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.

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