Wednesday, July 30, 2014

{Crew Review} Hewitt Homeschool “My First Reports”


Hewitt Homeschooling sent one of their early elementary products to me for review.  Called My First Report: Eastern United States ($8.95), the product provides approximately 9-12 weeks of unit study or report/ research work for grades 1-4 (designed for grades 3-4, but easily adaptable for younger and older students).

The idea behind these products is that children are used to reporting and telling us information and therefore going through the process of completing reports about more academic topics should really be a smooth transition.  Children will develop research skills (using references and books to look up information), practice penmanship, write complete sentences and improve their vocabulary.

What’s Included?

This product arrived in a slim, white envelop enclosing a 66-paged, 3-whole punched packet.  If you want to use the program with more than one student, you will need to purchase one set for each of them.

Each packed contains three sections of materials:

1. The first set of pages has one double-sided page per state (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey ,Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland). Each page has a set of approximately 6 research questions on the front cover, then a set of 4-8 vocabulary words. The back side of each page has state facts.

2. The next section is the bulk of the unit study.  Are you familiar with unit studies?  The basic idea is that you pick a topic, and then you study the topic from multiple angles and academic subjects.  It can be an engrossing way to learn about a topic.

These  24-pages will provide dozens and dozens of ways to develop activities to engage your children in a study of the North Eastern United States.  Topics include:  Bible, History/Geography/Social Studies, Reading/ Literature, Language/ English, Math, Science/ Health, Physical Education, Music and Art.  Included are a variety of field trip possibilities (many that do not involve travel across the country) as well as a keyed bibliography of books (the key symbols help you to know which of the academic areas the resources may be of value to help learning).

3.The final set includes:

  • Capital city/ state crossword puzzle
  • 5/8” rules pages for copy work
  • Blank 5/8”, 1/2”, and 3/8” ruled pages that can be photocopied for copy work and report writing.
  • Full page sized backline maps of each state , the United States, and a North America map

I have to admit, these were Levi’s favorite pages.  Well, at least the maps and puzzle (not the handwriting part!):


How We Used This

I have to admit that I am not naturally a unit study sort of person.  Our studies might eventually be sort-a, kind-a unit study as we dig into a subject and discover natural connections between literature, geography, music, art, etc.  And, hats off to all you out there who LOVE them and CREATE them for yourselves.

But if finding those connections and thinking up all those ideas is NOT your cup of tea, then perhaps having a bunch of building blocks (so to speak) will help initiate you into the unit study style of learning.  And, the First Reports might be a good place to start.

Because the product is providing a jumping off point for your studies, you can proceed a myriad of ways. 

For our home state, 6 questions were given which helped us research our state name, presidents from our state, a famous person from our state, among others.  We have a pile of books about our state that I pulled out to help us jump start:


After researching the questions, it is then up to you to help your student craft a report.  The guide does not come with any additional helps for you to use to teach report writing;  you will need to teach the idea of topic sentences, supporting details, transition words, etc. yourself.

Then, there are the multi-subject suggestions included in the 24-page unit study. Here are some of my favorites related to our state:


  • Why were some of the universities in New England founded?  Do they still exist for these reasons?
  • Discuss the State Motto


  • Learn about Robert Frost and his work


  • Math graphs showing the number of states with coast line vs. those without.  Make a line graph of states’ coastline
  • graph the population of the states

History/ Geography/ Social Studies:

  • Learn where the “old” was for the states that have “New” in their name.
  • Use the blank map to draw geographic features

Language Arts:

  • Make a Horn Book
  • Write a poem about our state similar to Robert Frost


  • Learn about Alan Sheppard

PE/ Music/ Art:

  • Learn about games children played in the past


  • Search for a state song.  Learn why it is important to our state


  • Make a mobile with our state bird, mineral, flower, etc.  Draw pictures of them, cut them out and construct.

Trust me, this is only a small, small fraction of some of the ideas that are included in this guide.  Just reading through the guide gave me a few extra ideas and inspiration for me to design my own activities.  Since I reviewed this primarily with Levi in mind, I recalled that there are quite a few state-related field trips that he probably doesn’t recall, because it has been a few years since we’ve been there.  We have been too busy this summer to include any state related field trips, but I plan to add a few in as summer winds down before our busy soccer season.

As you can see, I really didn’t have any trouble finding activities to do, thanks to the help of the guide! However, if I was new to homeschooling and wanted to give unit studies a try, I think I would want more hand-holding or some suggested resources (online or books) about how to design a unit study based on this program.  {I know it isn’t rocket science, but I cannot be the only one who is a little nervous when trying something new and wanting a little hand-holding to make sure I’m doing it right.}  Thankfully, Hewitt has included some information on their page Unit Study Helps.


Levi loves maps and geography.  He instantly saw the map of the continental US, and had a hard time deciding what to do with it.  In the end, we decided to practice using postal abbreviations.  Next day: coloring states!

My recommendations & thoughts: If  you are a person who likes unit studies (or wants to try them out), yet would like some assistance in getting started, these might be a good tool to get you started.  They are reasonably priced, though I do wish they came as PDF downloads so I could access them right away and not have to pay a shipping charge to get them. 

This product is definitely an inspiration product. It will inspire you and get your creative juices flowing.  It will encourage you to ask questions about the topic that you might not have thought of previously.  You will still need to seek out tools to help you teach the writing process as well as learn how to design a unit study.

Hewitt offers many different kids of unit studies for this age range:

In addition, they have a variety of language art products for middle and high school students.  Many were reviewed by the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  Click below for details.

Hewitt Homeschooling on Social Media:

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew


All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

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