Sunday, 18 November 2012

How We Homeschool - Part 2: Shorter Unit Studies

Previously, I did a post on one of our long-term unit studies. But not all unit studies are ongoing or as long-term. Sometimes a unit study can be smaller - taking an interest and running with it, to extend it and explore some other subjects along the way.

Unit Study: Avengers
C became hooked on the Marvel Avenger's Alliance Facebook game while watching and asking questions as his dad played it in the evenings. It became an awesome way for him to have some 'Daddy' time - and they were able to play and strategise together.  So we set up the game for him under my account so he could have his own game.

Captain America
Captain America Drawing

Marvel Avenger's Alliance Facebook game
The game is rather like the old-fashioned 'Mortal Combat'-style games - with less violence. It has rather still animation, and when an opponent is 'defeated', they vanish - no gore. We've found the game actually encourages a lot of maths - deciding how much damage a weapon will do ( everything is done with numbers). At the end of battles, characters gain experience, and can eventually go up levels. C likes calculating how many battles a particular character needs to go up levels. Different skills are added as levels are gained. A Player also needs to save up 'Silver' in order to train characters to levels, or do research to improve various skills. Characters are purchased with 'command points' - earned by playing the game. Each character is one of 6 types - each one have advantages and weaknesses against other types.

We've used this obsession interest in the game to spin off a few more education -based and not so education-based activities.

Avengers box set movie
Picking movies for C to watch has always been a challenge.(Will go into this in a later post.) So most children's films are out - but a nice light-weight action movie is great.  So we decided to show C that the characters in his game each had there own story. This has lead to all sorts of interesting conversations:
   - WW2 history with Captain America,
   - genetics and mutation ( thankyou Kahn Academy) with The Incredible Hulk.
   - ancient Norse mythology, with Thor.

Other Marvel Movies
We also started exploring other Marvel characters and their movies.
   - X men movies ( again genetics, WW2 )
   - New York geography with Spiderman ( thanks to Google maps).

Art and Craft
Avenger's House
Avenger's House
We've also had a go at making an 'Avenger's House', with recycled cartons, tape and paint.
And C has also drawn a picture of each marvel character and bound it up into a book . Lego is also wonderful - C used his birthday money to get some of the Avenger's lego, which has been on quite an adventure.

Cartoons
We've also branched out to the local library and found some X-men and Fantastic 4 cartoons. These have been a little problematic, as C was quite upset by the children's cartoon model of putting characters in peril then ending an episode.

Historic Origins
Apart from the Norse god pantheon with Thor, we've also been able to add in some Greek mythology and history by the introduction of the Marvel hero Hercules. We've been able to talk about the Augean Stables and Cerberus. This has been a lot of fun, as C rather likes the idea of moving rivers.
Avenger's Lego
Avenger's Lego

Comics and Reading
We've also been trawling the library for reading material on Avengers and other marvel characters. Our local libraries have quite a lot of comic books, which is marvellous  We have had to be careful with some comics - as they have quite a lot of *disturbing* adult content. C's Dad pre-reads the comics to check whether there is anything that might disturb him. We have found that the older comics are much better for C, as the newer ones seem to be 'edgier' and aimed at a more adult audience. Our local library also does a junior readers version of Marvel stories, which, though their level is a little below C's reading level, are entertaining and 'safe'. Recently, we've introduced the idea of a book review, and C did 'Spiderman vs. Sandman' to mixed reviews!


Conclusion
We've found that creating learning opportunities with C's interests to be both fun and a challenge. They don't have to be in-depth, just tailored to create a 'focus' on Avengers or other superheros. It works for us!

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