A Biography Of Chocolate? YWAM Publishing #Review
OK, so maybe it’s not technically a biography of chocolate, but Milton Hershey – More Than Chocolate, from the Heroes of History produced by YWAM Publishing, would make an excellent addition to any unit study about chocolate or candy. And it got your attention, didn’t it? [grin]
Also available is the optional – but highly recommended – Downloadable Unit Study Curriculum Guide: Milton Hershey. It’s a quick and easy way to expand a “read” into a complete topical unit study.
The Heroes of History series , along with its parallel Christian Heroes: Then & Now, are available in a variety of formats. While we’ve known about the paperback editions since our early years of homeschooling (and even own a few), I was totally unaware that they’ve expanded their offerings. Most (and probably all – I admit, I didn’t check every single one) are available in a range that includes audiobooks in CD or MP3 format, along with ebooks for Nook, Kindle, or as a direct download from the YWAM site. (I love choices that make curricula available to as many people as possible!) They’re enjoyable and engaging stories for all ages, presented in an accessible style.
There are currently 26 titles in Heroes of History, ranging from former presidents to astronauts. All are biographical, and include a variety topics, spanning everything from history and geography to science and math, along with a healthy dose of character-building qualities shown through the challenges of real-life experiences.
Milton Hershey was one such individual. Despite a rough start in life – and very limited education, in our modern view – he grew to become a hard-working, dedicated, and generous man whose impact can still be seen today. It’s a clear reminder that no matter how many mistakes you make, and how many failures you experience, there is *always* potential for success if you simply keep going with commitment and faith.
The sample screenshots of the study guide show just how straightforward and easy-to-use the guide is. It opens in a browser window, giving it familiar point and click, no learning curve necessary, usage.
As a counterpoint to the narrative style of the text, a just-the-details biographical sketch is provided. (This is *definitely* helpful for mom when she’s last in line for the book, but wants a general idea of what the kids are discussing. Or does mom being last in line only happen in my house??)
There are actually three separate, but similar, curriculum guides included: classroom, homeschool, and group. These show how to compile the individual unit studies (books) into the greater scope of a complete history / social studies program. These are conveniently in printer-friendly PDF format. The study guide, at least for Milton Hershey, is split into two separate PDF files. Part one includes the main portion of the study guide, while the second has reproducible files.
The study guide begins with an introduction that makes overall suggestions for using and adapting the materials as necessary for your students. It’s followed by a chapter with quotes (not from the book or Milton Hershey) that relate in some way to Milton Hershey’s life. Suggestions are included for using these quotes, from memorization to poster-style artwork. (We actually had a discussion about creating social media graphics with these quotes… to each their own!)
The following section is an idea that I haven’t seen suggested before – that of a “display corner”, a collection of objects, images, and books that are related to what is being studied. In this case, specific recommendations range from Pennsylvania flags, old-time photographs, contemporary transportation, stamps, and currency, and more. Another suggestion is to gather related books from the library – and that’s when I realized what it reminds me of! Our local libraries often have themed displays of a similar concept in their glass cases. I LOVE this idea, though I’d want it to be hands-on friendly – and my kids, all teens, might be getting a bit old for it at this point, but it would have been a fantastic resource when they were younger. (And a great conversation piece for household visitors, if placed in a focal point in a main area of the home. Lovely thought!)
Discussion questions are included for each chapter of the text, and this is something I really appreciate, because when I’m put on the spot, I often have difficulty pulling questions out of the air – but we’re great at discussions when we have a base to build on. In this particular guide, there are specifically six questions per chapter: one vocabulary, one factual, two comprehension, and two open-ended questions that require opinion or interpretation. Just about a perfect way to handle the questions, in my opinion, with a little bit of everything for each chapter – though as always, it’s up to the parent to decide what to use. As always, you may wish to delete questions, or add some of your own, but these are a nice spectrum that makes it simple and quick to simply pick up and DO. (Answers to the questions are provided.)
A variety of project suggestions to allow students to engage with the material in a hands-on way are included, along with ideas for finding related resources in your local community. A booklist for further study, along with specific geographical locations and terms that connect in with Milton Hershey are also valuable resources. (Many of these titles were available on request from local libraries – it’s likely that you’d have similar luck in your area.)
All in all, while we’re not at a point where we would commit to using Heroes of History as a full curricula, I could certainly see it as possible, especially with upper grade school or middle school students. For us, it’s a fun detour from standard history and geography, useful for spicing things up and reminding us that there were REAL PEOPLE, with troubles and hopes, just like us, behind the past that has given us NOW.
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