Have you ever done a unit study with your children? Unit studies are topical studies which integrate many different subjects (such as geography, history, science, art, math, language arts, vocabulary, and so on) into the study of one thing. They make the its schoolwork both exciting and fascinating, and because there is so much variety in a unit study, neither the teacher nor the student ever gets bored!
Homeschool Legacy is a company which has created many unit studies on a wide variety of topics. Each of their unit studies is designed to be easily integrated into homeschool study, without a lot of preparation necessary from mom. Why would you want to use a unit study? Maybe you have a full schedule already, but you’d like to add in interesting schoolwork about a particular topic. Or maybe you need a little extra science or history that your current textbooks don’t cover. With Homeschool Legacy, your child can learn about such a variety of topics from a Christian worldview perspective, including history (Pirates and Privateers, Native Americans, early American settlers, etc.); science (weather, birds, forests); holidays; and more.
We received Birds of a Feather to use and review, in a PDF format (although it’s also available in paperback). I printed a copy of the PDF, but also had the document saved on my Kindle, so we were able to access its lessons there as well. It has been awhile since we’ve dedicated focused time to either nature study or zoology, so we were thrilled to work on this. Birds of a Feather is a four-week, “Once-A-Week” unit study on everything avian, for students all the way from grades 2 through 12. It covers the following four areas in about a month:
- Bird Basics and Your Backyard Habitat
- Bird Identification
- Birds of Prey
Within each of these chapters, study is divided into the following categories: student reading; family read-alouds; bird watching; classification; zoology; family devotionals; nature journals; fun activities; field trips; family movie nights. You can see that this study covers a LOT of ground!
There are some purchases that you’ll have to make (like birdseed, a journal for nature study, supplies for various experiments, etc.), but much of what the study requires can be obtained from the library, or you’ll already have at home. Birds of a Feather has extensive book lists (readers, read-alouds, picture books, field guides, biographies, bird identification books) for readers of all ages. We were able to pick up many of the necessary books from our local library, or in some cases, via interlibrary loan.
While we used to be very involved in hiking and nature study, it’s been quite a while since we’ve done anything like that, other than gardening and hanging a hummingbird feeder every summer. So becoming involved in this again, both indoors and outdoors, was a complete joy. And everything that Homeschool Legacy says about their unit studies is true. It is so easy to integrate the various topics or activities into a week’s regular lessons. Birds of a Feather‘s directions were to spend 3 days weekly on our regular studies, adding unit study reading and family read-alouds to those days; then to spend all of one day’s schoolwork time on the unit study activities, devotional, and reading. On Fridays, it’s recommended that the 3 Rs are completed first, then the rest of the day is spent on a field trip, family read-aloud time, and a family movie night or game night.
This schedule worked pretty well for us. Most of the books I wanted to use I was able to get from the library. (We already owned a bird identification guide, so that was very handy for bird watching.) The family movies were either available on Netflix or from our public library, or, in one case, from our own movie collection. We did this study in the late spring, and I felt that the opportunity for bird watching was pretty incredible, whether it was at the hummingbird feeder, seeing birds build nests around the neighborhood, or just visiting our backyard. In addition, our city’s museum had a traveling Audubon exhibit, so we got to see in real life the work of a man we’d read about and studied in our homeschool.
Our experience with Birds of a Feather was wonderful. The books were informative and enjoyable for personal reading or read-alouds. Our whole family enjoyed the various activities that we were able to do together, and the science and history work in the unit study was excellent. We definitely recommend it for anyone who’s interested in adding a fabulous unit study to their schoolwork!
Something else that we really enjoyed was the bird watching. A local nature center offers a bird count every year (where volunteers go and count all the different birds they see over a 4-hour period), but even without that, spending time on Birds of a Feather really heightened our awareness of feathered creatures. We really NOTICED what was flying around or perching outside. And because we had a bird identification guide, figuring out what we were seeing was pretty easy.
You can purchase Birds of a Feather from Homeschool Legacy in two formats. The PDF download costs $14, and the paperback version is $18.95. You can also download a sample week’s lesson on the Birds of a Feather page, if you’d like to investigate it further. I think you’ll find that it’s truly wonderful!
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