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A World of Adventure Review by Holly Cameron and Teri LucasBy Dorian Holt
4 North Wood Lane
Casey, IL 62420
I've been a homeschooler for the past seven years, and if there is one thing I've heard over and over, probably hundreds of times, it's that there is no perfect curriculum. Well, I no longer believe that! If you are looking for a unit study that is easy to use, well laid out, very thorough, extremely interesting, has lots of activities, AND it is Biblically based - look no further! A World of Adventure is, in my opinion, the perfect unit study curriculum! Dorian Holt has done an admirable job in writing a very clear and concise unit study that includes history, geography, language arts, fine arts, and science. All you need to add is math, and as Dorian suggests, some form of typing or keyboarding.
A World of Adventure is the first volume of a five volume series designed to cover history from the time of the Ancient Egypt right up to modern times. The first part of the journey is covered in A World of Adventure. We start our adventure in Ancient Egypt, and in 30-day segments move on through Greece, Rome, The Middle Ages, the time of the Renaissance and Reformation, and then spend some time exploring with the Age of Exploration. Each time period is very clearly defined within the volume with its own title page and unit title, and you can also do as I did, and separate the volume into six smaller volumes, putting each period of history into its own binder. While we were studying Egypt, I could put all the other binders away. This may come in handy, because if you kept it all together, it would come in at well over 500 pages! When you open the first page, there is a list of required literature. Most time periods only have one or two required pieces of literature, and one of those is always the Holy Bible. This unit study is written from a clearly Biblical viewpoint. For example, as we study Egypt, we see it while studying about Joseph. We are then given a list of additional literature, and this is where the fun comes in! Dorian has given us so much freedom in choosing which books we want to read, there is a huge list printed with each time period, and most of them can be obtained through your local library system. The idea is to read what Dorian has written for each day, and then "flesh it out" using library books for reading more on the subject of the day. Dorian encourages us to use the library, and make the curriculum work for us! There is also a list of supplies needed for each unit, including craft supplies and baking ingredients. This list is right at the front of the unit and is broken down by days so you know exactly what you need for each day.
This is truly a unit study in that all areas, except math, of your school day are combined. There is a science unit that goes right along with what you are studying. For example, when we study Rome, the science unit is about rocks, minerals, fossils, and volcanoes. We learn about Pompeii as well. I won't give away the other science units, but they are great! There is language arts written into the study as well, and emphasis is put on all aspects of grammar and writing. My son learned how to write a paragraph for himself using key words within the first 20 days of this unit study. I had been trying to teach him that very thing the whole year before, but he could never get it! He gets it now, and almost loves writing, which is a miracle for my son!
The curriculum itself is very easy to modify if you feel the need to do so, although, as I said before, it's pretty much perfect! The whole volume is broken down into days, so if you want to take Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to do Day One, for example, it's easy to do so without feeling like you are falling behind. The volume is meant to be finished in one year, with each unit lasting 30 days, but it can easily be spread over two years if you so desire. A World of Adventure was written for fourth to eighth grade, although many have modified it for younger and older users, so the whole family can study together. In my opinion, it's best left as it is, since it flows so nicely, but if you wanted to include the younger members of the family, it's quite easy to do. They can join in for the history and science readings, and you can choose easier level books on the same topics. For high schoolers, you can supplement the areas needed for high school credit. Dorian encourages reading aloud, and doing this made The Golden Goblet, used in the Egypt unit, enjoyable for not only my sixth grader, but my third grader and my little one in Kindergarten. The actual content is laid out so it is easy to use, and very easy to follow! A beginner homeschool mom could follow this program with ease, yet the content is so meaty that there is no worry about not meeting the needed outcomes of any particular school district.
I could write a book about how wonderful this curriculum is, but this is meant to be a review that leaves you wanting more. Just writing it makes me want to pull out the books and do it again! If you want more information, check out the website at www.learning-adventures.org. There is a scope and sequence on their site as well, so you can see at a glance what is covered in this volume. There is also a set of student worksheet pages available separately for those who prefer to use them. If you have never used a unit study before, this is an excellent place to start! It is the best money I have ever spent, and honestly will be one curriculum I will never sell. Who knows, I may teach my grandchildren one day?! If you've already covered the ancients, Volume Two, A New World of Adventure, is almost complete, and it picks up where this volume left off - it will be a thorough study of early American history. If you order now, the Holt's will ship what they have and send the remainder as it is printed. A New World of Adventure promises to be even better and bigger than A World of Adventure, so stay tuned for my review of that volume. I can't wait to use it! Dorian has put a tremendous amount of work into this curriculum, and it shows. It is very, very well written; you would be missing something if you don't give it a try!
-- Product Review by: Holly Cameron, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
Here's another A World of Adventure review!
A World of Adventure by Dorian Holt is a one-year (180-day) unit study based on world history using library books and the Bible. The units are divided into Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance and Reformation, and The Age of Exploration. Each study is 30 days in length. Bible, character training, language arts, science, social studies, and fine arts are covered. Math, physical education/health, typing, and handwriting will need to be supplemented. Oral reading is accomplished by allowing the student to read aloud portions of the lesson. Mrs. Holt notes that although every subject except fine art is covered daily, not every component of each is covered. For instance, grammar (one component of language arts) is not covered every day! Rather, a broad range of skills in each subject are covered on a daily basis.
An extensive overview of the unit study opens the program with notes on teaching, along with testing suggestions for those who wish to do so. There are no tests with the unit study, however, there are suggested comprehension questions to be completed orally. Included are a resource list, a supply list, a vendors list, and a general historical overview of time before Ancient Egypt. Concluding the overview is a detailed scope and sequence listed by subject, which is nicely organized. It could simply be copied and placed into the portfolio for the school district if required.
Ancient Egypt is the first 30-day study. Suggested reading is broken down by topic listed as either secular or Christian in nature. Video lists, activity suggestions, and a supply list begin each section. Day 1 starts with the reading of the story of Joseph from the Bible. It is followed by vocabulary. Next is language arts with a meaty, but fun assignment of trying to list the events from the story of Joseph in chronological order! Social studies and a creative "taste of Egypt" follow. Science, a music lesson, and personal reading time conclude the first day. There is even a reminder to include math and typing in the schedule. Day 30 finishes Egypt with the reading of Psalm 23 and Exodus 14. The Passover celebration is explained painstakingly, with an explanation of symbolic foods placed on the Seder Plate. Careful consideration is given when correlating Jewish history and its relationship to Christianity. Suggested activities include prayers offered for Israel and the Jewish people, in addition to a menu (recipes follow) for having your own Passover feast.
There are games, activities, recipes, projects, review questions, exercises with answers, and a great variety of offerings provided to enhance your students learning. This is a very detailed unit study consisting of 789 pages. Everything here is spelled out in an easy to follow format, yet, it does allow for the creativity of parent/teacher and child/student to be expressed. Activities can be adjusted upward or downward easily. For instance, I am teaching world history to a second grader this year and find most suggestions quite adaptable to my lessons. It's as if someone has done all the difficult research and come up with the creative ideas. All you need to do is select which resources you wish to use. There are even helpful hints to help you find a few new ones of your own!
I was notably impressed with this unit study. It is well done and extensively researched. The secular texts are properly noted to encourage parental moderation of the material. If you are not sure how to find some of the materials, suggestions are given for locating them through inter-library loan or purchase. The Bible is the central text for each day. The Christian worldview is clearly defined. Each activity is completely outlined. It is very simple to use. Free reading time is built into the curriculum everyday. There is only one thing that I would change about this product. It comes without a binder. A World of Adventure is such an excellent product, I would gladly pay the extra $5-$10 to have it covered. A minor detail to say the least!
A World of Adventure retails for $75 plus S/H. Student pages are also available (176 pages of student exercises) for an additional $20. Book II - A New World of Adventure is a hefty 1,613 pages, 180-day curriculum that retails for $90. Student pages are available for separate purchase. Mrs. Holt is currently working on a third unit study - Westward & Onward. A sample lesson and lengthy overview of A World of Adventure is found on the website at www.learning-adventures.org.
If you require more information on unit studies in general or would like to design a few yourself, Mrs. Holt has available for purchase audiocassettes of her conferences at just $5 each. Titles include: "Unit Study-What's It all About" and "Food for Thought" (incorporating cooking into all your studies) on one tape, "Prose and Poetry Parfait," "Who's the Boss?," and "Let the Games Begin." Descriptions are available online.
It is quite easy to see why A World of Adventure was voted "Best Unit Study" by Practical Homeschooling. Mrs. Holt was seeking to create a unit study that was Biblically and academically sound, Exciting and appealing to children, simple and easy to follow, yet economically priced - she certainly has done her HOMEWORK! This homeschooler rates her work an A+! Superb job!
-- Product Review by: Teri Lucas, Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
A New World Of Adventure
By Dorian Holt
Dorian Holt is the author of A New World of Adventure, a unit study that is the second of five volumes in a series published by Learning Adventures. The first volume, A World of Adventure, began in Ancient Egypt and carried through to the Age of Exploration. There is a review of the first volume on this site already, take a look! This second volume takes up where the first left off, and covers early American History and more, in the following units: Into a New Land, Life in the Colonies, and Revolution and Beyond. Each unit is meant to cover 60 days, but this is just a guideline and, as the author says, the idea is to make the curriculum work for you, not the other way around! The history portion of ANWOA focuses on Early American History, but to say this is a history curriculum alone does both Dorian, the author, and the unit study itself a disservice. There is SO much more in here! Also covered are: Bible/Character training, language arts, science, and fine arts. You add math and some sort of keyboarding or typing program. The study is written for grades 4-8, but if you wanted to add older or younger siblings, it wouldn't be difficult to do. Simplify the grammar for the younger set and add a bit to the older, the "meat" of the study is applicable to all ages!
The first word that came to mind when I sat down to write this review was "thorough." This is a very thorough curriculum! If you are a fan of unit studies, this is all you will need, with the exception of math, for a complete year of learning. There is absolutely no way I could tell you everything that is in here! This curriculum is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, THE best unit study I have ever seen! I've seen a lot of them, and if there are any better written, I'd love to see them! Lots of unit studies claim to have it all, yet when implemented, I find that most emphasize one area of learning, such as social studies, and the other areas - science, language arts, etc. - are lacking or seem to be just added on with no real thought. NOT so with A New World of Adventure. The subjects just flow into each other seamlessly. I never once thought, "What's THAT doing HERE?" There is no feeling of "Uh oh, I need to add more science." Each subject is just as thorough as the others are.
Language and writing assignments tie right into the history portion, and the science is always applicable as well, pertaining to some aspect of the history and reading portions. The science topics covered are: insects, weather, simple machines, inventors and inventions, electricity, and mammals, which includes classification and anything else you might want to know about mammals! Along with the above mentioned history topics, you also cover the country of Canada, several American Indian tribes, and American government. Dorian makes use of note booking quite extensively in this curriculum. It's a great way to keep track of what you're learning and at the end of the year, there is quite a few impressive notebooks to be proud of, not to mention to show off to the relatives! Dorian explains how to implement notebooks in the guide, and it isn't intimidating at all. Believe me, you can do this, and, what is more, after seeing the curriculum, you will WANT to do this! There are language arts worksheets available for sale separately, but unless you have a child who really dislikes writing, as I have, then you probably don't need them, as you can copy them right out of the main guide. The worksheets were nice for us, simply because, as I mentioned before, my 12-year-old has a hard time physically handwriting, so they are there if you need them. It's a nice option!
It's hard to imagine, I know, that all I've written can be done in one year, and maybe for some of us who like to dig really deep, we need two years. Well, with the way this study is set up, that is extremely easy to do! Dorian explains the whole project so thoroughly; she makes us realize that we can do this. The guide itself is written to the student, and is very easy to follow. There is lots of opportunity for hands on learning, and the writing assignments are challenging, but also interesting. The recommended reading books are easy to find in almost any library, and Dorian leaves lots of room for digging deeper into subjects you find personally interesting. There are a lot of books listed in the guide itself, but you can choose any books that interest you on any of the given topics. You are NOT expected to read them all! The actual required number of books is only about 12 for the entire year and all the rest are chosen by the student. There is strong guidance along with freedom of choice, which takes away the "overwhelmed" sensation many of us feel when we try to implement a unit study.
If you are in the least bit interested in early American history, or you've been interested in attempting to teach all your kids at once with a unit study, this is one you can jump into head first - it's that good! There is lots of information on the website, which is www.learning-adventures.org, and there is also a tremendous amount of support available on a yahoo email group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ANWOA. I'm not usually so enthusiastic about the projects I review, and I really did try to find something to caution you against, but if there is anything, I couldn't find it! Go ahead and give it a try; for a year's worth of education, and at the price they are offering the curriculum at, you can't afford not to try it!