History is one of my favorite subjects, but I love to make it interesting! When we first started homeschooling, we used products from Home School in the Woods to study American history, so I was really excited to get to check out their Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance & Reformation for this review. The product comes as a CD or download with everything you need for a complete history study for your family! The suggested ages for this study is for grades 3-8, which allows you to use it for multiple ages at one time. When we used the American history studies before, I used it with both of my boys (they are about three grades apart). This time, I used this one with my 8th grade son.
Now, the first thing you have to understand about Home School in the Woods history studies is that they are chock full of information and activities. In fact, they are so full, that they can seem a little overwhelming at first. Fortunately, they are very well structured to make them easy for you to use. Renaissance and Reformation is set up as a “travel plan” with students going on a journey through time, where they explore important moments, places, and people of the time period. The travel planner lays out each stop very clearly, with detailed directions of what happens at each lesson. This is very helpful for the parents.
In addition, activities are broken into categories that include things like lapbook activities, timeline, reading, notebooking, and more. In general, this program is designed to take 6-12 weeks, but I think if you had younger students, you could definitely stretch it for even longer, For us, working on history about three days per week, we could spend 1-2 weeks per stop, depending on how many activities there were. However, if my son found a stop particularly interesting, and I wanted to flesh it out with some additional reading from our library, a stop could last up to three weeks.
Lessons include a text that you can read aloud with your child (or print out and have your child read for themselves). We like doing history together, so I just read it off our computer. We always start each lesson with the reading, then move onto the other activities from there. For the lapbook activities, you need to print the bases onto some type of cardstock, because you want them to last. I picked up a pack of cardstock cheap at a local store. Other papers are printed on regular paper. Some of the printing does need to be double sided. I know some people take their CDs to a local store to get everything printed there, but I prefer to print what I need each week on my computer.
For many of the activities, it is also a good idea to have a steady supply of scrap paper on hand as well as markers, glue, and crayons. For the timeline and student notebooks you need binders. The author includes covers for parents and student binders that you can print out and have students color if you want. My son wanted to leave his black and white, because he’s not so into coloring anymore! The nice thing about Home School in the Woods is that you can totally adjust for each child. If your younger kids want to color, let them, if your older kids don’t want to, that’s fine too!
One of my son’s favorite activities from this study was the newspaper he got to create. It’s a printable paper with all sorts of creative headlines based on events from the Renaissance that allow kids to show what they know as “reporters” from the time period. The cool thing is, rather than writing a dry sort of history report, they can make it a little more fun!
In addition to notebooking, other activities include recipes, music, and other things, but keep in mind, you do not have to do everything listed. The beauty of studies like these is that you have the ability to pick and choose what works for you. I would highly recommend this history study to anyone studying this time period. They also offer similar studies for Ancient Egypt and The Middle Ages too. The cost runs from $33.95 to $34.95 depending on whether you want a CD or a digital download.
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