This is NOT a sponsored post, just a wrap up of one of our studies for this past summer and fall. I have a feeling we will be extending it because we loved studying the ocean and all of it’s amazing creatures. This post contains affiliate links.
Year round schooling.
Our term technically started back in July. Why? Well, it’s really hot in southern Arkansas in July. The kind of hot where you don’t even want want to be outside. So, we start school in the summer and we school year round. Our “long” breaks happen in the fall and in the spring, with a shorter one at the holidays. It has worked well for us for five years. Truly, that is the beauty of homeschooling – the flexibility to accommodate your family’s rhythm and needs.
What is Gather ‘Round?
Gather ‘Round homeschool is a curriculum created by Rebecca Spooner. It is an all ages and all grade levels, topic based, Christian worldview homeschool curriculum. It is relatively new, having only been around the last two years. Rebecca saw a need for an open and go curriculum that could be used for all grade levels, as most homeschoolers are schooling multiple ages at home. She has succeeded in creating a very easy to use, portable and simple curriculum that can be expanded or contracted based on the needs of your family. My children are currently in fourth and first grade and Gather ‘Round homeschool served both levels well. The units are created to be used monthly, and the content spans two years. However, you are free to use them as you see fit.
When you purchase the Gather ‘Round homeschool curriculum, you have the option of digital download or hard copy. I decided on the hard copy because I wanted the spiral binding. Bear in mind, the curriculum is Canadian made and shipping may take a while and cost more. I purchased the upper elementary level for my son (he’s the one in fourth grade) and the early reader for my daughter (she’s in first grade). The pre-reader level would be useful for preschool or kindergarten. There is also kindergarten curriculum available.
How we used it.
For our purposes, we used Gather ‘Round homeschool, oceans unit a little differently. I wanted to stretch it out to last a bit longer, so we only did two to three lessons per week. I was able to do this because I was supplementing our language arts, reading, and math. The unit had twenty lessons, each about 30 to 45 minutes in length for the actual instruction time. However, we added in deeper studies on sharks and expanded a bit on deep water exploration, which made some of the lessons a little bit longer.
My daughter wrote that “I love you Mom” when she first learned to write. I just can’t bring myself to erase it.
The break down.
Each lesson in the Gather ‘Round homeschool Oceans unit began with a read aloud by me about the topic of study for the day. After that, there was a drawn narration section, copy work and memory section. Then a deeper dive into a science topic related to the creature of the day, sometimes an experiment, and finished with nature journaling. What I loved about this was the somewhat Charlotte Mason-esque approach with the narration and nature journaling. But it was also easy to accomplish the day’s lessons within an hour. The lessons flowed easily and I felt that the scaling for ages/abilities was very helpful. For my son, he worked on a report about sharks throughout the term and my daughter worked on a poster about dolphins. It was a joy to watch them put those together over our term.
Shark model found HERE.
The ups and the downs.
Overall, I really loved this Gather ‘Round homeschool curriculum. It was very easy to use and beautifully put together. There were a variety of subjects covered in each lesson, all under the umbrella of the oceans theme. It was easy to expand the lessons for fourth grader and contract them for my second grader. The teacher’s guide is also packed full with book lists and supplemental ideas, such as documentaries, videos, websites, and books to read. There is also space to plan out your lessons and what supplies you will need. It is truly all encompassing.
The only downfall was that I felt was that it didn’t quite feel like “enough” to be our main curriculum. It would, however, be an excellent curriculum to take on the road while road schooling or even something as an easier unit study between terms or over the holidays. It would also work very well in the midst of family crisis or other hardship. The curriculum is a bit of a breath of fresh air for a time when we all need a little bit of ease and rest in our lives.
Our favorite supplemental resources.
We may have burned up our Disney + in the process of this study. There are so many wonderful National Geographic made documentaries on there right now, spanning all facets of ocean studies. One of our favorite documentaries was actually one on Amazon Prime, about James Cameron’s record setting deep dive to the Mariana Trench. We studied the trench itself and several of attempts to reach the bottom, culminating with watching that documentary. My son was absolutely enthralled and said he wanted to be a marine biologist.
There are several episodes of The Magic School bus that paired well with our study too. I actually bought the entire series on DVD a while ago and that came in very useful. The Wild Kratts is also a great show for some ocean study supplements.
Some of our favorite books from our Gather ‘Round homeschool Oceans unit were: Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Burgess Seashore Book, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, WhoHQ Great Barrier Reef, WhoHQ Jacques Cousteau, Humphrey the Whale, Pagoo, and Andre the Seal.
My children also really enjoyed using these coloring books while I did our additional read aloud books. I also let them have all of our recycling pile to create their own ocean animals. My very creative son made a “box” jellyfish and was quite proud of his pun. They also worked on an oceans puzzle over our term. Lastly, I displayed our collection of nature specimens from our previous ocean trips and supplemented with some specimens I purchased from Curious Nature Shop in Phoenix. .
Overall, I would say that we thoroughly enjoyed this unit and it’s beautiful cohesiveness. It was a welcome shift from the rigor of our Ambleside curriculum and exactly what I needed for this already stressful year. I used Gather ‘Round homeschool again for our current Government mini unit (yes, we are behind). The great thing about these units is that you can buy them individually and pick and choose what you would like. My children have shown interest in learning about the human body, so we will do that unit in the spring. Again, I really loved this curriculum and it fit our needs for right now very well, and I’m sure it will in the future as well, with just a bit of supplementation.
Slight change in plans.
A cornerstone of our homeschool are road trips, usually centered around a book or some sort of learning journey we went on. For our Gather ‘Round homeschool Oceans unit, we had an EPIC west coast highway trip planned. We had hoped to be exploring tide pools and whale watching. However, current circumstances prevented those plans. So, we adapted. We surprised our kiddos with a behind the scenes tour at our nearest aquarium. They just started those private tours and it was a really great experience. Not quite as great as the real thing, but it certainly made our day when we thought we spotted Santa Claus working at the aquarium in the off season.
If you’d like to learn more about interest- led learning, check out my newest post for Run Wild My Child – HERE.
For my complete list of homeschool resources – click HERE.
Thanks for reading, friends!
Wishing you and yours all the best.