Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: HSITW Project Passport: The Middle Ages

We have used several products by Homeschool in the Woods in the past, but Project Passport: The Middle Ages is by far our favorite.   It has been the best addition to our school this year.  We use it as a supplement to our history lessons, but it is entirely possible to use it as a stand alone history curriculum.

The product includes 25 "Stops" where you learn about different aspects of the Middle Ages.  Each stop has text to read on the topic, plus an "itinerary" for the teacher to use in planning and organizing the lessons.  In addition to projects the Stops also have timeline and newspaper article entries as well as dramatized "audio tours".

We have chosen to integrate portions of the Stops into our history schedule, which is mostly chronological, instead of in the order presented in Project Passport.  It did take a little effort to coordinate the reading and writing assignments, but we have been extremely pleased with the results.

Amber actually prefers the timeline from Project Passport to any other timeline she has ever used, including the iPad app.  We chose to print the timeline on card stock, then three hole punch and put it into Amber's history binder.  Instead of gluing or taping the lovely timeline figures, I printed them on label sheets so that Amber need only cut them out and peel off the backing.

The audio tours have been perfect for our drives to Amber's many doctors' appointments.  I copied the MP3 files from the CD over to my iPhone and we can easily play them in the car now.  It is quite fun to hear all the reenactment sounds coming through the car's sound system.  Our favorite tour stop so far has been the Battle of Hastings.  We actually "met" William the Conqueror.  One side note though, the tour guide has an accent that we can't identify, but she sounds like every word is a struggle to say.  Some words we have great difficulty understanding.  We aren't entirely sure if this is an accent for the dramatization or if she is covering up her natural accent.  At any rate, it is a little distracting. 

"The Medieval Times" newspaper project has been a huge hit with Amber.  Never before has she actually asked when her next writing assignment would be.  The project gives you topics for each article, but really leaves it up to you as to the details and direction you want to take the article.  Space is limited, so it teaches the student to be concise while providing needed information.  Amber also loves the advertisements dotted throughout the newspaper. Some of her favorite days are when she is assigned both an article and a couple of advertisements to draw.

While some of the projects are a little young for Amber, the majority are quite appropriate and enjoyable.  We especially appreciate the option to create either a lapbook or a larger version of some projects as Amber is not terribly thrilled with lapbooks.  This product would have been a hard sell for Amber if I told her that the majority of the projects would be part of a lapbook.  And for those of us who are someone artistically impaired, the images of the completed projects are a happy bonus.  I'm not sure we would have ever quite finished our Viking longship without the sample picture. 

Unexpected Homeschool: Review of Homeschool in the Woods - Project Passport: The Middle Ages (HSITW Medieval Clothing Puppets)
Puppets were much preferred to the lapbook option.

It did take me a little while to figure out the layout and really "get" all the options.  However, once you are comfortable with the layout it will flow well and you won't have to figure it out again for the other Project Passport products.  The itinerary is definitely the teacher's go-to spot for each Stop.  It lists the assignment options and gives instructions for all projects related to that Stop.

We are always pleased with the products from Homeschool in the Woods, but Project Passport: The Middle Ages has far surpassed our expectations and we can't wait to move into Project Passport: Renaissance and Reformation.

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