Saturday, September 29, 2012

Getting I.D.E.As. About Pearl Harbor {Review}

Box of IDEAs has a unique unit-study approach to learning about specific topics.  We were grateful to review their downloadable Pearl Harbor enrichment study ($49.00; $79.00 for the physical product).  This unit study helps you explore Pearl Harbor and it’s geo-political significance before, during and after World War II.
The modules for this unit study are:

Before Becoming a Base
Beginning of  a Naval Presence
A Week Before the Attack
Day of Infamy
Day After the Attack
Weeks after the Attack
Six months After the Attack
A Year After the Attack
Four Years After the Attack
Decades After the Attack
(click on the information about the physical product for a good description of each module)
As a PDF product, you are given access to additional information about the learning philosophy of I.D.E.A.s., information on implementing this unit study, and a final test to use (if you wish).

Each module has a coversheet, which tells you what you’ll need to print for your students.  The next section provides reading material that you can cuddle up to with your children.  Luke, Levi and I tended to read this part off the computer (or iPad).  Additional resource links were provided so we could click over to interesting websites for more visuals and deeper study.  

The circled section sometimes asks great questions for further discovery - these could serve as great writing assignments for older students.  The bracked section provides links to websites to expand on the topic for further exploration.
The next section of each module was a “portfolio page.”  These pages are meant for printing out and putting in  your child’s notebook – either one specific to Pearl Harbor or (like us) perhaps it will be just part of your child’s year-long history notebook.  I appreciate that the creators of Box of I.D.E.A.s. created handy graphics so that I’d know at a glance what I was looking at:  Capture
The final section is an activity (hint: you will want to have a supply of cardstock for these sections).  Some of the activities are more academic than others (there is a timeline game to play, for example) while others use the theme of the unit to engage your children (an you!) in a fun little game. 

How we used it: I was glad to see I could load the PDF files onto our new iPad, which made reading the module information really convenient.  When I was playing my “A” Game,  I remembered to print out all the module material, so we could seamlessly move from the topic to the portfolio and activity work.

Because I’m using this with a 1st grade, Levi’s attention usually waned after reading the module and completing the portfolio work – something that could easily be done on different days to extend learning for the young ones.  My goal had been to touch each module two different times during the week – and some weeks this worked our well.  Our first week, even, the kids were interested in playing the module’s Go Fish variant to learn about endangered animals without prompting from me.  That should say a lot.


Many of the extensions involved additional research on related topics (pearls for learning about the Pearl Harbor/ Hawaiian ocean habitat or researching other war related industries) which could easily engage late elementary and middle school students.  


My recommendations & thoughts:   After using this kit with a 1st and 4th grader, I think that there is a lot of value for a home with a variety of grade levels.  The extensions and additional links would definitely keep Ben (8th grade) busy and interested (though I think some of the games would lose his interest).  The boys really enjoyed playing the activity games.   

I appreciated that the portfolio pieces and activities involved  a number of skills to really create a multi-subject unit study –- reading comprehension (fact/ opinion), math, number skills.  The boys didn’t even realize they were being asked to use some math.  (Well, OK, they did realize it, but they did not mind it!)

The only concern or surprise I had with the PDF Pearl Harbor Kit was a bit of sticker shock at the price – $49 would be a ways out of my price range for an add-on unit study for the boys, but totally worth it for a self-contained study on this period of history.  With only a bit of tweaking, I could use the extensions as writing activities and adding in additional library books on oceanography, Hawaii, the Pacific islands, Japan, and World War II.  

To read what others thought of this unit study as well as the salt unit study (some reviewed the physical product) please click on the banner below:

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product as a PDF download , at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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