Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Horsing Around (Review)

While at church camp this summer, the kiddos had a special visitor.  It just so happened that this guest had four legs, a mane and tail, and whinnied when happy.  As you can see from the pics below, this fella wasn't the only happy one.  My children LOVED their first experience on a horse.  Therefore, I'm afraid I'd be a lousy Kentuckian if we moved to the Volunteer State without my littles ever getting up to snuff when it comes to horses.  Keeneland, Churchill Downs, The Kentucky Derby... there is a reason Kentucky touts itself as the Horse Capital of the World.  

When given the opportunity to review for Homeschool Legacy, a quick perusal of the 11 studies available and I knew my choice immediately... Horsing Around!  While we have completed many unit studies in the past, this set-up and schedule differed greatly.  Typically, we complete a short unit study in a week culminating with a completed lapbook or notebook.  Using Homeschool Legacy's model, we actually focused on our unit study topic only one day a week, but in this case, the study spanned a four week time frame.  Daily activities included library reading on horses and our family read-aloud centered on horses.  Then, the family devotional and activities were completed in one day with Friday reserved for field trips or movie nights. (View the suggested schedule.) 

For $15.95, you receive every thing you need for your kiddos to be Horsing Around in their studies. 
Aside from a trip to the library, time to peruse your family's personal library, and possibly some phone calls or an Internet search for field trip planning, all of the work is done for you.  Within this no prep unit study, you will find family devotionals, suggested library reading selections, classic read-alouds, poetry, real-life applications, cross-curricular activities, fine arts examples, documentary and movie recommendations, trivia, field trip ideas, and a friends and family fun night plan.

In horsing around, the kids learned so much more than just the history of the horse. Horsing Around included:
Week 1 - Breeds & Characteristics
Week 2 - Horse & Tack Care
Week 3 - Equestrian Events
Week 4 - Cowboy Time!

Some of the highlights of this study for our family included some great reading.  We were able to find a number of the suggested titles at our local library as well as some additional selections.  Prior to this study, I was unaware of the Billy and Blaze series, and my boys especially really enjoyed these books.  I foresee them being checked out repeatedly.  I also went to our own bookshelves for our family read-alouds.  These books were tucked away in anticipation for when the kids were older, but in reading them together, I found they were able to enjoy them now.  We read Marguerite Henry's King of the Wind and Misty of Chincoteague.
Of course, I always love when the Bible can be incorporated in our studies.  The family devotionals in this study had us reading of the horse in Job 39... a passage I doubt we would have come across in other studies at this time.  We also read numerous passages pertaining to respect and obedience.  This tied into our horse study with the comparison of a horse's need to learn to respect and obey to ensure both his safety and that of his handler. 
Our favorite activities included trying our hands at drawing horses, checking out saddles, bridles, and tack at a local store, having stick horse races to the William Tell Overture, and pretending to be cowboys.  Movie and popcorn nights were a hit too.  We watched Black Beauty and Flicka.  I had high hopes that we'd be able to field trip to the Kentucky Horse Park.  However, a vacation and our move prevented that from happening during this review period.  On one of our return trips, I do intend to take the kids to the park.  It will be a great review of all we studied. 
While this tidbit didn't apply to our family, I do want to make all the Boy Scout and American Heritage Girl families aware of the fact that many of the unit studies allow for kids to "earn while they learn."  That's right... at the conclusion of a unit study, students will qualify for a badge.  Be sure and check out Homeschool Legacy's unit study offerings and the corresponding badges. 
In closing, while I like the schedule of the once a week unit study, I did miss the lapbooking/notebooking component.  For future studies, I think I would do a little more legwork on my own to supplement in this way.  I know there are lots of freebies on the web that I could pull together.  We're just a paper crafty bunch and like to have a nice polished end product to show when our study is complete. 
Also, this 4-week unit study is recommended for grades 2-12. Personally, I believe highschool students may find it a bit elementary and would require some significant extensions and outside supplements to make it a challenging study. In my opinion, it would better serve elementary and early middle school students. However, as always, I encourage you to click the button below and see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members are saying about their experiences.  

Disclaimer:  I was provided a complimentary copy of Horsing Around in exchange for my honest review.

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