Category Archives: geography

Let’s Go Geography ~ a Crew review

Let's Go Geography

Geography is a subject that is always fascinating because there are so many facets to it. Whether you are looking for the language, culture, geographical features, landmarks, or other information on a country, Let’s Go Geography has a fantastic program. This has been a fun review that we are planning on continuing long past the end of the review period.

coloring a pageDesigned for K-4th grade, this is an online homeschool geography curriculum. Because it is online, you will need access to a computer, the internet, and a printer. From home, you will probably want a binder to keep the travel journal in and you will need basic school supplies for the activities. This would include crayons, pencils, map colors, scissors, glue, and few other supplies for specific crafts activities.

Let’s Go Geography was created by Carol Henderson. Mrs. Henderson has taught geography in a co-op setting for a while but decided to adapt her lessons to an online format for more homeschoolers to access. (I am so glad she did!!!) The program is a planned 3-year cycle taking the students from continent to continent and country to country. Each year of the cycle takes the students through at least one country per continent (well, Antarctica, Australia, and New Zealand are the anomalies for this).Let's Go Geography

The lessons follow a similar pattern for each country studied in the program:

  • map work, marking the country on both the continent map and a closer-up map when appropriate, which also includes answering some questions related to the maps and the country (mountains, lakes, borders, etc.)
  • a statistics page for the country
  • coloring the country’s flag and adding it to a map and/or passport
  • listening to the national anthem
  • videos that are related to important information about the country – the people, the geographical landmarks, the food, the exports, and more
  • a link for reading more online at a kid-friendly site and information on where to look in the library for printed materials on the country
  • a photo album with pictures from the country
  • a craft or coloring page related to the country

Watch the video of the lessons on the website.

This is a lot of information but it is simple and easy to follow this curriculum. Each country study opens in a PDF and all of the links you need for printing or videos are embedded in the PDF. You can even check off your progress on the website.

HOW WE USED IT

lighthouseMiss J is 8 and in 3rd grade. She has been working, somewhat inconsistently (my fault), on a continent study for the past year or so. This program was a perfect fit for her. We have enjoyed doing a country or two per week. She enjoys it and wants to complete a country each time we open the program.

Let’s Go Geography is written in such a way that you can do one country each time you use the program or you can break it up into several small sections and take several days to study the country. Either way would work well. This means it is an easy addition to your schedule and it takes almost no preparation.

Miss J enjoys studying the countries and we have found several things that have been rabbit trails in this study. What a wonderful things to experience.

  • She asked about maple syrup after studying the US Northeast. We dug ours out and saw it was made in Vermont. Perfect for a taste test.
  • After reading about maple candy and maple leaves with Canada, we found some maple candy at a store and got to eat it.
  • After watching the sugar cane video, she wanted to know more so we spent another 45 minutes finding more videos about sugar cane, how to use it, how to plant it, etc. That really brought Haiti to life for her and connected her to it.

That is what we are looking for in programs – connections! Let’s Go Geography definitely has that kind of connection for her.

volcanoes in Nicaragua

Back to how we used it each time, though. I would go through the PDF ahead of time and print off the pages we would need. I did not print the entire PDF for any of the countries since some of it is a cover page or instructions. She 3-hole punched the pages and placed them in her travel journal in the appropriate section (sections are by continent). We then would work through each of the pages – coloring maps and flags, pasting the flags where they go, answering questions, watching videos, and doing the craft or coloring page. She did either the craft or the coloring page for each country. If she had questions or interests that cropped up in the middle of the study, we followed them. If that meant we didn’t get through the whole country that day, it was fine. We just picked up where we left off.

lei from Hawaii

We often took this with us to her sister’s dance class and worked on it there, since we have plenty of time to sit and wait. It made a perfect project to take with us on the go if I printed it ahead of time. Except for one thing – when I transferred the PDF to my Kindle the links don’t work (we did still have internet access). The PDF reads fine but the links are no longer embedded. This is a fault of the Kindle, not the program. Easy to fix, though. I just planned ahead, opened the links, copied them, and emailed them to myself. We were then able to watch the videos.

While we have not yet reached a review lesson (lesson 12 is the first), the review lessons are really good! They review all of the countries studied thus far for the continents being looked at. There is extensive map work for the older students and plenty of good map work for the younger ones, as well, learning more about maps than has been discussed so far and encouraging as much work as possible to be done from memory. With matching activities and writing activities, the review lessons are packed full.

travel journal and passport

FINAL THOUGHTS:

We really like this program. It is simple enough to follow and do the planning for. But, best of all, Miss J enjoys learning and is making connections with the countries we are studying.

Miss J says:
It is very fun. I have no idea why they did not call it “Let’s Go Geography Fun!” I like that it has fun activities and that you can mostly do them all if you have a printer. I think my friends would like this.

At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought about Let’s Go Geography.

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

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Hands-On History from Home School In The Woods ~ a Crew review

 

When learning something that is full of ideas and images, such as history, hands-on learning brings a concrete element to it. Home School in the Woods (HSITW) is a hands-on history company that brings some understanding to ideas, elements, and cultures that we cannot get without a tactile activity. We have had fun this summer with some relaxed learning about our home state of Texas through HSITW’s new product, Make-a-State Activity.

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a part of the Activity-Paks series. Other titles in the series include:

*The Old Testament
*The New Testament
*Composers
*Artists

HSITW is a company focused on bringing history to life through hands-on activities and informative readings. Each of the products in the HSITW lines are well-researched and well-written. The information is written at a level that upper elementary students and older are generally able to read and understand it on their own. However, with just a little bit of help, even younger elementary students are very capable of using and learning with all of the HSITW products that we have used over the years.
(Project Passport: Ancient Greece, Project Passport: Ancient Egypt, U.S. Elections)

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a Activity-Pak that can be used to study any state in the U.S or Washington D.C. The activities all work together to create a lapbook that includes more than 20 mini projects. All together these projects will give an overview of the chosen state. Most of the topics are generic in theme, allowing it be created specifically for your state. These topics include things like the agriculture of the state, the industry, the climate and the government. Also included are projects about the wildlife, the state song, and sports teams. From the history of the name of the state to the native peoples that live there, many topics are similar from state to state. Creating a tourist brochure and a mini newspaper are a couple of the projects that take a tad bit longer but are well worth the increased efforts.

There are also some projects that are designed to be specific to your state. These include a recipe, the motto, and the state bird and flower. There is also a map to create for your chosen state that you can personalize or mark in a way that fits what you are emphasizing for your state. Not to be forgotten, each state also has a state quarter that is designed to well-represent the state and there is a project to show that off, too.

Lastly, there is a folder game included to help learn about all of the United States. There are three versions of the game included and a set of double sided cards to cut out. Depending on what you are wanting to focus on, you use a different game board but the cards stay the same. Here’s a video of me attempting to explain the variations and how I put them together in a single file folder.


How We Used  Make-A-State:

We chose to use this Activity-Pak as a family. Since we are planning some field trips after the weather cools down to some places related to the history of Texas, we decided to use this as a fun summer projects. And it was well enjoyed. There were several days when the first thing that the girls wanted to do was to work on a mini book or two from Make-A-State (even before breakfast).

We divided up the projects and each of the girls chose something that she was interested in to work on. We used the included information sheet about Texas to get some of the information from (such as for the timeline). We also used the internet to do some research, mostly accessing a known Texas history and information site. For many of the images we needed, we used a Google search for black line coloring pages and printed them at a reduced size of about 30%.

Over the course of several days, working an hour or two a day, we completed the project. We finished it by placing each of the mini books onto blank paper and putting it into a three-prong folder. This way it can sit on our bookshelf easily and as we add to out states collection, they will all be similar. Here is a quick video showing you how it looks put into the folder.

A Couple of Notes:

We have not found a good double sided tape to use for these projects. We have also found that glue sticks don’t work for most of them. White glue really would not work due to the required drying time. So, our solution is to use tape. If you know my girls, you know that we have a deep love of tape. 🙂 Tape works really well and can hold up to the strain that some of the folds put on the projects.

We have become pretty familiar with Home School in the Woods and the ways in which their projects work. There is a bit of a learning curve with this company but it is well worth taking the time to beat that learning curve. Each project in a pack is put together a bit differently to create variety. This means that each project needs a little bit of thinking to put it together right. There are detailed instructions included but, honestly, it still takes some thinking to put some of them together. There are always images included of the completed project and those are terribly helpful.

Printing can also be tricky. You do have to know your own printer. Due to the differences in printer, each page of a project is presented to you separately with printing instructions (print 1-b on the back of 1-a, or something like that). You do need to read through those and print them as instructed to make the projects easier to put together. If you are like me, each time, I have to experiment a bit to remember which way to take the first page out and put it back in the printing drawer to get it printed in the right direction on the back. But, again, it is well worth taking the time and effort (and sometimes paper) to figure it out. My youngest still remembers working on Project Passport: Ancient Egypt from, what, 3 years ago?

A-La-Carte Options:

Home School in the Woods has recently introduced an a-la-carte option for some of their projects. This is a way for you to grab and use one or two of the projects, without having to commit to a longer study of the topic. Perhaps you are reading on a subject and your student shows an interest, you could head over to HSITW and see if there is a single hands-on project to do related to that topic. Or it could be a jumping off point. For example, here is a post about the mini unit study we did last week on the Erie Canal based off of the a-la-carte projects HSITW is offering (free at the time of this writing).

 

Thoughts:

This is a company that we enjoy a lot. Their products are well-researched, well-put-together, and lots of fun. Add to that the retention of information, and this hands-on history company is one worth looking into for your history needs.

At Home.

There were 100 families using products from Home School in the Woods. Click the banner below to read about what they thought from the product lines that were reviewed:

Time Traveler American
*New World Explorers
*Colonial Life
*The American Revolution
*The Early 19th Century
*The Civil War
*Industrial Revolution through Great Depression
*World War II

Lap-Paks
*U.S. Elections
*20th Century in America
*Wonders of the World
*Benjamin Franklin
*Knights

Activity-Paks
*The Old Testament
*The New Testament
*Composers
*Artists

Timeline Trio

 

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Ancient Greece ~ a Crew review

ancient-greece-review

History is a favorite topic around the three giggly girls and the opportunity to review HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece from Home School in the Woods was one we were more than happy to ask for.

Home School in the Woods is a company we have reviewed for in the past so we are well acquainted with the high quality of their products and the information they include. When you choose a product from Home School in the Woods, you are getting something that has been thoroughly researched and well written, with illustrations that are classic and realistic as well as accurate. Home School in the Woods is the family business of the Pak family. Headed by Amy Pak, the history products are packed full of learning through timelines, maps, reading, listening, and creating. A true hands-on product, Home School in the Woods brings history to life. HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece is a combination of a timeline project, learning through hands-on projects, and reading historically accurate information about a time period. Throw in some crafts and a lapbook and you have the gist of Project Passport studies. We were sent the link to download the study and it downloaded a zip file. We then unzipped that and following the instructions, it opened the study in a web browser. From there, it is easy to open each time and to navigate through the study.ancient-greece-opening-page

Once I had the study opened in the browser, I spent a little bit of time getting familiar with the project and reading the Introduction, Travel Tips, and Travel Planner. I then printed the binder information for Miss E, the student who was going to be traveling to Ancient Greece through Home School in the Woods. I also printed off all that was needed for the first two stops.

Each lesson in Ancient Greece is labeled a stop. Each stop has several parts to it. There are 25 stops in the entire study. Most stops include timeline work, writing something for the newspaper, a postcard from a famous person related to the theme of that stop, and some minibooks or activities associated with the theme. A few of the stops include an audio tour, as well. Some of the stops have taken a couple of hours but most stops are less than an hour. It all depends on how artistic and creative your student desires to be with each part of the stop.scrapbook-of-sights

So far in the stops, Miss E has visited Athens, Sparta, learned a bit about the Archaic Period, Greek Government, and everyday life in Ancient Greece. These are the first 7 stops. Miss E is working on stop 7 at this time. We are averaging just over one stop a week, with each stop broken up over a couple of days. Other topics still to come include: farming, business, and transportation; education, oration and literature; science; medicine and disease; the arts; philosophy; religion; and warfare. Each topic has readings and activities to really help you get into and learn about history and the people.map-work

There are some things that we really, really like about the HISTORY Through the Ages programs.

  • They are rich with well-researched history and cultural information.
  • The activities are so widely varied that the interest in continually renewed.
  • The program is so well laid out that it is easy for me as the teacher to get what the student needs without having to spend a lot of time fumbling through files. However, if the program didn’t open right or something goes wrong with it, I can still access each of the printable files from the zip folder.
  •  It is easily adaptable for the student. If they don’t do well with writing, you can leave out the newspaper or assign it in a different way. If they don’t like to draw, you can just have the student read the postcard; they don’t have to illustrate it. If a mini-project is too difficult or really not interesting, you can skip it because there is so much more in each stop. Adapt and change to meet the needs and interests of the students – key quality!
  • The timeline is thorough and full of information. This alone makes the program a very good investment. If all the student did was read the guide book and do the timeline, a very good knowledge of Ancient Greece would be gained.
  • The activities are fun.
  • The audio “tours” are lively and interesting.
  • It is easy for the student to self-pace the program so I don’t have to be hyper-focused on which piece she is working on each day.
  • While it takes quite a bit of printing and paper, it is used to create a final product that the student will be proud of having created.

timeline-and-more

As far as dislikes, there just aren’t many. I do wish there were an easier way to get started. The first two stops are labor intensive because you are setting up so many of the projects that will be added to or worked on throughout the entire project. From the timeline to the maps, these things take a bit to set up. But, they are very worth it as you add to it and work with it throughout each stop. We do have a wish to see the Postcard Rack redone. It just doesn’t hold the postcards. Miss E created a page with a little envelope on it where she places the postcards after she has designed them. That works much better for her and she doesn’t lose the postcards this way. But that is it!

Miss E says, “It is a fun way to learn about history.” When asked about her favorite parts, she said that the Snapshot Moments (timeline) and postcards are her absolute favorites but that she really likes all of it. Some of the newspaper articles are hard to write but others are easy and fun and she really enjoys doing the illustrations. All in all, she gives this two thumbs up and thinks that lots of other students would enjoy it as well.

Home School in the Woods has a wonderful set of learning programs with their HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study. Whether you choose Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, or Renaissance & Reformation, there is much to learn and enjoy.

And as a note of interest – Home School in the Woods is working on Ancient Rome, which is scheduled for release in 2018!

At Home.

You can also read our review of Ancient Egypt.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the other places you and your students can visit with the HISTORY Through The Ages programs. Just click on the image below.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews

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Visit the World Through Video

visit-the-world-through-video

This week on the Virtual Curriculum Fair, we are talking about Exploring Our World: Social Studies and the Exploratory Sciences. Be sure to visit the Homeschooling Hearts and Minds to catch all of the posts related to this, and all, themes of the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair.

week-4-exploring-our-worldSocial studies, history, geography – these are all favorite topics of mine both for teaching and learning. There is so much to be gain from any contact with these. Whether it be  reading a difficult text and getting through it or just having fun with a simple game, I enjoy just about every aspect of learning about the world. One of my favorite ways is to watch a video about it.

We keep our Netflix handy and have recently added Amazon Prime. We have shelves stocked with documentary videos and a library system that we pull videos from often.

Nothing can bring you more information about a place than seeing it. But what do you do when you cannot visit in person? Watch a video on it.

smartkidz-media

Other than the previously mentioned resources, we have a couple of other that have proved to have a lot of fantastic videos for learning about our world, geography, and cultures. SmartKidz Media Library has been one of those. We reviewed it a couple of years ago and we still find things on there that complement what we are reading and learning about. Recently it involved castles. I am currently browsing for things on Greece. They have a couple that we will check out soon. Another fantastic resource for video based classes is SchoolhouseTeachers.com. We are so blessed with this resource. They include Drive Thru History as part of their course options and these are going to be fantastic! A third resource that we have access to (through SchoolhouseTeachers) is Right Now Media. There is a large variety of religious resourced at this site, some of it highly applicable to a middle school or high school level history. Missionary stories make a wonderful cultural resource, as well.

schoolhouseteachers-geography

some SchoolhouseTeachers.com geography courses

schoolhouseteachers-history

some SchoolhouseTeachers.com history courses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delving a bit into the science end of the topic (which really isn’t where this week goes but fits with the theme of visiting the world through videos), we have a number of interest DVDs that we enjoy pulling out. Titles of some of our favorites are:

  • Planet Earth
  • Flight
  • Metamorphosis
  • Living Waters
  • Curiosity Quest

Each of the previous resources also have a number of options for science titles.

I just think there is no substitute for seeing something. And when you can do so in person, it is a great option to pull out a video that will show it to them. So, don’t be afaid to pull out those videos and spend some time exploring that place you just read about in literature or a history text. My girls always remember more when it is tied to something else.

At Home.

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Exploring Our World this week:

Note: all links will be LIVE by Monday 1/23 at noon EST.

Notebooking Our Way through History by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Studying the Where and How by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

The History of Our Mysterious Struggle With History by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Social Science, Science and Exploring our World – Our Path by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Learning History Through Fiction by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

History in Our Homeschool by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Exploring Our World Through History And Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Bringing History to Life! by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

History, Living Books and the Imagination by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Exploring our world comes in many different forms. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Bible, History and Geography by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Beyond the Books – Social Studies and Science by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Exploring the World with Living Books by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

High School History & Science without Textbooks by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Exploring the World Starting with Canada by Annette @ A Net in Time

Visit The World Through Video by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Nature Study is Our Favorite Way to Do Science by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

What A Wonderful World by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Time we got Lost in the Woods by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acres

What A World by Jennifer King @ A “Peace” of Mind

If you have written a post related to the theme of Exploring Our World, please link it up!

An InLinkz Link-up

Fun-Schooling for Everyone

thinking-tree-journals-2

I had hoped to publish this review last week but here it is now. Three additional Thinking Tree journals for you:

We have used each of these in quite different ways than the previous review so we’ll just jump right in.

Mom’s Fun-Schooling Handbook

moms-fun-schooling

This is a very thick journal – about 130 pages, front & back – of help for the homeschooling mom. If you are looking for a relaxed format to help organize your thoughts, this is it. Designed to inspire you, it is an open-and-go journal for mom (or dad, even).moms-fun-schooling-basket-page

It starts out with some ideas to help find joy and feed curiosity in both you and the student. From creating beautiful baskets of learning to thinking about how learning occurs, guidance is done gently through both written and visual prompts.moms-fun-schooling-visual-list

There are a variety of pages that repeat throughout the journal. These include finishing doodles, creative journaling, coloring pages, to-do lists, and more. A couple of my favorites are the word studies and the “learn a new skill” pages. They pique my interest and encourage me to keep learning myself. Page titles include: Finish the Doodle, Creative Journaling, Reading Time, What’s On Your Mind, Funschooling Ideas, Color Together, Learn a New Skill, Fun Things to do Together, Thinking Time, A Hope/Prayer/Memory, Illustrated To-Do List, Goals For My Home, Mom’s Word Study, and Listening Time.

The one think I have not figured out with this journal is how to use it consistently. The pages, while repeated, do not seem to be repeated in any specific or consistent format or order. Which for me means difficulty in finding a daily – or even weekly – use for the journal.

This journal is truly designed to encourage creativity, turn a new twist to learning, and add plenty of fun. If you are looking for something different, this might just be for you.moms-fun-schooling-written-list

Travel Dreams Fun-Schooling Journal

travel-dreams

Travel Dreams is “an adventurous approach to geography & social studies.” This funschooling journal is packed with 30 different cities from around the word to study. Each city is approached the same way through journal page themes repeated for each city. There are also several blank pages at the back to choose other cities of interest to your family.

At the beginning of the book, there are a series of maps. These maps are used to mark the locations of the cities studies. The maps are separated by continents (mostly) with a page for each map to list the cities that are found there.travel-dreams-page

For each city you will study food, clothing, landmarks, the flag, events, and a quote or proverb. There are pages for documenting the cooking of a food you choose from that city and writing the recipe and step-by-step preparation instructions. For each city, the students choose what should be known about the city if you were planning to visit as well as studying up on an event in that city’s history. There are also pages for the students to document the resources consulted for the study of each city.

We have been using this as a family, studying a city by watching documentaries and visiting websites. The girls take turns drawing and writing the necessary information. Preparing traditional foods has definitely been the most exciting part so far. This is a fun, relaxed way to approach geography and social studies.

The Four Seasons Spelling Time

spelling-time

Spelling Time is a journal that gently encourages and reinforces spelling in youngsters. Miss J, age 7, is using this book daily as part of her spelling work. This soft back journal is about the size of a piece of notebook paper. The pages are white with black printing and are numbered, which is unusual for Thinking Tree journals.spelling-time-example

The book approaches spelling through a few different activities. The first is rhyming poetry set in couplets. Each poem relates to a particular month, starting with May and going to April. We haven’t worried about trying to line up the month to what month we are in but you certainly could. The poem is covered twice, with specific words boldly written in highlighting for copying. First, the words are outlined so the student can trace and color the letters. The second time, there are blanks where the words go and the student writes the words in. Each poem has an activity page to accompany it. The page might be a coloring page or it might be one where the student completes the drawing.

The second section dwells on the four seasons. Each season has some words to focus on that are then used in a four-stanza poem. Each poem page is accompanied by a color or activity page.

The next section is one where the student takes some responsibility for words they need to learn to spell and they write them into a list so they can practice them. Then the student begins to use the words in writing a story. There are other writing prompts, too, such as “make a list of 15 things to do in spring.”

The final section allows the student to create their own calendar. We plan to begin this in January.

Throughout Spelling Time encourages students to use words, not just learn to spell them. Gentle and easy to incorporate, this has been a great addition for Miss J.spelling-time-writing

So, there you have them – three more journals from Thinking Tree. These have been an interesting additional to our family and our learning times. I still struggle with the Mom Journal but I really like it so am working hard to find a way to make it a productive addition. The Spelling Time – it has been fabulous and Travel Dreams is a fun alternative for days where we just need a change of pace.

Thinking Tree has lots of other journals. Be sure and check out all that they have created. There is something for everyone and it is a pleasant shake up for your homeschooling routine.

At Home.

If You Were Me books by Carole P Roman ~ a TOS review

Books and culture all rolled into one colorful, interesting, fun, well-bound package? This wonderful series of books by Carole P. Roman fit the bill perfectly! We have been reviewing four books from this author’s series titled “If You Were Me and Lived In . . .” They are packed with learning and they have been brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com!

We were sent four of the books to read and use:

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}viking-europe-books
There are four more reviewed by other Homeschool Review Crew families:

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}

Each of the books we received are well-bound soft cover books that are approximately 8 1/2 inches square. They are printed in full color. There are a few different illustrators for this series and the ways that they are illustrated also vary. Three of ours have drawings. One has photo backgrounds with illustrations placed on top.

Each book covers the same series of topics for whichever culture it is about. There is family structure, names, living quarters/homes, foods, education, travel, and more. The information is written from the perspective of a child in that culture. Many of the things that are important and distinguish that culture from a different one are addressed from the child’s point of view.

With simple but clear sentences, each of these books quickly and clearly addressed the vital aspects of a culture. They are appropriate, in my opinion, for all ages of students. Middle school students can gain a large amount of information quickly with these books. They also hold the attention and engage the younger elementary students. So, these are a win-win.

carole-p-roman-books

Each of the girls was given at least one of the books to read and discuss with me. We used some of the discussion questions from Mrs. Roman’s blog site. These are found under the title “worksheets & resources.” We did most of the discussion out loud. Then each of the girls was asked to help write this review by writing about one of the books.

If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 1) – review by Miss E, age 12

This book was very interesting to me. It places you in a child’s position according to what your father did. Your father might be a merchant, soldier, or just a fisherman. You might be a girl learning sewing and cooking. Or you might be a boy learning how to fight. I also learned about Greek gods and goddesses. I know about the Roman gods and goddesses and a little on the Greek before, but I wanted to compare them. This book taught me a lot about Ancient Greece.

If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty – review by Miss L, age 10

If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient China is a book about life in ancient China. I’m very interested in China, ancient and modern, so I was very excited to get to read this book. It has many different pages on many, many different topics. It tells about how long ago you might have lived, the people in power at that time, what your home and family were like, what you might eat and wear, and many other things. I think that my favorite part of the whole book was the page on names. It has two boy names and two girl names that you might have had one of and what the names meant, too. I also really liked the clear, bright pictures showing just what the descriptive words told of. I really enjoyed it and recommend it for ages 8 and up, or for anyone interested in China.

viking-book

If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe  – review by Miss J, age 7

The boys names were Knut and Ulf. The girls names were Sigrid and Hilde. I think about them as kind of weird but they have different cultures. There were three different kinds of people (classes): Yearls, Carls, and Throlls. The first one meant you were really wealthy. The second meant you were middle and owned a farm and had to do all those farm things. The third were slaves and had to do hard labor. They were not well liked.

Your dad helped other people. Those people would return the favor and help your dad when he needed it. You would help your mom by bringing in saltwater and she would make salt. She would also make yummy stews. Your dad took men to help defend a village and the king gave your dad arm rings for his service.

I like the book. But I did not understand the part where when guests came over they drank out of horns that were pointy so they couldn’t put it down. I don’t get that. Overall, I think that it was a fun book. I think I would recommend it for kids 7 and under. Also for 12 and 10.

If You Were Me and Lived in…the American West (Volume 7) – review by Lori, At Home Mom

The American West book places you as a child moving from the east to the Oregon territory and traveling along the trail to get there. Life on the trail was not easy and this is shown through many of the experiences the child has with the wagon train. From camping out under the stars to meeting various Indian tribes, from cooking on a camp fire to crossing large rivers, the adventure seems to always be there. Once the wagon train reached Oregon, there was still much to do. The settlers had to build their cabins and prepare the land to grow food. The life was a difficult one and this books shares these trials and adventures with children.

We have really enjoyed these books and I know that they will get a lot of use here at our house. We also have the books from her country series. We love books that give us so much information in an enjoyable format like this.

At Home.

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FIAR: The Rag Coat

Rag Coat FIAR

I loved the book The Rag Coat. We didn’t spend nearly the time with it that I wanted to. Things just worked out that way. The good part of that is we will be able to revisit it and do so much more with it than we did. I had planned it for the beginning of January, when it would somewhat fit the weather. With all that happened, we ended up stranded by weather for a bit and then At Home Dad did the teaching for about a week so this book ended up by the wayside. We did read it but we didn’t manage to get to many of the activities that I am going to share.

These are the plans that I had made for the book. Hopefully, you can get some use out of the plans. When we get back to the book, hopefully I will keep track and share what we end up doing with you.

As always, I had planned to use the Five In A Row guide for some of the activities.

Geography: We were going to place the icon circle at the Appalachian Mountains. We were going to talk about how the mountains are different in the eastern and western US, as well as a discussion about what makes mountains, how they are formed, what they are made of, and more.

Geography: We were going to work some more on map reading with a US map. I had planned to add a world map and work on finding mountain ranges from around the world. I also planned to pull out a topographical map to discuss elevation changes and see that in relation to the mountain ranges we identify. I was going to create a compass challenge, as well, to help the girls learn to use and navigate with a compass.

History/Culture: We had planned to study the culture of the Appalachian Mountains. The culture is quite different than what the girls have grown up around, especially when we dig back in history. We were going to take a look at the 1930 and what the Great Depression was like, what caused it, how it affected people in the US. We were planning to look at the various relationships shown in the Rag Coat and how those change and develop in the story. We were also going to speculate about how those relationships were affected by the culture in which they lived and how they might be different if we changed some of the variables in their lives.

History: Coal mining had a large impact on the Appalachian Mountains and that area of the country. We were going to study coal mining and what life was like in a coal mining town. We were going to study the jobs related to coal mining and what it did to family structures, communities, and friendships.

Art: We planned to take a deep look at quilting and sewing. Quilting is such an art form and we generally have a local quilt show in January, so we had planned to visit that. We also have some ladies at church that make a quilt for each of the graduating seniors so I had planned to ask one or more of them to discuss quilting, decision making, color scheme, fabric choices, etc. with the giggly girls. I had planned to have the girls make a 9 patch quilt of their own for one of their dolls. I had also planned to have the girls design a quilt on paper and then cut it into a puzzle.

Art: We were going to take a look at color palettes, especially warm vs. cool. The book shows a warm color palette so we were going to create a picture using chalk pastels in a warm color palette.

Art: We were going to look at viewpoint and size. Each of these has a huge impact on the art of quilting so we were going to visit an art museum that had quilts on display that were a pictures (waterfalls, houses, etc). We were going to use those to discuss the viewpoint and size choices the artist made.

Science: We planned to study coal. Its formation, uses, and chemical makeup were all on the books to study. We planned to study its extraction, as well.

Science: We had planned to study textiles and fabrics. We were going to look at cotton and wool. We have a friend who was going to let us see her shear a sheep but that didn’t work out. I have some wool from when I was younger and we were going to look at it under a microscope and study the fibers. We were going to study the process of making a fiber into a textile or fabric that can be used to create clothing with. We were going to take a look at the process of picking cotton and use a memory from my great-grandmother (I was hoping to be able to play the recording of her remembering her youth cotton-picking in Texas.). We were also planning to take a look at the cotton-gin and Eli Whitney.

Literature Connections: Other books I had around for us to look at and discuss included The Patchwork Quilt, Foxfire, Christy,  Ballet for Martha, The Keeping Quilt, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, The Quilt, and Mandie. These run the gamut of reading levels, including some chapter books for oldest.

Music: Listen to Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland. This piece of ballet music is beautiful and will capture the imagination of children. You could use it in conjunction with the book Ballet for Martha and YouTube has some videos of some of the early ballet to go with this piece. Other options for music would include a study of banjos and/or bluegrass music.

Music: There are many beautiful folk songs that originated in the Appalachians, such as “Cumberland Gap,”  “Ida Red,” “Shady Grove,” and “Paw Paw Patch.” There are lots and lots of songs that have Appalachian roots and a large number of them having singing games to go along with them.

Music/Biography: Jean Ritchie is one of the foremost authorities on authentic Appalachian music. She has a beautiful voice and is a talented instrument player. Studying the lap dulcimer and Jean Ritchie would provide a rich, unique study. While writing this, I saw that Jean Ritchie passed away at the beginning of June. Such an amazing person will be missed.

 

That is the gist of what was planned. Unfortunately, very little of it got done so I am looking forward to tackling it again at some point. There is a lot of rich learning to be done when you dig into books about Appalachia.

At Home.

 

 

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