 - 12.   This is a feature I adore!  I am a fan of combining learning whenever possible.  Don't be fooled by the age range though, my 4 year old was up to her elbows in everything we did!  She enjoyed the picture books and crafts

In this unit study your children will learn how the Germans, Dutch, and English contributed to the Christmas that we know and love in America today.  Discover the origins behind many recognizable Christmas symbols.  Sing Christmas carols.  Build a ginger bread house!  Soooo much more!
(A Field Trip to Silver Dollar City gave us an opportunity to see a Christmas parade!)

Here is how Once-a-Week Unit Studies work:
A Once-A-Week unit study is incredibly simple to add to your regular schedule but comprehensive enough to be used as a stand-alone history curriculum if you choose.  Each unit study is designed to be about 4-7 weeks in length with a LOT of flexibility built in.  (Christmas Comes to America is designed as 4 weeks but we are slow and take more than 1 week to complete a week, KWIM?  Thank goodness for flexibility in homeschooling!)
So, typically it would look something like this:  4 Days each week follow your regular studies.  Each day add in your Once-a-Week Unit Study readings and family read aloud.  On one of these days plan your field trip and family movie or game night.
Then, 1 Day each week – eliminate your regular studies and complete the Once-a-Week Unit Study.
For our family, eliminating our regular studies once each week won’t always work since we often "do school" only 4 days a week anyway, but we did the minimum in the morning and then were able to spend the rest of the day focusing on our unit studies.  I also stretched some activities out over several days depending on what it was…

Pick and choose what you would like to do based on the ages of your children and their individual interests.  Work faster.  Work slower.  You are in charge.  It really is that easy.
Each unit study offers a full book list (complete with call numbers) to request from your library and a supply list.  I had to wait for several books to be sent from another branch so you’d want to make sure you request your books a few days before you are ready to begin your unit study.  
Daily Activities give you a recommended book to read plus a family read-aloud to enjoy together.  You will do these 2 activities each day.
On unit study day you are given the following activities:

1.  Family Devotional (Scripture readings based on the birth of Jesus)
2.  History (Christmas symbols & gathering info trivia game!)
3.  Geography (locating various places on the globe)
4.  Language Arts and Research ideas (writing letters to Santa, researching the origin of Saint Nicholas, etc)
5.  Traditions and Culture  (How people celebrate in other countries)
6.  Life Skills/Gift Giving  (We made THE BEST EVER hot cocoa and created gifts to give to my girls' Sunday School teachers)
7.  Music
8.  Field Trip Ideas (attend 2 professional performances - but it is too early in the season so we have watched the Nutcracker on YouTube…close enough!)
9.  Family Movie Night (Like I needed an excuse to watch a Christmas movie.  LOL.)

What we thought about the Once-A-Week Unit study

1.  No PREP WORK!  Hallelujiah!  However - the things we needed to make the hot cocoa were a little overwhelming.  It was a LOT of stuff, but in the end it made, no joke - the BEST hot cocoa I have ever had! 

2.  Easy, easy to add in to our regular school day.  Especially since we did the majority of our reading at night.

3.  This was very easily adaptable to my 4 year old.  I would be eager to say that I believe there are many activities that can be done by preschoolers so don’t let having preschoolers stop you from buying this curriculum.

4.  Love, love, love the fact that it is Bible-centered!  But, a warning:  The recommended book on Christmas symbols (Holly, Reindeer and Colored Lights) is definitely NOT a Christian based book.  For example, it discusses the Christmas Star as unlikely since astronomers have proved that "no new stars appeared around the probable time" of Jesus' birth. It also uses terms like "Christians believe…"  Not that this is a bad thing, just that it is not written from a Christian perspective.  If you want that perspective I'd recommend Lisa Welchel's book "The Advent-ure of Christmas."  Same idea but unabashedly Christian.

5.  I was able to find the books from our local library!  (hello free!)

(Making hot cocoa, we discovered that my biggest container wasn't nearly big enough)

We have loved both of our Once-A-Week Unit Studies.  They are totally low-key and un-stressful!  Just what I need as we gear up for the holiday season!  We haven't finished Christmas yet but we will be wrapping it up over the next week or so and then we will be all ready to slip into December!  I think you might enjoy this unit study too!  

How to Order:
Christmas Comes to America retails as for $17.95.  Right now Homeschool Legacy is offering free shipping on orders over $50.00!  If you'd like more information, you can contact Sharon HERE.

Disclaimer:  Thank you Sharon at Homeschool Legacy for providing me with a free copy of Christmas Comes to America in exchange for an honest review!  :)

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