Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Hewitt Homeschooling

My daughter Gesserine has Down syndrome so expressing herself has been an issue we have had to address on a daily basis. While her reading and comprehension are really tremendous, explaining what she wants to say is quite the challenge for her. That is why we have not done a lot of written reports. However, I love the approach that Hewitt Homeschooling has in their My First Report curriculum so I was thrilled to review one their products again.

My First Reports will help teach your child how to put their research on to paper. In your package you will have all the materials you need. Each theme has several categories inside and you get to choose to do as many or as few of them as you like. For the purpose of my review Gesserine chose My First Report: Outdoor Activities for the focus of her research.

Inside you will find the pages for each of the categories you are to cover. On each page they have several questions to give your child an idea about what to discuss as well as vocabulary words they will want to focus on. I will use hiking as our example on here, as that appears to be the one that Gess enjoyed the most. Here is how she answered those questions.

In the back of the book they have everything you need to turn these into unit studies. As well as learning about outdoor activities you can also throw in some Bible, History/Geography/Social Studies, Reading, Language, Math, Science/Health, Physical Education, Music, Art, as well as go on field trips. There is so much here you could make each page last quite awhile or complete about one a week as recommended. Below you can see Gess doing a Language activity which was coming up with rhyming words from our study. That was great for her speech therapy as well!

For the actual report they have three sizes of lined paper with or without a space for a picture. The lines come in 5/8-inch, 1/2 inch, and 3/8 inch. We used the 1/2 inch for Gess' paper and chose to have her draw a picture. Here is the text of her report, if you can read it.

One of the books she read about hiking talked about doing warm up exercises before you go. Since she wrote her report before our field trip she chose to draw herself exercising.

 After we got back from hiking I had her draw another one. You can see from our photograph what inspired this drawing! She told me the plant was poison ivy. She read about that and talks about it quite a bit but thankfully we never saw any.

Besides hiking, My First Report: Outdoor Activities also has her studying about camping, fishing, and biking though she hasn't written reports for all of them yet. Once school officially starts back up we will dig into some of the others topics. The entire list for this unit includes: Hiking, Camping, Sport Fishing, Hunting, Climbing, Horseback Riding, Cycling, Playgrounds, Roller Sports, Playing in Water, Playing on Water, and Cold Weather Activities.

My First Reports are for grades 1-4 but they are also good for remedial work for higher grades which is how we used them. With Gess' special needs these are en excellent tool to help her think about what she needs to say. The topics had her really excited and she would just sit and tell me all about them. She would tell me about how to wear my pants when hiking, what to pack for a camping trip, and how to stay safe when riding a bike. However, when she sits down to write about them she struggles. That is why having these reports to guide her was very beneficial. The questions helped her to focus on what she might want to say. I did have to help her learn how to structure her paragraphs as that is not covered in the content. I had her first say what she wanted to write and then we wrote that down. Later we went back and placed her thoughts in order and came up with the opening and closing sentence.

After all that we had the joy of experiencing her very first hiking trip. Field trips are so much fun and this particular category lends itself well to that aspect! I think Gess will continue to be an avid hiker. Thanks to My First Report: Outdoor Activities for getting her interested in it!

My First Report: Outdoor Activities sells for $8.95 and comes with the 12 topics I listed above. In the past we have used Large Mammals and Plants and really liked them too. To learn more about My First Reports as well as other curriculum offered by Hewitt Homeschooling visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below.

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