TOS Review: A Timeline of WWII

Home School in the Woods

At my house, we love to study history, but, we really love to study it when we can do some hands-on projects too! From lapbooks, to posters, to mini-books, you name it, sign us up. So, since my high schooler is studying US History currently, I was happy to get to check out a timeline of World War II as part of the  À La Carte Timelines from Home School in the Woods. We have used a TON of their stuff in over the years. They specialize in hands-on history products that cover pretty much all time periods, giving you lots of options to add interest to your history studies.

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This timeline itself could easily fit alongside any history study of this particular time period and comes with everything you need to track important people and events related to the subject. The instructions are included, although we deviated a little bit. We have done quite a few timelines over the years and have round we prefer to do ours using file folders rather than the binder method given. But that’s the cool thing about all of these products, you can adapt them to fit your particular style. You do need access to a printer though, and  paper and card stock (I usually purchase this stuff whenever it goes on sale and then just keep it in the cabinet for use with multiple projects throughout the year). Also, a set of colored pencils if you wish to color in the timeline figures.

We generally like to print out our timeline pages first, and get them set up, then we keep the figures in a folder and color and cut them out as we go (here’s a tip for your: keep a small plastic bag handy to store the one or two extra figures you haven’t gotten to yet from a page so they don’t get lost before you can use them, trust me, this happens). The pages are very well done, with a continuous “barbed wire fence” line similar to the ones soldiers would have seen on the front lines during the war used to originate the dates. It’s this kind of attention to detail that always makes Home School in the Woods stand out to me.

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The top and bottom of each page is accented with a chain link detail and the spaces for each timeline figure are clearly marked. Figures themselves are very well illustrated, with plenty of room to color them in. Both important people and events are chosen to be included in the timeline, so you can easily add them when they come up during your WWII study. This timeline went very naturally with our regular history study, so it was no problem at all to get my son to do this small extra bit of work, and having all the pieces laid out so succinctly really made the order of events so easy to understand!

I was very impressed with this project. I loved how easy it was to use and how well done it was. It reminded me that even though my son is a senior in high school, he still likes doing hands on learning. It really made me want to get into some of the other WWII projects Home School in the Woods offers. If you would like to learn more out the WWII timeline and the other things they have available, connect on social media here:

Home School in the Woods on Facebook

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To see what other members of the crew thought of this product and the others we got to check out, click here:


Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}Crew Disclaimer


TOS Review: Drive Thru History Adventures

Drive Thru History AdventuresHistory should be an adventure! Unfortunately for a lot of students (including mine) typical textbook instruction just doesn’t bring the stories to life. My youngest enjoys hearing and seeing things that relate directly to the topic he is studying. So, we were excited to check out the Homeschool Video Curriculum from Drive Thru History Adventures.

Drive Thru History AdventuresThis curriculum is a combination of videos/discussion questions and activities that let you explore history where it took place, all at your own pace! There are three specific topics offered: American History, Ancient History, and Bible History. My son decided to check out the Bible history portion of the course for this review. It offered 18 different lessons on topics all about the life of Jesus.

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The lessons include a video portion hosted by Dave Stotts, whom you may know from the TV series. He is an affable host as always, delivering information while making you feel like you are there with him the whole time. Videos typically last around 30 minutes or so, which was a good length for my son. In addition to the videos, you have access to discussion questions that are great for reviewing what your child learned after watching the video.

I also really liked how each lesson also includes the scripture it is related to and fabulous pictures and artwork as well. “Side roads” offer extra information about the people and places discussed in the lesson, and at the end there are additional links to articles and other websites that you can research for more information. The part that really ties it all together are the printable PDFs that go along with the lessons. Basically these are printed copies of the discussion questions along with the scripture readings, a lesson summary important quotes, and the side road from the lesson. So, you could actually use these to do the lessons if you didn’t want to watch the whole video (but I don’t know why you would do that because the videos are great!). Answer keys are also included.

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With this subscription you also get access to Adventures TV. Here you get all kinds of great extras including videos of extra side roads such as the history of recent holidays, Biblical sites, and random fun stuff like “the history of cheese”, behind the scenes looks at the filming of the series, and a separate set of “Dave’s Adventures” where you can check out the host talking about a manner of things serious and not so serious! My son really enjoyed a lot of these because they were short and usually humorous and he could watch them before or after completing a lesson.

When we finish with the Bible History curriculum my son wants to move on to the American History section. Since both the American History and Ancient History consist of about 12 lessons each, I think you could easily move through at least two sections in one school year. While I feel like the curriculum itself is aimed at slightly older students, I think younger children would simply enjoy watching the videos themselves without the additional activities if you wanted to do this with a family group.

We have really enjoyed Drive Thru History Adventures and would definitely recommend that you check it out! To learn more, connect with them on social media here:

Drive Thru History on Facebook

Drive Thru History on Pinterest

Drive Thru History on Instagram

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:

Drive Thru History Adventures -  Subscription {Drive Thru History Adventures Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions (In the Reign of Terror)

Heirloom Audio ProductionsIn summer, we do a lot of road trips, and I love having audiobooks to listen to in the car as we drive. It’s a great way to keep our whole family entertained! For this review, we got to check out In the Reign of Terror, the latest offering from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have reviewed several of Heirloom’s audiodramas before, and we are never disappointed. Based on novels by GA Henty, the stories are always full of adventure and excitement that keeps my boys on the edge of their seats, and this new one was no different!

In the Reign of TerrorSet against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the story is the perfect mix of history and drama. It tells the story of a young man named Harry, who is caught up in the events of the revolution, trying to save an aristocratic Christian family from execution. The cast, as always, is stellar, with Brian Blessed leading as Henty himself. Rounding out the ensemble are actors like John Rhys-Davies from movies like The Lord of the Rings, and Cathy Sara from Downtown Abbey.

The cast does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life, infusing them with passion and vibrance. You really connect with each one, and find yourself anxiously waiting to see what happens to each person. A 2 CD set, In the Reign of Terror offers over two hours of entertainment, broken into sections that easily allow you to pick up wherever you left off. This feature is especially convenient if you listen to it on a day when you have to run a lot of errands.

Heirloom audio always seems to product top-notch products, complete with background music and sound effects that draw you even deeper into the story. You find yourself automatically rooting for Harry and waiting on pins and needles as each new chapter develops.

In addition to the audiobook, you also get access to a downloadable study guide. This guide features questions for each chapter in the story. The questions range from recall questions that make sure students listened and remember what happened, to vocabulary and questions that require listeners to dig deeper and make connections between events and draw conclusions, make inferences and other higher-order thinking skills. We usually discuss these questions orally after each section, leading to a lot of family discussion. The guide wraps up with three Bible stories that connect with the Biblical themes related in the story. If you would like to use this audiodrama as part of a unit study, Heirloom also offers a reading list with books about the French Revolution in the study guide, which would be especially useful for older students.

Users also have the option of joining the Live the Adventure Club, an online community that Heirloom just started. If you sign up, you not only gain access to the downloadable extras, but you can also participate in discussion boards about the books, access quizzes on the audiobooks, and have your kids play games and find lots of other things to do to further explore the adventure!

We thoroughly enjoyed In the Reign of terror and are looking forward to Heirloom’s next adventure! To learn more, connect with them on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

Heirloom Audio on Twitter

Heirloom Audio on Google+

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:


In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: The Cat of Bubastes (Heirloom Audio Productions)

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Travel back in time to Ancient Egypt and go on an adventure with Amuba, the captured prince of Rebu, a city on the shore of the Caspian Sea. During his journey, he will find friends among his captors, and some enemies too, and in a race to save a friend’s life, discover the One True God. The Cat of Bubastes is another audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have loved every single one that we got to check out so far, and we were really excited to check out this latest release for this review.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Based on the book of the same name by author G.A. Henty, the two-disc set takes you and your family into the book. As always, Heirloom has recruited top voice talent to play the roles, and their sound effects and soundtrack help you feel like you are really in the story. All of the actors do a great job, and as you listen, you can picture the action in your head, as if you were watching a movie.

I don’t want to give away the whole story, but I will tell you that Amuba comes to serve the high priest of Thebes, where he is taken after being captured. He and his friend Jethro become close to the family of the priest, who is very kind and treats all people with respect. Of course, conflict arises on a few fronts when Amuba and Chebron, the priest’s son, discover a murder plot in the city and then have to flee for their lives after accidentally killing the sacred cat of the city. During their adventures, they encounter Simeon, a faithful Israelite, and Ruth, his granddaughter, who help introduce them to the Christian faith.

Full of historical facts, The Cat of Bubastes combines history with drama to create excitement that you can also use as a teaching tool. Each track is numbered, so it is very easy to pick up where you left off as you listen. Along with the CDs, Heirloom gives you access to some awesome extras including a study guide that is chock full of information. There are discussion questions for each track on the disc, questions that include both recalling info from the story and questions that require you to go a little deeper with your thinking.

One thing I noticed in this study guide was the inclusion of other historical information related to the story. The Expand Your Learning sections offer info about a range of topics from Ancient Egyptian games, to the Pyramids, to recipes you can make. At the end of the study guide are three Bible studies you can do with your family. We mostly used the study guide as a source of discussion, but now that my kids are older, I did have them answer some of the going deeper questions in writing and keep a notebook of the vocabulary words.

Other extras include a download of the actual G.A. Henty book, complete with color pictures. I like this option because if you have a reader in the family, they can read the book before or after listening to the audio drama. You can also download the soundtrack, a poster, and more.

We thoroughly enjoyed listening to The Cat of Bubastes. Like the other Heirloom audio dramas, it is pure, family-friendly entertainment that both introduces your kids to history and points them toward God. I definitely recommend this if you and your family like listening to audio books. They are great for road trips or just listening to after dinner. To learn more, connect with Heirloom Audio on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

Heirloom Audio on Twitter
Heirloom Audio on Google+

You might also want to check out some of their other adventures like, The Dragon and the Raven and With Lee in Virginia.

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Crew Disclaimer



TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions – Beric the Briton

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions ReviewAs a family, we love a good historical adventure, and G.A. Henty was a master of historical fiction. However, I have one child who does not enjoy reading, and while I do love reading aloud, sometimes I just want to listen to a story too. So, I was very excited to check out the new audiodrama Beric the Briton from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have listened to several of their drama’s already and loved every one of them. This exciting tale of the Roman invasion of Brittania met our expections!

First, I have to say the cast for the story is top-notch. Heirloom manages to get great actors and actresses to portray the characters in their stories, including Cathy Sara (Downtown Abbey) and Tom Baker (Dr. Who). They all really bring the characters to life, giving them robust personalities and adding to the excitement to the story.

In this drama, we are introduced to Beric, a young man of 16 who is destined to rule his tribe, but who was taken captive by the Romans as a young boy in order to maintain influence over his mother, the chieftainess of the tribe. After returning home, Beric cannot hide the influence his time with the Romans had on him. However, while there are many things he admires about the Romans, he still longs for his people to be free. But, he is facing an uphill battle, because at the time, Brittania was a loose configuration of individual tribes often at war with each other, and resistant to the idea of uniting to fight a common enemy.

Over the course of the story, Beric wins his tribe over to his idea of fighting in a more unified style, and they begin to make some progress in their quest to defeat the invaders. After a hard-fought battle, Beric once again finds himself, and his friend Boduoc, captives of Rome, and sent off to gladiator school. A large part of Beric’s journey coincides with the spread of Christianity in Rome and the Great Fire. As Beric begins to hear whispers about “Christians” he finds some of his Roman friends are committed Christ-followers and they introduce him to the faith. While it takes some time for Beric to decide what he believes, he is intrigued by the idea, and comes to the defense of a Christian friend who is set to be fed to the lions after the fire.

Now, I don’t want to give too much more away, but I can tell you, it is an amazing story. One thing G.A. Henty was very good at was weaving Christian themes into his stories. They mesh seamlessly, and you can’t help but get caught up in the adventure. I love the way he ties together the historical and Biblical events. Hearing the story of Paul’s shipwreck told in context of what was going on at the time in the country, has a very powerful impact. Listening to this story as a family gave us a fantastic opportunity to talk to our children about God’s hand in history and in the world.

We listened to this story in the car during vacation, and it is labeled in chapters on the CD, so it is easy to pick up where you left off if you need to take a break. Heirloom Audio also offers some great extras that help enrich the story. First, there is a 50-page downloadable study guide that includes background information about the people featured in the story, and questions for each chapter. The questions range from basic recall questions to vocabulary, to questions that challenge listeners to go deeper and get to the themes of the story.

One nice feature of the study guide is that it has the track number and exact time where you can find each chapter on the disc listed with each set of questions, so if you want to go back and listen again, you can easily find it. At the end of the study guide, there is a list of books you can check out for further reading if you want. It also offers three different Bible studies you can do with your children.

Other cool features offered by Heirloom Audio include an eBook copy of the original story with illustrations. My older son likes reading so he always wants to check these out, and it is helpful if you want to encourage a child to follow the story in the book as they listen. You also get an MP3 version of the book and the soundtrack as well as posters and some other items. The best thing is, the extra resources are all flexible, so you can use as many as you want.

If you love history, exciting stories, or listening to books on tape, I would definitely suggest you check Beric the Briton out. There are multiple options for ordering the audiodrama so you can find the one that works best for your family. For more information, connect with Heirloom on social media:

Beric the Briton on Facebook
GA Henty Series on Facebook
Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook
Heirloom Audio Productions on Twitter
Heirloom Audio Productions on Google+

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this adventure, click here:

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions ReviewCrew Disclaimer




TOS Review: YWAM Publishing

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}I love to use biographies and living books for our history and science studies whenever possible. That works especially well when I find a person or topic to study that really has a personal interest for my son. Having grown up in Brevard County, Florida, NASA and the Space Program has always been a part of their lives. We are fortunate enough to be able to stand in our yard to watch rocket launches from the Cape, and my boys grew up watching the shuttle launches (as did I!). So, we were really excited to check out the Digital Unit Study for the book Heroes of History-Alan Shepard from YWAM Publishing. It came in especially handy since we worked on the study before a scheduled trip to the Kennedy Space Center with our homeschool group!

I did this study with my 8th/9th grade son, and even though he could read the book on his own, we like to do history together, so we took turns reading it out loud. He found the biography to be very exciting as it described Shepherd’s journey from a young boy with a keen interest in aviation to an astronaut who would eventually journey to the moon.

The unit study itself comes with a wealth of materials you can use to enhance your understanding of the book and learn more about Alan Shepard. First, there is a short summary biography to give you a brief background, which is a nice introduction, especially if you don’t know a lot about him to begin with. The Homeschool introduction is pretty much a parent’s guide, giving you info on how to use the digital study, suggestions for scheduling, an explanation of each part of the guide, and options for setting it up as a parent-directed or student-directed study. I really like that it offers that option, because it gives you a lot of flexibility. If you have an older child and are in a busy season, you can structure it as more of a self-directed activity without having to plan it all yourself, or, if you want, you can just follow the directions for using it with your child. Like I said, we do history together, but my son completed a fair amount of activities on his own due to life circumstances!

The guide itself is broken into sections, starting with a collection of quotes from a variety of people that relate to the themes of the book, and suggestions for a “display corner” that students can work on throughout the study, where they collect items and memorabilia related to the person they are studying. The third section really gets into the meat of the study, with questions for each chapter. The questions focus on a variety of skills including vocabulary, basic recall, and more open-ended questions that require students to take what they have read and use it to form an opinion or relate it to other knowledge.

Usually, after reading the chapter, I had my son complete the chapter questions in writing on his own, but you could easily do these orally with younger students or with more than one student. The Student Explorations portion of the guide consists of a range of activities that are great for completing the study. Essay questions on a variety of topics give older students a chance to practice their writing skills while also showing off what they learned, and the creative writing topics are a lot of fun. In addition, there are some great suggestions for hands-on projects, which is awesome for students who’s strengths lie outside of writing or narrating.

The guide also offers ideas for mapping and timeline activities, suggestions for other related books, movies, documentaries, and websites you can use for further study, and an outline for a “culminating activity” where students can host an evening event where they show off what they know for family and friends. I think this particular activity would be great if you were doing this study with a large group, in a co-op or with several of your children at once.


We made our own rockets and got to launch them!

In addition, the guide comes with some printables, including an Alan Shepard fact sheet, maps and a timeline. In all, this is a great study for a great price! And, there are tons of people to choose from. To learn more, connect with YWAM Publishing on social media here:

YWAM Publishing on Facebook

YWAM Publishing on Twitter

YWAM Publishing on Pinterest

YWAM Publishing Blog

See what other members of the crew thought of this, and the other guides we got to check out, here:

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

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TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions (The Dragon and the Raven)

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}As the mom of two boys, I am always looking for ways to get them excited about history. For the most part, traditional history textbooks bore them, and while they do find some novels and movies exciting, those are kind of hit or miss. However, I have found audio books to be a hit, if I can find the right ones. Luckily, through the crew we get to check out some pretty cool products, and for this review, we got to check out The Dragon and the Raven an exciting audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions.

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}We’ve had the pleasure of sampling products from Heirloom before, and we’ve never been disappointed! Based on another book by G.A. Henty, this story focuses on the story of Alfred, a Saxon King who fights the Danes to preserve his kingdom. Told through the eyes of Edmond, a thane who pledges himself to serve and fight for Alfred, it is a tale of honor, devotion, and faith in God.


The two disc set comes in chapters, as all of the products from Heirloom have thus far. This makes it really easy to keep track of where you are at while you’re listening to the CD. You can easily pick up wherever you left off whether you are in the car or at home. I also love the artwork on the cover and the CDs and the quotes inside.

The voice talent Heirloom lines up to play their characters is seriously unmatched. You’re talking about actors who’ve appeared in major movies like Star Wars and The Hobbit and it shows. This is one thing that sets them apart from your typical “books on tape” that you would normally get. You aren’t just listening to a book read on tape by one narrator. You are listening to a full-on acted out play! If you close your eyes, you can pretty much picture every scene. Even the sound effects are amazing. The swords clink in battle, you can hear the horses hooves on the ground. The attention to detail is so incredible, it’s like nothing I have heard anywhere else!

Heirloom’s retellings of G.A. Henty’s stories always make sure to point back to the Lord, and this is no different. If you are looking for something that will give you active opportunities to discuss your faith in God in general, and how to have faith in Him during difficult times, The Dragon and the Raven is a perfect opportunity for that. It weaves together the story of Alfred and Edmond, and their relationships with God, in a completely effortless manner.

Heirloom also offers plenty of extras when you purchase one of their audio dramas, including a full study guide that includes discussion questions and vocabulary  for each chapter. The questions range from basic recall to other questions that encourage students to take what they have read and really think about it and apply it to their world. The end of the study guide also includes a Bible study that focuses on topics like literacy and loving your enemy.

Other extras include a downloadable copy of the text of the book, which is absolutely beautiful and includes illustrations, and an MP3 so you can listen to the book. You can also download posters and quotes. As always, when I received this package in the mail, my youngest son and I were the most excited, however, my entire family got sucked in as usual. We all love every single thing about the audio dramas from Heirloom, and The Dragon and The Raven was no different. The company offers several options for purchasing this drama, from individual downloads to family packs, and if you want to add to your history studies or are simply looking for some good family entertainment, I would highly recommend checking them out!

To learn more, connect with Heirloom here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

Heirloom Audio on Twitter

Heirloom Audio on Google+

Heirloom Audio on Instagram

The Dragon and the Raven on Facebook

To see what other crew members thought about this product, click here:

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}

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TOS Review: Home School In The Woods

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak ReviewLapbooking is so much fun. I love watching my boys create projects that demonstrate what they have learned and they make teaching so easy. However, I am nowhere near creative enough to come up with all of those neat ideas on my own, so I am really thankful for companies like Home School in the Woods. We have used many of their products before and for this review we got to check out their HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections study. I was really excited about this since it was such a timely topic at the moment.

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak ReviewNow, here are some things to know about lapbooking if you’ve never done it before. First, your lapbook does not have to look exactly like the examples you see in the instructions. Those are there as general guidelines, and they are very helpful when putting your own lapbook together. However, one thing I have learned about doing these things is that each lapbook is specific to you and your kids and you can make it however you want. For example, these are what some of our projects currently look like:


Notice that I did not print my projects out on all different colors of paper. That’s because I buy my paper at our local Dollar General store and they only offer white paper. But that’s okay, because I just have my kids color their projects in. However, I do suggest that you invest in one pack of card stock because some of the projects really need to be printed on thicker paper. A single pack of card stock can last you for a couple of lapbooks.


Now, let’s get into Elections. There are a couple of options for how to print the text, including making it into a pretty cool booklet, but ink is expensive, and since I was doing this study with my son, I just chose to read the text out loud from my computer. The text is very well written and set up in easy-to-manage chunks so that you can spend 20-30 minutes a day working on this and do 2-3 projects if you want. I felt it explained everything very well in a way that made it easy for kids to understand.




After giving an overview on the history of governments in general and learning a little about the American government, students go on to read about topics like voting rights, how campaigns are run, the election process, political parties, what each office actually does, term limits and much much more. The cool thing is, the learning is broken down into bite-size pieces, which makes it great for kids that are easily distracted or easily overwhelmed by too much information at once. Also, doing the projects appeals to other learning modalities. And, having a lapbook to share with the family and others at the end of the study is pretty cool.

You can definitely make this a much larger learning experience by checking out books from the library and using the internet to do more research, and for older kids (like mine) that’s what we did. In fact, there are other suggested resources included with the Lap-pak. If you wanted to, you could use the Elections Lap-pak as the basis of a unit study on elections, especially right now since we are in the midst of the Presidential campaign. If you are looking for a fun way to work some civics instruction into your homeschool, I would highly recommend you check this out. The Elections Lap-pak is available as a CD or a download.

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak ReviewTo learn more, connect with Home School in the Woods on social media here:

Home School in the Woods on Facebook

Home School in the Woods on Google+

Home School in the Woods on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak ReviewCrew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Brookdale House

 Brookdale House Review

Geography is not my favorite subject. It’s not my least favorite either, it’s just one of those that I don’t get around to much. However, I do think it’s important to learn the location of the states and their capitals. So, I was excited to get a chance to check out Drawing Around the World:USA from Brookdale House. It’s a program designed to make teaching U.S. geography simple and easy.

 Brookdale House Review

With Drawing Around the World USA, parents get a printed workbook or printable eBook that offers a four-day learning program. Kids follow the same routine each week, which makes it very easy for them to pretty much complete the program on their own, once they get going. On day 1, students fill out a fact sheet for their state, or states, where they note information like the state capital, population, statehood, and other items. They also trace an outline of the state, and then locate, draw and label the state on a map of the U.S. On the subsequent days of the week, students locate, draw, and label their state on the U.S. map, and then on the fourth day, they list from memory, their state, and draw it on a blank map.

Each week, students add a new state to their knowledge, and when they draw their new state on their map, they are also supposed to draw the states from the previous week as well. They also need to list all they states they have learned on the fourth day as they go through the program. In all, they will have gotten through all 50 states at the end of 27 weeks, with some weeks having only one state and some weeks having two.

For my son, I introduced this program the first week and completed each day with him. The pages are labeled “Day 1”, “Day 2” etc., so I could just print them out and put them in his folder. If you have an atlas available, you can use that to look up information for the fact sheet, or you can just use the internet like we did. The Drawing Around the World product page includes links to useful pages for geography info and some fun games you can use to encourage your kids to memorize the states and capitals, as well as names of the Great Lakes, geographic regions, rivers, and much more.

Basically, the hardest part for my son was finding the place to mark the state on the blank map, but that was hard even for me. Orientating where the location of the state was without the outlines is harder than you would think! At first, I started placing the map with the outlines underneath the the blank one to help him out, until he got more comfortable with that part. Since we used the eBook version of this program, I kept the printed sheets in a binder after he completed them, so eventually he will have a face sheet for each state. But I am not keeping each map because he adds the states to them each time.

Overall, I feel like Drawing Around the World is a great way to give your kids a solid introduction to U.S. geography. For a mom like me, who wants an easy way to work geography into an already busy schedule, it is perfect. You could also use this as part of a bigger geography unit study if you wanted to. To find out more about Drawing Around the World USA, connect with Brookdale House on social media here:

Brookdale House on Facebook
Brookdale House on Twitter
Brookdale House on Google+
Brookdale House on YouTube
Brookdale House on Pinterest

To find out more about this product and the other products that my fellow crew members got to check out, click here:

 Brookdale House Review

Crew Disclaimer

YWAM Publishing

History is one of our favorite subjects. There is just so much to be explored! We particularly love unit-study type lessons because they allow us to go off on so many rabbit trails. My youngest boy enjoys learning about heroes from the past, so I knew this curriculum would be right up his alley. For this review, we go to check out, Daniel Boone: Frontiersman from the Heroes of History series by YWAM Publishing, including the book and the corresponding Unit Study Curriculum Guide.

The Heroes of History series focuses on numerous American heroes, with inspiring biographies of their lives. I chose Daniel Boone because my son is an avid outdoorsman himself who loves fishing, camping, climbing trees, and just being outside in general. I thought he would relate to Boone’s love for the outdoors and his desire to explore the wilderness.

The set comes as a book and a CD, or a download. The book is 19 chapters long, and I thought it was very well-written. My son (an 8th/9th grader) could have read it on his own, but we like to do history together, so I read it aloud to him. He found Daniel’s adventures to be very exciting. The pace of the book was very good, and the chapters were perfect for daily reading.

The disc includes some short background info on Boone (perfect for an introduction) and a detailed overview with suggestions for how to use the guides. Of course, you can create your own routine (which we did), but if you are new to unit studies, this part is very helpful for scheduling purposes. The first part of the unit study contains the bulk of the information you will use, including Key Quotes from well-known people like authors and statesmen that somehow relate to the book, chapter questions, ideas for essays, creative writing, and projects, field trip suggestions and ideas, mapping activities, cross-curricular themes to explore, and an idea for a culminating event for the unit study. The appendix lists other resources you can use with the study including internet websites. The second part of the unit study contained some printables like a Daniel Boone fact sheet and maps.

Now, one thing I love about this unit study is the plethora of information it provides, but it can seem a little overwhelming at first. Remember that you do not have to do everything. You can pick and choose which parts of the study you want to do based on the time you have available, and the age and interest of your child. For young children, you may just read the book, ask some of the questions aloud, and then do some hands-on activities. And that’s fine. Since my son was older, we were able to utilize a lot of what YWAM had to offer, but even we couldn’t do it all!

I actually started with some of the websites listed in the appendix to let my son gather some of his own information to pique his interest before we got into the book. Then as we read the chapters, we answered a lot of the questions orally, with him writing down some of the facts on his sheet as we went along. He has also been mapping some of Daniel’s journey, and since we live in Florida, he took a particular interest in that part (I never even knew Daniel Boone came to Florida!). After reading the first few chapters, I decided to assign one of the creative writing tasks, keeping a Daniel Boone journal, to my son. So now, after each chapter, he writes an entry in the journal from Boone’s point of view. I figure this will make a nice keepsake and a good way to evaluate his understanding of the book at the end.

Looking ahead, I know that when we get to the end of the book, I am going to assign a few of the essays as a sort of “test” at the end, and probably have him choose one of the projects as well, but he likes those. We will also complete the mapping activities as well. In all, this will have covered the first couple of months of history for us (doing history 3-4 days per week), and I think we are both very satisfied.

To learn more about this program, connect with YWAM Publishing on social media here:

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TOS Review: Home School in the Woods

Home School in the Woods ReviewHistory 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.

Home School in the Woods ReviewNow, 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.

To find out more, connect with Home School in the Woods on social media:

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TOS Review: Famous Men of Rome

Memoria Press Review


At our house, we love history and my boys really love hearing about famous battles and heroic warriors. So, I was happy to get a chance to check out the Famous Men of Rome set from Memoria Press for this review. Aimed at students in grades 4-8, the three book set includes a student workbook, teacher’s edition, and full color textbook.

The full-year curriculum covers the ancient history of Rome with a focus on the men who had a big impact on the course of the country’s history. Students will of course learn about famous twins Romulus and Remus, and people like Nero, Julius Caesar, and Cicero. But they will also learn about some lesser known figures like Camillus, Regulus, and others. The text itself is beautiful. The soft-cover book features gorgeous illustrations, and the stories are generally four to five pages in length, enough to be read in a single day for older kids, or two days for younger ones. My son and I (8th grade) do history together. Depending on what we have going on, we either read the story together over a couple of days, or if it’s a crazy-busy week, he reads it alone in the car while we’re driving around, and he narrates it to me.



The accompanying workbook helps to flesh out the program, turning it into a one-year history program. Each lesson starts off with a Facts to Know section, that usually includes a list of names of important people they will read about in the lesson, and a statement explaining who they are. The next section is vocabulary. I liked this section because it gave the students some unfamiliar words, but not just in list form. Instead, the words are given in the context of a phrase, allowing the students to try and determine the meaning of the words on their own. They can then go back and update the definitions after they read the story and find the words there.

The workbook also includes comprehension questions and a list of suggested activities that include map activities, essays, research activities, essays, timelines, and more. In general, we used the workbook as part of a three-day history program in our homeschool. On the first day, my son read the facts section in the workbook and completed the vocabulary section. Then, depending on how long the story was, we might read part of it, or we might wait until the next day to read the whole story. On the second day, we completed the story, then he did the comprehension questions. On the third day, he completed the activities. Since he is in the 8th grade, I usually had him do most (if not all) of the activities. If one of  them involved writing an essay or some type of research, I would assign it as a project due for the next week. If you have a younger child, you could certainly pick and choose which activities you wanted your child to do.

Every five lessons, the workbook features a review that includes more extensive vocabulary, mapping, comprehension, timeline, and other activities. During a review week, I would divide the review into daily sections that my son would complete on his own. I really liked that this was built-in to the program. A lot of times, I feel like when we do history, my son kind of just goes through the daily lessons, but I’m not sure how much of it “sticks”. These reviews really gave him time to sort of work the info into his memory.

The Teacher’s Guide includes a full copy of the student pages with complete answers to all of the questions. It also includes optional tests for every five lessons. So, after you complete each review, you can have your child do the test for that section. I did have my son do these tests, and I felt the reviews were very good preparation for them, but if you don’t want to use the tests, you don’t have to. There is also a final overall test and a test on European Geography that I think is kind of cool.

This history program is very high-interest and I think it’s a great way to make learning about ancient history fun. For me, the program is really well-laid out and so easy to implement, it makes my days simple. I literally just opened the book and went, and after a long year, it was just what I needed. We are going to continue to use this as our main history program, and maybe flesh it out with some historical fiction for read aloud time. The entire set costs $39.95 for all three books.

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Memoria Press Review

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TOS Review: Homeschool Legacy

Homeschool Legacy ReviewI LOVE unit studies! I mean, I really, really love them. In fact, next year, I am thinking about doing our entire year based on unit studies, so I am always on the lookout for good ones. Therefore, I was really excited to get to try the We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution unit study from Homeschool Legacy for this review. Homeschool Legacy unit studies are unique in that the bulk of their studies are offered as once-a-week studies, although you could certainly tweak that (and we did). This particular study is for grades 4-12 and I used it with my son who is in the 8th grade.

Homeschool Legacy ReviewI chose this particular study because learning about how the government works is something we are passionate about in our family. The We the People study comes as a PDF eBook and is designed to last eight weeks, although Homeschool Legacy offers a variety of studies that last for different periods of time. One of the things I liked about this unit study in particular is the variety of resources it provided. There was a very long book list available for most weeks, meaning you were pretty likely to find books available to use at your library. The most needed resources are marked with a star, but even those give you the flexibility of finding similar content if necessary. There are books for family read alouds as well as books for kids to read on their own.

For the first week, we read about Daniel Shay’s rebellion as well as reading some Washington Irving books and my son read a couple of biographies of Ben Franklin and George Washington. In the subsequent weeks we read about what it was like for the Founding Fathers during the time they were writing the Constitution, the different branches of government, what it takes to run for President, and a lot of other topics. We also read the Bill of Rights and the Constitution more than once. The unit study also includes a lot of links to videos (with an average run time of about 10 minutes), virtual field trips, suggestions for family movie nights (National Treasure was one of our favorites) and other resources.

Each week, you do daily readings from the family read alouds and read alone books, then you dedicate one day per week to doing the activities. These start with a family devotional that both my hubby and I loved (yes, as I predicted, he “overheard” this study and couldn’t resist taking part because he loves the government). These devotions focus on the faith of our Founding Fathers and how they used it in forming our government. From there you get into the history readings and discussion. One of the first things students do is set up their notebook with their timeline. It’s a hand drawn timeline that students add to each week as they work when they see the timeline symbol.

While activities vary from week to week typically there is reading, discussion, and some type of student activities. These might be a word scramble, matching, fill in the blank, or something else. These are usually pretty fun and very effective. For example, my son really enjoyed the Preamble Scramble and by the end of the week, he had learned the Preamble to the Constitution (I was impressed!)

Preamble Scramble part 1

working carefully!


My husband and I really liked the videos that were linked as well. The first ones we watched were focused on how the government was designed to be limited (something we agree with) and how it has strayed from that vision. In fact, the whole spirit of this study is to focus on the true spirit of the Constitution, and it encourages students to really dig deep into what the Founding Fathers intended and look at where we are today and draw their own conclusions about what is working and is not. I feel like it gave a very thorough look at this important document and we were really excited by the entire study (and the fact that we got to see the actual document during our trip to DC last year made it even better). I would absolutely recommend this study to anyone looking to investigate this topic with their child. The e-Book copy of We the People costs $17.00. After using this unit study, I am very interested in using more of the studies from Homeschool Legacy and am going to be looking at what else they have to offer for next year!

To learn more about Homeschool Legacy, get in touch with them on social media here:
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To see what other members of the crew had to say about this and the other unit studies my fellow crew members got to check out click here:

Homeschool Legacy ReviewCrew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Jim Hodges Productions

Jim Hodges Productions ReviewSo I have one boy who doesn’t exactly love to read. Don’t get me wrong, he loves a good story, and he reads comic books and chapter books that interest him, but reading just isn’t his first choice of favorite things to do. So, I have tried to bring more literature into his life through audio dramas and books on tape. For this review, we got to listen to The Dragon and the Raven by GA Henty from Jim Hodges Productions.


dragon and raven

This story is about the struggle between the Saxons and the Vikings in 8th and 9th century Britain. The hero of the story is Edmund, who joins King Alfred in his fight to protect Britain. Throughout the story he faces fierce battles on land and on sea. Edmund fights on the ship The Dragon, and at the siege of Paris where he faces Sweyn the Viking in single combat and rescues the girl he loves.

The entire story covers more than seven hours of listening time spread out over 19 chapters. We listened to it over a period of 4-5 days. The MP3 CD plays on computers and it played in our Playstation, but not on a regular CD player, so we couldn’t listen to it in the car, which was kind of disappointing. However, the fact that it is divided into chapters made it pretty easy to find the spot where we last left off. This story is strictly an audio book, and not an audio drama. For this reason, I got more interested in the story than my son, who enjoys the excitement of different actors and sound effects of more dramatized versions.

The story itself is very well done and easy to follow. I found that I came to care about Edmund and was sincerely interested in what happened to him. My son enjoyed all the action that took place in the battles between the Vikings and the Saxons. Since we are currently studying that time period in history, it fit into our schoolwork very well, but I could easily see using this as the basis for a unit study as well.

Jim Hodges productions also offers excellent study guides to go with the books, and this was one of the best parts for me. The study guide includes vocabulary, chapter questions, and activities for each chapter in the story, and a quiz for every five chapters. Some of the activities include internet links for further study, which my son really liked. He enjoys being able to research things that interest him on his own, and he got really excited about some of the topics. He often ended up exploring the websites that the links took him to on his own. For example, one of the websites had information about the Viking game Hnefatafl, which inspired him to try and create his own version of the game!

He also got sidetracked learning about Ragnar Lothbrock, one of his father’s favorite characters from the Vikings television show, which lead to a lot of discussion between the two! Basically, we went over the vocabulary orally before starting each chapter, and then did the questions as discussion afterwards. I did have him choose one activity for every three chapters to complete, or asked him to come up with his own research project. At the end of the study guide is a complete answer key, which I really appreciated!

On the whole, I really enjoyed listening to the Dragon and the Raven. My son was most interested in the battles, and less interested in the rest of the story. However, I think this could be a great addition to any history course if you spread it out over time and use the study guide for further exploration. The MP3 CD for this story costs $25.00, while a digital download costs $18.00. The study guide costs $12.00.

To learn more about Jim Hodges Audiobooks, connect with them on social media here:
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TOS Review: New Liberty Videos

New Liberty Videos Review

We are fortunate to live in a time when we can supplement our children’s education with media like educational videos and DVDs. For this review, I got to check out the Anthem For a Nation DVD from New Liberty Videos. The documentary video focuses on exploring the qualities our country was built on, how we have gotten to where we are today, and what we need to do to get back to where we came from. This video is intended for a general audience, although I think older students would get the most out of it.

New Liberty Videos Review

Biblically-based, the movie encourages families to remain strong in their fight to stay true to the founding principles of our nation. The video opens with beautiful panoramic shots of America, ranging from mountain ranges to oceans. My hubby and I watched this together, and while we both loved the images, we felt the music they were set to was a little, umm…contrived. It seems they had original songs written that included their own message, and it was a little much for us. I think it would have been better if they just used classical music as the background.

The documentary immediately begins by expounding on how important the church was to the beginnings of our country. From Alexis de Tocqueville to George Washington, it does a really good job of explaining how the founding principles of this country came from a firm belief in God and the Bible. It draws Biblical references between historical documents like the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and parts of the Constitution and passages in the Bible. Both my hubby and myself found this part to be very interesting. It was one of those things that most people kind of “know” in a general sense, but don’t have the specifics about. I could see how this part would be very interesting to explore with my children.

Now, when we watched this video, it was right before our trip to Washington DC, so one of the best parts of this documentary for me was when it got into specific details about this city. First, they show you an overlay of the city and how it is laid out in the shape of a cross. It also pointed out how the Washington Monument itself (which we got to tour!) has a Bible in its cornerstone and has Bible passages inscribed on itself. This was something we talked about when we were touring the monument (and something I didn’t know!).

From there, the movie goes into the background of our Founding Fathers and how their beliefs were tied to their politics. For example, they talked about how John Quincy Adams read his Bible daily and became president of the American Bible Society. It goes on to talk about how far our country has strayed from our foundational beliefs with a discussion of abortion, prayer in schools, and how our government has moved Christianity further and further away from our daily lives. The video draws a specific connection between how we, as Americans, have become more and more self-reliant, and less reliant on God.

On the whole, we both felt this video brought up some very valid parts. However, some parts of the documentary seemed a little heavy-handed, and when my boys walked through the living room the music did get a few eye rolls. Still, I think you could easily use this movie to spark some very thoughtful discussion with kids in middle school or above. Anthem for a Nation costs $19.95.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this DVD and the others they got to check out, click here:
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