Hands On History

Hello friends. A little over a month ago, Home School in the Woods sent me a free copy of of their Make-a-State Activity  which is part of the Activity-Paks series. 🙂

At the start of the year we began using their very in depth hands-on history project:  HISTORY  Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece (you can read my review here: A Study in Ancient Greece). It was great, but definitely very time consuming. With summer upon us, I was excited to do a fun, interactive but less intensive  mini history course.

We received the Make-a-State Activity-Pak as a downloadable resource, but there is a CD version as well.  It’s intended for grades three through eight,  but with a bit of help from me, my first grader was able to do the activities, too. The Activity-Pak contains instructions and printables for 20 projects that you can put together into one big Lap Book. The activities include key state facts, a state timeline, recipes, state geography and government, and much more.

A nice thing about this resource is that you can use it for any state, so while we began with a study of our home state of Texas we can use it again later for other states, too. And of course we can pick and choose what all we want to use, so we can do just a few activities if we want to just touch on a state rather than learning ALL about it. And actually, because I’m using this for first and fourth grade rather than third through eighth, I’m not doing every  activity in our Texas study, either.

The materials include a set of State Pages with some brief information to use for your key facts and such, but otherwise lets you choose where to pull information from to complete the activities. It also includes a bonus “Name That State!” File Folder Game  that can familiarize kids with the shape and location of states, capital cities, and more.

So, I thought at the beginning that we would go through and do 100% of every activity exactly as instructed and just have a blast learning about Texas this summer, but it turns out that I am just not very good at doing big projects, and this one was actually a lot more work than I realized it would be. In all honestly, I think I like the idea  of hands on schoolwork more than the actual implementation of doing all the tasks. In some cases, the activities really just feel more like busy work than an engaging learning activity. For example, we chose to not bother at all with cutting out a recipe card and coloring and putting together a piece of the Lap Book for that, because it’s not something my girls cared about at all. A better fit for our family is finding a recipe that Texas is known for and cooking and eating it.

But the state regions activity is nice and simple and educational, and the geography one is very adaptable so we can use in it whatever way best suits us.

All in all, this wasn’t the best fit for our family, but I know a lot of homeschool families love making lap books and such, and if that’s you I imagine this would be a big hit. Home School in the Woods has a ton of product lines you can use for hands on history studies including a Time Traveler American series that begins with New World Explorers and ends with World War II, Lap-Paks on U.S. Elections, Wonders of the World, Benjamin Franklin, and more, and an in depth Timeline Trio project set. They’ve also just announced new a la carte projects that sound neat, and if you use the code alacarte at checkout to get the Erie Canal project free, because this week marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the canal. I love the idea of being able to just purchase one specific project. There are a bunch to choose from and they’re all under ten dollars (many of them are less than three dollars). So fun! 🙂

Well, that about wraps up my review, but be sure to hop over to the Homeschool Review Crew link-up to see what other reviewers have to say. 

Our Favorite Science

I’ve been sharing a few of my favorite homeschool resources with you this month, and today I want to tell you about my favorite supplemental science program:  Rainforest Journey by EdTechLens

You can read about it in my original review here.

The wonderful time my girls had with this program was one of the main reasons I stayed on the Homeschool Review Crew this year, because experiencing something so neat that I otherwise had no idea even existed was such a treat! It’s been well over a year at this point since we used this program, but my girls still name it as one of their all time favorites when I ask them about things we’ve reviewed!

Our Favorite Art Curriculum!

So, now that I’ve shared with you my favorite math and reading programs, I wanted to tell you about my favorite art curriculum! This should come as no surprise, since I already told you in my most recent review how much we love it, but  ArtAchieve is hands down the best art program we’ve ever tried! 

I’ve been thrilled to receive two of the levels free to review, and I purchased a third level on my own. Evergreen and Boo both really love the lessons, and learn a lot from them, too. I plan to continue to purchase these lessons for each of my girls until they’ve mastered all the levels, and I highly recommend them to anyone who wants to learn art, but especially for homeschoolers looking for easy-to-use, high-quality art instruction. 🙂

An Interview With A Ten Year Old

You guys — my oldest daughter, Evergreen, turns TEN today! What?!?! How did that happen??? We’re in the middle of a whole huge celebration for her, including spending a night at a hotel, and going to a zoo and an aquarium, and of course swimming! I just love this kid so much! She’s truly incredible. Smart and witty and creative and helpful and kind. We have so much fun hanging out. She’s to the age where we read a lot of the same books, and talking about those is so fun, too. I can’t believe I get to be her mom.

Without further ado, here’s a little interview I did with Evergreen.


Fave author – Rick Riordan
Fave movie – Live Action Beauty and the Beast
Fave show – Austin & Ally
Fave games – Small World (board game) and Guild Wars 2 (computer game)
Fave superhero – Supergirl
Fave musical artist – Sabrina Carpenter
Fave color – purple
Fave thing to do with Mom – Dates to Sonic
Fave drink – Dr Pepper
Fave food – Cheese flavored anything
Fave Bible story – Jesus’ birth
Something you’re good at – Drawing
Something you want to get better at this year – singing/songwriting
Mermaids or unicorns – unicorns
What are you most excited about this summer? MY BIRTHDAY

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Rush Revere

Hi guys. Last month my family received a free copy of the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh to review. My girls were so excited to receive all five books in the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series.

The five titles in the series are, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Rush Revere and First Patriots, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner,  and Rush Revere and the Presidency.  The books are “time traveling adventures” about a history teacher named Rush Revere, and his talking horse, Liberty, who can open portals to any time and place in history that has something to do with America’s past. The books begin with Rush Revere as a substitute teacher for a middle school history class, and as the books go along several of his students join Rush and Liberty on their travels. The books include silly antics from Liberty, bits of story with Rush and his students, and so on.  The main focus, though, is on actually teaching history. This sort of mash-up of a novel and a schoolbook makes for a somewhat less engaging read than books where the focus is the story they are telling, but more interesting than a straight textbook.

We had actually already purchased the first book years ago, and my daughters enjoyed it fairly well. I didn’t think they really loved  it, but when the full set arrived my ten year old was chomping at the bit for me open the package so she could run off to her room with the books and start reading. Any education books that are enough of a fun read that she wants to read them without being assigned to do so are a win as far as I’m concerned. I’m slowly working through reading these out-loud to my seven year old, and she seems to be enjoying them, too. 🙂

Each book also includes frequent pages with relevant pictures. For instance, in Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims  that begins with the Pilgrims getting ready to sail to America, and takes you all the way through the first Thanksgiving, there are paintings of important figures like William Bradford and Myles Standish, illustrations of the Mayflower, pictures of items like compasses and portable telescopes, sketches of Native Americans visiting the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony, and much more.

We haven’t gotten to books two through five yet, but I perused each one briefly. Rush Revere and First Patriots  picks up in Boston in 1765 with the Colonists beginning to rebel against taxation without representation. It introduces you to Benjamin Franklin and teaches about the Stamp Act. You meet quite a few other historical figures including Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and of course George Washington, travel to Windsor Castle in England and meet King George III, learn about the Boston Massacre, spend some time with Paul Revere, and ends just after the First Continental Congress in 1774.

Rush Revere and the American Revolution,  picks up right where book two left off, just before the midnight ride of Paul Revere and takes you through the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner  Rush and friends travel to just over a decade later, to the Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1787. This book actually spends significantly more time in the present than the others, as Rush Revere takes a few of his students that have been adventuring with him on a tour of Washington D.C. and shares information about important buildings and documents there, including of course the U.S. Constitution. This book focuses quite a bit on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It also teaches about the three branches of the U.S. government. Finally, Rush and friends travel back in time to 1814 to meet Francis Scott Key on the night that he pens the national anthem.

In the final book, Rush Revere and the Presidency,  we find Rush’s history students in the middle of student body elections, and traveling back in time several times to see President Gorge Washington, President John Adams, and President Thomas Jefferson. It teaches about elections, presidential terms, Secret Service, political parties, the road to becoming President today, the Electoral College, and more.

In addition to the books themselves, there are also a plethora of resources online at rushrevere.com including activities, challenges, quizzes and games. There’s also an entire section for homeschoolers with study guides and other resources.

All in all, this is a neat set of educational books and my girls enjoy them. Be sure to hop over to the Homeschool Review Crew link-up to see what other reviewers have to say. 🙂