Our summer break was finally beginning and I was honestly not sure if I wanted to review the Paddington Bear study by Branch Out World. I asked my daughter how she felt about it, since it would mean doing school work on her first week of break. Looking back I’m so glad she said yes! I have loved the book Paddington for a long time but always thought of it as a book for young children so it had been several years since my 10 year old daughter had read the book. I was a little concerned that it would be to ‘babyish’ for her but my concerns were unfounded.
I used this study primarily with my 10 year old but also included my four year old son in many of the activities. We all enjoyed the book and they were excited to complete the activities. My daughter did more of the research activities but the four year old joined in for coloring and cooking. He also enjoyed looking at the pictures and talking about the book.
I was very curious prior to receiving the study about how much they would be able to do with what is a fairly short picture book but the study included geography in relation to the setting, science, vocabulary, pictures study/architecture, cooking, crafts and even math. There were a variety of activities to choose from and if you did them all this could easily have been your entire week’s school work. However, it was also laid out in such a way that you could pick and choose which activities worked best for your students. So if you had younger students you could choose the activities that worked best for that age and older students could do the more in-depth and research based ideas.
Once we read the book together, we started on our day one activities. The theme for the day was setting and the activities focused on learning about both London and Peru as they were important settings in the book. They included map work, flags, timelines, and even a lesson about migration. The study also included a tourist brochure project that students could complete to demonstrate reinforce the geography components of the lesson. My four year old enjoyed hearing about the areas and coloring the flags. My daughter went more in depth, using her atlas and other tools to research the area, find it on the map, and share with us what she learned.
The second day focused on exploring words. We learned about the author, discussed the story using questions and narration, and worked with some vocabulary words. There was a lapbook style activity with the vocabulary words that my daughter enjoyed because she loves the cutting and pasting of lapbook pieces. We also could have done a great creative writing activity but skipped it since it was summer and she was on break. I may go back during the school year and assign the writing prompt because I think it was a great way to encourage creative writing. It involved them writing and adaptation based on the novel.
The third day involved learning about the illustrator, studying the pictures and then learning about architectural design and several artistic techniques that were used in the illustrations. There was an art activity, a lapbook component, and a game that could be used in working with these ideas and concepts. Illustrations are such an important but sometimes overlooked part of picture books and I was glad to see a day devoted to their study.
The fourth day was exploring science. There were several fun science experiments in this section, even one that was edible. I think edible components tend to always be the favorite in this house! There was also a nature study component which I really appreciate. My son enjoyed observing nature and then telling me all of the things he saw that he wanted me to write in his nature journal (since he is four and not yet writing on his own). We are planning on expanding that study over the next few weeks at various locations to talk about how different places have different plants and animals.
The final day was exploring maths, crafts, and more. This was probably our favorite part of the study. There were several activities with math from learning about parallel lines to finding numbers in the illustrations (a great activity for my young son). Another activity that my son loved was the packing activity. He had to work on packing a suit case and deciding what he would need and what would fit. It actually worked out beautifully to coincide with an overnight trip that we were taking. Then came my daughters favorite activity: baking. They had a recipe for Strawberry Tart. She worked on these and made them as a special afternoon treat when her grandmother came for a visit.
There were a variety of other activities from field trips, tea parties and other fun snacks. Some of them were quite simple (popcorn) and others were a little more involved. I will note that this is a British company and since we are in the United States there were a handful of supplies and ingredients that I had to adapt or look up to determine what they were as they were terms (and spellings) not commonly used here. This was a great learning opportunity for the children and did not hinder our ability to use the study.
This was a fun unit study and I think we would enjoy using other literature studies in Branch Out World‘s Picture Book Explorers series would be a great way to bring a little excitement to our school year. Check out their site and let me know which study sounds like fun for your homeschool and don’t forget to click below to check out the reviews done by other Review Crew members.
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