After an unusually crazy year (thanks to Hurricane Florence) we were finally finishing up our school year at the end of June. About that same time, I was given the opportunity to review one of the Time Travelers U.S. History Studies by Home School in the Woods. I was tired, the children were tired, and we all needed a break. I almost turned down the review without even discussing it with them. However, I casually mentioned it to them because I knew they had really enjoyed it when we used the Project Passport World History Studies last year to study Ancient Egypt. To my surprise they both enthusiastically told me they wanted to review the product, even though it meant working through it on their summer break.
Since the children were excited about it, I agreed to the review and we turned it into a summer family learning project. We would gather as a family in the evenings a few nights a week and work through a lesson or two. We chose to review Time Travelers: The Early 19th Century because that was a time period my children were interested in learning more about. This program includes 25 days of lessons (five of which are project days to complete projects associated with the other lessons). The lessons include a text (generally 2-3 pages) which I read aloud to the family at the beginning of each lesson. This was the new information that we were learning for the lessons.
Then for each lesson there was a variety of activities. You could have each student complete all of the activities, especially if you were using this as a primary history curriculum or unit study. However, since we were enjoying this as a summer family project, I chose to just have each of my older children do one or two activities per lesson. This was enough to reinforce what was being taught but still kept it light and fun.
The activities that were offered included a timeline, lap book components, copywork, maps, a song book, hands-on projects, and recipes. Students could also create a newspaper and write articles related to the lessons. We chose to primarily focus on the song book, maps, and timeline. In addition, we are collecting the recipes and looking forward to having a celebratory dinner when we finish this program in a few weeks. She even has a post on her blog with ideas on incorporating recipes.
I think that the timeline is so helpful, especially for old students, in helping to understand what things were happening concurrently and how different events impacted other events. My son enjoyed cutting out the timeline figures that went with each lesson and adding them to our timeline pages.
The map component for this program was really well thought out and added a lot to our discussions. It started with a base map in the first lesson and then added maps on clear overlays to help students understand how the country was changing during this time period. We printed off the maps, cut out the parts that had changed and glued them onto the clear sheets. Then the clear sheets were placed on top of the other maps making it very easy to conceptualize the changes.
My daughter has recently taken a strong interest in music and enjoyed creating the song book. For the lessons that had songs, we would print out the words that were included with the lesson, read over them, and then find the song performed and listen to the song. They really enjoyed this component of the study.
While we did not have time to do all of the hands-on projects there were some really neat ideas included and we plan to go back and complete more of them. My five year old who was listening along with us, would really like to make the coon skin cap project once I get the needed materials. There were other projects like making corn husk dolls and making jumping jack toys (that one is coming up in our lessons this week and I know my son will enjoy it).
Overall, we found this to be a really fun summer learning project for our family. I think it offers a lot of flexibility to be used as a family or to be used as a more formal curriculum. If you were using it as a curriculum, I would recommend it for upper elementary school and possibly middle grades students. For our history loving family, I would probably have my middle school student take some of the lessons a bit deeper with further research but it would be a good base of study. If you were using this program for the year you would probably want to go through at least three or four of the various time periods over the course of a school year. You could also use these programs to supplement and add a more creative component to your other history studies. If you were using a program that briefly covered the time period, this could be a great way to go deeper into an area of interest.
I encourage you to check out all of the Time Travelers U.S. History Studies and to click on the graphic below to check out the other Crew Reviews which cover a variety of time periods as well as some of the other Home School in the Woods products. You can also see our review of Project Passport: Ancient Egypt from last year. Have you tried any of these products? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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