Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Branch Out World: Tom's Midnight Garden

We have enjoyed using three of Branch Out World's picture book explorers: The Mousehole Cat; Stone Girl, Bone Girl and Katie Morag and the New Pier. I was excited to have the chance to use the chapter book Explorer for Tom's Midnight Garden.

Branch Out World produces unit studies based on books. The unit studies come as a download. The study for Tom's Midnight Garden is longer and more detailed than the shorter picture book units. It runs to about 150 pages and is aimed at children aged between 8 and 12. The introduction states that younger children will need help whereas older children may be able to work independently. Each chapter in the book has its own section in the unit study. Each chapter includes

  • at least two activities
  • comprehension questions
  • Ideas for discussion or writing
  • extension activities including trips and art activities.
The download states that the study can be completed in six weeks if a chapter is done per day but can be extended to seven to eight months if every activity is used. It is suggested that students keep a log book of their learning.

The unit study starts with some learning about the setting. We particularly enjoyed the links with pictures of Ely.

Chapter one gives information about measles and making scones along with discussion questions. The ideas for writing are around the pros and cons of vaccination. The extension ideas are a letter to home from a trip away; pictures of Ely and a suggestion for making a private device for signing letters and art.

There is so much to do in this download. It isn't necessary to do everything provided but if everything were done, it would take most of each day.

Suggestions include science activities,
visiting a stately home garden,
 cooking, healthy exercise, learning about the periodic table and far more.

What did we think?
The download and suggestions were brilliant. There has been a phenomenal amount of work put into this guide.The book Tom's Midnight Garden really wasn't a hit with the children although they enjoyed the activities, making scones for a cream tea was particularly popular! Not liking Tom's Midnight Garden, of course, isn't a reflection on the quality of the unit study and wouldn't put me off doing another chapter book study from Branch Out World. We used the Explorer over the first half of the term studying about a couple of chapters a week. Using the guide to its fullest extent and doing a chapter per day would take several hours a day. I suspect that it would be better to use the guide more slowly and work over several months.

Another great product from Branch Out World!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Tom's Midnight Garden for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are mine and those of my children.

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