What a joy it's been to review this curriculum! KONOS Volume I is a two- to three-year unit study curriculum manual that covers just about every subject imaginable, except for math and phonics. Each unit focuses on a godly character trait as its main theme, incorporating all sorts of learning in academic subjects to support the character trait. For instance, to teach the character trait of Attentiveness, the following topics would be explored: ears/sound/music, eyes/seeing, other senses, frontiersman/tracking/trapping, predator and prey, Indians, and birds.
The character traits included in Volume I are Attentiveness, Obedience, Orderliness, Honor, Trust, Stewardship, and Patience. Who doesn't need a little work in those areas, right? Using this volume, your learning adventures would incorporate Bible, science, history, geography, literature, reading, health and safety, art, music, drama, and practical living--all pointing back to the character trait that's being studied.
The manual is so chock-full of activity ideas, I can't imagine that it would be possible to use them all--even in two or three years. That's a good thing, though. Since there are so many activity ideas, you have the freedom to choose the ones that will best meet the needs of your family. And, should you have the opportunity to revisit the curriculum, there will be many fresh ideas to use.
Recommended for grades K-8, this curriculum offers activities to meet every learning style. Hands-on ideas are in abundance. The authors specifically address how to use the curriculum with multiple ages, too, since it's intended to be used by the entire family at once. The manual includes a suggested daily schedule, showing how to best incorporate the "Three R's" in the morning and the unit study activities in the afternoon.
Each unit is extensively covered in the manual. First, there is a suggested reading list for each topic, with an age level for each book. Then you're given a suggested frame of time you should spend on each topic. Next comes an overview of ideas for each week of the unit. This is a one-page spreadsheet for every week that suggests which activities you might choose for each academic subject. It also separates some of the ideas into age appropriateness, telling you, for instance, that you might assign a different writing assignment for olders, middlers,and youngers. And finally, these are followed by the actual activity explanations.
So, let's say you're planning what to do for Week 1of the Attentiveness unit. You'll spend the first of four weeks studying about ears, sound, and music. The spreadsheet for Week 1 will tell you the materials you need to gather, the Bible verse you'll focus on, the books you'll need for each level (olders, middlers and youngers), the writing assignments for each level, the activities for each level, family activities, and read alouds. The spreadsheet leads you to pages in the manual where you can find the activity explanations. So, for the writing assignment for my middler child, it tells me to go to page 13 and find the letter "l". Upon going to page 13, the assignment says, "Research what causes deafness. There is conductive deafness and nerve deafness. How are they different? Write a paper on your findings."
The activity descriptions are very thorough and include meaningful learning experiences. There are many opportunities for research and thinking skills are made a top priority. Your children will take ownership of much of their learning, which is a personal goal for my own children. When necessary, small black and white illustrations are drawn to help you see exactly what the authors are describing.
In all honesty, at first I was a bit overwhelmed by this huge volume. However, I found the explanations to be very clear and was able to quickly figure out how the book was laid out and where to start with lesson planning. I now appreciate the "hugeness" of it because everything I need for planning the unit is right there in front of me. I know that I don't need to spend time perusing other books or the Internet for more ideas.
Even though the curriculum is complete in the ideas it offers, there are still many plans for the parent to make. Books must be gathered, supplies sometimes need to be bought or gathered, field trips need to be booked. None of these things are overwhelming, though, especially if you are used to unit study learning. For those who prefer little to no planning time, this curriculum probably isn't for you. On the flip side, all the extra time spent is sure to create solid, meaningful learning experiences and wonderful family memories. Speaking of memories, the authors even encourage a Dad time each week. This is a time, maybe on the weekend, where Dad reads a book, goes on a field trip, or does a family activity that pertains to the unit.
The KONOS Kid's Timeline and the Volume I Timeline figures are available separately. The authors state that the timeline isn't absolutely necessary, but it will help your children immensely as they go through the curriculum. Since the curriculum does not chronologically teach history, adding the timeline figures to a wall-sized timeline gives a better understanding of when certain events took place or when certain people lived. And, boy, are the timeline figures cute! They are approximately 2 1/2" high, in full color, and laminated. Below each figure is written the name of the person or event and the time period. The only frustration I had was cutting out the figures. For busy homeschool moms, it would be nice if they were perforated.
One of the authors, Jessica Hulcy, has recently started a KONOS support website at www.homeschoolmentor.com where you can join an online co-op. Through the co-op, she offers training videos to prepare you for your weekly lessons. She will, in essence, teach you how to teach your children the KONOS way.
At first glance, the price of Volume I and the timeline figures may make you blink. When you think about using this material for two to three years, though, the price ends up being very inexpensive in the long run. In fact, it's probably less expensive than most other curricula for one year of lessons. I highly recommend KONOS for families who enjoy unit studies and/or desire to learn together. The fact that all the studies encourage your children to build character traits that please God is like icing on the cake!