Just recently, the kids and I were given the opportunity to review one of the Heroes of History series from YWAM Publishing. Lately, the kids have been enjoying watching the animated film Pocohontas and so we decided that we would love to learn more about the real story of John Smith and discover the differences between him and his Disney counterpart.
Captain John Smith: A Foothold in the New World is part of the Heroes in History series, autobiography books designed for children ages 10 and up to help students learn and understand about important figures in history (past and present) such as Abraham Lincoln, Louis Zamperini, Billy Graham and Harriet Tubman.
For this review, we received a copy of the 192 page paperback copy of the book. Other versions include an Audiobook CD, downloadable audiobook MP3, Ebook editions available for both Nook and Kindle, as well as a direct E-book download from the YWAM website.
We also received the corresponding study unit curriculum guide on CD. The Unit Study is a 76 page PDF that helps turn reading the book into a curriculum involving geography, history, essay writing, reading comprehension, public speaking and art. (Please note, they are currently phasing out physical CDs of the unit studies and are in the process of making them all available for Digital Download).
How We Used It?
The kids wanted to jump right in as soon as we received our book. Because they are a bit younger than the targeted age, we broke down our reading to one chapter aloud every day and then had them answering questions from the Unit Study with the corresponding chapter. This worked really well for them as the questions provided allowed for me to make sure they were comprehending what we were reading each day. There were also quotes from famous historical people that were easy to adapt to copy work for the kids to practice their writing.
I found the Study Unit to be slightly advanced for the kids (who are 2nd Grade) but was able to adapt it to fit their educational levels. The 6 questions provided after each chapter was great for checking reading comprehension and also was great for expanding their vocabulary with more advanced words that they normally wouldn't encounter at their grade level.
There are many great ideas for craft ideas and the kids were able to make a few of these such as a clay representation of Jamestown as well as making mosaics in the design of Constantinople on their tablets. At the end of the unit guide is a list of book suggestions to explore for each age group (Unfortunately our tiny library did not have any of the recommended titles as we would have enjoyed exploring some of them). We also found that there was a one cent stamp issued in the US in honor of John Smith, so we tore into our bag of stamps in hopes of finding a copy of it (we didn't have any though) but it was fun watching the kids looking for it. The activities that can be used to accompany this book is endless.
Overall, we really enjoyed both the book and the unit study and I'll probably return to it later as they get older as I am sure that they will get much more out of it then. But for now, I've got two little 2nd graders who know much more about John Smith and also know how the Disney movie got it wrong.
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The members of the crew were each able to review various different books ranging from famous missionaries, writers and politicians. To read their reviews, be sure to click the banner below :)