Monday, March 19, 2018

Reviewing Home School in the Woods' Á La Carte Projects

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My family had the wonderful opportunity to review two history products from the Á La Carte Projects line from Home School in the Woods – Pirate Panoply game and The War to End All Wars game. When I became a teacher, these types of activities – file folder games, timelines, newspapers, and lap books – were the very things I couldn’t wait to do with my students. Now as a homeschooling mom, I will be able to share my love of history with my own children using products from the Á La Carte Projects line.

Both Á La Carte projects are PDF files that vary in length from seven to over thirty pages and provide an ‘Introduction and Tips’ page that includes information on printing the project and laminating completed pieces.  These “individual projects are designed to enhance your studies” with a variety of hands-on activities and “new projects are added regularly.”

Pirate Panoply: A Game of Pirate Garb!  

Pirate Panoply: A Game of Pirate Garb! is a multiplayer game for grades third to eighth grade where families can learn about pirate clothes and accessories. Each player takes turn rolling a six-sided die to dress their pirate in clothes that range from a wide-brimmed hat to stockings and shoes. The Gameboard, which each player needs to play Pirate Panoply, includes information on the different pieces of clothing and accessories such as the Baldric is “a leather belt, hung diagonally over the whole ensemble.”

The pieces for Pirate Panoply are black and white and can be colored by the family. Our sons and I colored the pieces so each would have their own set and game board when we played. All the children enjoyed playing Pirate Panoply.  Even our two year old, who played with the help of Dad, had fun. We found the most difficult part of Pirate Panoply was trying to get the necessary roll for one person to dress their pirate and thus win the game. (We also played till everyone’s pirates were dressed since we were playing with 2-, 4-, and 15-year-olds.)

The War to End All Wars File Folder Game

The second project we reviewed from the Á La Carte Projects line from the Home School in the Woods was The War to End All Wars: WWI France vs. Germany, a two-player file folder game of strategy and card management for third through twelfth grades. The Rule Book includes an introduction, a description of the components, and directions on setup, phases, units, action cards, the environment, and how to win or end the game. The War to End All Wars also includes a section on this history of the war with some background on trenches, weapons on and off the field, and protection that was used during the war. All this information expands upon the action cards and tokens available for play during the game.

The information for printing the necessary game pieces for The War to End All Wars was very helpful. I admit to having some difficulties when printing things double sided but the instructions were clear as to what page was printed on the back of which one. I chose to print the black and white copy to color in myself. If your older children are so inclined, they could help you color out the pieces for The War to End All Wars game. It provides the perfect opportunity to color, discuss the history of World War I – which the game provides via some background information, and watch documentaries or movies about the Great War. 

It is a very complex game with lots of information to retain during play. While my stepson and I played, my husband helped ‘referee’ the game – providing information as we needed it. For example, when playing your cards, there are multiple (thirteen to be exact) options for what to do with your soldiers. And depending on which side you are playing, you may have a tank card or a French rifle (if you play as France) or you might play a stick grenade card or a flamethrower card (if you play as Germany). All of the information is outlined in the directions, but it is helpful to have someone (who is outside of the game) read it during game play. However, I do not think this is a flaw of the game (it's a feature!). There are many board and card games that I have played where the directions are quite lengthy and complicated. And in reality trench warfare, which the game seeks to imitate, is quite complex and lengthy.

I would recommend both of these products to families – homeschooling and non-homeschooling alike. They provide an excellent extension to lessons about the topics at hand (Pirates and World War I) and are just plain fun. 

I have also looked into other Á La Carte Projects from Home School in the Woods for our family. In the future, we may add several other projects to our home, including the Taxation Frustration! Game which allows two to four players to “learn about the pressures and drama of paying taxes in the American colonies before the Revolutionary War” and the Tomb Dash! File Folder Game in which “players work together against the timer to answer questions from the era in an attempt to gather artifacts and then escape the pyramid complex.”  

Personally, I am also interested in The Art of Quilling, the art of paper rolling, as a possible new hobby. And the final project that catches my eye currently is WWII: On the Home Front LapBook/Notebook Project. My teenage stepson is very interested in World War II history, so this would be a perfect summer project for him. He already knows a lot about the war itself, so this would introduce him to the struggle “in the homes of ordinary Americans” during World War II. 

You can read more about Taxation Frustration!, Tomb Dash!, and The Art of Quilling Á La Carte Projects and others by checking out the Homeschool Review Crew Reviews.

You can learn more about Home School in the Woods by visiting the following places:

Home School in the Woods Website - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest 


  1. My son would have loved The War to End all Wars game. He has always loved learning about different wars. I agree The Art of Quilling seemed interesting too :)

    1. WWI and the Civil War are two of my fav. time periods to study but I may be partial as a former history teacher to all this history stuff! :)