Thursday, June 11, 2009

Things I like Thursday: CurrClick and Thomas

It's time again for Things I like Thursday.

I like If you've never been there, it's a curriculum/ebook/lapbook/teaching resource store. They have lots of material for all grade levels. There are a number of free items you can download every day, as well as one different free item every week. Additionally, they offer lengthy samples of most items, so you can really check them out before buying them. They frequently have good sales, and I've gotten several neat resources for $1.

Having said all that, I wanted to specifically tell you about a neat product I purchased from them tonight.

They have a unit study on Thomas the Train! I saw it a while back, and figured I'd check it out later, but tonight I decided to go ahead and buy it. My son's favorite thing in the whole world is Thomas the Train. His affinity for Thomas goes way beyond anything I've ever seen with other kiddos, or experienced myself as a child. (Incidentally there is apparently a widespread phenomenon of kids with ASD being enamoured with Thomas. I was doing some reading about it the other day, and it literally took my breath away to read what other parents had written. I could have written some of it verbatim about L. So anyway, expect a post about that later...) I'm going to try out the Thomas unit with L to see if he responds better to it than me arbitrarily picking a unit like weather, or zoo animals, or whatever.

After looking through the material, here are my impressions:

The cons:

It's not a complete unit study, in the sense of including lesson plans and activities from every single subject. It's more like a collection of Thomas activities. There are quite a few web resources listed. If you had tons of time to sift through a million google search results, you could have come up with some of the material on your own for free.

The pros:

I don't have hours and hours to search, so it was totally worth the few bucks it cost to have everything already put together.
There is a lot of information about what to discuss while doing certain activities. It's not like you're just throwing the child a worksheet or coloring sheet, and that's it. The curriculum was apparently created for a child with Asperger's, so there is a lot of discussion about feelings and social cues. It would be totally relevant for a neurotypical kiddo, but even better for one that needs some extra help in these areas. It's helpful for me to see some of the "scripts" because sometimes I wouldn't necessarily think of making certain connections off the top of my head.
There are a lot of ideas to make activities easier or to extend them. It occurs to me that you could do a study of Thomas with several toddlers and/or preschoolers, and it would be fairly easy to customize it to their levels.

Now that I have this unit study, I can think of a few ways I'll be extending it for L. He likes to spell, so I'm thinking we might pick a few Train names to work on spelling. You could do counting, addition, and subtraction, using actual toy trains as manipulatives. We have loads of Thomas books around here, so they'll be the reading materials.

Altogether, I really like the Thomas the Train Unit Study, although it remains to be seen what L thinks of it. I'll let you know how it works out. If he responds well to this, I can see myself perhaps putting together a unit about some of his lesser interests.

I ended up buying a bundle that included the Thomas Study and a Jonah Study for $9.
The Jonah study looks nice too, and maybe I'll post more about it in another post. I'm thinking I'll tie it in with the VeggieTales Jonah movie.

If you have a Thomas the Train (Tank...why is he sometimes called different things?) fan in your house, check it out.

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