Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lesson Planning with Boy Scout Merit Badges

Now that Fair Season is pretty much over, it's time to get ready to hit the books!

It's no secret that I'm very frugal.  Probably not as frugal as Hubby would like, but I watch my pennies pretty carefully.  As a single income household, we have to stretch our budget as far as it will stretch and then some.  Especially when it comes to homeschool materials.

For some reason, the companies who make supplies, whether books or otherwise, see us coming a mile away.  And for some other reason, some of them seem to assume I have the budget of a state-reimbursed school district.

That's why, when both of my kids entered scouts, I felt like I had stepped into a dream world.  When Princess was in Brownies, her book set was $20.  That's right - 2 books for $20.  So let's split the cost evenly and say her Try-It Book was $10.  The book had 57 try-its in it.  Yep, 57 little unit studies.  For $10.  And you better believe we worked that book as much as we could!  We also used requirements for Council's Own try-its from around the country.  More unit studies on everything from volcanoes to hurricanes to the Statue of Liberty.

Then, when it was Bubba's turn to get involved in scouts, we used his Cub Scout books.  He's been in scouts since he was a Tiger Cub, and will soon be working on his Eagle Scout project.  Now, the badges are obviously getting harder and harder.  However, he is getting more mature every year, and I would rather have him working on material that's slightly challenging for him.

If you are new to homeschooling, or more experienced and looking for something new, scout merit badges are really the way to go.  And of course, being involved in a scout troop is a great way to let your kids make new friends and develop leadership skills.  Among many other benefits.

So let's look at what's up for us this year...

On the agenda are the 4 "American" badges (American Heritage, American Cultures, American Labor, and American Business).  In our state, students typically study American History in 8th grade, so these make a perfect substitution.  Also, for science, we will be working from a science book and supplementing it with Weather, Chemistry, and Astronomy.  Oceanography is getting added to the mix as the educational part of a special upcoming trip.  Bubba will also complete Animal Science and Soil and Water Conservation, which he started recently at a merit badge workshop day.  As other merit badges become available through workshop or field trip opportunities, we take full advantage of them.  For physical education, Bubba just completed his Cycling merit badge, and will be working on Hiking and Scuba Diving.

To lesson plan all of this, simply decide which requirements you want your student/scout to work on when and have a completion date in mind.  For example, we're breaking our school year up roughly into quarters for history, so for first quarter, Bubba will work on American Cultures.  Second quarter will be American Heritage, and so on.  We'll tie the science badges into the regular work scheduled with the text book.

The merit badge books are available online for @$5.  Which is really very inexpensive considering the quality of material.  Our local library carries a complete, current set of the merit badge books, which we take full advantage of.  You can also get workbooks online, which are worksheets the scout can use in the process of completing a badge.  The website linked here carries worksheets for all current badges, as well as materials for younger scouts, Venture scouts, and more - be sure to check it out.  Oh, and did I mention, these are FREE!!!!

And even better - you don't have to be a boy scout to use any of the materials.  If you have a daughter, or son who just isn't interested, you can still put these awesome activities into your lesson plans.

The bottom line here:  these are practically giveaways for your homeschool and they make wonderful substitutes or supplements.  By using the worksheets, you automatically have documentation of your work.  What more can you ask for?!

Happy planning!

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