Sunday, April 11, 2010

Review of The Old Schoolhouse’s WannaBe Series, When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Firefighter

I was given the opportunity to review The Old Schoolhouse's product entitled When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Firefighter. It is one of ten titles offered in their WannaBe series of unit studies.

I used this product with my children whose ages are five and eight. In this unit study, we learned about the history of firefighting and the development of equipment. From the days of the bucket brigades up to the use of spiderbots to detect and fight fires, we were fascinated to learn the evolution of firefighting. The requirements to become a firefighter are discussed in detail along with life at a firehouse. My children think that the life of a fireman is exciting but were surprised to find that it has its share of normalcy. Fireman cook meals, clean toilets and make their beds at the firehouse just like we do at home. We learned about firefighters' salaries and how they vary depending on location, rank and years of experience. We especially enjoyed reading about the origin and use of firehouse dogs. We learned about the reasoning for and importance of building codes. There was also an extensive section on the origin of robotics and how that relates to modern day firefighting.

There were ample opportunities to review the information contained through Q & A, word finds, crossword puzzles, fill in the blank, copywork and storytelling. I really enjoyed the story starters that prompted the kids to think about a situation and write about what they thought or how they would handle it. Unit studies are designed to cover an array of educational subjects while relating to a theme and this study really does a bang up job of doing that. We covered math, reading, writing, creative thinking, history, science, art, health, physical education, home economics...I don't think anything was excluded. The use of graphs, charts, and word problems made the worksheet portions interesting.

Overall, I think this product does a thorough job of relating the subject of firefighting and does so in an interesting and entertaining way. The only complaint I have is that the language was unnecessarily advanced for the target ages of 4-10. Using words like dwelling instead of house, apparatus instead of firetruck...competent, evacuate, rouse, etc. required me to stop every other sentence and explain what they were talking about and disrupted the flow of reading. While there were important new vocabulary words to learn as part of the study, this was more of a problem of using a "big" word when a "little" word would be more appropriate.

This product is available for immediate download from The Old Schoolhouse website for $8.95.