Tuesday, July 31, 2018

I Knight Thee a Fun Product! – Hands-on History Lap-Paks (Knights)

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When given the chance to review another product from Home School in the Woods, I jumped at the opportunity! We really enjoyed their other products we reviewed. So, I knew that I would love to work on a project solely with our younger children this time. Our five-year-old son and I worked through one of their Hands-on History Lap-Paks (Knights) which is geared towards kindergarten to second graders.

I love being able to use products from Home School in the Woods. They provide many different hands-on and interactive products to help teach children history. There are Timeline materials available that can help you teach from the time of Napoleon to present day or Time Travelers sets that let you study U.S. History. And with their A La Carte Projects, you can find a number of smaller hands-on projects to fit into your unit studies or curriculum.

Preparing the Knights Lap-Pak

After you download your Lap-Pak, you will need to unzip the file and then access the Start link – which will open the file in your web browser. From there, a menu will link you to the instructions, audio file, and all of the documents. Once you have accessed the Start Menu, you will be able to click on the various parts necessary for your Lap-Pak.

I sent the print instructions to our tablet so that I could go through the pages as I worked on what needed to be printed – and saw how to print them. The instructions for printing out the Knights Lap-Pak project materials is all very clear. (I do not recommend trying to multi-task because you will need to pay attention closely to what you are doing – especially if you have a temperamental printer like we do!)

It took me about one-and-half to two hours to print everything. This was without any interruptions (but with some not recommended multi-tasking on the computer).

I would recommend you have on hand white printer paper, color printer paper, white card stock, and color card stock before printing out your projects. It is a good idea to read through the directions to see which part requires which type of paper.

completed Knights Lap-Pak from Home School in the Woods
Completed project photographs are available on Home School in the Woods

Contents of the Hands-on History Lap-Pak (Knights) 

So what do you get when you purchase the Lap-Pak? A wealth of information and lots of fun projects! Specifically, you get the following: 
  • A folder (compressed) with all the necessary PDFs and instructions 
  • Introduction page with additional resources 
  • Project Directions
  • Directions for Printing the Reading Text 
  • Booklet in two different formats and as a full binder size 
  • Audio Reading of the Text 
  • Lap Book Assembly Directions 
  • All Necessary PDFs for the Lap Book including 
    • The Feudal System
    • What is a Knight? 
    • Becoming a Knight
    • The Knighting Ceremony
    • What Does a Knight Do for Fun?
    • A Knight's Armor
    • The Tournament 
    • A Knight's Weapons
    • Heraldry 
    • The Code of Chivalry 
    • Crusaders 
    • Famous Knights
    • Vocabulary 
  • Photos of the projects 
Booklet which is available in a number of forms to print

Coloring the cover illustration 

What We Like

  • The audio reading of the text! This was perfect to listen to while we worked on some of the projects. (The background music is a great addition.) 
  • The variety of information presented. 
  • Our five-year-old son and I could work on the projects together. 
  • For children who love to color, there are so many opportunities to take out the colored pencils and make the Lap-Pak your own. 
  • There is so much information presented that a child could complete it again when they get older. I can see our family revisiting this project in a year or two and adding to it with some of the suggested readings. 
  • I love the illustrations that accompany each project. They are detailed enough to provide information but simple enough to make it easy to color them, too.

How We are Using the Knights Lap-Pak 

Our son and I are working through the different projects, reading additional books, and watching some movies to further our knowledge of knights and the time period. We work on one part over the course of one or two days. For example, we worked on the vocabulary part over the course of two days. We cut everything out one day and then pasted it together before reading the definitions on the second day. We have since read a definition each time we attach a new piece to our Lap-Pak.

Vocabulary related to knights and the Middle Ages.

We haven't finished the Lap-Pak as we are working through it slowly to ensure our son understands the different definitions, concepts, and ideas that we are studying related to knights and the Middle Ages. We still need to finish quite a few projects, so be on the lookout for more photos from us as we complete this Lap-Pak!

What I Found Confusing 

For someone who has never completed a Lap-Pak before, I did find it a bit confusing. However, as long as I was able to keep referencing the instructions, I was able to complete everything just fine.

The only mistake I seemed to make was in printing the Crusaders. I fed the paper into the printer the wrong way so it didn't line up right. And then I forgot to print out the drawings. And then my son colored them the completely wrong colors. So I spent more time printing the Crusaders pages than the rest of the pages. My advice: measure twice and cut once (or read the directions twice and print once!).

I wrote the colors to the side for each tunic, shield, and cape because we wanted to color them the correct colors.

Referencing the photos that show the completed parts is a great way to check your work!

Other Products from Home School in the Woods 

Home School in the Woods offers so many great products. Our family was able to review several of their Á La Carte Projects previously including the Pirate Panoply game and The War to End All Wars Game. I still look forward to using more of their products including a new one that was just released – Project Passport: Ancient Rome. It contains hands-on projects and activities for students in grades 3-8 which can be used over the course of 8 to 12 weeks. What an exciting contribution to their Project Passport World History Studies collection!

For more information, please visit the following:

If you visit the Lap-Pak: Knights (K-2) site, you will find links to scope and sequence information and a sample of the audio recording. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Science Here We Come! – Review of Learning About Science Collection, Level 1

While trying to decide what curriculum materials I wanted to use for my five-year-old for his first official year of homeschooling as a kindergartener, I was drawn to the Learning About Science Collection of WriteBonnieRose. I was already familiar with some of her other products, so I jumped at the chance when when the opportunity arose to review the very same collection I was already interested in. Learning About Science Collection, Level 1 is geared towards 1st through 3rd grade students but I hoped it would be adaptable for my 5-year-old. And it is! Reviewing this collection with our son has been fun and exciting so far and I look forward to using the entire collection during the course of our homeschool year.

There are seven books in the Level 1 collection that study "how plants grow, common fruits and vegetables, animal habitats, senses and body systems, life cycles, the earth's layers, earthquakes, volcanoes, states of matter, and more." The books can be personalized through the coloring of the illustrations included within. In total, there are 172 pages to introduce your child to a variety of fun science-related facts and lessons.

The books are as follows:
  • Familiar Plants and How They Grow 
  • Fruits and Vegetables Around the World
  • Animal Habitats of the World 
  • Our Senses & Systems & How They Work 
  • Learning About Life Cycles
  • Earth: Layers, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes
  • Exploring States of Matter

How We Used the Learning About Science Collection Books

Physical Science Level 1: Exploring States of Matter 

workbook about liquid

We worked our way through the entirety of one of the science books and parts of two others. The first one we viewed was Physical Science Level 1: Exploring States of Matter. It was a shorter booklet containing twelve pages with four main topics: matter, solids, liquids, and gas. We worked on one or two pages each day by reading the material, coloring in the pictures, and then discussing the material contained on the pages. During the evening our five-year-old son also discussed what he learned after dinner with the entire family. I also picked up a book from the library on the material so we would have a few concrete experiments to do. However, the pages are written in such a way that it wouldn't be difficult to figure out what you could do on your own with your children.

I couldn't resist checking out some books from the library!

Both our children wanted to work on the books.

The other two books we are studying right now include: Life Science Level 1: Our Senses & Systems & How They Work and Life Science Level 1: Animal Habitats of the World.

Life Science Level 1: Our Senses & Systems & How They Work

For Life Science Level 1: Our Senses & Systems & How They Work, each of the five senses is discussed on one individual page with facts, questions for discussion, tracing work for words and pictures to color in (if you wish). In addition to the five senses, the book also contains pages on the following systems:
  • Circulatory System
  • Digestive and Respiratory Systems
  • Urinary System
  • Nervous System
  • Muscular System
  • Skeletal System
My mom worked on this book with our son and said it was very easy-to-read and explain to him. She liked the inclusion of questions that helped her discuss the topic with our son.

There is also a two-page review on five senses and the body systems. The review questions ask your child to circle the correct choice to answer the question. An answer key is included in the book.

Two of the Review Questions from Our Senses & Systems & How They Work

Life Science Level 1: Animal Habitats of the World

Our daughter wanted to use realistic colors for the giraffe. 

As a former Zoo Educator, I am really excited to use the Animal Habitats of the World book with our children. There are over 15 habitats discussed – each with at least one page to introduce the habitats and additional pages that highlight a few of the animals that live in that particular habitat.

So far, our children have worked on the introduction page that defines habitat and then the pages that followed on the African Savanna. Our three-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and I sat together one afternoon and I read the first several pages. After I answered some of the questions – like providing a deeper explanation of a savanna – we colored the pages together. Our daughter was set on coloring the animals and scenes accurately while our son was determined to color them "weird colors" in his words. (I think with the next set we will be looking at photographs of the animals prior to coloring in the pages.)

We are taking this book slowly because I am incorporating library books, our own books, and other activities into our study of Animal Habitats of the World. For example, I gathered together some photographs, vocabulary words, and books for us to read. We can read more about the individual animals that live in the habitats – like penguins in Antarctica or grassland wildlife in general.

Options for Using Learning About Science Collection

There are many options for how to use the books for your family. You could have a set printed out for yourself and for your child. Or you could print one set for your child then read the PDFs on an e-reader or tablet like I did. While you're reading the material aloud, your child could be coloring in the pictures or you can have your child read the material themselves.

Provided along with the Learning About Science Collection, Level 1 is a document entitled Learning About Science Collection Level 1. In this PDF, Bonnie Rose Hudson states that "whether you are studying life science, earth science, or physical science, one message comes through over and over again. God loves you." She then provides a collection of helpful creation science websites along with websites for each of the different books. The user is also reminded that we need to use the websites with our own discretion. All of the sites provide a Creation viewpoint of science.

As I stated earlier, you could use the Learning About Science Collection for your science curriculum for your younger children or as a supplement – it really is up to you! With the topics very well organized, it is quite easy to use them in your homeschool.

What We Like

The font in all the packets is very clear and easy to read. The images are eye-catching, cute, and easy to color – even for younger children. Even though our son at age 5 is on the younger end of the spectrum, he is able to understand everything that is written in the level one material.

  • We can use the books as a starting point to learn more about a topic or subject.
  • We could also use the books as a review if we have already studied a subject.
  • Combination of reading, writing, and coloring is just right for our kindergartner.
  • We were able to do some basic experiments corresponding to the topics discussed.
  • I pulled out a lot of materials from when I was a Zoo Educator to share with our children.
  • Ease of printing – no complicated instructions!
  • Variety of animals presented in Animal Habitats of the World from hedgehogs and zebras to yaks and rabbits.
  • Variety of plants illustrated in Familiar Plants & How They Grow.
  • Labeling of a flower and different seeds illustrated in Familiar Plants & How they Grow.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing other Learning About Science Collection levels including:

Level 2 – including information about food chains, hibernation, clouds, the solar system, and more
Level 3 – (comes in both a print and cursive version) including information about plants, weather, rocks and minerals, landforms, and more

I think our family will definitely be checking out the other levels as our children get older.

If you like to find out more, please visit the following:

Thursday, July 26, 2018

L is for Lee, Robert E. Lee (Blogging through the Alphabet)

photograph of Lee

I debated about which historical event or figure I wanted to write about for the letter L but finally settled on Robert E. Lee. (Can you tell I love studying about the American Civil War?) Robert E. Lee is a controversial figure in today's world due to the fact that he was a general in the Confederate Army but I do not think his choice to fight for his state of Virginia makes him any less of an important historical figure and great tactician. We should not judge the people of the past by the standards of today. Keeping slaves was and is wrong but I do not think we can ignore the military talents of men like Lee, Stonewall Jackson, or others just because they fought for the 'wrong side.'

Robert E. Lee had two ancestors who signed the Declaration of Independence and his father, Henry Lee (also known as "Light Horse Harry") had a distinguished military career during the Revolutionary War. In fact, "Light Horse Harry" Lee gave the eulogy in which the famous words – "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen" – were said of George Washington. Unfortunately, "Light Horse Harry" also speculated with family money and left the United States when Lee was a young boy leaving Robert as the 'head of the family.'

photograph Lee and statue at Gettysburg NMP

Lee entered the Untied States Military Academy at West Point in 1825 and graduated second in his class four years later. He was a staff officer during the Mexican War and continued to attend to an impressive resume including superintendent at West Point and a lieutenant colonel in a cavalry regiment.  Lee also served in the engineers office in Washington and supervised the engineering work for the St. Louis harbor and the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

He was offered the command of the main Union Army outside of Washington once the Civil War broke out but he chose not to take the offer. Even though he did not agree with secession, he resigned from the U.S. Army when Virginia seceded. In the early years of the Civil War, Lee's career was not amazing and his reputation dropped.

Map of the Civil War

It wasn't until the wounding of General Joseph E. Johnson that Jefferson Davis gave the command of the Army of Northern Virginia to Lee on June 1, 1862. People had doubts if Lee was the right man for the job. Some even went so far as to write in letters and diaries that they felt Robert E. Lee was the wrong man for the job.

Lee looked the part of a soldier. He was 55 years old and just under 6 feet tall. He was a modest, religious man who always wanted to take the offensive in war. He wanted to deny the enemy the ability to dictate the action. Lee did not feel comfortable with being on the defensive so he wanted to maintain the initiative in battle.

In the first 'battle' with Lee in charge of the Army of Northern Virginia, they pushed General McClellan back in a series of engagements known as the Battles of the Seven Days. He then went on to lead the Confederates at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Battle of Antietam, and Battle of Fredericksburg. It was at the Battle of Fredericksburg that Lee said, "It is well that war is so terrible – we would grow too fond of it."

Virginia Monument at Gettysburg NMP

Lee led the Confederate Army in several more battles (you can read about the Battle of Gettysburg in my G is for Gettysburg post) but the end to the Civil War approached soon after Lee was made general in chief of all the Confederate armies. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Ulysses Grant at the McLean House at Appomattox Court House in southern Virginia.

After the war was over, a series of mishaps took place that restricted Lee's ability to regain his right to vote as a citizen of the United States. He had sought an individual pardon but his oath of allegiance to the US was lost until 1970. So it wasn't until 1975, over one-hundred years after the end of the Civil War, that Congress restored Lee's full citizenship.

He served as the president of Washington College in Lexington, VA and urged his students and friends to accept the result of the Civil War. He did not wish to encourage any bitterness in Southerners towards the North.

Photo of Robert E. Lee

After a brief illness, Robert E. Lee died on October 12, 1870. He was buried in the chapel at Washington College even though his own home of Arlington has been turned into the Arlington National Cemetery. The United States government made Arlington a national cemetery in 1864 and occupies part of the land that belonged to Lee's wife – Mary Custis Lee (the only surviving child of George Washington Parke Custis – George Washington's step-grandson). During the Civil War, many Union soldiers considered the destruction and desolation done to Lee's former home to be a form of justice for him leaving with Virginia.

Arlington House, VA
© Emkaplin | Stock Free Images

There are numerous books written about Robert E. Lee as well as essays, articles, and presentations. In fact, he is often central to the the idea of the Lost Cause myth that is often written about by Civil War historians.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out my other Civil War posts.



We own all four books and I am slowly working my way through all four of them. 

I linked up with the following blog(s):