Friday, July 6, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: My First Reports

My First Reports from Hewitt Homeschooling is a good way to introduce writing reports to your child.  While these are geared for children in grades 3-4 they can also be used in younger grades with parental assistance and are even good for some remedial work for grades 5-6.  I also found them very helpful for using them with my daughter who has special needs.  I was able to review 2 of these for the Schoolhouse Review Crew: Large Mammals and Plants.

My First Reports encourages children to learn to express their knowledge about a subject in complete sentences of their own.  Each topic has several subtopics with a work sheet that offers basic questions about the subject to guide the child in their investigation.  It also offers vocabulary words that they should learn.  Besides simply learning to write a report you child will also be working on language and penmanship while learning basic library, encyclopedia and dictionary skills as well. They have also included unit study materials to help you incorporate your topic into other lessons.
"Activity suggestions for each subject include art, music, language, reading, math, social studies/history, science/health, P.E., Bible, and field trips. A list of additional resources is included, as well as other information; e.g., the scientific classifications of the animal and/ or plant kingdoms in packets where these are studied."
I was really pleased when I received my packets as I could tell they would work well with Gess' special needs.  The activity sheets were in rather large print and written in a manner that made Gess interested. They also include easy to write on reproducible report forms with varying line heights that offer choices of with or without a picture.

The first thing we did was go to the library and focus on our vocabulary words.  Gess is still learning how to use a dictionary and had not yet used an encyclopedia. We found some good ones at the library that had a fairly decent size print that Gess could read.  I then had her take notes and write the definitions of the vocabulary words and answer any questions addressed in her reading.  Here she is learning about bears for her first report on Large Mammals.

We then checked out various books on the subject and read up on them while striving to answer the questions on her sheet.  I also used a little of the information in the back of the guide that helps you turn your report topic into a unit study.  They have lots of neat ideas.  I liked the bible study questions that tie in your plant knowledge to familiar passages such as "I am the vine, ye are the branches" (John 15:5) or discusses why an apple tree cannot bring forth a pear making you think about what kind of fruit children of God should bear.  You can map where the animals come from for geography or sing Old McDonald Had a Zoo for music.  There are several ideas for every subject and even some activities like word cross or word find puzzles the kids might enjoy.

For science one of the activities we did was on germination which was one of her vocabulary words.  I thought it would be more fun for her to see it in real life, rather than just a picture.  So, we took an avocado seed and stuck toothpicks in it and placed the flat end down into the water.  Once the stem gets six inches we can plant it in soil.  Here it is growing.  The first picture was earlier on but the one Gess is holding was today.  It's about 3 inches now which is halfway there.

Finally after all that study, you are ready to write the report.  Gess did a pretty good job at her first couple reports.

This was Gess' first report on plants.  It was about seeds.  After that we did stems.  We also did a report on black bears.  Gess' read like this. (Remember, my daughter has special needs and communicating verbally is already a challenge.  I think she did pretty good for her very first report.)
"Black bears live in North America.  Baby bears are cubs.  Bears are huge. They hibernate in the winter.  Bears are omnivores, they eat meat and plants."
Now that we have done some in each of the units I think we will focus more on plants for awhile since we are actually gardening and helping plants to grow.  Gess however, has enjoyed them both very much and we do plan on getting out to a zoo after we have completed some more studies on large mammals.

My First Reports covers several different topics, mine just happened to be on Large Mammals and PlantsHewitt Homeschooling also offers other great homeschool products such as Lightening Literature for middle school and high school students.  Be sure to check out the other Schoolhouse Reviews to see what my crew mates thought about some of their other products.

My First Reports are $8.95 each but the unit we did on Plants is currently on sale for $4.48.  You can also get the entire Set of Fourteen for $69.95.  I think that is a very reasonable price considering that it also has a total unit study included with each topic.  I found they worked really well for us and we will use these in the future.  It was a really fun way to get Gess writing her first report and you can be sure that she learned much more than she actually wrote down on paper.  Writing a report can sound like such a daunting task but we found this directed us in a fun, hands on approach to learning the topic so writing about it was a breeze.

To learn more visit the Hewitt Homeschooling website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought by clicking on the banner below.


Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received the My First Reports Large Mammals and Plants Curriculum for giving my honest opinion and assessment of these products in my review. 
 Note: All pricing is current at the time of posting and is subject to change

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