Hands-On History Fun – Homeschool in the Woods Review

Home School in the Woods Review

My first impression of Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages from Home School in the Woods was – this is going to be a fun way to do history. Then I received the links to the files.

My second impress of Project  Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages was – wow, this is overwhelming. However, truth be told, once I started into the review and getting through the materials, it just LOOKS more overwhelming that it is. It’s just a very THOROUGH program and there are MANY options available so there is a lot of material and activities available to choose form – A LOT! So you the materials LOOK more overwhelming that they really will be once you get started.

Home School in the Woods Review
This is not your average, textbook, boring history program. This is also not your read-a-book-and-write-a-report type of experience. This is a HANDS ON, lapbooking, notebooking, get into the details and “experience” history type of approach to history. Your kids might actually have fun learning. BEWARE: You might have fun too!

In addition to notebooks and lapbooking options, you will find recipes, crafts and games. There is something for every type of learner included in this curriculum, definitely a plus.

Let me back up – I have been intrigued by Home School in the Woods products for many years – since I stumbled across the products a few years ago. At the time I thought it was too intricate for my children, because they were young. So I mentally filed it into the maybe-someday category. So when I was given the opportunity to review one of the products, one which go GREAT with our upcoming year of study in history, I was ready to give it a try, even though I was a little intimidated by the sheer VOLUME of materials included.

But there are good points to having options. That is the important part to remember about this curriculum, Homeschool in Woods provides a plethora of options – YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL! For the mom that doesn’t like to skip anything, this might not be the best curriculum choice because you really do need to pick and choose and since I’m typically one of those mama’s, I had to keep reminding myself of that fact!

So first things first – YOU WILL NEED TO ORGANIZE. I probably spent an entire day (8 hours) preparing for the year. You could just do a “stop” or two at a time but I like to just do it and be done.  I used the following supplies to get started:

  • Colored Cardstock
  • White Cardstock
  • Regular Copy Paper
  • Computer ink (and a lot of it)
  • 1 (3-ring) binder for the Teacher’s Manual
  • 1 (3-ring) binder for Each Student
  • I also made a list of craft supplies we will need as I went through the lessons (so that I wouldn’t have to go back and figure that out later when we get to the project)

Then I started printing!

The online startup screen is VERY helpful and easy to learn to navigate pretty quickly – pretty intuitive, which was a welcomed surprise. Seeing so many zip files in the beginning scared me but the startup introduction was GREAT and I was able to understand what to do quickly.

The activity choices are great and the kids had fun making food from the times period, reading about knights and Vikings, and having a puppet show.

Making Puppets

Making Puppets

Each lesson is a separate PDF. This is helpful in lesson planning. You can skip around to a topic of interest if you want. Though the lessons build on each other a little, they would be totally doable in your own order if you wanted. They call their lessons “stops” like stops along their trip through the Middle Ages. I thought that was pretty creative.

For each lesson you have a reading text PDF. I didn’t print all these, I read them from the computer. It would be nice to have them printed in a guide but I was saving printing and it worked fine for us. There was also a “Travel Tips” section that helped me figure out what was coming up in the lesson and what we were going to need to prepare. I thought this was very helpful and printed these out for my Teacher’s Guide book.

PIC

There are maps and other activities that I did print. I kept these in the Teacher’s Guide binder. I think if you are going to print everything, which I may decide to do, you would want to have tabs to divide your binder into the lessons, or “stops” so they would easy to find.

We read the lesson from the computer then talked about it, did the crafts and activities that I had decided on like a postcard or recipe and then moved on to the next lesson. You can do one lesson a week but we took 2 weeks on most lessons (maybe because it’s summer so we were moving a little slower). Frankly it was nice to not be in a hurry to finish a lesson.

Travel Iteinerary

Though you could do the entire project in a lapbook, we had a student binder that we kept everything in. We may go back and put it into the lapbook as a review or something. We decided to not put it into the lapbook for now. We are using it more as notebooking and keeping it in the binder.

There are also newspaper and timeline activities. These we kept in the student notebook as well. We are keeping everything in one notebook at this time. It is easy to refer back and see what we have accomplished.

The program is suggested for grades 3-8; however, younger children can certain come along on the adventure and enjoy themselves. My 5 year old loved talking about the Middle Ages and doing some of the activities. My 10 year old loved the hands on activities to interactively learn.

We will definitely continue our study of the Middle Ages and have found that the Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages to be a fun study for the whole family. You can check out some free samples on Home School in the Woods website or purchase you own download of Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages for $33.95, or a CD format for $34.95.

Check out what the rest of the TOS Review Crew though of Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages as well as Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt and Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance & Reformation by Home School in the Woods.

Home School in the Woods Review
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Learning Cursive a “New” Way with CursiveLogic

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We were recently given the opportunity to review a great new product from CursiveLogicCursiveLogic Workbook.  We were intrigued by this product and excited for the opportunity to try it out.

We received the CursiveLogic Workbook, a 97 page, spiral bound book that includes 3 dry erase pages, for review and practice.

The CursiveLogic Workbook is a parent guide and student workbook all in one. I really liked this about the product because we have so many books to track, its nice to not have to run and find the teacher’s guide if i want to reference something while we are going through the lesson. I really like this quality – and that it is spiral bound. I prefer spiral bound (top spiral bound) books for writing and love that this program took into account that there are right and left handed students utilizing this books as well as how much more durable a spiral bound workbook can be.

The CursiveLogic Workbook was easy to read and understand and after reading through the beginning instructions on how to use the book, we got started using it the program with our 10 year old. She is not new to cursive but has struggled some with connecting the letters. I was hopeful that this program would help her with this. I always feel that a fresh way of presenting a concept can do a student some good if they are having struggles. I was right.

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Uppercase Practice

Though we started in at the beginning, even though she had some cursive experience, the lessons were easy to understand and not time consuming. She enjoyed the lessons and I began to see some improvement almost immediately. Since the CursiveLogic program has the student connecting letters from the first lesson, this area that needed improvement in our daughters cursive was addressed immediately

Not only did we see immediate improvement, but the concepts were easy to understand making the lessons very easy for our 10 year old to do independently. I thought this was a nice bonus, as it can be difficult to fit in all the subjects that require individualized mama attention during the school day so it’s nice to have something the student can work on independently, especially when you are schooling multiple children.

We find cursive necessary and neat handwriting important and therefore this is an important subject for our family. I am happy to see a program that makes the presentation of cursive easy to understand, where it makes sens, and is in short lessons that are easy to get through but still show notable progress quickly.

Letter Connection basics

Some of the key points on how CursiveLogic teaches cursive uniquely are:

  • Letters are grouped by shape – Letters have been grouped into four basic shapes groups and all of the letters for each shape are taught at one time.
  • Letters are taught in strings – Same-shaped letters are taught in a connected string instead of teaching each letter independently.  The students learn how to connect them out of the box.
  • Letters are color coded – The shape groups are color coded to help students remember the shape.
  • Catch phrases are used –  Catch phrases are taught to the students that they are to say while writing. This is aid in muscle memory.
  • Real words are learned –  Students begin connecting letter and creating words from the very first lesson because letters are taught by shape group.

The CursiveLogic Workbook is recommended for students age 7 to adult.  You can learn more about CursiveLogic on their website. They are offering some practice pages for free. Just click here for your own downloadable copies. The CursiveLogic Wookbook can be purchased from CursiveLogic for $29.00 and includes all lessons and materials needed to teach/learn the CursiveLogic Method.

See what the other TOS Review Crew members had to say about CursiveLogic.

Eating Healthy and Saving Money with Zaycon

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If you are like my family, we are always looking for ways to eat healthier, better food but still save on our food budget.

Impossible? Well, not exactly, though sometimes it takes a little research and time.

But one thing we have found that is easy for us to save money AND eat better quality food is getting our meat from Zaycon.

If you have not heard of Zaycon, you will want to check them out. But the long story short is that Zaycon buys their select products straight from area farmers and brings them direct to the customer – in this case, me – for a great price.

For instance, we are a military family and therefore have the benefit of shopping at the commissary on our local base. The commissary has great meat prices typically. Their regular price is usually around $1.69/lb for boneless, skinless chicken breast. But it’s not fresh, hormone free chicken.

If you aren’t looking for fresh, hormone free, preservative free chicken that has never been frozen then you don’t have to read any further because I have found that you can watch the ads at Aldi and Kroger and get boneless, skinless chicken breasts there for around $1.69/lb on sale. However, you will need to watch the ads and buy up when the opportunity presents itself.

However, we want hormone free, preservative free, fresh, never been frozen chicken (or don’t want to constantly shop the ads for the best chicken prices) then that’s where Zaycon comes in.

I order my chicken 2 to 3 times a year from Zaycon and get free chicken that I can feel good about feeding my family for the same price I can watch the ads and get on sale at the grocery store but MUCH BETTER QUALITY.

So I save money in that I get the best price I would get at the stores anyway but I ALSO get FRESH, QUALITY CHICKEN.

This is also the case with their ground beef. They offer it for a good price, competitive with sale prices in our area, but its fresh, quality, lean ground beef.

They have other products too, like bacon and salmon and even milk. They are adding products all the time.

So, what’ the catch, right?

Well, you have to buy in bulk. But this is a good thing for us as well. I know we do this 2-3 times a year. We buy 30-60 lbs of chicken at a time, depending upon what we think we need and freezer space and then we know we got the best price on all of it, we don’t miss a sale, and we have it ready to go.

So how does it work?

You check out Zaycon’s website through this link (or the links on my website) and then see what they have available. It isn’t ALWAYS available, you have to wait for them to have their “events.”

Sign in and search for upcoming events in your area. It’s easy to do by entering your zip code. Then you can see what is available, when and how close to you.

Most of the time the events happen a few times a year and they are held at area churches or community centers. These churches and community centers allow Zaycon to use their parking lot on a particular day to deliver their product.

So, you find the product you are interested in, look at the price, determine how much you want, place your order online and THEN MARK YOUR CALENDAR for pick up.

I love that I can sign up for reminders and I get emails and text messages reminding me of my event. Which is good because I almost always order early so they don’t run out of my precious chicken – and trust me, THEY DO RUN OUT so order early if you are interested.

Then on event day, you will go during the designated time, pull up to the coned off area near their big Zaycon truck, and their friendly driver will verify you are who you are and your order, you can pop your trunk, he’ll put in a trash bag as a liner and then load your box or boxes of product on them, close you up and see you off. It’s as simple as that.

The drivers are always friendly and helpful and I don’t even have to get out of my car, which is nice with 4 kids in tow.

Then comes the fun part.

I head home and start “processing” my meals.

For instance, if I have 30 lbs of chicken breasts and I know I’m picking up on Saturday, I plan out my meals beforehand and make sure I have what I need before I even head to pick up my order.

When I get home from picking up my order I start right in (though I had waited a few days, if you have refrigerator space, and have had no issues. I make crockpot meals, various cuts, and even precooked items.

22 freezer mealsThis time I got 30 lbs of chicken breasts. I made 22 frozen bags with various meals or marinated chicken in them as well as started one crockpot of white chicken chili to cook while I was making the rest of the chicken up for the freezer.

I cut some in strips for fajitas or stir fry

I cut some into nuggets for salads or the kids.

I cut tenderloin sizes for other meals.

I leave most as breasts.

I marinate some. I leave some plain. I put in all the ingredients for a meal in many. Here are some of the meals I made up this time.

  • White Chicken Chili
  • Mexican Chicken
  • Chicken with carrots and potatoes in marinade
  • Barbeque chicken for pull chicken sandwiches
  • Cranberry chicken with carrots and peppers
  • Sesame chicken

I mark the bags on what to serve with them if necessary or what to add if any ingredients need to be added after the fact.

I put them all individually in Ziploc or seal a meal bags and freeze. I put the date on them as well.

Then we have 22 meals ready to go for use over the next few months. Since we typically eat chicken 1-2 times per week, I have 15-20 weeks of one of my meals done and planned. Yay!

This all takes me about 2 hours and boy do I feel good afterward.

I have meals, they are done and ready, and they are healthier with fresh, healthy chicken. Something to feel good about, right?

Most of the meals in the bags are complete or close to complete (I might need to add a side vegetable, buns, or some rice.) And each bag is about $3 worth of chicken. That $3 of chicken serves my family of 2 adults and 3 children. (Did I mention the chicken is GOOD SIZE!)

So, if you haven’t checked out Zaycon, I highly encourage you to check them out.

Their chicken is quality, good priced, and great tasting and their customer service is outstanding!

Have you used Zaycon? What was your experience?

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