Monday, September 14, 2015

Review of Home School in the Woods: Great Empires for Co-op Use

For our 2015 Spring Semester of our co-op we have had the pleasure of reviewing Home School in the Woods: Great Empires Activity Study (for elementary ages).  This "unit study" type approach covered 14 different great empires with over 35 different links, games, crafts, recipes, maps, and more. It is available as a download for $18.95 or as a CD for $19.95. They also offer pricing for schools or homeschool co-ops. This curriculum came as a download of a zipped file. When unzipped, there were files for:
  • Masters: the maps, recipe cards, and masters of the craft projects, about 4-6 pages per empire.
  • Projects: this was one pdf sheet for each of the different empires, which had the overview of the unit study.
  • Text: this was the text to be read for each empire, averaging 1-3 pages per empire.
  • Timeline and figures: to show each empire in relation to each-other in the scope of history.
 
 There are 14 empires covered by the Activity Study:

  1. Ancient Egypt 
  2. Spanish Empire 
  3. Ancient Greece 
  4. French Empire 
  5. Ancient Rome 
  6. English Empire 
  7. Ancient China 
  8. German Empire 
  9. Arab-Muslim Empire 
  10. Japanese Empire 
  11. Mongolian Empire 
  12. Russian Empire 
  13. Viking Empire 
  14. The United States of America    

 For my 30 minute Co-op class, I had 10 students. We met every other week for 7 weeks. I had students ranging in age from 6 years to 2nd grade. While there is much more in each lesson than can be covered in 30 minutes, I adapted it to fit our class. First I chose 7 countries to focus on, one for each week:

  • Ancient Egypt 
  • Ancient Rome 
  • Ancient China 
  • Japanese Empire 
  • Russian Empire 
  • Viking Empire 
  • The United States of America 

Before class I reviewed the suggested reading list in the lesson plan, and got lots of books from my local library about the empire we would study. I also prepared a snack using the recipes in the lesson, or something similar. If I was not using one of the recipes, then I would bring a food special to that region, for example: for the week we did the Japanese empire, I had a daikon radish for the kids to taste.

I also prepped the craft for the week, so it would be easy for my kids to get going right away. My prep time was usually less than 30 minutes, and I had most all of the craft supplies on hand. When class opened I immediately handed out the craft sheets so the kids could begin coloring and creating with the help of my 2 room monitors, and while they worked, I read the lesson text that was included. I usually went through the lesson before hand and marked it up (highlighting), so I could skip ahead and summarize as needed for time. This gave us opportunity to stop and discuss and answer questions as we went along. Some highlights of what crafts we did:
  • Egyptian cartouche from salt dough
  • A pop-up book of Chinese history
  • Viking coins for the kids to plunder
  • Creating our own Matryoshka dolls
  • Tracing the voyages of Vikings on a map
  • painting a Roman frieze

What we liked:

 The project sheets made it quick and easy for me to pick the best projects for my class. Most projects were easily accomplished within 30 minutes. Having the kids' hands busy made the history lesson easy to read while they worked. I like that the suggested reading list in each lesson was where I got my jumping off ideas for my library list. This gave the kids lots of pictures and info beyond the lesson itself. The kids were able to see, touch, and taste each culture!

What we didn't like:

 Some of the projects printed on excessive paper. The history lessons varied greatly in length and detail, which required more preparation.

Bottom Line:

This co-op class was VERY popular and some of the kids mentioned it was their favorite class of the day. Even though this was my second time using the program, I found new and exciting things about it. We would likely using it again, and I really enjoyed the detail and variety of this unit study. Two thumbs up!




Disclaimer: Our homeschool group was given a free download of this curriculum in exchange for our honest review. We were thankful for the opportunity to provide this experience for our co-op students, but this did not in any way effect the opinions expressed here. 
©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com

Monday, March 9, 2015

Emma's Art

Origami Girl!

Emma has become an Origami and Kirigami fanatic. Here's a few of the fun things she's made so far:

She's discovered pinterest, and now it's all downhill. :) So much fun creativity! What kinds of things do you do for home school art?



©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fun peek at Co-op, challenges and blessings Pt. #3

Our homeschool co-op has been rolling along, and 3 of the 7 weeks are behind us. We are finding there are certain challenges to face, and lots of fun to be had. There is must be a real choice to serve others to be involved in a co-op... as there will always be those extra miles to walk. See here for the first part of this post. Read here for part two. The conclusion is below:



Co-op Challenge #3: Needing time to grow as moms and teachers, but everyone is already too busy teaching!

If the moms in our co-op are anything like me, this homeschool social opportunity isn't just for the kids. We often talk about wanting a few mom classes too,  but we are all teaching at various times, and rarely more than 3 or 4 of us are free to meet in the hall. We recognize that the camaraderie of homeschooling can be a great encouragement, but we're not sure how to tap into it when we are scattered in "the trenches" of the battlefield. 

Solution:

This semester we have tapped a few veteran homeschool moms to join us. They are moms who are ahead in the game, and some have even graduated all of their students. We set up a corner of the study hall area, with chocolate and flowers and a candle. We buy their lunch, and introduce them at opening exercises as tho they were celebrities. Then throughout the day any teaching mom who finds a free moment can stop in there and catch a few words of wisdom and encouragement, or just pray with a woman whose heart has been there. It's been a great success so far, and we hope to keep it up!

Do you have a co-op? Have you resolved some challenges? I'd love to hear what you have been dealing with too. Please share in the comments!

©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 5, 2015

In case you thought time was moving too fast...

...as I often feel on my birthday. (yep, today!) Here's a view from right out my window recently that reminds me that the "old days" aren't that far removed:


Lamentations 3:22-23  

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.



©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fun peek at Co-op, challenges and blessings Pt. #2

Our homeschool co-op has been rolling along, and 3 of the 7 weeks are behind us. We are finding there are certain challenges to face, and lots of fun to be had. There is must be a real choice to serve others to be involved in a co-op... as there will always be those extra miles to walk. See here for the first part of this post. Read below for part two!



Challenge #2: Absent Teachers
Because our co-op is made up of families offering classes and kids taking classes, we are all bearing the burden of teaching. Over half of the kids registered this semester are kids whose parents are also teaching. How do I know? Our teachers get the added perk of early registration, in hopes that more parents will offer to teach. Often times, this means that one parent is teaching 2-3 classes throughout the day. The parent in the above photo, Art D., is committed to teaching someone each and every class period. He's our PE teacher, runs opening exercises, helps his wife with several classes, and is also booked with private guitar lessons in every other free moment. We are so thankful for guys like Art! But what if Art gets sick? that's 6 class periods to fill! Then we end up with kids without a teacher, or with a substitute. I personally had to substitute in Origami one week and Boy's Bible Study the next. Each had a pretty tough crowd for me to keep up with! What an adventure this is!

What is the solution? It's hard to predict when someone will miss, and even the most devoted teacher has a surprise illness sometimes. We hope to encourage our teachers to have one "make and take" lesson pre-prepped for such a day, as well as to be thinking ahead about who can be their last minute sub. We are also going to plan for fewer parent-teachers, and more outside volunteer teachers. These non-parents are not going to have as high of a risk of sickness (admit it, our kids are the exponent on our risk factors!), and spread the teaching burden out a bit, so parents aren't teaching so many of the sessions. You can pray for us on that one, as we are still working it out!

Join me Friday for the conclusion of this group of posts!


©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fun peek at Co-op, challenges and blessings Pt. #1

Our homeschool co-op has been rolling along, and 3 of the 7 weeks are behind us. We are finding there are certain challenges to face, and lots of fun to be had. There is must be a real choice to serve others to be involved in a co-op... as there will always be those extra miles to walk.



Challenge #1: sharing the work
Whether it is a child who comes down sick at the last moment, a forgetful mommy, or a general lack of commitment (among homeschoolers? What?!?!), it seems we often have missing families during co-op. Because a co-op is exactly that: "an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit", we had divided all the "chores" of cleaning the  building, packing up the supplies, and tearing down the tables. Each family has one small part (to be specific, with 36 families... about 1/36th) of the clean up job assigned. Even our leadership team has chores. But when 5 families are missing then the 5 leadership families have double chores on top of the leadership responsibilities. This is compounded when a family who is present leaves without doing their "chore". We have had a some surprises, though. One of our private lesson teachers (a sweet young adult lady) has been adopting an unclaimed chore each week before she leaves the building. These little blessings make us encouraged.

How will we resolve it?

Next semester I think we might divide the chore cards about 30 ways, and leave 6 wild cards that say: "Pick up an absent family chore card, and pray for them as you complete their job(s)".  I pray that as we focus on loving those we serve, we will become the hands and feet of Christ. This is why we endeavored to start a Christian Co-op in the first place, right?

Join me on Wed. and Fri. for parts #2 and #3 of this series!


©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Be my Valentine?

Again this year, we had a great time sharing Gospel Valentines. 





©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com
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