Monday, March 19, 2018

REVIEW: Á La Carte Products from Home School in the Woods

We were really interested in trying out some of the Á La Carte products from Home School in the Woods for some hands-on history fun!


WHAT IS IT?:

In the new Á La Carte store on the Home School in the Woods website, there are so many individual products to choose from, and new items are being added to the selection all the time!

It was hard to narrow down which ones to try, but I selected The War to End All Wars File Folder Game and The Art of Quilling (3D).

The War to End All Wars File Folder Game is a downloadable digital file available for $6.95.  This is a 2-player game intended for grades 3-12.  Playing the game allows students to learn about trench warfare and the many new weapons used in World War I.  It includes all of the printable pieces, instructions for assembly, and a brief overview of information about this war.  You need only add a 6-sided die in order to play.  This item is a 100th Anniversary Project, so it is not part of any other project pack.

The Art of Quilling (3D) is a downloadable digital file available for $1.95, and it’s intended for grades 3-8.  This item was originally part of the larger Time Travelers: Colonial Life history study.  Quilling is a unique art form that surfaced during the Renaissance era, and the settlers brought this skill with them to the colonies, where it experienced a resurgence in popularity. The file includes information about the craft, full instructions on how to do “paper rolling,” and a background pattern to create the 3-dimensional keepsake shown here.


OUR EXPERIENCE:

If you’ve ever admired the larger project packs like the Time Traveler series, you may have thought to yourself that they look like so much fun, but perhaps you don’t have enough time to invest in the volume of hands-on activities in those packs.  If so, then these à la carte items are just right for you!  They’ve pulled out single activities from those larger packs and now allow you to order them individually!  There are also some special edition items that are not found in any other packs.

Perhaps your children like preparing timelines, or they enjoy making the newspapers or playing the games in the larger Home School in the Woods kits, but maybe the other items aren’t their favorite activities.  This new store allows you to pick and choose just the hands-on activities that suit your kids best.

My 4th grader, Holden, recently finished up his study of World War I and began World War II.  He was fascinated by the use of trench warfare and all the new weapons that were used during this war.  So I thought The War to End All Wars File Folder Game would give us the perfect opportunity to review what he learned about that first world war.

I did have to spend some time printing, cutting, gluing, and assemb20180317_120532ling the pieces for this game, but the printing and assembly instructions were very clear and easy to follow.  Once I had everything made, I must admit that the game itself looked pretty cool!  I opted to print color versions of all the game pieces since Holden doesn’t enjoy coloring very much.  But if you have a child who does enjoy that, you can print black and white versions, as well.  I chose to set up the instructions and the background information about the war in a binder, which also gave me pockets in which to store the cards, the file folder game itself, and the baggies of pieces I’d made.

Once we sat down to read the rules for the game, I knew there was no way my 10-year old was going to be able to play it.  It did have a lot of rules of engagement and steps to each person’s turn in each round.  So instead, he and my 13-year old daughter opted to watch me play it with my 18-year old son, Hayden.  That way, Holden still got to benefit from reviewing the weapons and strategies of World War I, without having to keep track of all the rules.  It also allowed him to come and go since he has trouble sitting still, and it took us about an hour and a half to finish our first game! 

The rules initially seemed a little overwhelming, but Hayden and I decided we would just start playing and refer to the rules of engagement as we went along.  They smartly included a little reminder card for each player that helped us recall the steps of our turn, which helped a lot.  Once we got through the first couple of rounds, we had both gotten the hang of it, and it all started to make sense.  Then the time we spent was taken up more on our strategic decisions with the action cards than with trying to refer so much to the rules.  We really started to get into the game!

With each turn, each player got to move each infantryman up to two spaces, and then we got to add two more infantrymen to the rear of our trenches as reinforcements.  Next, we could play any or all of our action cards, allowing us to u20180318_192133se our weapons against the enemy.  That’s where rolling the die came into play, as that was required for implementing many of the action cards.  Last, we got to draw replacement action cards so that we always held five in our possession for the next turn.  The goal of the game was to penetrate the enemy’s rear trench line, and then game play ended instantly, and that country won the battle!  Hayden had one infantryman who was wearing a gas mask who made it through my trenches, and he won the game!  It caught me off guard, because I was planning to move next to him and kill that soldier with my hand bomb on my next turn, but he got ahead of me by implementing multiple action cards that gave him the advantage!  I was the first to get past his first trench line, but he had killed my infantryman with a gas attack on the previous turn, taking away my chance for the win.  It was a great demonstration of how on the actual battlefield, you could spend lots of energy strategizing and setting your plans into action, but things can turn on a dime and completely overwhelm your army.  As you can see, it’s actually quite an exciting game!  We would definitely play it again.  Even my adult son said it was a lot of fun for him, and he really enjoyed playing it!

My 8th grader, Haylee, just loves doing all kinds of art projects, so I figured she might enjoy doing The Art of Quilling (3D).  She’s never tried quilling before, so I thought she might enjoy trying something new.  This project only requires20180317_132753 some white paper, 1 sheet of colored cardstock, 1 sheet of white cardstock, some colored strips of paper, and either a quilling tool or one you make yourself by splitting the end of a toothpick (instructions are included on how to do that).  I decided to make it as easy as possible for her, so I opted to purchase a basic quilling kit for her with the paper strips in various colors already made, the quilling tool, and a storage case to keep it all in.  I figured that would simplify the process for her and get her excited about trying out a new art form.  All I had to do was print out the instructions and the included pattern.  I decided to print the pattern on a sheet of cardstock rather than plain paper so it would provide a firm foundation for her to use to glue on her pieces.  I knew we would probably want to frame it in a shadowbox frame once it was finished, so I wanted to make that as easy as possible. 

Haylee said20180318_201546 the instructions were really easy to follow, and there were color illustrations demonstrating each type of shape that she needed to make to complete the quilling project.  She thought it was going to be hard since it was completely new to her, but she caught on quickly and was able to complete the project in one sitting!  She said the hardest part was gluing on the long stem piece, and making the curls for the flowers was just fun!  Her picture turned out really pretty, and she made it in colors that she liked best.

I got an email this weekend about additional products that have been added to the store, and I was so excited to see such a variety of individual projects that are available!  My mind started turning at how we could use some of them as great supplements to our learning.  I’ll be planning a study of the 50 states at some point with my youngest, and I saw they are offering a Name That State! File Folder Game for $4.95 to help kids practice recognition of the shape of each state, their capitals, some facts about each one, and their regions.  And since we are currently studying World War II and the many ways that civilians back at home had to recycle materials and sacrifice with rationing in order to keep the war effort well-supplied, what better way to summarize that than with the On the Home Front Lapbook/Notebook Project for just $5.95?  There are so many possibilities available in the store to supplement and solidify your children’s studies.  It’s definitely worth taking a look! 

Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about the variety of Á La Carte products available from Home School in the Woods by clicking the banner below.