Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unit Study: Explorers and Exploring

I have been quite remiss in mentioning the unit on which we've been working. 

About six weeks ago, we were browsing a book store and I came across this awesome book:  How to be an Explorer: An Adventurer's Guide .  This is one of those really fun books that has pop-ups and letters and diary-entries and games all rolled into a book that is meant to be "an adventurer's guide" written by "Sir Henry Hardcastle" to teach kids how to explore.  "Written" in 1931, the book is a guide to explorations of the Thirties -- archaeological digs, Polar treks, jungle safaris and animal discoveries. 

My kids were so enthralled with this book ... I decided to do an explorer's unit with them.  A great way to tie together history, geography, map-reading, orienteering, nature study, survival skills and just plain fun all into one. 

So off we started ...

The how-to book breaks exploring into perfect unit sections:
  1. tool kit -- which we'll make after Christmas using the wonderful haversack directions given in Alice Cantrell's Tin Cups and Tinder: A Catholic Boy's Little Book of Fire, Food and Fun.  We'll fill each haversack with binoculars (they'll each get a pair for Christmas ... shhh!), journal, sewing kit (also made from Cantrell's book), first aid kit, magnifying lens and other critical items (incl snacks of course!).
  2. ideas for exploring and training -- we'll be armchair training by reading about explorers as well as watching great videos like:  Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Around the World in 80 Days, as well as watching the documentaries that Michael Palin has done:  Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, the New Europe, and others (for Netflix subcribers, the Palin vids are on instant queue!).  We're also reading Voyage of the Dawn Treader (getting ready for the release of the film in Dec) making maps of the islands as we go from C.S. Lewis' amazing descriptions!  This is what we've been studying for the last month or so ... reading and watching videos!
  3. individual areas of exploring (we'll take about a two weeks on each of these):
    1. sailing the seven seas -- KonTiki
    2. beneath the sea (a great op for reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea )
    3. jungle and rainforest
    4. lost civilizations and archaeology (we've started on this a bit in history while reading All Ye Lands)
    5. polar quest -- antarctic and artic (we'll watch the first and last segments of Palin's Pole to Pole again, watch Shackleton, and re-read Mr. Popper's Penguins )
    6. desert adventures -- Lawrence of Arabia
    7. mountains -- Heidi
    8. finish with an overview of some famous explorers -- Lewis & Clark, Magellan, Captain Cook, and others
This breaks into such a wonderful long-term lesson plan for us.  We'll take a break for our Advent study (on Dickens and Victorian Christmas -- that will be the next post!) and be able to pick up right after the first of the year with exploring this amazing world God gave us!   As the weather improves in the Spring and Summer, we'll be explorers in our own part of the world .... adventuring into the mountains, down into the caverns (a field trip to Luray in April), out west in the Summer for a niece's wedding (a rode trip that is thru some amazing parts of God's ocuntry!),  and other wonderful areas around and about the Old Dominion.

Come along for the journey ... ok?

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