Don't settle for spoon feeding information to your children. Help them ask questions and develop research skills with these topical My First Report packets.
Currently 24 packets are available with the following topics: Music, Transportation, Weather, Me, Famous People, Large Mammals, Small Mammals, Pets and Farm Animals, Bugs and Worms, Birds, Reptiles, Plants, Solar System, My State, Eastern States, Southern States, Middle States, Western States, Sports, Outdoor Activities, Lewis & Clark Expedition, Focus on the World, Marine Life and Olympics.
Each packet contains 12 sub-topic pages, and each page contains six to eight questions that students will have to research in order to make their report. Reproducible, lined sheets in three different sizes are included for the actual report writing. Reports might simply be a few sentences or a paragraph that answers each question, but you might require lengthier responses from older students. If you use one sub-topic per week, one packet will last about 12 weeks.
There are also unit study ideas for those of you who want to enlarge upon the chosen subject, with suggested activities relating to Bible, language arts, math, science, history, music and art. These, low-priced packets offer a good way to try out a unit study approach without a big investment.
Field trip ideas and a list of recommended resources (including websites) about each topic are included. Many packets include a crossword puzzle page and/or pages with pertinent Scripture verses for students to copy. Geographical packets such as My State include outline maps.
These packets are designed for grades three and four but can also be used with younger students with more help from a parent. Many reports should also be great for older students.
Parents will have to work with students to help them learn how to locate and assimilate information. Students should gradually become more competent at researching and recording information. Parents are given permission to copy the lined and formatted pages but not all pages. This means that each student needs his or her own packet. Packets are three-hole punched for insertion into a binder, and each student should have his or her own binder for their packet as well as their reports and other work related to the study.
Each week students will be researching, reading, and recording information on all of the questions on one page and writing definitions of vocabulary words. The depth of research a parent requires, the student's reading ability, the student's ability to identify the required information, and their ability to record that information will all influence the amount of time required.
If you choose to include other unit study activities, the study can be greatly expanded, possibly becoming your primary curriculum for all except math and some language arts skills. (Some math and language arts activities are included under the unit study ideas, but this is not sequential instruction.)
Activities described under the various unit study subject areas leave it to parents to develop the details. For example, My First Report: Lewis and Clark Expedition has a suggestion under science: "Study animals associated with the states the expedition traveled through. Are there any which the settlers would have see which are not seen today? Why not?" (p. 39). Students will need to first identify the pertinent states then determine which animals the expedition would have encountered. Students might acquire much of this information from a read-aloud book about the trek, but you would probably want to record their journey on a map as you read about it and record various animals they encountered as they are mentioned. (Deciding which activities to use in advance of the study might be very important!) After reading a book or two, students would also need to research which animals have become extinct. To keep this manageable it will be important to preview potential resources and identify those most likely to be helpful to students.
While I love unit studies, My First Report unit study ideas often require a great deal of research and preparation. Consequently, I expect that most families might choose just a few of them rather than try to make this their primary curricula for 12 weeks.
As you can see from the titles, you might use most of these packets as your primary course material for either history or science, completing three packets in a year for a complete course in either subject area. Even without using unit study suggestions, students will also be accomplishing quite a bit of work within the area of language arts as they read, research, write, and learn new vocabulary words. They also learn to become critical thinkers as they sift through information to find what they are searching for.
Yes, it takes more time and effort for students to learn this way. However, in the long run, students will learn much more in this fashion. Perhaps, the most important thing they will learn from this process is that they can become self-educators.