For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Home School in The Woods - TOS Review

I have a son who loves everything History, so when Home School in the Woods came up for review I was very eager to try out their products.

Home School in the Woods is a company that provides a wide variety of homeschool products for teaching History.

What makes Homeschool in the Woods unique is their hands-on approach to history studies. Their products involve maps, timelines with figures, composer studies and lots of hands-on activities, such as crafts and lapbooks.

Because in our own History curriculum we are just about to reach the 20th Century, I opted to review the  Great Empires activity study, as a way to review or complete what we have studied so far.

This particular activity study covers 14 empires including China, Egypt, Muslim, Japan, French, Vikings, Spanish and German to name a few.

The format of each study is basically the same:
  • 1-3 pages of text, telling you a brief history of the empire
  • Recipes to try specific to that culture
  • Maps
  • Hand-on activities such as  matchbook, mini-books, games, dolls with all the templates needed
  • A list of books for digging further
  • An online resource 

The activities varies from crafts (ex.making dolls), to games, to pasting, gluing and matching figures to events.

The product comes as a download or you can purchase it as a CD. Once you download it you receive everything you need to do the study. You have a choice to go to an HTML start page  that allows you to see each empire covered and their associated activities to be clicked on  for printing, or you can search for each one in separate files.

Our Opinion:

First thing I did was to have my youngest(7) work on a History Timeline. He enjoyed doing it but that was about the only thing he liked except for the American Yankee Doodle Dandyland game. He is not a history fan and all the activities did not attract him.

I decided to go over the English, American, German and French Empires with my oldest(9). I picked and chose the activities which I thought they would enjoy doing, tried to make some of the recipes, and read some of the text to them. The recipes were a hit.

The Best Chili Cheese Dog (American)
Traditional English Scones

We all loved these

Great Empires is geared toward elementary children but I think it is best suited for upper elementary with some of the activities manageable by younger ones, such as coloring the maps and some of the crafts (I guess it would really vary depending on the empire being studied).

My boys enjoyed most the the game that came with the study of the United States of America.

Yankee Doodle Dandyland Game

What I like about  Great Empires:
  • The timelines and figure pictures are really great.
  • It covers a lot of empires from Ancient to more recent.
  • The recipes associated with the empires. Some of them were already familiar to me, but for some they might be new.
  • The fact that everything is provided, all you need is glue and scissors.
  • I loved the details and cuteness of the maps.
  • Very flexible

The negatives:
  • The list of books was mainy historical fiction (my oldest prefer non-fiction historical book) and were not found at my local library (at least the ones I looked for).
  • The internet ressources looked overwhelming but I suppose if you use Great Empires as a stand alone you should find all the information and ressource you need there.
  • I wish there were more activities. There was really 2-3 hands-on activities per empires including the map work.
All in all Great Empires is a worthwhile curriculum that would come very handy as a supplement to any History curriculum. It can also be used as a stand alone. When we go back to the beginning of our 4 year cycle (we are at the end of year 3), I will definitely pull this back out and use it as a supplement.

Price: $18.95 for the download, $19.95 for the CD.


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