Homeschool in the Woods: Great Empires Review

The following post is a review of Homeschool in the Woods Great Empires study completed as a member of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew. 

Homeschool In The Woods timeline figures are one of the few items we have purchased year after year to use in our homeschool, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to review one of their resources.  To best complement our current geography lessons, we incorporated their Great Empires study with our ongoing plans. The Great Empires resources included studies of 14 different empires and consisted of a historical summary (which I read out loud to my children), map work, games, timeline activities, hands-on crafts or projects, foods from each empire, and more. Extensive links were also shared for each of the empires. Each of the 14 Great Empire studies stood alone, but all together gave a big overview of world history and geography.

Below are pictures from the Viking Empire project: Viking coins.

The first of the Great Empires that we studied was Germany. We invited extended family over for our German style meal which included sausage, potato cakes, applesauce, and authentic German spaetzle dumplings which used the recipe included with the download from Homeschool In The Woods. I love when my kids discuss history with their grandparents, and this meal was accompanied by an interesting discussion about Germany and the World Wars.

The kids helping prepare our German feast.

We began our study by reading the included text about the German empire which summarized over 2000 years of the empire's history. I used it as a read aloud, and stopped to explain new words and unfamiliar concepts to my children. As our history and geography studies this year have been combined for my 3rd and 7th graders, we continued with that plan for this resource. Each history summary was about two pages long, but contained a wealth of historical facts shared in a story-like format. The activity with the German Empire study was a card game which required matching a card with a famous German's picture and name (not all were German; some were influential in that empire but from other countries) with a card of facts about each person. I printed two sets of the included picture cards and we added one set to our timeline book. We discussed the facts and historical figures on the card game with my parents after our German dinner.

The Great Empires study tied in with our current geography lessons, but it would be a comprehensive course as a stand-alone study, too. After Germany, we planned to progress to a different continent. Instead, I decided to insert more of the European empires into our schedule. After completing the German Empire study, we moved to The Spanish Empire followed by France which we had already studied in geography but this gave us more historical content.

1. Ancient Egypt
2. Ancient Greece
3. Ancient Rome
4. Ancient China
5. Arab-Muslims
6. Mongols
7. Vikings
8. Spain
9. France
10. England
11. Germany
12. Japan
13. Russia
14. United States of America

The Spanish Empire study also included a two page overview, which I read to the children while they cut the timeline figures. I again printed two sets of the timeline figures, and we used one for the included "History of Spain in Pictures" page and the other to add to our ever growing timeline book. The fact filled historical overview kept their attention while they listened for the names printed with each of the timeline figures.

As we added the figures to our timeline, we reviewed the history they remembered associated with each person or event. My eight year old noticed the star of David depicted on the person's armband in the Holocaust figure and the swastika on Hitler's uniform. Joseph remembered seeing that when we watched The Sound of Music (several months ago.) That association is an example of how this information will continue to build as they learn more and more history.

Here my daughter is adding the Homeschool In The Woods pictures to our own timeline book. 
Below, my son is adding the empire figures to the included 3-page timeline overview.
You can also see a glimpse of one of the included maps under his timeline page. 

My kids and I all enjoy cooking, so the recipes included with each empire were a fun way for us to wrap up our studies. For Egypt, though, we substituted fig bars for the fig cookie recipe. Maybe we will try it when figs are ripe here later this spring. Another component that I almost forgot to mention are the recommended reading lists. Books are listed that relate to each of the Great Empire studies. We had several already and were able to find some of the others at our library.

The Great Empires study is available for download for $18.95. Other crew members reviewed this and their 20th century lapbook. There are even complete unit studies available to download for free from http://homeschoolinthewoods.com/!



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