In our family history and literature are the core of our studies. It is always exciting when the two overlap and the girls get to see interdisciplinary learning at its best! This is the case with the Historical Stories of Survival series of unit studies written by Justine Gamble.
We had the opportunity to review the following two studies:
I Survived Curriculum – Historical Stories of Survival Unit 5 Surviving The Great San Francisco Earthquake 1906
We already owned several of these engaging historical fiction books, but they are readily available at libraries across the nation. They are enjoyable for a wide variety of ages. While they are recommended for grades 3-5, my 2nd grader was fully engaged and my 7th grader finds them enjoyable. If you think your kids are not quite ready for the reading level they also make very engaging read aloud books which would work very well for these units for family learning.
Thanks to these fabulous unit studies, the book is only the beginning! The author has created a fully integrated unit study with varied learning style activities which will appeal to a large age range. I used them as independent studies for Beth and Grace. Beth studied about Hurricane Katrina and Grace studied about the San Francisco Earthquakes. My girls did fine with the stories, but remember they are fictional survival stories of historical tragedies. The idea of death as well as natural disasters and man-made tragedies are explored. You should absolutely take into account the sensitivities of each child when choosing a study.
I love that the literature is fully covered. Students identify various literary elements and write about different aspects within the novel. This is compiled into a lapbook. Lapbooks aren’t a regular part of our day-to-day learning so the girls really enjoy it when they get the chance to create one. Guided literature questions will assure your students are retaining what they read and vocabulary/spelling lists will help them build their skills with word usage.
In addition to the literary elements there are excellent questions guiding students to learn more about the historical period and scientific investigations to engage the learners in the science behind the disasters. Students will create timelines, learn about the cultural and social aspects of the times studied, and learn about the geographical region of the novel. My girls had the chance to learn more about earth quakes and hurricanes, two really fascinating natural disasters! Hurricanes were especially interesting to Grace because her grandparent’s had just spend time preparing for one that came through South Florida.
Grace’s only concern was if she had to fill up all the space provided. That is the wonderful flexibility of this unit study! You can have your kids write as much or as little as is appropriate. This makes is a great fit no matter the age. She is in 2nd grade, but is advanced because she has a later birthday. Still, she gets overwhelmed with too much blank space on a page. I easily fixed this by marking the lines part-way down and telling her where she needed to aim.
The girls’ favorite part far and away were the games included! I had the girls cut and prepare the games for each of their units. This built up quite a bit of anticipation by doing it themselves! For Grace’s game we grabbed some game pieces from another game to be our “people”.
They also played together! The really cool part about this was that since each of them studied a different historical event, they spent time explaining various historical facts through the game-play. I never told them to do this, but it was an excellent way to assess their actual learning as I listened to the interaction. I played as well and they loved that I participated!
In addition to the games each unit also has suggested field trip ideas and several artistic creations which can engage those students who love hands-on learning.
If you are looking for a new way to spice up your homeschool studies or even just as a new way to engage with literature, I highly recommend Historical Stories of Survival from Justine Gamble. Your kids will love learning as they dive into any one of these studies!
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of each of these units for use with my family for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.