HOW has been a great launching pad for our family and has put some wonderful ideas before myself and the children. Here I’ll share how we use the unit studies.
For a few weeks before we start, I look at the books in my shelf and get the appropriate ones out. I put some of the commonly used resources out on the table or desk. In fact, they are always within easy reach and readily available for perusing. eg; ‘Amazing Expedition Bible‘ and ‘Who’s Who in the Bible‘ and a ‘Bible Encyclopedia‘.
Firstly I look at the objectives of each lesson on pages which is in the front of the unit study and I briefly tell the children what we will be focusing on that day. If we don’t do a lesson a day (and we often take more than one day) I use these objectives to go over what we did do the day before ? sort of a revision.
So, I’ll describe lesson one for you;
I will tell the children some things that I’d like them to focus on…to listen for…to consider…In this, I would say something like,
?After this lesson I’d like John and ‘Master C’ to tell me the Creation story. I’d like ‘Miss A’ and ‘Miss R’ to know two Hebrew names for God. I’d like you to think about why God created us or to think about how Creation reveals God. So, you guys think you can do that?”
We start by reading the ‘excite passage‘ or a CMish way of putting it is to Prepare the Lesson. Sometimes I will be organised and have the timeline figures ready, other times I won’t and will just quickly do it on pieces of paper. So, after we muck around a bit we will arrange the cards into chronological order.
Then, after we’ve done this, which doesn’t take long, we move on to the next step which is titled ‘Examine‘. I will read straight from the HOW lesson (page 25). I will ask the children if any of them would like to make a mind-map of what I just read. We may or may not read the first 11 chapters of Genesis as we have done this numerous times.
Then, I’ll grab some of the books from the shelf that we have ? Amazing Expedition Bible and Who’s Who in the Bible, the Victor Journey through the Bible and a Bible Encyclopedia. We might look over the relevant pages all together although sometimes I’ll give ‘Miss A’ a book and tell her to look at it for herself. Often, we will look at the Internet links that HoW provides and they can be very good. Many times, while doing this part in HoW, I will pair the children up: ‘Miss A’ will work with ‘Master C’ and ‘Miss R’ will work with John.
Then, I tell the children that I want them to do something with this information. I give them all of the choices in Step 3 (Expand). My artistic child will often go for a hands-on project and in this lesson she chose the mind-mapping activity whereas my dd who likes to write might choose activity 2 ? writing summaries. They will refer to the books we have, although I usually like to find the internet sites for ‘Miss A’ , as she is older and likes to research on the PC.
Now, this is most often where we get stuck or stop! Everyone goes off and does their own thing and it’s hard to get them back. Sometimes, we can move on that very day, but other times it has to wait until the next day when we will move to the next step, (Excel) where I wrap it up. We will review a little by putting our figures or pieces of paper into chronological order or in our timeline book. We aren’t very diligent with our timeline book though.
We often show Dad everything that we’ve done that night or the next night. There is always some time when we get to share or to show what we have been learning.
The thing is we could easily make one lesson spread out for one whole week! But, then I fear, we’d never get out of Genesis. So, I try to move them on a bit- in my own mind allowing 2 days per lesson but I’d like to make it one lesson per day.
We do things a bit different in that we have a separate English program and vocabulary program so while I make mention of new vocabulary words we don’t keep the notebooks like HoW suggests. We ‘ll also have our current read aloud that ties in with the unit. It might be ‘Adam and His Kin‘ by R.Beechick or “The God King” by Joanne Williamson or one of the new books like ‘The Priest‘ by F. Rivers for the older girls.
The thing that I really appreciate is that the objectives are laid out and this enables me to quickly see the point of the lesson, which is especially good if I want to move on at a moderate pace. If I’m happy to go at a snail’s pace and chase bunny trails, then I ignore the objectives. However, the other thing is that it teaches how to Prepare the Lesson. So often I think, this is ignored. Charlotte Mason expected her teachers to Prepare the Lesson yet often in CM circles we aren’t told that, let alone shown how to do it.
The HoW unit studies and teaching approach Prepares the Lesson, Gives the Lesson, Asks for a Response to the lesson and then gets student to Relate that knowledge. How cool is that?
I hope that gives you a little insight into how we use HoW. I also like the philosophy of HoW and the methods of excite, examine, expand and excel. Even when we don’t use HoW units, we use this 4 step method because it is easy for me to remember and to work with. Hebrew roots is also a personal and individual study that I have taken on…not always for my children. The Hebraic roots of our Christian faith is a constant interest of mine – one that I pursue for myself.