My latest Schoolhouse Review Crew item is from Home School in the Woods. I've heard of their curriculum in the past, but I've never tried it until I received Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages to review. There are three time periods to choose from (with more to come) in this series. The Middle Ages seemed like a good fit for my kids based on the history we've studied so far.
When you buy one of these products, you choose a digital download or a CD. We received the digital download. Either one will take you on a fun adventure with your kids that involves reading, listening, and loads of activities and hands on projects! When you open the program, it can feel a little overwhelming! I definitely recommend reading the introduction. This is a program that the teacher needs to spend some time working on before the students are involved.
This study is divided into stops. There are 25 stops and this is recommended to be done in 8-12 weeks. I can see where you could easily take longer and meander through this study. I can also see how easy it would be to finish quicker....if your kids insist on more than 1 stop a day.....because they love it all so much! Each stop is broken down in the Travel Itinerary. That's where you want to start to see what needs to be printed, what the activities are for that stop, and basically to figure out what you are doing. The Guide Book Text is the information you will read at each stop. This curriculum is designed to be done with multiple children at a time. It works great for children of different ages too. My 8 and 10 year old have both found it very interesting. The suggestion is to print a copy of everything for each child. I'm going to confess right here that I did not do that. We tend to work as a team on these types of things anyway and this curriculum involves a LOT of printing. I can see where kids would enjoy having their own, but my kids were just fine sharing the workload (maybe that's why we could accomplish more than 1 stop at a time....).
You will need a very large 3 ring binder to hold many of the projects (if you are doing more than 1 then you will need more than 1 binder). Your child (or children) will also create a "luggage bag" using a pocketed folder with brads. Before beginning you will need to make a list of the types of paper needed (colored, white, cardstock, etc) and any extra supplies needed for some of the projects. There are plans to make a castle, make a hat, etc. It would also be good to decide ahead of time if you will do every activity or project listed for each stop. I think there is definitely benefit in every suggested activity.
Each time we worked on this, I had all the items we needed printed out and ready to go. I would read the Guide Book Text and then give out their assignments for the stop. We split the work as evenly as possible so they were both involved. There are a few audio tours along the way that the kids really enjoyed as well. Every activity really adds to the lesson and makes it memorable for the students.
One of the stops on this journey included making puppets for to represent each class of society during that time. My kids both LOVED doing this. It was simple figures on cardstock that they could color. We put ours on popsicle sticks and they put on several plays for us. I thought it was great that they got such a kick out of being knights, noblemen, and serfs.
Some of the stops include fun games to make and play. The one they are playing below was the Matching Game of Occupations. What a great way for them to learn more about the jobs during this time period! There was another game included along the way called Fox & Geese which was similar to checkers. I was pleasantly surprised that they were so excited to color and "create" the games and play together. Both were excited that the games went into the large scrapbook so they could play in the future.
Apple was our official newspaper editor and she's been providing all the stories, pictures, and ads for "The Medieval Times". Every few stops the itinerary will include an assignment for the newspaper.
Speedy has been our official timeline keeper. Each stop includes several things to add to the timeline which is kept in the scrapbook. He colors them and puts them on the timeline.
I think you can see that the kids have really enjoyed learning about the Middle Ages this way. There are some suggestions for additional resources. Many of them are books we already read or audiobooks they've already heard. I didn't have them specifically use any of the other suggestions because they took it upon themselves to find some other books at the library on this time period. I love their intiative to learn more on their own, and I'm thankful that their interest was piqued by Project Passport.
I have to be honest. This is a curriculum that I would probably never pick on my own. It is digital and not a hard copy, and it involves so much printing. Not only is it a lot of printing but it's time consuming. Because each item needs to be printed on different paper, you have to print each page individually. In a way, I can totally understand why it is set up by stop this way. The more logical, cheap side of me doesn't understand why there isn't a master printing list where many items can be printed at a time based on the type of paper they use. Maybe someday this curriculum will include that.
Even with my reluctance and wish for an easier way, my kids LOVE this curriculum. They have asked to do it many times and they were never satisified with just one stop. They've played with the puppets and games long after our school time was finished. Both have been stirred to learn more about the Middle Ages, and it is hard to argue with those results. I have always been a history buff, and I'm excited that they see the value in learning more about history.
In conclusion, their excitement over a learning activity totally trumps my resistance to this type of curriculum. I would highly recommend this product for homeschooling families with kids in grades 3-8. It is fun. It is hands-on. It is memorable. It is worth all the printing.
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