Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Box of I.D.E.As - Pearl Harbor - A Review

World War II - Pearl Harbor
Age Range: Approx. 9 - 16 years of age

Presented by

Box of I.D.E.As. offers several other unit studies are available, including salt and quilting.

A little about Box of I.D.E.As. from their site:
"Box of IDEAs are ideal for teaching multi level students, focusing on age 9 to 16. Designed to get kids off the computer and around the table, Box of IDEAS are great to supplement your current curriculum but can also be used for homeschool group activity, summertime learning and as a break from the normal routine"


A little about the Pearl Harbor box from their site:
" World War Two Pearl Harbor is an in depth look into the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the events surrounding the United States entry into World War Two, specifically in the Pacific. This box not only deals with the attack itself but everything that came before and after. This detailed exploration of the "date that will live in infamy" will not only expose your kids to a detailed history of events but also to aspects of the big picture that you may have never thought of before. Never before have you seen such a comprehensive overview of this important part of World War Two including all that came before and after."

Our Thoughts:

At the end of the last school year, my family finished up a unit study on Pearl Harbor.  So when the Box of I.D.E.As came up for review, of course I picked the unit about Pearl Harbor.  I had enjoyed the study and was curious to see what else we could learn about it.

Not only did I like the topic, but I also liked the idea of having all the work done and ready for me.  Each topic is bagged up separately, ready for use when you need it.  A list of "extras" needed is listed right on the bag's label...things like a ruler or scissors.  I am thankful to have received the box edition.  I imagine the PDF version would get rather pricey, with all the color printing.

Topics include...
     Before becoming a base
     Beginning of a Naval Presence
     A Week Before the Attack
     Day of Infamy
     Day After the Attack
     Weeks After the Attack
     Six Months After the Attack
     A Year After the Attack
     Victory Over Japan
     Decades After the Attack

There are 10 modules in this box.  The site mentions that the modules can be studied in any order, but I recommend that with a history topic, you start at the beginning...Especially if you have a limited knowledge of the subject.  The first module starts before the bombings, before Pearl Harbor was a military base. 

When you pick up a bagged module, you will notice a list of required items, usually something as simple as a pencil.  You will also see a quote.  I personally am a sucker for quotes; I LOVE them.  This can be used for copy-work or simply to ponder.  On the module about journalism, you will find this quote.

"I don't think a reporter should give advice or make predictions, " Peter Jennings

I found it amusing to read about how journalists should be un-biased and neutral, with "just the facts, ma'am."  If only!  Boy, how far we have strayed from that goal.

Inside the bag, you will find a brief introduction to the topic.  The information was interesting and we did learn things we hadn't learned last year during our unit study. I appreciated that the study began before the attack, giving some background, and that it continued on years after the attack.  It gave us a nice overall look at the attack on Pearl Harbor.  But some lessons were shorter than others, and those left me wanting for more.  I would love to see more details.  However, the info sheet does include web-links for further study.

Along with the lesson is a worksheet.  The worksheet is a nice way to see how much your child learned from the lesson.  It gives us a chance to put the lesson into action.  For example, in the 1st module titled "Before  Becoming a Base," students will measure pictures of pearls.  In the 5th module titled "Day After the Attack," students read articles from the day after the attack and note which ones gave opinions and which ones gave just the facts.  Then they will do some journalism of their own, again some with just the facts and some including opinions.  

Each lesson, or module, also includes an activity.  Putting a deck of cards (featuring noteworthy events during the attack) into timeline order was probably my daughters' favorite.  There were also activities such as a game similar to "Go Fish" using a deck of cards featuring endangered animals. One activity was using copies of actual newspaper headlines to answer a variety of questions.  My girls would have enjoyed this activity and were looking forward to trying it out.  But many of the copies had print so tiny and blurry, that we could barely read more than the headlines.  Since we couldn't read the articles, we weren't able to answer the questions. But just looking at the print copies from the day after the bombing was a history lesson, in and of itself.

The included materials, such as the newspaper copies, truly are a history lesson.  These were some of the most enjoyable parts of the study.  Seeing a copy of President Roosevelt's marked-up speech for Congress.  Looking over articles from across the nation printed on December 8, 1941.  Actual photos from Pearl Harbor on the back of activity cards.  I like that the company included so many visual aids, in addition to the included web-links.

My daughters did mention that a lot of the activities seemed very similar, just being variations of card games.  Although the cards were colorful and interesting, it kind of seemed repetitive.  I don't think this is a big deal.  It is just one part of the bigger picture...including worksheets, web-links, and extra research and assignments.  But that being said, I do think it would be nice to add a few extra hands-on activities (not card related).

Box of I.D.E.As is an interesting idea and a creative product.  It makes history easier to teach and more fun to learn.  The worksheets, the web-links, the activities.  It is very hands-on and user friendly.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


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