Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Studying History with Hands-On Materials from Home School in the Woods

Reviewing: Project Passport World History Studies from Home School in the Woods - Complementary Product Received - Affiliate Links included 

History is one of my favorite subjects. I majored in history in college and was a high school history teacher for a number of years. I love getting the opportunity to study and teach history using hands-on materials that really bring the subject matter to life. All of the awesome materials we have used and reviewed from Home School in the Woods have really brought the time periods to life for our family. We have played games using their Á La Carte products and completed a Hands-On History Lap-Pak on knights. For the past several weeks, our teen has begun his world history course using the Project Passport World History Studies on the Renaissance and Reformation.

Project Passport: Renaissance & Reformation can be purchased as a download (which we received) or a CD that contains all of the necessary files for taking a trip with your 3rd-8th grade student(s). We are adapting the material for our soon-to-be 11th grade high school student. This particular Project Passport focuses upon the following:

  • Background of the Renaissance historically 
  • Examples of Renaissance artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante, Geoffrey Chaucer, Shakespeare, and many others 
  • Everyday life with a sampling of food, crafts, laws, and entertainment 
  • An introduction to the inventions, exploration, and science of the time
  • Background of the Reformation including a look at famous religious leaders (Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, Ulrich Zwingli, and others) 
  • A look at the history of the Tudors, Wars of Religion, the English Civil War, and the Counter-Reformation 

The Travel Planner provides an itinerary for the 25 stops that will take approximately 6 to 12 weeks altogether. As we are using this as a beginning activity for our high school teen's world history course, we did the opening activities and then skipped around a bit to focus upon different activities and projects. We are also in the middle of our summer break, so we have been working on a lighter schedule.

Before we started, I printed out the travel planner, travel itineraries, and the other pages and materials that were necessary for the first 8 stops. I am keeping all of the material in a small binder to make it easy for me to find and reference. I also like that I can have the file open on my laptop so that I can show our son an example of the completed project, if necessary.

As you read through the travel itinerary (which works similar to a lesson plan), you will see the information to share with your homeschooling child, the supplies needed, and how to print or prepare those supplies. If your child is older, you may actually be able to print out the travel itinerary and then have them read through the information in order to complete the projects on their own. Be sure to have your children read through the Guide Book Text, as that will give them the historical information they need to complete some of the projects. It will provide them with a clear understanding of the time period they are studying, as well.

With most of the stops on your journey, your children will be cutting out and gluing images of individuals, historical events, or facts onto a timeline. We are storing our timeline in our binder. So, we punched holes in it. One could either use them exactly as laid out in the instructions or use the timeline and images in a manner like we are using them. I asked our son to attach a number at a time as an introduction to the next stops (and historical topics). This way, as he looks for the location, we can briefly go over who or what he is attaching to his timeline. For example, we spent a few minutes discussing Dante's Inferno as well as Sir Francis Bacon and Humanism. Or you could use the timeline in another manner and Amy Pak at Home School in the Woods offers some ideas as well links to valuable resources for teaching with timelines.

Including More Art 

Project Passport: Renaissance & Reformation is a great resource if you are trying to fit in more art into your homeschool lessons. There are so many opportunities for your children to practice different art techniques from the past as well as create some awesome memories for their scrapbook. Personally, I loved getting to assign art projects to our teen as he is a rather good artist but prefers to not really share his talent with everyone on a regular basis.

There are also many opportunities to focus upon creative writing (there is a newspaper activity that our son is working on as we travel through the time period). If you are interested in reading more about incorporating creative writing newspapers in your homeschool, the blog at Home School in the Woods offers ideas as to their importance and structure. In addition to the creative writing, the majority of the stops include a selection of reading such as the instructions for creating an art project, the materials that will be included in the lap book, and the background information of the art techniques.

Some of the newspaper entries can be drawings, while others can be text.

In addition to reading, writing, and art, there are a number of other smaller projects that incorporate several of these facets. For example, one of the earlier activities has the students creating something for their lap book to represent the social classes of the time period. The instructions on your computer will not only give you information on how to print and put it together but there is also a photo of a sample one put together to give you the entire picture.

I love the detailed instructions for each project and activity.

As one might guess, time will also be devoted to the Bard of Avon – William Shakespeare. We skipped ahead to this stop as we had recently studied Shakespeare and read Julius Caesar this homeschool year. And when recreating the Globe Theater, we were able to read several of the more famous passages from Shakespeare:
  • "All the world's a stage" from Jaques in As You Like It 
  • "Now is the winter of our discontent" speech from Richard Gloucester in Richard III 
  • "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" of Antony in Julius Caesar 
  • And others from tragedies and comedies 

There are other ways in which we are studying the history of the Renaissance and Reformation time period. There are a series of audio files that accompanied our download. We listen to our tour guide, Agatha, as we are taken to eight different stops including that of the Globe Theater where we listen to William Shakespeare explain that his latest play will be put on soon (Hamlet). We even get to hear an excerpt from Hamlet! With special effects, the journey comes to life for listeners. The tour takes us around Europe to learn more about the places and people of the time.

And what trip wouldn't be complete without postcards? The postcards are a nice way to help bring history to life. Students will read what 16 famous people from history have to say regarding their time and lives. The backs of the postcards are blank so that students can decorate them however they choose and then they create a postcard rack to hold them.

Recommendations and Our Thoughts

My biggest recommendation to individuals purchasing materials from Home School in the Wood is: read through all of the instructions. Using materials from Home School in the Woods can seem a bit challenging as there are lots of items to print but once you start working your way through the files, it all becomes much clearer. I know the first time I was intimidated trying to figure it all out but now it seems so easy. Stick with it – Home School in the Woods creates great materials! And read through the entire instructions on the different activity sheets before you begin any project or activity.

The materials do work best if you have access to a color printer because they are often colorful. We do not have a color printer so we do our best with the black & white print outs.

Personally, I love the hands-on approach to studying history. When I was teaching high school history, I always tried to have a few hands-on projects scattered throughout the year for students who enjoyed creating, building, drawing, and using their artistic talents to demonstrate their historical knowledge. But there are some who are not as fond and would rather complete simple reading and writing assignments. When I asked our teen his opinion, he was indecisive. In some ways, I think he likes completing the projects with us (his father, he, and I worked on the Globe theater together) but I know he would also like to just get the job done to move onto his next video game mission.

Will Project Passport work for your homeschooling family? Depending upon how your children prefer to learn, I think it just might. Even if you and your children choose not to do all of the projects, you will still walk away with firm understanding of the Renaissance and Reformation time period. I know there were new facts and details that I learned while reading through the materials.

Would You Like to Know More? 

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Project Passport: Ancient Rome is the newest in this series from Home School in the Woods

Be sure to visit the rest of the reviews to see what other great resources Home School in the Woods offers for your homeschooling needs.


  1. Wow! This all looks amazing. I considered homeschooling my son this year but he loved preschool so much, I just didn't have the heart to keep him from kindergarten. I think, down the road a bit, our goal is still to homeschool. For now, I want him to enjoy the interaction and the fun times of school. Great post!

    1. Don't forget with homeschooling, you can belong to co-op and the like for fun, interactions and for sharing the teaching load, too.