Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Home School in the Woods (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

History can be a pretty boring subject for most kids. I dreaded history in school because it mainly consisted of reading extremely dry material from a textbook, memorizing names and dates, and occasionally a really boring documentary. My kids prefer a "hands on" approach when they are learning a subject but there aren't many curriculum out there that offer a more "hands on" learning experience when it comes to history.

However, over the last several weeks, we've had the opportunity to review HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece from Home School in the Woods.  For this review, we were given the Digital Download version of this unit study.  This was a company that we were already familiar with, having reviewed their Middle Ages unit in 2015 (review can be found here).  

What Is It?

Stop Guide
The Ancient Greece unit study is designed to be like a fully immersive trip to Ancient Greece, covering material in what is known as a "Stop". Each stop focuses on one aspect of Greek history, such as the Government systems, major cities, everyday life, major battles, culture, and mythology of the era.  The Greece unit study contains 25 of these stops.  At each stop, students read a bit about the topic and then work on activities that coincide with the text.  Some stops even have Audio Tours where they listen to a field guide describing the topic as if an actual visit was taking place. 

Each stop contains a link for both the Guide Book Text as well as the Travel Itinerary.  The Guide Book Text is roughly 2-3 pages of reading material for the information covered in the Stop.  The Travel Itinerary contains the instructions for completing the projects that accompany the text.  Also, all printable files used for the projects are listed, as well as any Audio Tour links needed.  Clickable links for photos of completed projects are also included.

When using the digital downloadable version of the Project Passport, the entire curriculum is downloaded directly into a file on our computer.  A file entitled "Start.html" allows the user to click on the link and have the entire curriculum load up as a webpage in your default browser. While entirely browser based - once the files are downloaded you do not have to have an internet connection as all files are located on your computer.   Photos are included to show finished projects along with links for each of the reading texts and Stop information in the form of a "Travel Itinerary" which gives step by step instructions for that Stop.  Each of these files are saved as PDF's on your computer and are extremely easy to access and print out for binders.  The entire file for the unit study only took up 328 MB of hard drive space.  However, for those who prefer a physical copy of the unit study is preferred, Home School in the Woods does provide the option of ordering a physical CD. 

One of the major highlights of using this particular study unit is that your student will end up with a binder of projects that resembled a scrapbook project more than the typical lapbook often seen with a more hands on project, making it something that students will cherish more than other projects. (There is a lapbook component for those who really enjoy doing them). The drawback to this is this also means that your printer will get a workout as there are many components that have to be printed for each stop, using various different paper if one wishes to really make this a unique project.  It should also be taken into account that the volume of printing is doubled when using this unit study with multiple students, as each one is going to want to make their own projects.  Some projects also use specialty materials, such as sheets of clear acetate or Dura-lar.  Scissors and glue (or glue sticks) are an absolute necessity.
Just a few of the many projects the kids have worked on

One of the great thing about this curriculum is that while it can definitely be used as a stand alone

curriculum to study a particular time period, it's very easy to add supplemental materials to the lessons to expand even further and reinforce what is being learned.  Since Garrett loves Minecraft, we found a really neat homeschool class about Ancient Greece where he was able to convert what he learned to building projects on the game, such as using the different type of columns the Greeks used in their architecture.  Books and videos such as episodes of Drive Thru History can easily be added in with the lessons with each "Stop" and Home School in the Woods also provides a list of resources that offer suggestions on materials that can help to supplement the unit study. 

How Did We Use It

Being that we had already used a previous unit study from Home School in the Woods, we already had our binders and Travel Logs already made so we just recycled those items. We had lost Garrett's previous passport, so we did make new ones for each kid and we were ready to go. 

Because the kids are lower elementary, and there is a plethora of information to cover with this unit, we opted to move at a slower pace than older students would probably work at.  This allowed us to complete 1-2 stops per week, depending on the information covered.  I came to appreciate how each stop had it's own Travel Itinerary which helped me to keep track of what printouts we would need each day and gave me a way to check off each component as we completed it. 

A few things of the things I really enjoyed about this unit was that it covers much more than just history.  In the course of completing 7 stops, the kids have worked on various skills such as writing, art, geography and even cooking as they had to fill out articles in their weekly "newsletter", decorate post cards, create maps and learn about Greek foods.   

For Week 7, the kids had the opportunity to prepare a few different recipes provided which turned out really good.  The menu consisted of Spiced "Wine" (which was grape juice) with a meal of Avgolemeno (Chicken Soup with Egg-Lemon Sauce) and Gyro meat and tzatziki over a Greek Salad, rounded out with Yiaourti me Meli and Baklava for desert.  

Overall, we have really enjoyed using the Ancient Greece study from Home School in the Woods.  While the kids did enjoy the Middle Ages study when we used it 2 years ago, I do feel it was a bit overwhelming for them at times.  Now that they are 3rd Graders, I think it was a much more enjoyable experience for them.  As it is so "hands on", it really was a perfect fit for my kids who can not stand just being read to.  And the fact that it includes so many different learning subjects is a huge plus.

There are so many projects involved in this study and the kids and I have only scratched the surface.  Other projects we have not yet reached include making pottery, mosaics, theater masks and a diorama of the Parthenon. 

I would highly recommend this for 3rd Grade through Middle School.  

Home School in the Woods also offers unit studies for Ancient EgyptThe Middle Ages and the Renaissance & Reformation.  A unit study for Ancient Rome is currently in the works and should be released sometime next year. 

#hsreviews #history #unitstudies #AncientCivilizations #lapbooking

For more information about Home School in the Woods and their HISTORY Through the Ages
Project Passport World History Studies be sure to visit their website or one of their social media sites:
HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews

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