Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Heroes of History - George Washington: True Patriot from YWAM Publishing

YWAM Publishing

History was brought to life with our newest review book titled, Heroes of History - George Washington: True Patriot from YWAM Publishing. It was written by Janet and Geoff Benge. A physical copy of this informative book from the Heroes of History series arrived in the mail. We also received the accompanying Downloadable Unit Study Curriculum Guide. This digital study guide was emailed to me.

We chose this book to review, because we were studying the American Revolution as part of our American History curriculum and George Washington was an influential historical figure during that time period. We wanted to learn more about him. The book proves that he led a meaningful life and touched the hearts of many Americans.

The 224-page paperback book contains 19 captivating chapters. The non-fiction book is suitable for children ages 10 and up. Children in 4th grade through adulthood will enjoy this historical biography written in a narrative format. It is also available as a Kindle e-book, Nook e-book, YWAM direct e-book download, and as an Audio book in CD or MP3 format. The text was written in an easy-to-read format.

The well-written story draws the reader in with a scene describing George Washington (the patriot) spying on the British through his spyglass at the Boston Harbor in July 1775. He was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. He was confident that he could defeat the British army that he once wanted to join. At one time in his life he had dreamed of becoming a British officer. We also learn that he served under General Braddock during the French and Indian War. He utilized the same strategies he learned under his command to defeat the British.

Then, the book quickly takes us back in time when he was 6-years-old eagerly awaiting the arrival of his half brother, Lawrence, from England who later was held responsible for managing the Epsewasson farm when the family moved away. His brother Lawrence gave him the best gift ever . . . a heavy lead toy gun. Later in the book Lawrence becomes ill and Washington stays with him in the Caribbean so he won't be alone. The book does a wonderful job introducing the reader to his family life living with an overprotective mother, sharing his youthful adventures, and his experience working as a surveyor by trade at the young age of 14.

George Washington eventually marries Martha and over time you begin to sympathize with them when he has to leave for work. You can "feel" the love they have in their marriage throughout the pages of the book. Many sacrifices were made as he led and helped build our nation. He never realized he would be away from his family and Mount Vernon for about 8 years. Later we read about Martha's reaction to his invitation to serve a second term as President. Hearing about the thoughts of other characters enables the reader see different perspectives.

The book addressed the obstacles he faced while fighting for our nation's independence during the 1700's when the American Revolution took place. The book introduced us to several other amazing historical figures while reading about George Washington's accomplishments and struggles such as to Martha Washington (Custis), Benedict Arnold, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, General Cornwallis, and General O'Hara. The book also covers many battles and wars that he was involved in including but not limited to the French and Indian War, Battle at Trenton, Battle at Fort Necessity, Winter in Valley Forge, Battle in Yorktown, Battle at Bunker Hill, and the Battle at Breeds Hill. He also attended the secret meetings with other delegates.

We learned about the different prominent positions George Washington held throughout his life such as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, Chairman of the Constitutional Convention, and how he became the very First President. I never knew how humble he was until I read this book. He didn't want people to make a big deal about him becoming the first president. This book is jam-packed with interesting facts about George Washington.

Character traits such as bravery, honesty, strength, and determination were evident and exhibited through George Washington's words and actions. These are just a few reasons why he can be considered a role model today.
Heroes of History

Let me tell you about the awesome Curriculum Unit Study Guide. The first step in opening your study guide is to double-click on the "Start Here" html file. A "Welcome" message will reveal the study guide components. There are tabs across the top of the page. If you click on the "George Washington" tab then you'll see a mini-biography about him. The "Bonus Materials" tab consists of word puzzles, answer keys, a chronological listing of the two book series, and sample chapters with selections from the study guides. As soon as you click on the "Unit Study" tab. You'll notice that there are two main parts of the Digital Unit Study Guide found under "Unit Study." The bulk of the curriculum can be found in this section and Part 1 contains the majority of the study guide components. You'll also find utilization guides for a homeschool, classroom, or small group setting. I glanced at the homeschool guide. I saved the zipped downloadable unit study file with documents in PDF format on my MAC OS High Sierra 10.13.3 computer. Chrome was our preferred browser. Adobe Reader is required to view the PDF files and you'll need a program that allows you to unzip a compressed file.

Part 1
This 64-page section contains a conglomeration of age-appropriate activities as categorized below. 
  • Key Quotes
  • Display Corner
  • Chapter Questions
  • Student Explorations
  • Community Links
  • Social Studies 
  • Related Themes to Explore
  • Culminating Event
Part 2
This part contains only 4 activity pages.
  • Fact Sheet
  • United States Map
  • Virginia and West Virginia Maps 
  • Timeline
Fact Sheet
Alyssa researched information about George Washington in her chapter book and utilized online resources to complete the Fact Sheet below.

Appendix A provides the educator with an 17-page list of books and resources including literature, movies, documentaries, articles, and educational websites. The book lists is divided into three sections: George Washington biographies, related books, and related Heroes of History book series. We already owned many books about George Washington, but we still took a trip to the library to check out more books. 

Appendix B consists of answer keys for the first 3 chapter questions. These were printed out and utilized during each read aloud session and discussion. There is also a list of books written by the authors.
YWAM Downloadable Unit Studies

One neat feature of the study guide that I really appreciate is that a variety of subjects were integrated into the study guide such as History, Geography, Literature/Reading Comprehension, Language Arts, Creative and Essay Writing, Art, Character Education, Drama, Public Speaking, and Math.

How We Used It
We used the George Washington book as a family read aloud. I read the book to my daughter, Alyssa (Age 10) who is in 4th grade. The book was utilized as a supplement for American History and Geography. Furthermore, this narrative allowed me to add another biography to her Literature studies.

The George Washington: True Patriot book and study guide were excellent resources for a student-directed independent unit study. The in-depth Unit Study Guide was used extensively during the review period, because the activities thoroughly reinforced learning. The detailed guide was stored in a 3-hole punched and pronged pocket folder.

The chapter questions were read ahead of time as a way to prepare her for the chapter and give her a purposeful reading experience. Pre-reading the questions helped her focus and pay attention during read aloud sessions. Alyssa silently read a chapter each day independently. She would occasionally look up difficult words in the dictionary to understand the word in the context of the sentence.

Then, we read the chapter together in the late afternoon followed by the chapter question discussion. My daughter's attention was captivated as I read. She was eager to hear the story again and listened attentively. Occasionally, we took turns reading paragraphs. Alyssa and I read a chapter a day 3-5 times per week.

She worked on her projects independently and needed minimal help with the projects she chose to complete. The whole process took approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Many of the the projects were continuously updated as she read the book. There's no way for us to complete EVERY project in the study guide during the review period, so we implemented a pick-and-choose approach based on what suited my daughter's needs, interests, and abilities.

Chapter Questions
There were four questions for each chapter. The first question was related to contextual vocabulary. She learned words such as dysentery, aversion, embargo, and pandemonium. The page number where each term could be found in the book was referenced in parentheses. I required her to think about and use the vocabulary word in a complete sentence.

The second question was fact-based meaning the answer could be found in the text. Here are a few of the questions that were included in this guide: What did George do at Fort Necessity to save the lives of his menWhat British general did George fight under in the French and Indian War, and What was the punishment for breaking the boycott of British products?

The third comprehension question checked her level of understanding. For example, Why would the British want to hang George as a traitor, What was significant about these words from Jefferson's speech: An attack, made on one of our sister Colonies . . . is an attack made on all British America, and How did George turn the various militias into one unified army? 

The last open-ended question was more interpretative or encouraged Alyssa to share her opinion about an issue. The following are a couple examples of open-ended questions found in the study guide: What character traits do you think a leader of an army would have to possess? and What do you think was one important lesson George learned as a result of his experience with General Braddock? Explain your answer. 

We verbally discussed the thought-provoking chapter questions after reading each chapter in order to assess her level of understanding rather than assigning a written response. There are other writing intensive activities to utilize from the study guide. I used the answers found at the back of the guide to check her responses for the first three questions. The educator must assess the student's response to the last evaluative question.
Sample Chapter Questions

Answer Key

Key Quotes

My daughter memorized ALL of the quotes listed in the guide during the review period. The quotes weren't all stated by George Washington. Some quotes were voiced by other relevant historical figures from the time period. I randomly assigned quotes for her to memorize. I recorded my daughter's recitations on our phone.

I also created cursive copywork pages for my daughter using a free penmanship worksheet maker and the quotes from the guide. The quote as seen below was stated by Nathan Hale.

Alyssa chose one specific quote for her banner display project. She wrote the quote, illustrated it, and explained the meaning of it in her own words.

Display Corner
She was responsible for collecting items to display in her Display Corner. Everything was displayed in a corner of the living room. More items were added as she read deeper into the book. The corner contained numerous books about George Washington, Mount Vernon, Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Battles, and more. The objects were related to George Washington's life and the time period in which he lived. She added an image of George Washington, American Revolutionary Battle map, Virginia map, her quarter collection, a plastic sword, horse figurine, a crown, a one-dollar bill, a quarter, early US pillow case cover flag, artwork printouts, relevant articles such as his letter to Martha Washington, and a few of her independent projects from the guide.

Student Explorations
This was her favorite section of the unit study. It was also the largest section. Student Explorations are organized by types of activities such as Essay Questions, Creative Writing, Hands-On Projects, Audio/Visual Projects, and Arts and Crafts. We tried to choose several activities from each section for her to complete. Choices were made based on her interests, abilities, needs, materials on hand, and her preferred learning styles. We skipped over the Essay Questions this year, because I felt they were more appropriate for older children. Much to my surprise, we also didn't complete any of the Arts and Crafts projects.

Creative Writing
Alyssa wrote a diary entry from George Washington's perspective after reading each chapter. She pretended to be George Washington as she wrote the journal entries. Each diary entry was a summarization of at least 3-5 relevant events that occurred in that chapter. You can see an example of her work below for Chapter 11.

She pretended to be George Washington and wrote a friendly letter to his wife, Martha, recognizing and thanking her for the sacrifices she made throughout their life together.  

Audio/Visual Projects
I modified the first project listed in this section in order to add-in more technology since we don't have a video camera. I asked Alyssa to create a This is Your Life PowerPoint production for George Washington. As she read the book, she jotted down key people from his life to participate and include in the production. Each person reminded Washington of a memorable moment on a slide. I'll include a few screenshots so that you can see how we did the project.

Hands-On Projects
One hands-on project that Alyssa completed was the Four-Part Annotated Mosaic of George Washington's life. She folded the paper into fourths. Each box represented a particular time period of his life: Childhood, Teenage Years, Revolutionary Years, and Presidency. I didn't require her to annotate the drawings. She can always write an annotation summary on the back of each section later.

Another project she diligently worked on was her Jeopardy Game. This was an ongoing project. First, Alyssa brainstormed category titles for the game. Then, as she read the chapters she jotted down related questions under each category. She ended up with 6 categories and each category consisted of 5 questions. The game was created with copy paper, construction paper, markers, and glue sticks. Each category title was a different color. All questions listed under a category were color-coded to match the category's color. Questions gradually increased in the number of points earned from 100-500. For our game, the questions were written on the front of the point cards. The answers were written on white copy paper and glued to the back of the related question.

I used to use this type of game in my classroom as a review. Multiple children in a class or family can work together on this assignment and play together. They'll like seeing their questions pop up during a review. I played this game with Alyssa as a review even though it is just the two of us. I read aloud the questions and tracked the number of points she earned for correct responses. If she earned a certain number of points she would be rewarded with a treat or extra tablet time.   

You can read about the project as seen in the study guide below. You can also incorporate more technology into this lesson if you find a free Jeopardy Game PowerPoint template online to utilize. 

Arts and Crafts
We want to create the beeswax candles. We'll purchase a kit and display them at the tea party. We also want to create the stain glass window project, but we weren't sure how to do it.

Community Links
There really weren't any nearby field trip locations for us to visit or guest speakers to hear so the Community Links study guide section was not used. We do have plans to talk to a surveyor in the area so that she can see the different tools used. Hopefully, she'll get to try her hand at surveying.

Social Studies
This part of the study guide is organized into 5 sections: Places, Vocabulary Terms, Geographical Characteristics, Timeline, and Conceptual Questions.

Vocabulary Terminology
We chose five words at a time for her to learn from the Social Studies section of the study guide. We will eventually add the vocabulary words that are included with the chapter questions. Alyssa created the flashcards online and used them to play a game of Memory or Concentration. The number of words will gradually increase over time. The word, armada, below was seen in both sections of the study guide. She used a dictionary or online resources to define the words. 

Map Work
The Social Studies section of the guide included mapping activities. Alyssa identified and labeled important locations and geographical characteristics on a map of Virginia and West Virginia. She used references like an atlas and the Internet to learn more about the places mentioned in the book and listed in the guide. The study guide provided her with a bulleted list of the locations and geographical features to mark.

Timeline Research
She completed the timeline using the chapter book, educational websites, and other History books. Many relevant historical events that occurred during George Washington's life were plotted on the timeline including but not limited to Washington's Birth and Death, French Revolution Begins, Battle at Bunker Hill, Boston Massacre, the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, Stamp Act, and Boston Tea Party.

Related Themes to Explore
A diagram is shared with the user on topics that could be explored and integrated into different subjects. This is a great resource for individuals implementing a unit study approach that want to extend the lessons even further. 

Culminating Event
We are in the midst of planning our end of chapter Culminating Event since we finished reading the book and are finishing up projects. We are having a simple afternoon tea party or levee with a few friends of ours so that Alyssa can share her work. My daughter will design and send an invitation out to the guests. She will help me create a menu listing finger foods and sweet treats. She'll choose a composer from the time period so that music can be lightly played in the background. Her Display Corner including her projects will be available to view as well. At this tea party she will present several activities. I'll leave it up to her if she wants to dress up in period clothing or create decorations for the event.

Our Thoughts and Experience
We absolutely LOVED the book and guide! This was a "twaddle free" account of George Washington's life. The adventure and action brought Washington's story to life. Alyssa felt like he was by her side. There is a conglomeration of activities including hands-on components to explore. The guide was comprehensive and complete for its purposes. I should let you know that there are several violence scenes described in this book which is to be expected since we are talking about the American Revolutionary time period.

What We Like
  • High-Quality Literature Which Brings History to Life
  • Narrative Format Captures and Maintains Attention 
  • Descriptive Language of Text
  • Integrates Other Subjects
  • Righteous Character Qualities Emulated Through Character's Behavior and Attitude
  • Fascinating, Adventurous Account of George Washington's Life
  • Vast Assortment of Hands-On Projects to Choose From
  • Flexibility of Unit Study Guide Activities
  • Adaptable and Modifiable Activities and Projects
  • All Learning Styles Addressed
  • Relevant and Meaningful Content 
  • Contains Vocabulary and Comprehension Extensions
Possible Suggestions
  • Provide Images of Completed Projects and Activities
  • Add in American Revolutionary Time Period Recipes
  • Include File Folder Games 

YWAM Publishing has a vast assortment of books and study guides for you to purchase.

Chapter Book - $7.50 (Retail Price $9.99)
Digital Unit Study Guide - $5.49 (Retail Price $9.99)

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.

We HIGHLY recommend the entire Heroes of History series. It's my favorite series! George Washington: True Patriot is an exceptional read. Christian homeschool families and private schools will appreciate this biography. The book can be read independently, as a read aloud, or in small class or group setting like literature circles.

Individuals implementing a Literature-Based, Unit Study, Eclectic, or Delight-Directed approach may want to check out this set. YWAM Publishing is one of my favorite companies when I look for historical biographies. If you have a child that enjoys reading about historical events and people, then you'll definitely want to check out this book and guide.

We really enjoyed reviewing the Harriet Tubman and Ben Franklin books and study guides in the past. The books about Abraham Lincoln, Captain John Smith, Christopher Columbus, and John Adams are next on our reading list. These bestselling biographies are definitely extraordinary accounts of historical figures. Not to mention . . . they are releasing the Benjamin Rush and John Newton books in May.
Are any of those titles of interest to you?  
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Read the other reviews for various books posted on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.
Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}
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