As we move toward wrapping up our school year, and transitioning to “fun” stuff, I was super excited when I learned that The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew would be reviewing the “Once a Week Unit Studies” published by Homeschool Legacy. We were given our choice of which unit study to work with (Homeschool Legacy publishes more than 15 titles), and I chose their Birds of a Feather 4 week study. As a part of my review in my role as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew I received one digital download of the Birds of a Feather unit study.
How does it work?
The Once a Week Unit Studies are designed to help families enjoy unit studies on a variety of topics, and enable scouts (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and American Heritage Girls) to complete requirements toward advancement and merit badge completion. With a son in scouting, the merit badge aspect was HUGE for me. I had looked at Homeschool Legacy supplies before (to help with integrating scouting into our school week), but had never purchased a study. I was thrilled to be able to try one of these out as a part of The Crew!
Once you get organized, the Once a Week Unit study from Homeschool Legacy is pretty “open and go”. The first thing I did was download the study. After downloading I got a few of the supplies together. Since my main interest in using this study was to help my son complete the Boy Scouts “Birds” merit badge, I downloaded to merit badge worksheet to use alongside the study. I also got together our books – a birding guide, and some other supplies. With our gear together – completing the study was easy.
Basically, each week has a list of suggested readings, bible readings, video/internet links to research, and hands on activities to complete. By working through each week’s list, the kids can complete – or come close to completing – the associated merit badge by the end of the study. I love the download version of the study because all the digital links stay in the document, so completing suggested assignments later in the study is so simple! Click and go! With the supplies organized and set aside, the hands on activities were also super easy to complete.
These are RICH unit studies the are aimed to teach a LOT more than just “completing the merit badge”. I appreciated the bible verses that were included, as well as the suggested reading lists which help to round out the study. The bird study definitely was more than rushing through a merit badge, and I would expect the other studies to be similarly deep.
My kids really enjoyed the hands on activities, and were able to complete them on their own. I really appreciated the amplifying notes – like ‘don’t feed birds for a week and then leave them to fend for themselves’. I think the focus of the study was really on respecting and treating God’s creation and I loved how that was communicated to the kids.
As for scheduling, I will say that we worked on them more frequently than suggested (since we’re on a lighter schedule and the kids were enjoying the material!), but the “Once a Week” approach and the recommended activities would be really doable with our normal school load.
Any bad parts?
I did feel like some of the directions could have been a little more specific. For example, the Bird merit badge required finding and learning about 20 birds. I would have loved to be challenged to “find and record 5 this week” more than “start a nature journal” with the same information. I know that’s nit picking, but I think having those directions would help families to not get to week 4, think they’re close to completing, and then have to go find 13 more birds to complete the requirement.
I really enjoyed using this study, as did my kids. My son completed all of the requirements for his Birds merit badge by using the Birds of a Feather unit study, and he’s looking forward to getting all his work signed off soon. I’m confident with the depth of the study he won’t have any issues getting things signed off.
Since our normal process is to pick a merit badge, print the worksheet, and get to work – this approach definitely helped us enrich the topic and really rounded out our study. I know we won’t use it for every merit badge, but it certainly was a great change of pace and I would certainly consider using Homeschool Legacy products in the future.
One thing that really struck me was how awesome I think these would be for non-homeschooling families. I know my son’s friends who don’t homeschool complete merit badges almost exclusively at camp or weekend “badge events”. Despite good intentions, they certainly don’t earn as many badges as my homeschooled son (since we can integrate learning so easily), and as a result their advancement can slow down. Since these studies take out all the planning and any intimidation that a merit badge workbook can induce, I think these would be great to use over the summer for traditionally schooled families. I also think they’d be a great addition to Troop libraries as a means to encourage the guys to complete required badges and help them to enrich their merit badge learning. I know I’ll be recommending them to some local friends!
If you’re interested in Homeschool Legacy, they also have a great Affiliate Program you can check out.
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