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Pirates or Privateers: You Decide Review by Rebecca Ray

Sharon Gibson
Homeschool Legacy
Hendersonville, North Carolina

At any age, pirates are sure to inspire interest in children. They are frequently portrayed in children’s literature and movies, with a mixed legacy of good and bad portrayals. Are pirates the bad guys? Are they helpful to the countries that they’ve served as privateers? The Once-a-Week 4 Week Micro-Study Pirates or Privateers: You Decide gives you and your children all the information on pirates and privateers that you need to make a decision on your own.

Pirates or Privateers: You Decide is a downloadable product that Homeschool Legacy sells for $12 on their website. This eBook/pdf curriculum is 22 pages long, and includes four lessons that can be used in a once-a-week format for a month, or the lessons can be incorporated as part of a weeklong unit study. There are many clickable links in this eBook, allowing you to quickly go to the information that you need in order to complete the assignments in this unit study. That means that this study, other than needing normal school supplies and a copy of Treasure Island, is almost completely open-and-go.

Targeted at first through eighth grade, each lesson includes a history section for your students to read and add dates to their timeline. Then, most lessons have a language or vocabulary section for students to complete. There is also always a section of the lesson in another discipline for students. This unit includes sections in government, music, geography, and current events. Also included as part of the unit study for each lesson are suggestions for family movies, games and even some ideas for pirate dress-up. Throughout the unit, you are encouraged to continue reading aloud to your children from the book Treasure Island.

As an interest-led homeschooler, I found that this material was a delight to work with to answer some small history questions without much work on my part. The main ideas that you need for the history lessons are included as reading for us, making this document our source text. If we needed anything else, we were often able to follow the clickable links in the document to go to the map, coloring pages, article, definition or even movie that we needed to complete the assignment or to understand our reading. I also liked the simplicity of the study because even those users who are new to unit studies should be able to be successful with this simple unit study. It is a great choice for a family who is trying their first unit study.

My only issue with the unit study is that it is geared toward such a wide range of ages that sometimes it is difficult to tell which suggestions would be most appropriate for which ages. I worked on this unit study with a second and fourth grader (and occasionally incorporated two preschoolers). My second grader found some of the work to be above her level, and she really enjoyed the suggestions for younger students that the author made in her introduction. I would have liked to see more of these younger suggestions sprinkled throughout the unit study.

On the other hand, my fourth grader loved this unit study. As a micro-study, it was just long enough for us to gain an understanding of pirates and privateers without getting bogged down into it, and we were able to really understand more of this type of character in history, and how the definition of what is good and what is bad sometimes changes depending on whether or not the country the individual pirate was working for approves.

We’ve used the full unit studies from Homeschool Legacy before, but this was our first micro-study and we’ll be turning to them again in the future for these studies. I liked the way the history lessons were written out and that there was minimal research involved. I liked their open-and-go nature. My second grader, after looking on their website, is very excited that they have a Queen Victoria micro-study, and she’s asked me to buy it for her for in the future. So, if you are interested in doing a unit study, check out this vendor. They might have a topic that makes learning history fun for your family.

-Product Review by Rebecca Ray, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2016