TOS Crew: Further Up and Further In

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When we heard we’d be getting products from Cadron Creek, I got excited. I bought the Prairie Primer (study based on the “Little House” books) years ago (the first edition!) and also bought the first edition of Where the Brook and River Meet (based on Anne of Green Gables) for eldest (and am looking towards buying the revised and much expanded version for middlest, when she reaches high school).

However, our dc have been going through a Narnia phase ever since they listened to Focus on the Family’s dramatized series. As a matter of fact, that series was a key to our youngest getting interested in books! She’d read the story along with listening to the dramatization on CD (very faithful to the original), which led to more and more reading and eventually branching out to read other chapter books as well.

So of course I was excited about the possibility of reviewing Further Up and Further In, a literature-based unit study which takes you through the whole Chronicles of Narnia in a year. Further Up and Further In was written by Diane Pendergraft and edited by Margie Gray, the author of the Prairie Primer and Where the Brook and River Meet.

Overview

Further Up and Further In is aimed at fourth through eighth grade, but can be adapted to younger and older students.

Subjects addressed in the study are:

- Literature (of course)
- History
- Mythology
- Geography
- Science
- Practical living
- Health and safety
- Cooking
- Art and music
- Bible

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? The study provides for two to three hours of work each day, four days a week, with a fifth day for finishing up projects or taking field trips. You’re working through the Narnia series at the rate of about four chapters a week. The author suggests that you only need to add math, grammar, and spelling to have a full academic program.

You can preview pages from Further Up and Further In, in PDF format, at the Cadron Creek website.

Mixed feelings

I have mixed feelings about this approach. On the one hand, using The Chronicles of Narnia as a spine, you’ll be exploring a lot of topics. On the other hand, it’s something of a scatter-shot approach. What I mean is, the organization is built upon the chapters of the books in the Narnia series, one after another, and everything else sort of follows along. Therefore, you’ll be darting here and there in your study of history and science (and everything else), rather than an orderly approach to these subjects. Since much of our study over the past few years has been history-driven, I find this rather unnerving.

I really hadn’t thought about it before trying Further Up and Further In! Using the Prairie Primer, we were firmly in the period of Western Expansion, and with Where the Brook and River Meet we were mostly concerned with the Victorian era, so both those studies fit well with our accustomed approach.

I’ve had to let go of chronological history and bear with skipping around all over the timeline. Science, too, is hodge-podge in this approach. You make a study of horses while reading The Horse and His Boy; you investigate the solar system during The Magician’s Nephew; you learn about the water cycle in Prince Caspian.

If this doesn’t bother you, you’ll find a lot to do and learn as you go through the Narnia series.

Organization

Further Up and Further In is divided into units, one unit per book. You’re urged to go through the books in order, as some units build on what goes before.

For every four chapters (a week’s work) there is a planning guide, a sort of overview that helps you to gather supplies for the upcoming week. A list of related topics that will come up during the week (from those other areas such as history, science, and geography) is presented to allow you to look for books, websites, and other resources for branching out in your studies. You’ll also find lists of suggested videos, field trips, and Bible memory verses, and a place for notes. Some of the planning guides are followed by worksheets that will be used during the week’s study.

You’ll cover about a chapter a day with the following format:

- Study Vocabulary (look up words in the vocabulary list, write the words and their definitions in a vocabulary notebook, perhaps complete a vocabulary exercise). There are also crossword puzzles for each book.

- Read the assigned chapter.

- Work on assignments. If you have more than one student, you might have them work on different assignments and compare notes at the end of the week. Assignments cover a wide variety of activities: cooking; mapwork; reading literature outside The Chronicles of Narnia; researching a person, place, or event from history or a scientific topic; learning to play a recorder; drawing a picture; answering reading comprehension questions; and/or looking up Bible passages. Discussion prompts (“critical thinking”) are also sprinkled throughout.

Appendices

Appendices included in the book provide a list of academic subjects covered, referenced by Narnia book and chapter(s); an activity appendix (recipes, crafts, games); recommended reading (excerpts from literature, poetry, a couple of non-fiction articles) ; a list of sources where you can buy related resources; and answer keys for worksheets, vocabulary exercises, crosswords, and critical thinking prompts.

Additional resources needed

From the Introduction: “Access to the Internet and/or a good set of encyclopedias, a dictionary, a Bible, a Bible concordance, and a thesaurus.” Many additional readings are included in an Appendix, but some you might have to find at the library, along with videos and audio materials.

Of course you don’t have to do every single activity to make this a full-time study. However, if you do plan to do the majority of activities, you’ll also need Dr. Ruth Beechick’s Genesis: Finding Our Roots, Lewis’ Surprised by Joy and Poems, and the Lambs’ Tales from Shakespeare.

Heart for the Lord

The author places a great deal of emphasis on Scripture and Bible topics, studying the Word of God and memorizing Scripture. Very fitting for the nature of this study!

A Last Word

Because this study is outside my comfort zone, I’ve laid Further Up and Further In aside for now, to return to our history-based study. However, my plan right now is to come back to this study as a sort of “summer school” — we tend to study year-round, with a modified summer schedule to allow lots of time for outdoor play, volunteer work, camping, swim lessons, that sort of thing. We might take two summers to get through, or maybe…

If we find ourselves cruising along at summer’s end, we’ll continue to the end and then go back to our history cycle. I think I can live with that. It’s just that with our history co-op in full swing, having begun last August and running through May, with a focus on Modernity, I’m finding it too difficult to manage both Modernity (for our middlest) and a separate study in Narnia (for our youngest) at the same time.

Since they both love the Narnia series, I think our summer studies are going to be fun as well as informative!

Further Up and Further In is available (click on the title for the order page) in paperback for $56 and with a spiral binding for $62. I love the spiral binding of the copy I have; it lies flat. Packages are also available, containing additional resources used in the study, at a discounted price.

To read more TOS Crew reviews of Further Up and Further In, The Prairie Primer, and Where the Brook and River Meet, please click here.

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One response to “TOS Crew: Further Up and Further In

  1. FWIW, I have just recently found these unit studies. As a grown up who has read and cherished the series, I am torn between wanting to gung-ho ahead and do it as a full curriculum to having it be our summer school plan. I am following Charlotte Mason. While the Further Up seems sort of that approach, i am more comfortable using it as summer school.

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