Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review of Expedition China DNG Unit Study

It is getting so that anticipating Amanda Bennett’s Download N Go™ unit studies is becoming one of the highlights of my homeschooling month! While I know that somewhere online I can find out what is coming next from the DNG team, I love the surprise of finding the unit that I next get to review waiting in my inbox. It’s like a double treat: I get the surprise of finding out the subject to be studied, followed by the actual study itself. You see, if you are unfamiliar with Amanda Bennett’s shorter, bite-sized (as I have come to think of them) unit studies, it really doesn’t matter what you are currently studying in your homeschool. You always have time either to take a short break to work on the current Download N Go™ topic or, as is more usually the case, to work the current Download N Go™ topic in to your present course of study. Amanda’s and The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine’s current offering is no exception.

There are so many ways to make Expedition China relevant to any homeschooling topics of study. Geography is an easy and obvious one, but what about world cultures, ecology, history, biology, and languages? One of my favorite features of Download N Go™ unit studies is their adaptability. Yes, they are specifically designed to lead you through a complete unit in one week’s time; however, you are completely free to use any part of the unit, at any time, in any way that you see fit! More than any other of this series that I have yet seen, Expedition China particularly lends itself to this type of flexibility. Now that it is abundantly clear that I am entranced both by this form of unit study (I think I need either to put Amanda Bennett on my Christmas Card list or friend her on Facebook!) and by the choice of China as a subject for Download N Go™, let’s look at exactly what makes this unit study so compelling.

First, as with all of the studies in this series, the book list alone justifies the price. With so many books for children available on the topic of China, winnowing the list can be a daunting project at best. Recently, I returned from a trip to the library with no less than 13 books – on Marco Polo alone! That list doesn’t even include the older narrative stories that I had already downloaded and marked on my Kindle! Really now…I don’t have a semester just to study Marco Polo. I need someone like Amanda Bennett working for me! Another wonderful part of this unit study is the animal and geographical features of the day. My children couldn’t wait to find out what the animal would be each day. Even better, these animals are tied in to the optional, but included, lapbook component of the unit study! Finally, and in keeping with the winnowing benefit I so love, Expedition China contains several videos featuring aspects of China that my family will only ever see over the computer. Once again, there are thousands of such videos online. Amanda Bennett has done all of my legwork (fingerwork?) for me, and has found examples of the best videos which correlate to the relevant portions of her unit study. All my children and I have to do is sit back and enjoy. Well, the kiddies have to pay attention so that they can answer the questions which follow the videos! Given that this is a Download N Go™ unit study, the clickable links to the videos are right there in the download itself. One quick click, and you’ve downloaded your unit study, and all relevant materials (well, you may have to make a trip to the library, but what homeschooling family doesn’t welcome any excuse for that outing?). You could spend triple what you would spend on this unit study, or more, quite easily, and still not get the concise, quality study of China that you will get when you purchase the Expedition China Download N Go™ unit study. As you wind down your school year, do yourself a favor and take a vacation to the Orient!

You can purchase this unit study here

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