Monday, February 20, 2017

REVIEW: HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece by Home School in the Woods

After our first experience with this series studying Ancient Egypt, we were very much looking forward to reviewing HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece by Home School in the Woods.


This in-depth study of Ancient Greece is part of the HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study series. 

There are currently four studies in the series.  Aside from Ancient Greece, you may also choose from Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, and the Renaissance & Reformation.  In addition, a new study is set to be released in 2018 that focuses on Ancient Rome.

This history study is great for kids who enjoy hands-on learning.  It includes opportunities for creative writing, over a dozen lapbook projects, craft cards for a dozen 3-D projects, a file folder game, a scrapbook timeline, eight dramatized audio tours, and more!

The study includes 25 “stops” that can be completed in 8-12 weeks if you are doing a focused unit study of the material, or over a longer period of time if you are using it as supplemental material.

This versatile study of Ancient Greece is available as a downloadable product for just $33.95, or on a CD for just $34.95.

Take a look at a video of what Project Passport is all about and view a sample lesson from the Ancient Greece history study.  For a specific list of the topics covered in this study, check out the Scope & Sequence.  This study is recommended for students in grades 3-8.

The main supplies needed for the printable elements are white and colored printer paper, white and colored cardstock to go in your printer, scissors, and quality glue sticks!



I can’t say enough about the quality of the materials in the Project Passport series, as well as from Home School in the Woods in general.  Everything is so thoughtfully created, and the finished product is truly a keepsake for years to come.

This history study of Ancient Greece is no different!  As my 12-year old daughter, Haylee, and I printed and assembled the various scrapbook items in the study, we shared them with the rest of the family.  My husband was so impressed with how everything turns out so nicely, and I think it’s really cool the way so many elements are highly interactive.  It definitely adds to the interest level for the kids.

Since we’re currently studying a different time period in history for school, we decided to use Fridays (our days off from school) to work on this study of Ancient Greece.  Haylee chose it because she loves everything about the Olympic games, which ties right in with this study!  We chose to complete one stop per week, which means this study will last us 25 weeks.  If you’re doing a more focused study of the time period, you can certainly complete it more quickly by working on it more than once a week as we did.  But each stop seemed to take us about a solid hour or slightly more of work time, and we pre-printed everything for 5 weeks of study in advance.  If you are prepping materials as you go, it will take a bit longer than that.

There’s a printable travel itinerary that helps us stay on track with each stop along the way.  It outlines each assignment and gives step-by-step instructions for both the printing and assembling of the items.  It also give additional tidbits of related information from time to time.  We began each stop by reading aloud about 3 pages of historical information pertaining to our stop for the week, which is broken out neatly into topic areas.  Then we moved on to the assignments on the travel itinerary for that stop.


Our first stop involved a lot of initial setup, so that took longer than the subsequent stops.  Because we have worked on the Ancient Egypt study in the past, we already had a passport and luggage created.  One of the neat things about this series is that once those items are made, you can add your passport stamps and journal entries to them every time you complete another Project Passport history study.  We also created a teacher’s binder for my read-aloud information and itineraries, and I also stored all of the printed materials (which I made up ahead of time) behind each stop’s information in there.  Then we made Haylee’s Scrapbook of Sights.  This is where all of the completed keepsakes are stored.  Think of this as the student’s binder.  We created the timeline and placed it in the scrapbook, as well as some initial work on the first two printable maps of Aegean Civilizations and the Greek World.  We also read an overview of the country of Greece, its earliest days, and its civilizations.

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At our second stop, we learned about additional people groups and the Dark Age.  We added additional timeline figures (which I printed on sticker paper for easy placement on the timeline), added more titles to our maps, and created a Postcard Rack to go in the scrapbook.  This rack would hold all of the postcards that Haylee would read and decorate throughout the study.  We also created the keepsake newspaper called the Greek Weekly, and Haylee wrote her first two articles for that.  We stored it in the pocket of her scrapbook, as it will be added to many times in future stops.  We also created an interactive family tree booklet detailing information about Helen and His Sons.  This was our first lapbook element, which is stored in a ziploc baggie until all of the elements of the lapbook are finished and we’re ready to assemble it.

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Our third stop focused on the Archaic Period.  Here, we learned about the formation of city-states and Greek colonization, with a focus on Corinth and Thebes.  Personally, I found this fascinating and very timely, because our adult bible study class at church is currently studying Corinthians!  I must admit that it gave me greater understanding of the culture of the Corinthian people, and I shared some of my newfound perspective with my fellow church members.  This stop involved adding more timeline figures (including Haylee’s beloved Olympic Games!), completing an ad and an article for the newspaper, doing more map work, and then creating a really cool set of Greek columns in the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian architectural styles for comparison.  There columns were 3-dimensional but stored nicely in the scrapbook, and we thought they were really neat!

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At the fourth stop, we learned about Greek leadership, from kings and oligarchies to tyrannies and democracies.  We learned about the relationships between the Greek city-states and their colonies, and how it eventually led to the demise of the era of city-states.  We added some timeline figures, made another postcard, and created an awesome and interactive 3-D page about the various types of government in Greece.  Each element had an image that “popped up” when you opened the flap for each type of government, and it gave a concise summary of what that government entailed.  That turned out pretty cool!

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Our fifth and final stop during the review period had us learning all about Athens.  We read about the fall of its kings, its laws, the rise of tyrants, its democracy, and the Golden Age of Athens.  We added more timeline figures, did an article and an advertisement for the newspaper, decorated another postcard, did more map work, and then spent most of our time creating an extensive scrapbook page on the grandeur of Athens.  It included 12 interactive elements about the finer developments in Athens, such as its philosophers, its art and architecture, its notable people of government, its drama, its trade, and its navy.  Each element on the page was a matchbook that opened to reveal important information on each topic, all on one nicely presented and concise information page.


This is as far as we got during the review period, but we’ve already learned a lot! The whole time we were adding completed pages to the scrapbook, I kept thinking to myself what a wonderful teaching tool that even the final product will be for my younger son when he begins studying ancient history!  All the facts and summaries, the timeline, and the maps will all be in the completed scrapbook and will not only be a keepsake for Haylee, but will also be a wonderful learning resource for her brother!  And that works out perfectly, because he’s not creative the way my daughter is, and he wouldn’t enjoy the assembly of the parts, but he would definitely benefit from perusing the completed scrapbook!  It’s a much more interesting way to learn than just reading a textbook, for sure.

This is such a flexible teaching tool.  My daughter enjoys coloring and decorating things, but not so much the cutting and assembling.  So knowing that ahead of time, I was able to do a lot of the prep work and leave the artistic things for her to do.  If you have a more hands-on child who enjoys putting things together, then there will be even more for them to do.  But however it works out, this is a great project to work on together. 

There is a LOT of information to be absorbed through this study.  The text portion of each stop conveys a lot of important facts, and then the hands-on assignments help solidify the learning in a meaningful way.  I can definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a unique and in-depth unit study on Ancient Greece!  And included in the materials is a list of additional resources that you can use to add even more to the study if you so desire.

Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about this and the other Project Passport history studies from Home School in the Woods by clicking the banner below.

Monday, February 13, 2017

February Freebies

I wouldn’t let February pass by without giving you a great list of freebies, so here they are.

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If you stop by your local Krispy Kreme doughnut shop on any of the remaining days of this month and purchase any cup of their two new Arabica (“smooth” or “rich”) coffees, you’ll get a FREE original glazed doughnut to go with it.

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Don’t forget the ongoing promotion for users of the 7-11 Rewards app…you can get a FREE small Slurpee every Saturday this month when you scan the app.

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The ASPCA is offering a FREE Pet Safety Pack.  It includes a decal that lets emergency personnel know that you have pets in your home, as well as a refrigerator magnet with the phone number to call when your pet has consumed something harmful.

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If you’re planning to purchase any large classic, jar, or tumbler candle at Yankee Candle, then take advantage of their coupon for Buy 1 Get One Free until Feb. 20th.

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On February 20th, celebrate President’s Day by visiting one of these 400 national parks for FREE!  Over 25% of those parks normally charge an admission fee, so take advantage of this special day!

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If you have a young lady in your house between the ages of 16 and 21, they can take advantage of the Jazzercise GirlForce program and take some free classes!

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If you have a sports-minded child ages 4-9 who would like to try out hockey, they can try it for FREE at over 300 nationwide locations on February 25th.  For my locals, we have participating facilities in Chesapeake and Newport News.  Find your local facility and click on it to register for this event.  A limited amount of free equipment will be available at each location for the children to use, so sign up now!

That’s it for now!  Enjoy your freebies.  Smile

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

REVIEW: Times Alive by Times Tables the Fun Way (City Creek Press)

My 3rd grader, Holden, had the fun of reviewing Times Alive by Times Tables the Fun Way (City Creek Press).


Times Alive is a program that provides online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way!

This program is designed to be used on one computer at a time, but multiple students can use it on a single computer, and it will track their individual progress.

An internet connection is required since it’s done online, and it works with all operating systems.  If you have a flash simulator on an iPad, you can also use it on that device, but it will not store progress.

This program is available for an initial $6.95 setup fee and a monthly fee of just $9.95.



This program is so easy to use.  Once I set up our account and logged in, I was able to see the an overview of the lesson plans, and Holden began by taking the timed pre-test, which we could compare later to see how he did once he’s finished the program.  Holden got them all right, but the time it took for him to calculate the answers was the thing we were trying to improve…that automatic recall that we all strive to achieve.

There are a total of 18 lessons, which can easily be completed with just a one-month subscription, making this a very affordable program.  We’ve tried a similar program in the past, but it didn’t cover all of the multiplication facts the way this one does.  Also, I found that Times Alive has been more memorable for my 9-year old son, who has really struggled to recall his times tables up to this time.

In fact, as Holden worked on the program a couple of times per week, I would hear him say out loud things like “Oh, I remember this story…,” and he would proceed to tell me the multiplication fact from his quick recall of the associated story or song from the program. 

I also really liked that it had a number of built-in reviews called “progress checks.”  That’s when I could really see that he was retaining the math facts he’d learned in earlier lessons. 

And each time he finished a session and wanted to stop for the day, the program would use my computer’s “cookies” to remember his progress for the next time.  This is important to note, because if you have your computer’s security features set to clear your cookies automatically, you will lose your stored data that shows your progress.

I loved being able to let him work on the program by himself without any help from me.  He’s easily distracted, so setting him up to do it independently was the best way to keep him focused.  I would peek in at him periodically and see that he was truly enjoying the entertaining elements of the program, like the animated stories and very catchy songs, which he began to sing as a recalled the facts down the road.  That was nice to see!  After all, if it wasn’t memorable, then he’d just be stuck looking up the answers on a multiplication table all over again, and that’s the habit we’re trying to break by using this colorful, interactive program.

I haven’t been getting any complaints from Holden about using this program, either.  Even though he works on it after his regular school work is done, he seems to really enjoy it, and he often does more lessons than I assign for him to do before he realizes he’s still going!  That’s what I like to see!

The bottom line is that Times Alive has been a fun and entertaining way to gain quick recall of multiplication facts, and nothing we’ve tried so far has really stuck in Holden’s brain the way this program seems to be sticking with him.  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of finding that one special thing that “clicks” for your child.  We seem to have found just that with Times Alive!

We have a 3-month subscription, so although he’s wrapping up the final lessons in about a month’s time, I plan to have him repeat the program at least one more time for reinforcement of the material.  Each lesson takes only a few minutes, and he’s been doing several lessons at a time without needing a huge time commitment to work on it, so it will be easy to keep working in the lessons a second time over the next few weeks to really cement his recall of the math facts.

If you have a child who is struggling to memorize their multiplication tables, then this might just be the right solution for you!  Give it a try, and I think you’ll be pleased.  I even found myself singing along to some of the catchy tunes!

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about Times Alive by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Homeschool Freebies

Educents has a huge collection of 217 homeschooling freebies for February!  Take a look at the selection…there’s a lot to choose from, and you can sort in the left margin by subject, grade level, or type of activity.  Awesome!

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There are also lots of new freebies listed right now at Homeschool Giveaways.  There are so many full pages to view…just keep clicking through them all!  You’re sure to find something useful there.  If you don’t subscribe to that page, I highly recommend it.  I get new freebies in an email sent to my inbox every week. 


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My Favorite Recipes for January

Now that January has drawn to a close, I want to share some of my favorite new recipes with you.


BREAKFAST:  Homemade Pancake Dry Mix

This recipe is just amazing!  It makes enough dry pancake mix for 7 batches.  Once you make it up and store it in an airtight container, Homemade Flapjack Mix Recipeyou just scoop out 1 cup of dry mix and add an egg and 3/4 cup milk to it, and voila…your pancake batter is ready!  Each batch make 6 good-sized, fluffy pancakes!  I made mine with skim milk and pastured eggs, and I used white whole wheat flour to maintain a light texture.  It’s easy to add the mix-ins of your choice as you measure out 1/4 cup of batter onto your hot griddle.  My younger kids like mini chocolate chips, and the grown-ups in my house like fresh blueberries or raspberries.  If you wanted to eat them plain, I think adding a bit of vanilla extract to the batter would be a flavorful addition.  Yum!  My picky daughter even asks for these, and I can see that I will *always* need to keep this mix on hand going forward.  Delicious!  And at 106 calories per pancake, you can enjoy a couple of them without the guilt!


LUNCH:  Chicken Alfredo Veggie PizzaChicken Alfredo Veggie Pizza Recipe

This was my first time making pizza dough by hand, and I must admit it was fun!  It was easier than I expected, and the results were fabulous!  The homemade crust was so good, and all the fresh toppings were just wonderful.  My whole family really enjoyed this, and even my younger kids ate the veggies without complaint.  I would definitely make this again! 


DINNER:  Hearty Salisbury SteaksHearty Salisbury Steaks Recipe

These tasty salisbury steaks are very filling and so yummy served with mashed potatoes and corn!  The gravy is so flavorful, and the whole thing pulls together so easily, and it makes for a hearty and satisfying meal in a flash!


DESSERT:  Makeover Oatmeal Bars

I actually made these over even more by using a stevia/sugar baking blend to cut even more sugar and calories.  Coming in at under 150 Makeover Oatmeal Bars Recipecalories per bar, they made a delicious and tender treat that were even good with a morning cup of hot tea!  I noticed some of the reviews mentioned they were dry and crumbly, so I remedied that by baking them thicker in an 8x8 (rather than 13x9) pan for 23 minutes.  They came out moist and soft, just like I like them!  I used a blend of three kinds of jumbo raisins from Trader Joe’s, and it added a nice flavor to the recipe.



Saturday, January 28, 2017

REVIEW: Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12-Pk by The Pencil Grip

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Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post, and all opinions are mine.  I received a 12-pk of Thin Stix to try in exchange for my honest review.

You may remember that we had the pleasure of reviewing the original Kwik Stix last year.  First, we tried out the basic colors.  Then near the holidays, we tried out the Metalix and Neon colors.

Since then, though, The Pencil Grip released the awesome new Thin Stix!  They sent us the super cool Thin Stix 12 Pk., which comes in 12 basic colors.  It’s available for just $11.99!

Thin Stix 12 pk picture

Look at all of these beautiful, bright colors!

In case you’re not familiar with them already or perhaps you missed my previous reviews of them, they are unique tempera paints that come in a solid form that kids can draw and “paint” with like soft crayons, only no brushes or water are required, and therefore, there’s no mess!  Your kids’ creations will dry completely in just 90 seconds!

My 12-year old daughter, Haylee, has thoroughly enjoyed her Kwik Stix and draws with the all the time.  Since she’s older, though, she was really hoping they’d come up with some that had a narrower tip to allow for finer detail in her designs.  That’s where Thin Stix come in!  I can’t tell you how excited she was when she saw they’d released this wonderful new version.  She jumped at the chance to try them out, and she’s had fun creating with them ever since! 


First, she drew lines with all of the colors just to show you how narrow of a line you can draw with the Thin Stix.  It also shows off how vibrant the colors are!

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Then she drew some pictures with smaller details.


Here, she wanted to demonstrate that you can still use Thin Stix to fill in larger designs as you would with the regular Kwik Stix, but in doing so, you can use a series of smaller lines to add texture to a large surface area.


And here, she demonstrated how you can make a more advanced drawing, taking advantage of the smaller tips.

Clearly, you can see that these new Thin Stix are very versatile and provide a fun and creative tool that even older kids can appreciate and enjoy!  We highly recommend you try them out, and Haylee looks forward to collecting more Thin Stix in the coming months, which are available in Metalix and Neons, as well as in an all-encompassing Creativity Pack that combines all 3 sets into one box!

Even if you already have the regular Kwik Stix, you’ll definitely want to add Thin Stix to your collection.  They take creativity to a whole new level!