Monday, February 20, 2017

{Review} Ancient Greece Project Based Learning

If you've read here very much at all, you know that Amber has thrived over the years using various Home School in the Woods products. Although we usually employ their history sets as supplements, they have given us the most consistently positive results of any history curriculum.

Even though Amber's primary history course for this school year focuses on American history, she is taking a Greek mythology course at our homeschool co-op. We decided including Home School in the Woods as a supplemental Ancient Greece study would be the perfect way to round out the co-op course. Thankfully, we were offered the chance to review the brand new HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece.

Review of Home School in the Woods project based learning for Ancient Greece.

If you are new to Home School in the Woods products, let me give you a little introduction. The majority of their curriculum are history related and emphasize project based learning. This does not mean it is all hands-on work, but that there is a wide array of learning methods supported by their curriculum. And as a side note, the artwork in all of their products is fantastic!

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece


During the review period we were using the newest installment in the HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study series. Yes, the title is a mouthful, but that series is our absolute favorite history curriculum ever.  The idea behind the Project Passport series is that you and your student are taking a trip through the time period in question. You will receive an itinerary (teacher's notes and instructions) for each of the 25 Stops (lessons) during your trip. The student has the opportunity to create a passport and luggage folder to track their travels and store their souvenirs.

Review of Home School in the Woods project based learning for Ancient Greece.
We print the timeline figures on whole label sheets for easy use.
While there are a great many projects to be created throughout the stops of your trip, each stop also has a Guide Book Text portion that explains the historical information to be learned at this stop. The stops (or lessons) all have themes to keep your trip organized.  The Ancient Greece Project Passport starts out learning about Greek government and Sparta before delving into everyday life, education, literature, philosophy, and religion of the Ancient Greek people.

Throughout the stops there is also an occasional audio tour, where we are able to listen in on a time-traveling tour that has gone back to Ancient Greece. This time we were able to visit Troy, Sparta, and speak with Archimedes, but had to take a detour at Thermopylae.

The Project Passport curriculum is available as a download, as we received it, or can be purchased on CD. Either way the curriculum includes a web-based menu system that links all of the stops (lessons) along with the teacher's instructions and Guide Book Text. Any project files to be printed are linked directly through the information for the associated stop. However, all of the files are also available either in your download directory or on the CD in PDF format. This makes it much easier to print if you already know which files you need.

Review of Home School in the Woods project based learning for Ancient Greece.
Listening to an audio tour and working on her timline.
The audio tours can be launched directly from the web interface, or you can also copy the MP3 files for the tours to any device that supports an MP3. We always choose to copy the MP3 files over to one of our iPhones or to Amber's iPad for use during class time. We often try to listen to the audio tours in the car to make the most of our drive times, but also because I'm usually too busy at home to sit and listen and I want in on the audio tour fun too.

This Ancient Greece study is recommended for students in 3rd through 8th grades and if used as a primary curriculum can take between 8 and 12 weeks to complete.  Amber is halfway finished with her 9th grade year, and so is not in the ideal target range for the curriculum. However, given the broad range of projects and learning styles supported by the study, I still feel it is a very valid curriculum to use even for high schoolers. We definitely learned from it!

Review of Home School in the Woods project based learning for Ancient Greece.
The maps are actually complete, but she wrote in pencil.
We chose to skip over the projects that were essentially cutting and pasting or character coloring. While those projects are great reinforcement for younger students, it was not entirely applicable for my high school student. Instead, we focused on the timeline work, which uses the ever popular Home School in the Woods timeline figures, maps, and writing assignments.

Amber has always loved the newspaper style writing assignments in the Project Passport series. We print out the provided newspaper templates on parchment colored paper to make it a little more fun. Each article already has a title created and there are partially completed advertisement spaces. Nearly each Stop has an associated newspaper assignment.  At the end of the study, we have a lovely collection of articles and advertisements demonstrating Amber's knowledge of the time period.

Review of Home School in the Woods project based learning for Ancient Greece.
She still has a few more lessons to complete
The majority of the stops also have timeline assignments and map work to complete, which along with the Guide Book Text and the Greek Weekly writing assignments made the Project Passport Ancient Greece study the perfect addition to her new co-op class this semester. Amber definitely prefers using Home School in the Woods timeline figures to handwriting her timeline, especially since I print out the timeline figures on full label sheets. All she has to do is cut out the the figures and stick them on the timeline at the appropriate dates.

Because of a great deal of illness this semester we didn't get to any of the larger hands-on projects yet, although there were a few that Amber was rather interesting in completing. She has always enjoyed creating dioramas of buildings, but doesn't necessarily like trying out recipes from the era we are studying.  Even though we skip some of the projects, the curriculum is packed full of so many options that I can chose only those that suit Amber's learning styles and interests without worrying that we are missing out on important learning opportunities.

Review of Home School in the Woods project based learning for Ancient Greece.

In my opinion Home School in the Woods provides some of the most versatile history curriculum available. Their studies can be adjusted to almost any age student and support, in some way, every learning style. We can't imagine homeschooling without their history curriculum, even at the high school level.

(We can't wait for the Ancient Rome Project Passport due out in 2018!)

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