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YWAM Heroes of History {Crew Review}

YWAM Publishing Review
I'm a big fan of YWAM Publishing and their Christian Heroes: Then & Now series, so I was excited to learn that they have a Heroes of History series as well as Unit Study Curriculum Guides.

YWAM Publishing Review

I was very happy to have the opportunity to review Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire and the Benjamin Franklin Unit Study to tie in with our American History studies.



Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire consists of 17 chapters and 208 pages. Geared for ages 10+, the first chapter opens with Ben Franklin's kite flying experiment and then jumps back in time in Chapter 2 to a seven-year-old Ben Franklin and his experiences as a young boy - from wasting money on a penny whistle and making a fool out himself, starting grammar school at the age of 8, learning the skills he needed to become a tradesman at a trade school at the age of 9, working in his father's soap and candle business at the age of 10, to the age of 12 when his father noticed that Ben needed a trade to suit his inquiring mind.
"Ben and his father visited all of the tradesmen in Boston, looking for a more suitable job. As they made their way through the narrow, cobbled streets, Ben observed brick layers, blacksmiths, cabintemakers, roofers, brassworkers, coopers, cobblers, millers, and leather workers at their trades." 
The details of colonial life stood out to me in this chapter and throughout the whole book. It really brought it to life to the point that I became discontent with our American history spine and wished we were reading the next book in the series next. In fact, this tied in well with our current history program, but as we read about Ben Franklin in our history book, I found myself skipping over it as it was covered in much more interesting detail in the book. 

I was also impressed with the details of how Benjamin Franklin taught himself to write and his love for learning. 

Ben was eventually apprenticed as a print maker to his brother James and that started the next chapter of his life (and the book), which begins with Ben Franklin as an apprentice in Boston, and then in Philadelphia where he is an "up-and-coming young man," then to London and back to the colonies where he was an industrious printer, an up-and-coming business man, a civic-minded man, a scientist and inventor, and then we catch up to his kite flying experiment in chapter 14. The book so far is full of fascinating information and detail about Ben Franklin's life and tells it in an interesting way. My kids were begging me to read just one more chapter every time I read to them. 

To enhance our learning time together, I have been using the Unit Study Curriculum Guide

The Benjamin Franklin Unit Study curriculum includes 6 main parts:
  • Student Explorations - essay and creative writing assignments, hands-on projects, and audio/visual projects
  • Social Studies - reproducible activity sheets, geography, history, vocabulary, and critical thinking
  • Community Links - meaningful field trips, guest speakers, and service projects
  • Related Themes to Explore - politics and law, current events, life skills, math, history, geography, and science 
  • Bibliography of Related Resources - books, movies, documentaries, magazine articles and websites for further learning 
  • Culminating Event - ideas for projects displays, era music, food, and activities, and oral presentations
It is a wonderful resource for a complete unit study on Benjamin Franklin and colonial life.

I started by printing the chapter questions (Section 3) and the Answers to Chapter Questions (Appendix B). 

I read once chapter at a time and then asked Malachi and Eliana (ages 10 and 8) the chapter questions and then discussed their answers. 

There are six questions related to each chapter in the book: 
  • a vocabulary question drawn form the text and referenced in the book with a page number
  • a factual question from the text
  • two questions to guage the level of a student's comprehension
  • two open ended questions seeking an opinion or interpretation
The curriculum guide is geared towards ages 10+. The first three questions are geared towards younger students, while the last three are more difficult. Malachi and Eliana were easily able to answer the first three comprehension questions but some of the last three questions required further thinking that challenged them. Furthermore, the first four questions are answered in the Appendix, but the last two are open-ended so I had to evaluate their answers. Even though they dealt with my student's opinions and interpretations, I kept wishing there was an answer in the key for possible answers. It did prompt great discussion and challenged me a little. 

Students are supposed to write our their answers, but since my students were on the young end of the age range, I let them answer orally. I didn't think to have them answer in complete sentences as suggested, until towards the end, but that would be a good idea. 

An alternate method would be to have my students write a short summary of each chapter in their journal to reflect on on Ben Franklin's actions and how they would react in a similar situation. 

My kids loved the questions! They looked forward to answering most of them. Some of the vocabulary words were a challenge because they had to use the word in a new sentence of their own. Vocabulary words included words such as vexed, pious, critique, frugal, venture, charter, civic, pacifists, delegates, debacle, patriots, and more. 

I also printed "Related Themes to Explore." We love unit studies and could very easily make this into a lengthy unit study. I plan to integrate some of these activities in a week long unit study after we finish the book. I love how the related themes are set up in a bubble map with a list of topics to explore. For example, for Literature, we could read John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, for Math, we could explore Magic Squares, for Science we could explore radiation and convection, for Politics & Law we could learn about the U.S. Constitution, for History there is a long list of possibilities! Really, this is just a glimpse of the ideas listed. I had the kids pick what interested them the most to learn more about. 

I also printed the hands-on projects from the Student Explorations sections. My kids like the idea of making a flyable kite that displays the objects important to Benjamin Franklin's life, then fly it on a windy day. I liked the idea of creating a diorama of a colonial home that had been improved by Benjamin Franklin. 

Benjamin Franklin Live Wire and the corresponding curriculum guide are an excellent addition to our study of colonial life. We had a wonderful experience diving into the detail of Benjamin Franklin's life and learning about the impact he had on our founding nation and colonial American history. I don't want our learning to end! We are at the brink of the Revolutionary War with only 3 chapters left, but I am definitely wanting more learning experiences like this. 

Well done, YWAM! 

If you're a fan of YWAM books or interested in learning more, I invite you to read my Crew mates reviews to see which books they reviewed.

Crew Disclaimer
Our curriculum for this year has already been purchased, but as much I enjoyed this book, I'm sure that I will want to add more of these books to our line up this year. They're just too good to miss! 

3 comments

Megan Russell said...

We are reading about Ben Franklin in Bigger Hearts right now. My son is fascinated with him! These unit studies look amazing.

Margaret Chind said...

We've enjoyed C.S. Lewis. I'll have to add Ben to our wish list.

Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

Oooh, now I want to read Ben Franklin! We enjoyed Daniel Boone immensely!