Hands-on History

How many times have you studied history with your children and just wished you could dig a little deeper?  Maybe history is one of those “boring” subjects for your kids and you need a way to bring the subject alive. 

If either of these thoughts have crossed your mind…. let me take a moment to introduce you to a solution that will take care of both issues.

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Home School in the Woods has compiled everything you need to dig deeper and incorporate hands on fun into your studies.

Hunter and I had the chance to explore one of their great elementary school offerings; The Great Empires.

This year we have been studying World History and The Great Empires completely expanded and enhanced our regular textbook study.

When it arrived we were just beginning to study Ancient Greece, so, that is where we began with The Great EmpiresHome School in the Woods provides informative supplemental text that went deeper than what our textbook provided.  It was easy to read and kept Hunter engaged. After reading about Greece we used the map and key to plot and record the placement of the ancient cities.

Our next activity was decorating Greek pottery.  This way by far Hunter’s favorite activity.  We researched different styles of pottery on the internet and printed out a few examples to use as reference.


Hunter then drew his design and painted his very own piece of pottery

Our study continued, with designing our own shield, and making hummus, a yummy Greek treat.  We also read seven books ( all provided in each empire’s project list) to better understand the culture. The books were very easy to locate either electronically and free for my Kindle, or at our local library.

With all the in-depth study, visiting the provided links and reading the books,  our study of Ancient Greece lasted a little over three weeks.  

Our next  stop in our study of The Great Empires has been Ancient Rome. We followed the same path as our study of Greece and read the provided material and mapping the ancient cities. We are just wrapping up all of our reading choices, and as soon as I can gather the materials, we are going to paint our own fresco!

We really can’t wait to start our next ancient adventure.  Hunter has so enjoyed our extra study time that he want to invite the neighbor kids over to study with us this summer!  He is looking forward to learning more about Viking Coins, I am excited for Koi Fish. :)

We chose to use The Great Empires as an in-depth study.  We used all the resources they provided to help us learn more about the subject. If you wanted to just use the activities, you could do that as well.  There are no set rules on how to use the study.

The Great Empires will help you and your children learn more about 14 of the great empires of history.  For a detailed list of the empires that are covered go here. The cost is $18.95 for a downloadable version, and $19.95 if you would like a CD.  We used the downloadable version and it was easy to unzip and use.

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My prep time for each study was about an hour and that was mostly to locate the books we would be reading.  The projects have been easy to gather materials for in my local hometown.  I would recommend this curriculum to any homeschooling family, I do not feel that it would conflict with any particular curriculum or learning style, it would only enhance it.


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Doesn’t this look fun??

Hunter and I just found out today that we will be reviewing:

Great Empires  by Homeschool in the Woods.

We can’t wait to explore these Great Empires!

Ancient Egypt
Ancient Greece
Ancient Rome
Ancient China
Arab-Muslim Empire
Mongolian Empire
Viking Empire
Spanish Empire
French Empire
English Empire
German Empire
Japanese Empire
Russian Empire
The United States of America

Check back often to see some of our projects and find out how much fun we had!  Final review on this product will post between April 29, 2013 and May 6, 2013



zing, zap, pow! exploring electricity with boys!

I have boys.

a girl too, but she is way more active than the average girl and dolls aren’t even in her vocabulary.  never have been.

It is important to note, when telling you that I have boys, that I was raised in an all girl family.

I learned after having boys, that they do things much differently than girls.  The first thing that boys do, is take E-V-E-R-Y-THING apart.  They dig, just because they want to know what is under the ground.  They break toys to see how the arms work.  They disassemble cars to see what really makes it go, the battery or the gears.  Girls, do. not. do. this.  It has been years, and I am still getting over my boy culture shock….  every time I toss a de-armed soldier, or decapitated warrior into the trash can, I shake my head and chalk it up to life with boys.

This need to figure out the how and why of the way things work is exactly why I was so excited to review this product by AIMS Educational Foundation.



AIMS offered TOS reviewers several of their products for review.  The nanosecond that I saw this choice, I KNEW it was the choice for us.  Electrical Connections is a science activity book written for those in the grades 4-6. It speaks to the very soul of boys who NEED to KNOW how stuff works!!!

This 223 page book of experiments comes complete with a CD-ROM full of every printable that is in the book.  Each section has a teachers guide of sorts; making it a book that is self sufficient to use.  These teachers pages state the topic and any benchmarks or standards that this experiment will coordinate with.  It lists the type of science that you are learning, Physical or Earth, for example.  There is background information, how to manage the experiment in larger settings, material lists and the procedures.  They even have a list of questions to ask the student to help reinforce the learning experience.

For my hands-on, take everything apart 4th grader, this Science activity book was pure magic.  He has loved every experiment we have done so far.

We used the book once a week, when we wanted to have more fun, but very directed learning for the day.  Here are some photos of our experiment with Static Electricity.


Measuring to see the approximate distance we need to hold the charged balloon from the string.


We wrote down our predictions for how we thought each material would act, when approached by the statically charged balloon.  Here you can see him charging up that balloon with negative electrons from his hair…..  so much more fun to do than using mom’s nylons……


Zuuuuoooooppppp! Those pieces of string just jumped up to the balloon!  Those positive electrons just couldn’t resist!


We repeated the predictions and recorded the observations for pieces of aluminum foil, paper clips and salt. 


In order to supplement the learning, I would go to the library to check out books on electricity for Hunter to read through out the week as we prepared for our experiment day.

Priced at $24.95, Electrical Connections is a great way to explore electricity without breaking the bank.  Some of the materials needed for the experiments must be purchased. (batteries, magnets, paper clips battery holders, insulated wire, copper wire, light bulbs…etc.) AIMS provides kits for homeschoolers that are fairly well priced and will allow you to complete most of the experiments in the various books they offer. I was not able to find a kit that was specific for Electrical Connections and marketed to homeschool sized families. I talked this option over with my husband and showed him the materials list, he stated that most if not all of the items, or their equivalents,  could be found at a local hardware store, and the purchasing of redundant items at a classroom size level would not be cost effective for most families with one or two children using the product, even in successive years.

Make sure you take some time to see some of the other great activity books this educational company has to offer.  They have various products available to be used from grade K thru grade 9.  You just might find the perfect something to help inspire and ignite the love of learning in your own child.

For further information about AIMS products you may write to them at:

AIMS Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 8120 Fresno, CA 93747-8120


call: toll free   888.733.2467


Many homeschool families reviewed some of the 6 different products that AIMS made available to The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.  Please read their reviews before you make a decision on purchasing a product for your family.


**** as a TOS Homeschool Crew member, I received a copy of Electrical Connections FREE of charge for the purpose of this review.  I am under no obligation to furnish a positive review of this product.  All of the above experiences are from our usage of the product.  Trust me, I would let you know if I didn’t like something Smile ****

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