Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Curriculum Review: Galloping the Globe

Galloping the Globe is a unit study collection studying major countries around the world. You can spend however long you like on each country, do them in any order desired, and select whatever you want out of the unit study to use.

GTG is a single book - it's not an "all in one" unit study that comes with everything you might need (like craft materials, readers, etc.). Gathering materials is up to you - and thus, access to a good public library is a must (unless you want to buy a lot of books).

Primarily, GTG is a book list. There are books about each country, and books by authors from each country. There are also craft and activity suggestions for each country, recipes, occasional website suggestions, maps, and lower-elementary activity pages to copy (like word searches, etc.).

We have now used GTG for one year after seeing another friend's success with this curriculum (review here).

We love it!

Here are some notes from things learned along the way:

- There are some books that GTG uses consistently with each country. None of these books is available from the library. I asked my friend if they were necessary, and she said no, so we did not buy any of them.

- Buy used, and it's the cheapest curriculum you'll ever find! Even new the book is only $25 or so.

- Again, you need a library. If you're super-rural, you'll probably want something like a packaged curriculum from My Father's World that comes with books included.

- GTG is easy to use multi-level K-8 or even beyond.

- This year we did the Introductory section, England, and China. Next time through I won't bother doing the introductory section. We also won't spend quite as much time on each country. This year we did 4-5 months on each unit - way too much time. Right now I am so sick of China that I could scream! Next year we are planning on spending one term maximum per country (six weeks). Some families choose to move very quickly, allotting just one week per country.

- GTG covers both history/culture/geography and science. The science topics are primarily native animals for each country, so if you want your elementary student to cover other science subjects, you will have to supplement (or skip the GTG science topics and substitute something like Apologia science). That hasn't been a problem around here - just providing lots of reading material as interests come up (along with nature field guides) has produced a 7yo who is well versed in everything from astronomy to minerals, just from interest-based reading. Provide the books, and they will learn. Take a look at this post for more science ideas if you want to supplement.

- GTG has a sister-curriculum, Cantering the Country, which is a unit study for the United States that goes state by state. I'm hoping to nab a copy of this soon! (Short review here.)

- We do not do all of the activities listed, and we haven't used any of the activity sheets, vocabulary lists, Bible verses, or websites. We also haven't read the country summaries or used the discussion questions. (Have I mentioned how much I abhor discussion questions?) Primarily we use the book lists (and subject lists for doing library searches). Even if our library doesn't have the particular books listed (a common problem), we can easily find others on the same subjects.

- One of our favorite activities with unit studies is FOOD. We have made at least ten dishes per country (again, I need to cut down) and tried some great food - even though some, like Spotted Dick and Custard, nearly had me with my head in the toilet. You just try grating blood-spotted suet to put in a dessert. GTG provides one to three recipes per country, and more recipes are easy to find with ethnic cookbooks or online.

- GTG is a great "jumping-off" point. For our study of England, I added easily ten times as much material on top of what was in the book. You get ideas and go from there! Country studies are really endless. So don't feel bound by what's in the book - use it as a starting place and go from there. GTG is not complete, nor is it perfect (no unit study is), but it's a great place to start. Have fun!

- GTG also has a GTG Yahoo Group for support. (We haven't joined - it sounds great, but I just can't take any more groups!)

- Our local library offers the ability to reserve books online, and I make liberal use of this service. In fact, I don't think I've ever actually looked up a book myself! If you want to use GTG, find out if your library offers this service - it's a life-saver. Not only does it save time at the library, but it allows you to do most of the work of book selection from the comfort of your home.

- GTG is a "do it yourself" curriculum. It does not offer any schedule or daily to-do list. What you do and when you do it is entirely up to you! If you are the super-uptight kind (like I used to be) who simply must have a pre-made schedule, you will want to find something else - try Sonlight.

Finding history curriculum has been a huge challenge for me. I have severely disliked every single history textbook that I have seen, even those that come highly recommended. Textbooks simply have a unique ability to make the most interesting subject in the world beyond boring, and that's a horrible thing to do to history. I prefer a real books approach, and this is a good start. We're really enjoying this curriculum, and I suspect that I'll love it even more when I learn not to draw out our studies for too long.

Highly recommended!

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