Sunday, August 10, 2008

Free Unit Study: John Steinbeck

My family and I are reading a few works of John Steinbeck over the next two or three months. Local libraries usually carry his books, or you can try to "mooch" some of them for free from Bookmooch. Although the Charlotte Mason Method does not encourage unit studies as we know them, I try to choose a particular topic, and study it in as close the the fashion of Charlotte Mason as I can, adding my own style to the lesson as the need arises.

It is a good idea to have the children organize their written findings, copywork, recipes and other relevant information that they acquire into folders or notebooks to use as a record of their hard work.

Here are the books that we are using:

Tortilla Flat
The Pearl
Cannery Row
Burning Bright
Of Mice and Men

1. Have the children read the books individually, or read them out loud around the family table. I personally like to read aloud, because we have more than one age group represented in my household.

2. Choose short passages or paragraphs from the current book being read for the children to copy. The older the child, the longer the passage can be, and vice, versa. Instruct the children that they are to copy the passage as neatly as possible, paying special attention to punctuation, special, and sentence structure. You will find that the more that they copy, the better they will be at retaining what has been read, spelling, handwriting, and use of language in their writing.

3. Take some time to research and study facets of the book such as the time period in which they are set, the area in which the story takes place, and the cultural groups represented.

4. In your research and exploration of number 3, look for artwork, craft projects and recipes that can help illustrate the story and/or the people and time that it features. For example, while reading Tortilla Flat, you might find a recipe for homemade tortillas, and have a meal of tortillas and beans.

5. Use oral or written narration to test the children at the end of each book. Depending on age and ability, ask them to either tell or write down everything that they know about the book and all of the things that you have learned in your research.

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