We've read quite a few of YWAM Publishing's books over our years of homeschooling. The Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then and Now series are both excellent Christian biography series that help bring history alive. But we've never used one of their Unit Study Curriculum Guides to go along with their biographies before.
That's why I was excited to have the chance to review Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems and the corresponding Amy Carmichael Unit Study Curriculum Guide with the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We received physical softcover copies of each book for our review, though rumor has it that the Unit Study Curriculum Guides are in the process of switching to digital products instead.
I have heard about Amy Carmichael for years, and have wanted to read her biography by Elisabeth Elliott. I just hadn't made the time yet. When I talked to my 16 year old daughter about it, she also wanted to learn more about Amy Carmichael, so we chose Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems for our review. The book by Janet and Geoff Benge is very well written. We both enjoyed learning about her call to missions and the places she served before India. But we especially enjoyed reading of her work in India.
Amy Carmichael didn't set out to take in abandoned children or rescue them. The ministry just formed itself around her, it seemed, growing out of the needs she encountered one at a time. We were both impressed with her faith, and how well she listened to God. She prayed and she knew what He was telling her to do. She trusted and God provided for His work through her in India. Her life and ministry truly IS inspiring, and the YWAM Christian Heroes: Then and Now book helped sum it up in an interesting and accessible way. I do think this book might appeal a bit more to girls than to boys, since most of Amy's ministry centered around rescuing and caring for Indian women and girls.
I was glad to also get the Amy Carmichael Unit Study Curriculum Guide because I do want to use the unit study with my 9 year old daughter. We weren't able to dive fully into it at this point, but we will do so later this year. Instead, my 16 year old daughter and I used the essay questions for discussion.
The Unit Study Curriculum Guide contains more than you need for a unit study. You aren't expected to use all of it, but to select the age-appropriate activities that will most interest and engage your students. I particularly love the booklet that can be removed and completed. It contains an India Fact Sheet on one side and maps that pertain to the life of Amy Carmichael. It can be completed by the child and used as part of a presentation or display. (Permission is granted for the buyer to make photocopies of that booklet for student use within that family or homeschool group class.)
The first chapter of the Study Guide contains key Bible verses that can be used for memory work, discussion, display, or to inspire a devotional (a writing assignment for an older student). The second chapter suggests ideas for a display corner about India and Amy Carmichael. The third chapter has review and discussion questions for each chapter of the book, Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems. The fourth chapter is just full of ideas for student exploration: essay questions, creative writing ideas, hands-on projects, arts and crafts, and some Indian language examples. The fifth chapter has suggestions and guidelines for making the most of field trips, and the sixth chapter has social studies ideas for further study. The seventh chapter has related themes from Amy's life and ministry to explore - these are excellent topics for older students - and the final chapter contains ideas for a celebration event at the end of the study. There are also resources listed to expand your study at the back of the Study Guide.
The Study Guide is a resource, but it will be up to the parent or teacher to decide what to do each week. Other than the chapter questions that are provided, the rest of the study guide does not say "do this on day 10" or "week one activities". Some parents may find that overwhelming, because they prefer to have it all laid out for them, but it actually provides great flexibility. You can read the whole book and then do a few related activities. You could do one chapter of the book each week and make it last all semester - though I can't imagine stretching it out that far between chapters. You could choose to cover two or three chapters a week, completing the assigned questions at the end of each chapter. Then fill in the rest of the week with writing assignments, social studies, and hands-on activities that you select to go along with that chapter. Doing it this way and ending with a culminating event would make it more like a 6-10 week study.
Looking at the Study Guide, I was inspired a bit for our homeschool group. I wondered if each family were to study a different missionary, they could then present to the group about that missionary and the country they served in. It would serve somewhat as a geography fair, but with a biographical missionary focus. We've done geography fairs in the past, and have even given them a Christmas spin a couple different years, but this would be a new way to explore the world and share with our local homeschool friends.
I have to admit that I'm kicking myself for not looking into the YWAM Unit Study Curriculum Guides sooner. I already knew the YWAM books were wonderful, but hadn't tried the Unit Study Guides. They are an excellent way to explore history, church history, and geography in a living, unit study way. Although the unit studies do cover a lot of different subjects, I don't think they'd stand alone very well (especially for older students). You'd need to supplement with math and science, and really dig into additional resources if you wanted to rely on the YWAM study guides as a main curriculum. I can see this working very well for a year or two of homeschooling with younger students, though.
YWAM Publishing has many different books available in the Heroes of History series, as well as the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series. Each of these books is written by Janet and Geoff Benge in the same style as the one we read and enjoyed. Most of the books have corresponding Unit Study Curriculum Guides to explore the book more fully.
Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems is available for $9.99, though if you buy directly from YWAM the price is $7.50. The Amy Carmichael Unit Study Curriculum Guide is also priced at $9.99, though it is available from YWAM for $7.49. There are even greater savings if you purchase the books in bundles directly from YWAM Publishing. You can follow YWAM Publishing on facebook, twitter, and pinterest. That's a great way to be aware of sales they may have on their homeschool materials!
My older daughter and I completely enjoyed learning more about Amy Carmichael with YWAM and I'm looking forward to exploring the study guide more fully with my younger daughter soon. The YWAM unit studies are an under-recognized resource in the homeschool community, but I will be recommending them from now on.