Birds of a Feather - A "Once-A-Week" Unit Study Review

5/15/2015
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Homeschool Legacy Review

"Once-a-Week" unit studies by Homeschool Legacy are unique in that they are designed to be used once-a-week. The units can be easily added into your regular curriculum by setting aside one day per week as your "unit study day" to complete the activities. Throughout the week, you complete small "daily activities" such as a Family Read-aloud, Independent Reading, a family movie night, or an extended activity like a field trip.  The main hands-on activities are designed to be completed once-a-week, but you can also spread the activities out over the week.

The idea of a "once-a-week" unit study that requires no prep appealed to me, and when I saw that we would be reading John Audubon: Young Naturalist in our regular curriculum, I was excited to review Birds of a Feather to kill two birds with one stone! :)



Each unit offers:

  • Library reading/video choices (with call numbers, however our library does not use them anymore in the Juvenile section)
  • Resource links 
  • Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girls merit badge requirements identified
  • Supplies lists
  • Independent Reading suggestions
  • Family Read-Aloud suggestions
  • Family Devotional
  • Language
  • History 
  • Art Appreciation
  • Art
  • Science
  • Research suggestions
  • Field Trip suggestions
  • Family Movie Night suggestions
  • "Stump Your Dad Trivia"
  • scheduling tips
  • and more!
They are available as a PDF with clickable links (what I received) or as a paperback. 

When an activity called for research or the use of an encyclopedia, we simply pulled out resources from our own library or curriculum and sometimes made substitutions. Since the unit study is flexible and designed to be used alongside our regular curriculum, this worked out perfectly!

Here's what we've been up to with Birds of a Feather:


Week 1 Focus: Bird Basics and Your Backyard Habitat


We:
  • started John Audubon: Young Naturalist (scheduled in our regular curriculum and also suggested in Week 2 of this study!) for our Family Read-Aloud and did the science that goes along with our regular curriculum daily
  • started The Burgess Bird Book for Children for Storytime at bedtime
  • did a family devotional on birds and their habitats
  • made homemade bird feeders
  • created a backyard habitat for birds by setting up a bird feeding station in our yard
  • started a nature journal
  • had a family movie night

Week 2 Focus: Bird Identification


We:
  • continued our Family Read-Aloud, Storytime and our regular curriculum
  • learned the criteria for identifying birds
  • learned the parts of a bird and labeled them
  • used the National Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds to identify bird species
  • listened to birds songs
  • drew a picture of a Wood Thrush after looking at Audubon's drawings
  • went on a walk to look for birds
  • had a family movie night

Week 3 Focus: Ornithology


We:
  • continued our Family Read-Aloud/Storytime
  • learned about different types of feathers and their purpose
  • learned the main parts of a feather
  • examined the shape of feathers and did an experiment to demonstrate the Bernoulli Principle
  • learned the parts of an egg and drew and labeled them for our notebooks
  • learned the benefits of the shape of the egg
  • learned about migration and then mapped the route of a sparrow for our regular science 
  • had a family movie night 

Week 4 Focus: Birds of Prey


We:
  • read about owls in our Family Read-Aloud and our regular curriculum
  • researched our national bird
  • explored bird sayings
  • learned that we can investigate what an owl ate by dissecting an owl pellet 
  • researched owls and drew a picture of an owl for our notebooks 
  • made plans to attend a wildlife refuge this summer to learn more about birds of prey
  • had a family movie night
View Week 4 from Birds of a Feather to see more detail on a week's worth of lessons.

As you can see, we completed each week's activities along with our regular curriculum. Choosing a study that tied in was a good fit for me, and it got me excited about unit studies again! If you are looking for some extra hands-on learning to add to your regular studies, you might be able to find a unit that will tie in for some extra fun!

Homeschool Legacy Review

While choosing a Science unit worked really well for us to enhance our lessons, I'm anxious to read some of my Crew Mates reviews - especially for the American History units! When I first looked at the History units, I was not as interested because our curriculum offers plenty of hands-on activities for History and I thought it would be too much. But, now knowing how easy and flexible the Once-A-Week unit studies are, I'm anxious to hear all about them!

Pros:
  • "no-prep" (just gathering supplies and books/resources)
  • planning and scheduling are done for you
  • supplies and resources are listed for you
  • flexible in how it's used and the resources used (we were easily able to substitute ones we didn't have access to)
  • literature based
  • Biblically based
  • encourages notebooking/journal writing
  • hands-on activities 
  • fun

Cons:
  • Family Read-Aloud schedule is unrealistic. There is a new chapter book scheduled each week. 

It says in the "Getting the Most Out of Your Once-A-Week Unit Study" section at the end of the study that it is not intended that you read all of the books listed, and I can see that applying to the Library Reading/Video Choices list, but not to the weekly Family Read-Aloud suggestions, since they are scheduled as the Family Read-Aloud for that week. As much as we love to read, the books scheduled each week are at least a 3 week read-aloud and can not reasonably be completed in one week, especially if you are adding this on to your regular curriculum. As it is, we were able to finish one chapter book during the 4 week study and made it half way through another. There were some really great suggestions, too, so I was a little disappointed that we couldn't do them all. However, I think we chose a great book that tied well into all 4 weeks and is a part of our regular curriculum, and since the unit study is designed to be flexible, I still feel good about our experience.

For a fun, flexible, and easy unit study as a stand alone unit or to tie into your curriculum, check out Homeschool Legacy!




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4 comments:

Cassandra said...

Love this... your home looks exactly like ours... I recognize pretty much everything, including the owl from Draw Write Now! Our study of birds last spring led us to owning 5 hens.... haha. And now my children know the power of the words, "BUT IT'S FOR OUR UNIT STUDY, MOM!" uh huh... and before you know it you're helping chicks hatch at 2am. *sigh* Oh.... And we love the Burgess Bird Book. We were reviewing another study from Homeschool Legacy (Forest for the Trees) and mine will be up this weekend! :) Much love to you and your beautiful family.

Julia said...

Hi Michelle! Would you recommend this bird study if we do not have access to a library, yet we do have books on birdo. Also, is this a pdf, or a book? Your post is wonderful!

Michelle said...

Would you believe our Draw Write Now books are 10 years old?! They have been much loved (worn through use) and are still much loved around here. :) And oh, yes! Anything for a unit study, haha! We raised a duck with our chicks for The Story About Ping, and did a unit study on chickens with our 2nd round of raising chicks - except we didn't hatch them! Cool!

Your Forest for the Trees study was awesome! I'm thinking it would go along with One Small Square Woods and a unit study on Botany, eh?

Michelle said...

Julia, the units are very flexible! I bought the Burgess Bird Book, but it is actually available online for free! I printed part of it and loved it in color, but decided it would be easier to buy the book. I used John Audubon because I had it with Bigger Hearts. I used Flying Creatures and One Small Square Woods for some of our lesson (the later from Bigger Hearts for His Glory). So, you could use any books and resources you have!

And it is available as a PDF, with clickable links or as a paperback. Sorry for not mentioning that!

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