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Saturday, February 28, 2009
I've always been intrigued by unit studies, but never been brave enough to try one. When I received The Prairie Primer by Caldron Creek Publishing I was amazed, and a bit overwhelmed, by how many activities it offered. The Prairie Primer is a very comprehensive unit study based on The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The softcover book is over 330 pages, broken into sections for each book. You could cover one book per month to complete the series over a school year, or take it more slowly. It is intended for third to sixth grade, but many of the activities were easily adaptable to my younger children, even my 3 1/2 year old enjoyed them.
The Prairie Primer includes activities for Literature, Science, Writing, Living, Art, Bible, Manners, History, Character, and even a little Math. While it isn't a complete curriculum, it does a great job integrating a wide variety of topics into your learning and is a very in-depth literature study. There is a section of the Caldron Creek website where you can see lots of samples, like the planning guide and study guide for the first week and a list of topics covered. You can find it here.
At first I found the huge list of activities overwhelming. I had to remind myself that we don't have to do them ALL. I picked only a couple of activities per day and sometimes even handed the book to Ryan (my 8 year old) to choose the activities for the next day-- although he usually wanted to do more than I had time for.
We only did activities from the first book, the Big Woods and only did 2 days a week instead of 4. Unit studies are not my style of teaching and I had a hard time incorporating everything I wanted to while still doing reading lessons, taking care of the little ones, keeping the toddler out of trouble, and keeping the house presentable. I think it could be a great resource/study guide if my kids were a little older-- my oldest is a third grader, so we were at the young end of the recommended age range.
I did feel it had plenty of "boy" stuff included to keep my boys interested. There were also activities for all different learning styles and plenty of hands on activities that the kids will remember.
Pros: 1 This book has a TON of activities and ideas. 2 It is from a christian viewpoint with a healthy dose of Bible activities mixed in. 3 It includes comprehension questions if your child is reading the chapters on their own.
Cons: 1 Some of the activities weren't practical for us, even though they would be fun. Like collecting sap. 2 You have to collect or buy books and items for each chapter. This was sometimes a problem for us as our interlibrary loan can take awhile and I would sometimes forget to request things early enough. (This is more a mom issue than a curriculum issue, but if you are used to pick-up-and-go, it can cause problems.)
Caldron Creek also has literature based study guides for the Narnia books and the Anne of Green Gables books. The Prairie Primer sells for $50.
I'm a SAHM with 9 kids at home, one married daughter, and one angel Jason waiting in heaven. My family is my passion and I love homeschooling my kids. I've been married for 14 years to the greatest guy in the world!