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Intellego Unit Studies: Baseball Review by Cindy West

By Michele Wolf
Intellego Unit Studies
PO Box 832
East Longmeadow, MA 01028-0832

Do you have a son or daughter who's crazy about baseball? Can you imagine allowing him to study about his passion and complete a thorough unit study that includes every single subject area? Your baseball fan will hug you around your neck when you pull out this Intellego Unit Study!

All of the Intellego Unit Studies are written with K-12 students in mind, but I found the Baseball study to be most appropriate for 4th-8th graders. The unit includes all academic areas at one point or another, but separate math and language arts curricula are recommended.

In seven chapters your student will learn about the sport of baseball from the 1850s to present time. Most of the chapters tackle approximately 25 years worth of baseball history, at the same time giving your child a glimpse into American and world history of that era. Chapter titles include:

1. Introduction to Baseball
2. The Game of Baseball 1850-1875
3. The Game or Baseball 1875-1900
4. The Game or Baseball 1900-1925
5. The Game or Baseball 1925-1950
6. The Game or Baseball 1950-1975
7. The Game or Baseball 1975-2009

Within these chapters, your child will meet famous people, complete maps for each time period, and learn about baseball in literature, art, and music. Important historical topics are covered, such as African Americans in baseball and the impact of radio and WWII on the sport. Some chapters contain social studies topics, like the emergence of Japanese baseball and the variety of occupations in the sport. All chapters include some sort of science related to baseball, such as the physics of hitting.

Nine to twelve lessons are taught within each chapter. Typically, the parent is prompted to read an introduction; then parent and child are asked to click on various Internet links to learn more about the topic via articles, videos, or other Web learning. Discussion questions are included to help you talk with your child about the topic before diving into the written assignment or the suggested project.

Assignments include things like creating time lines, completing experiments, painting pictures, writing poetry, filling in maps, and completing worksheets that are provided. At the end of each chapter is a list of projects; these varied projects support all the intelligences, so your child can choose one that suits his learning style. All worksheets, assignments, and projects are to be collected and placed into a portfolio for a nicely finished product by the end of the unit.

You will need a printer (a color printer preferably) for printing the worksheets that go with the lessons. Almost all the assignments require drawing/writing materials, and there are a few experiments that require additional common materials. A materials list is provided near the beginning of the unit and at the beginning of each chapter. Besides these things, everything you need to complete the unit is contained in the PDF file or is linked to the Internet from the file.

The unit is provided on a CD that opens into a PDF file. The 215-page PDF file is in full-color, with many graphics that add to the visual appeal as well as the learning. The unit relies heavily on safe Internet links that are often necessary in order to fully study a topic. Because of these links (and the intensive graphics), it's suggested that the lessons be read directly from the computer screen.

Overall, the study is very full and includes all academic areas in a manner that will intrigue any child interested in the sport of baseball. The lessons, however, are directed toward the parent, which means parental involvement seems most appropriate. A very independent student could probably complete the unit by himself, but it might be a bit awkward since the lessons are written to the parent.

One quick warning: Because the unit requires the use of Internet links, those with slower Internet connections could have problems opening and/or viewing some of the pages. The authors suggest that the parents preview the linked sites simply because Internet content can change overnight. The company does its best to stay on top of the links and automatically forwards you to a new site if the original link becomes "dead" or is no longer child-friendly.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2010