I’ve heard a lot about Home School in the Woods over the years. For awhile, we bought timeline figures from them, but that’s the only product of theirs that I’ve used. When I was offered the chance to review a few items from their Á La Carte collection recently, I decided that a couple of the products would fit in nicely with our history study for this year. Everything in this collection is in the form of downloadable PDFs, which is nice for those of us who live outside of the United States (saves postage and time!). Since we have a couple of good printers, this type of product works very well for us.
The first product we used was The Jamestown Replica. We are studying American History this year; Mr. Intellectual is using a high-school level course, and I’m doing an elementary-level course with the other three boys. Because we start our school year in February, Jamestown is one of the settlements we study early-on; Mr. Intellectual covered it a week or two ago, and we’re reading books about it right now for the younger ones, so this model fit in very well. I had to buy some card stock to print it with, and was thankful to figure out a way to make heavy cardstock go through our printer! Mr. Diligence colored the model, and then Mr. Intellectual cut it out and put it together. He has always enjoyed putting models together, and Mr. Diligence has always enjoyed coloring, so that worked well.
This model seems to be very historically accurate, from what we’ve been reading. It’s nice to be able to see what the books talk about. Mr. Intellectual had a hard time fitting it together right, and was quite frustrated—and then he read the rest of the directions! Apparently, it is made correctly, contrary to his first conclusions, but he didn’t follow directions. It ended up looking good, though.
Our other product for review is the game, High and Dry. It is intended to teach the meanings of various nautical terms and sayings that come from sailing days. There are three packs of cards to print and cut out for this game. Each card has a term and its definition. One pack is general geographical and seafaring vocabulary, one is specifically sailing terminology, and the other is sea sayings. We had a lot of fun with that one. Where did “groggy” come from? Or “skyscrapers?” And why did a neighbor of ours in Cheviot often say, “Shivers!” as an exclamation of surprise or shock? We found out, playing this game!
We made a couple of minor changes to the rules to make the game work better for us. Before starting to play, I read aloud all the cards we were going to use for that round. Otherwise, no one would have been able to answer very many of the questions. Because we have four boys that I wanted to play, since they are the ones doing history, I read all the questions, and didn’t play myself (there are four playing pieces supplied with the game). We ended up allowing Esther and Simon to help the two younger boys, because they had a lot of trouble remembering the definitions. They got some, and we always gave them a chance to get the answer before letting the big ones help. Our other change was to use two dice instead of only one, because the game got too boring when it lasted a long time.
We probably won’t end up playing this game very often, but I will pull it out when we study the days of exploration or the ocean. It’s a good way to learn some of the terminology from those topics. The younger boys enjoyed seeing some familiar places on the map used for a gameboard, from our study of Christopher Columbus.
It was hard to choose which two products to review! There are a number of other ones that look like good resources to supplement our studies. For example, I sort of wish I had chosen The Progress of Faith From Europe to the Colonies Timeline. That would have been a great thing to add. Maybe I’ll end up buying it, since these products don’t cost much.