I’ve been trying to get my daughter to read more literature this school year. She is in 5th grade and has a tendency to choose books without much substance. I’ve been hoping to guide her toward historical biographies or classic literature. Luckily, YWAM Publishing sent me a copy of Clara Barton: Courage Under Fire from the Heroes of History series to review with her. Not only did we get a copy of the book itself, but we were also able to review the Unit Study Curriculum Guide.
Clara Barton: Courage Under Fire
The book is a 192 page softcover biography written by Janet and Geoff Benge. It incorporates history, geography, science, and more in a way that is engaging and fun for kids ages 10 and up. My daughter read it within 3 days and was choosing to read it instead of her typical silly fictional titles.
The biography tells the story of Clara Barton in a narrative format, so it really pulls the reader in like they’re being transformed back into the time period. That’s good, because it got my daughter to understand better what it was like to live in the 1800s.
The story tells of Clara’s immense sacrifices and boldness throughout her life and how she truly did have courage under fire. It explains how she organized the American Red Cross and helped all kinds of people during a time when women weren’t given much credit. My daughter read the book and was telling me how excited she was to see how a woman made such an impact of others just by doing the right thing.
Unit Study Curriculum Guide
As much as I love that my daughter chose to read this historical biography without much prompting on my behalf, I did want to make sure that she was retaining some of the more pertinent information from the book.
We received a CD-Rom with the guide on it, but YWAM Publishing is working toward making each of these available as a digital download instead now. I like that idea, because it’s easy to save the file on Dropbox or Google Drive for safe keeping (very important in my house, where little toddler fingers seem to ruin all of my disks!).
The Unit Study Curriculum Guide included way more information than I was able to use. I chose to use it informally. This would actually be a great way to stretch out the book into a week or two of intense study on Clara Barton, but we chose to use it within a few days. I just decided to pick and chose what I wanted to focus on.
The guide includes:
Student Explorations – Writing assignments and projects students can complete related to the subject
Social Studies – Printable worksheets on a variety of subjects like geography, vocabulary, history, and more
Community Links – Ideas for field trips, service projects, and more to make this more of a full on unit study
Related Themes to Explore – Again, this shows you how to tie your book and historical figure into learning across different subjects like science, math, politics, and even current events
Related Resources – Great books, videos, websites and more to continue studying in depth
Culminating Event – This would be awesome for a co-op or book club using this historical biography! It talks about a big project to sum it all up like an oral presentation or project displays
Biography – My daughter liked this, because she was able to see the “short version” of who Clara Barton was before we got started.
I printed out several of the resources and chose what I wanted my daughter to complete. I loved the comprehension questions and had her note her responses on some lined paper for me. She had to go back into the book to find many of the answers, which I enjoyed because it was like an open book test.
She was able to practice her vocabulary as well. Boy, did we have quite the discussion when she asked me what the word amputated meant. That prompted a huge discussion with her, and her brothers, and we were able to discuss how this related to modern times as well. We talked about technological advances for prosthetic devices, and were able to research some modern heroes who lost limbs fighting for freedom.
I really enjoyed this book as an addition to our homeschool curriculum. Using the book and guide was an easy method to enrich our current studies in a relevant and interesting way.
My daughter learned so much and told me that she liked learning about a woman in history. I knew she would, which is why I chose this title for her! She’s used to learning about important men, so it was a great change of pace to focus on an impactful woman.
The story was a slightly challenging read and it kept her engaged. Any time a kid chooses to read a biography during free reading time is considered a huge win in our house!
The guide that we got was a great resource. I liked being able to assign her questions to complete. When we get future books in the series, I think I’ll plan it a little bit better and assign her some of the more time consuming projects so that she can really get the full experience. I would like to dedicate about 2-3 weeks to the next one we choose so we can do more of the suggested activities!
Read about the many other titles that YWAM Publishing offers from the reviews of other homeschooling families. This is an awesome way to get your kids engaged in history and enjoying it!