If your child is anything like my eight year old, then there's a chance you've heard of the "I Survived" series! My son realized that he LOVES historical fiction from these novels! I made sure to take this and RUN! Anytime I can use something he loves for learning, I try my hardest to create an interdisciplinary unit study. It can be tricky, so I get the same question every time.... How do I incorporate "I Survived" in unit studies?
First of all: what is a unit study?
These are actually my favorite to create! Essentially, unit studies are interdisciplinary topics or themes to use when studying. For example, let's say your child adores whales! You would read as many books on whales as you could to learn scientific facts and how to track their geographical migration. Then, you'd watch a documentary on them! From there, you can create beautiful art projects and brainstorm STEM related solutions to save their habitats. You can even get extra creative with unit studies and try to make up math problems only involving whales! When you're done learning about them, your student can write a book report or speech notes for a presentation of learning!
The possibilities are ENDLESS with the unit study route! I am always finding random resources to incorporate their favorite novels or topics into our studies. It's usually easier when it's a favorite book, because we use that as our main reading resource to branch from! You can find plenty of ideas here! So, now....
How to Incorporate "I Survived" in Unit Studies
Read the novel and ask questions throughout! If you'd rather your child to write out the questions, then read the novel ahead of time and type up your own worksheet. Try not to stick to just general comprehension questions, though. This is your best opportunity to ask "out-of-the-box" questions! Make them think or reflect and help them relate to the main characters! Remember, with reading questions, it isn't just about seeing if they can retell the main details. It's also about pushing their minds to think beyond the surface. For "I Survived Hurricane Katrina," I asked my kids what they would do if they were lost in a hurricane. I also pushed the boundaries of their bubble by considering whether or not they'd evacuate if it meant they had to leave their pets behind. This had them relating to the characters in the book, as well as considering their own ethics. It doesn't have to be all about reading and writing answers to boring questions! Don't forget: you can do it all verbally through conversation! If writing isn't their thing, then talk about it with them!
While you're reading the novel, talk about the genre and how it's different from other genres. Point out your favorite parts or your least favorite parts. Explain the writer's style of sentence structure and point of view!
You can also use the book for copywork passages or mechanics lessons. Take the sentences out and write it with a TON of mistakes! Make them so wrong that it's funny! Build their confidence by walking through how to fix them.
Certain points in the "I Survived" series serve as perfect writing prompt opportunities! Have your child consider rewriting or adding to the ending. Consider those "out-of'-the-box" questions as writing prompts. Again, if your child isn't a great writer, then have them tell it to you while you write! Have them write it as copywork afterwards.
This one is SO easy with "I Survived!" Since they are considered historical fiction novels, you automatically have a gateway into a time in history. Watch documentaries on the event or look up more non-fictional books. Teach your child how to take notes or highlight important passages.
If you're choosing to read more than one novel, create a timeline! We love timelines in our house! Get a giant piece of butcher paper and hang it somewhere the kids can access. Then, as you read, mark the time in history that it occurred on the timeline! Talk about how time flows and how different things happen around the same time in different places. If you have a history buff like me, then it's the perfect chance to talk about time periods.
Geography is super simple as well! Each book takes place in a different location during a different time, so break out the map! Pin the locations of each novel. Use math to figure out the distance between two locations. Discuss the different modes of transportation you can use to get from each spot. While you're focusing on one location, learn more about the culture. Why did the main character eat this instead of that? Why did the main character live the way they lived? Cultural education is imperative for a well-rounded child.
Science can come with a little more creativity. Find something major that happened during the novel and turn it into a science experiment. While we reading "I Survived Hurricane Katrina," we recreated our own versions of the levee system. Then, we tried to reenact a hurricane to see if our levees were strong enough. We also tried figuring out whether or not certain items would float in the flood waters.
Titanic? Glaciers, friction, or buoyancy. American Revolution? Chemical reactions of gunpowder or first aid. It may not be about the entire novel, but bringing those small parts to life will help connect the dots of the novel AND give them a little more magic.
You can include almost any subject into a novel study. You can use almost any novel into your unit studies! If you have reluctant learners that love the "I Survived" series, then they are perfect for throwing in a little extra tidbits! Luckily for you, I've done the hard work for you!