Friday, November 4, 2016

Homeschool Review Crew: Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents from Homeschool Legacy

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

We've been reviewing one of the Once-a-Week Micro-Studies titled, Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents, from Homeschool Legacy to our weekly schedule to change up our routine. With the presidential elections around the corner, my daughter has been interested in learning more about all of the presidents and asking more thought-provoking questions. Cooking is also a skill I want my daughter to learn before she leaves home and is on her own. I thought it would be fun to review and learn about the founding presidents while practicing this skill. We received a digital copy of the micro-study via email from the author, Sharon Gibson, to review.
Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents is a 4-week micro-study consisting of 21-pages in PDF ebook format which means that Adobe Reader will be needed to view this document. This particular history study is suitable for children in 1st-8th grade, but can be used with your entire family with minor adjustments. Several subjects were integrated into this unit study.

Academic Subjects Addressed
  • American History and Government
  • Language Arts (Reading and Writing)
  • Home Economics
  • Practical Life Skills
  • Internet Research
Topics Covered
Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents explores and introduces children to the history about the first four presidents of our nation, their spouses, character, personalities, politics, and their favorite foods which were usually desserts. One president is covered each week in addition to the first ladies.
  • George and Martha Washington
  • John and Abigail Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James and Dolley Madison
All but one of the week's included a Did You Know section jam-packed with interesting factoids for historical buffs. This unit study addresses several influential men and great ladies who shaped our nation. Each section about a president included biographical information, a weekly supply list, educational links and videos, informative History and Government blurbs, a Language section, and a Cooking with the president section.

How We Used Homeschool Legacy
I downloaded the micro-unit study in PDF ebook format and saved it to my computer. I immediately printed out the weekly lessons and organized them in a 3-ring pocketed folder. My ink was running low so the unit cover is not as crisp and clear as I would like it to be.

I used Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents with Alyssa (Age 8) who works at a 3rd-5th grade level. The micro-unit study was utilized as an American history supplement. The study can be done once-a-week or spread throughout the week. We chose to spread the activities out throughout the week. We worked through the unit at least 3 or 4 times per week for approximately 20-30 minutes each session which worked great with our schedule. We continued using our regular core curriculum and easily added the study into our day. Alyssa and I completed the study in chronological order beginning with our first president, George Washington. A variety of activities were provided including coloring sheets, note taking, Internet research, reading, baking, and more.

Prior to starting the first week, we gathered all the necessary ingredients for the first recipe. We also visited the local library and checked out a few books related to George Washington. We returned to the library the next week to check out many more related books for the entire micro-study. The picture below only shows a very small collection of the books we read during the historical unit study. I adore the David Adler books.

Read Aloud Biographies
First, we read a picture book biography aloud or started a biographical chapter book we found at the library. My daughter also read several related topical books independently and reread books we read together. She was surprised to find out that several presidents started college at an early age and had real jobs. She thought it was sweet that James and Dolley Madison were buried side by side at their home in Montpelier, Virginia. Alyssa couldn't believe that Jefferson and Adams both died on the dame day which was July 4th. She also thought it was funny when Jefferson didn't tell anyone about his birthday, because he didn't want the country to celebrate it. She couldn't believe that girls weren't allowed to go to school after reading a book about Abigail Adams. These were all findings after reading additional books about the presidents and their wives.

Then, we clicked on the embedded links throughout the micro-study to learn more about the president or the History and Government during his presidency. I read aloud the informative blurbs and my daughter read them a second time. I gave her some time to reread the information and conduct an independent research study using the embedded links as a starting point for rabbit trails. In the photos below, Alyssa was learning about Adams. The color page also includes information about the president.
Researching John Adams
Coloring John Adams

We first learned about George Washington and the a fact that his favorite dessert was a cherry pie. My daughter took charge in the kitchen and made two cherry pies. We used cherry pie filling instead of real cherries to save money. We added the other  listed ingredients such as sugar, tapioca pudding, butter, cinnamon, almond extract, and nutmeg to the pie filling. It tasted good, but the crust didn't bake properly. Even though I covered it for her, the middle tasted doughy and the edges were burnt. A link to a homemade cherry pie recipe was offered in the study.

One of the embedded links led Alyssa to a cartoon drawing activity. Drawing is one of her favorite hobbies. This video helped her create an image that looked like George Washington. My daughter also listed the first president's precedents on a piece of notebook paper. We may need to further discuss this topic.

Alyssa's favorite part of the micro-unit study was the hands-on baking and cooking experiences. Even if the recipes don't turn out exactly how we want them to, we enjoy spending time together in the kitchen. She is becoming more and more independent and taking on harder kitchen tasks as the years progress. She made the cherry pies pie herself. I only handled oven.
Washington's Cherry Pie

The most interesting fact she read about John Adams was that he owned a pet alligator. This factoid inspired her to research presidential pets online. We found a book through the InterLibrary Loan System to request. My daughter also wrote a friendly letter to a loved ones expressing her love towards them. John and Abigail shared a special love. Writing love letters was one way they communicated while he was gone in order to keep their love alive.

Then, we learned about John and Abigail Adams who were the first presidential couple to live in the White House. We  attempted to bake an apple pie. However, we had a bad experience with our Apple Pie Dowdy when studying James Adams. This was our first time ever making an apple pie. We used apples that were sweet and extremely juicy so our pie was extremely runny. Apparently, you are supposed to use tart apples. Our apples also must have been much larger than those used in the recipe. The recipe didn't indicate a size or type of apple to use. My daughter still thought the pie was delicious, because the apples were soft and soaked in the liquid and spices.

While studying Thomas Jefferson's presidential and historical background information, we learned that he was  a widow when during his presidential terms. She also found out that Jefferson owned 2 cub grizzly bears and a pet mockingbird in the White House. Alyssa had the best time studying Thomas Jefferson. The Macaroni and Cheese was a huge hit with us. It was super cheesy, moist, and very filling. She said, "Out of all the recipes this one is my favorite and it tasted the best."
Mac and Cheese Cooking Process
Thomas Jefferson's Macaroni and Cheese
My daughter made a list of new words in order to practice neology like Jefferson did when he coined words for the dictionary. She visited many websites, but she found one to be particularly interactive. The website taught her about architecture and gave her the opportunity to build her own Monticello.

We're almost finished with the last president from this micro-study, James Madison. We'll complete the unit study either later today or on Monday. The only thing we have left to do is make Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream for this week's presidential favorite dish. Additionally, we will read about how food was kept cold in the past using the chapter book, Farmer Boy. I am hoping to compare and contrast it to modern refrigeration today. We usually saved the recipes for late Friday afternoon. The dessert was served in the evening and the mac-n-cheese was served as part of our dinner one night. Although I will say that having us make Thomas Jefferson's Ice Cream during the James Madison portions confused both of us. I wish a different or second favorite food for James Madison was offered instead of using one for the third president. Alyssa thought that there was an error in the study. We will make and eat the ice cream for my birthday.
Learning About James Madison

What We Liked
  • Favorite Food Recipes and Baking Experience
  • Embedded Internet Links
  • Short, Quick Sessions
  • Excellent Coverage in a Short Amount of Time
  • Teaches American History and Government
  • Easily Added to Our Schedule
  • Very Minimal Prep Work 
Possible Vendor Suggestions
  1. Add the Book Lists Back - I miss the longer book lists as seen in the Once-a-Week Unit Studies even though our local library didn't always carry the books, they could access them through the InterLibrary Loan System. I always appreciated having a starting list of suggested books related to the topic. However, it is very easy to find related book using the Dewey Decimal System.
  2. More embedded educational links especially for Government and History.
  3. Add more hands-on projects, crafts, and recipes.
  4. Printable recipes
  5. Double check information for possible errors. I think that the comment about the "pet alligator" was possibly  incorrect. Everything we researched said it was a pet for the 6th president which was the son of John Adams (John Quincy Adams). I would also add the recipe ingredients so that they are easily accessible and printable. 
  6. Add a Did You Know Section for James Madison
  7. Are there plans for a complete President Unit Study?
Overall Thoughts and Opinions
I am thoroughly impressed with the History and Government coverage in this micro-study. I wasn't expecting so many events to be addressed, but I was pleased that Alyssa was exposed to topics such as the War of 1812, the Twelfth Amendment, the election of 1800, the Declaration of Independence, XYZ Affair, the Alien Sedition Act, the Embargo Act, political parties, and Mount Vernon and so much more. I also appreciated that vocabulary terms were linked enabling the students to discover the meaning of each word in the context of a sentence.

We also enjoyed reading the biographical living books. My daughter learned a lot about each president and was encouraged to further research historical topics in more depth in order to gain a better understanding. By focusing on one president at a time, she was able to retain the information better. It is a complete study for its purposes. I would aim more for exposure than mastery while allowing the child to slowly take in all the information.

Alyssa was begging to study another president. She asked if there was a study covering all of the presidents. We would love to see more cooking unit studies too. My daughter absolutely loved the baking and cooking activities! However, Alyssa was a little confused why Thomas Jefferson's vanilla ice cream was utilized for James Madison until I explained to her that he was one of the first individuals to write down an ice cream recipe. She preferred a new recipe specific to James Madison.

Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents is reasonably priced at $12.00. This affordable price is comparable to other unit studies on the market. You can view a sample week on the website. She offers an assortment of history and science unit studies in her online store.

I also reviewed Homeschool Legacy's Christmas Comes to America, Revolutionary Ideas, and Birds of a Feather in the past. Click on the links above to read those reviews.

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.

I highly recommend Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents as a supplement to any American History curriculum. Educators implementing an Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, or a Unit Study approach will benefit from using this micro-study. You have the added bonus that it serves as a mini baking or cooking class teaching practical life, math, and science skills. We are hoping to use the Once-a-Week Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims or the Many Nations Micro-Studies either this year or next year as supplements to our American History curricula. I really want to begin the Thanksgiving with Pilgrims before the holiday arrives. I already own several of Sharon's high quality Once-a-Week Unit Studies which I plan to use this year and next year.
Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

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The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed several Homeschool Legacy Once-a-Week Unit Studies and Once-a-Week Micro-Unit Studies. Visit our blog to read about their experiences with these fun unit studies.
Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

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