Home School in the Woods offers top notch History based unit studies that kids and parents love! They recently sent us HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages for our family to review.
Kids love to go on trips. Why not take the kids on “a trip back in time”? With this unit study your kids can pretend to take a journey, pack their bags and board a “time machine” right in your home to travel back in history to the Middle Ages. On this trip, you won’t even have to hear the usual “are we there yet?” This unit study journey is so much fun!
HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages
Format: CD or Download (Mac & PC Compatible)
Retail $33.95 Download
Retail $34.95 CD
Suggested grades: 3-8
25 Lessons, Go at your own pace.
Tons of Printables For Parent / Teacher and Students
50 Projects and Activities
Arts, Crafts, Recipes
7 Dramatized Audio Tours
Lessons and Printables
The CD includes directions and masters for over 50 projects and activities. There is a HUGE menu of files. Also included are Travel Tips, teacher keys, Additional Resources (to enhance the learning), and a Quick-Stop Itinerary. Photos of completed projects, and a three-page travel planner to help the teacher plan the the schedule with upcoming topics and projects at a glance.
Dramatized Audio Tours
Also included with this study are 7 Dramatized Audio Tours. These audio dramas are fun to listen to and take you right to the action! What a great way to get your kids right in to the daily life of the past by listening to and take this journey with the “Knight in Shining Armor Tours”. The tour guide is Agatha and the coach driver is Brian and they will take the kids on various errands and excursions.
Your kids will spend time at a town Festival Day, visit a monastery where they will hear the sounds of Gregorian Chant, or visit the Battlefield of Hastings, and they might catch a glimpse of Duke William of Normandy! Wow!
There is so much to do on this journey. It is more than just learning HISTORY! This trip is filled adventure, exciting events, fun people to learn about, and lots of facts about life from the past. Some of the topics in this unit study include:
Daily Medieval Life
Class Structure in Society
Towns & Guilds
Science & Invention
and a whole lot more!
Projects & Writing & Arts & Crafts & Life Skills
A “Scrapbook of Sights” for storing notebook projects
Creative Writing projects for Lapbook
Souvenir Craft Cards with a dozen 3-D projects to make
A Newspaper “The Medieval Times”
A “Snapshot Moments in History” Scrapbook Timeline
“Postcards from Famous Folks”
Coat of Arms
Cooking & Recipes
A “Dining Out Guide”
2 Board Games
What We Thought
One of the things we like most about homeschooling is the freedom to choose curriculum that interests us. The curriculum style that interests us the most is unit studies. It is our favorite method for learning. Unit studies are our first choice because they are flexible, adaptable, and there is such a huge variety of projects and resources that make learning any and every subject fascinating.
The first step for me after we received our product download was printing the information. This unit study comes with a huge amount of printables for the kids as well as instructions for activities and lessons. The mom / teacher definitely needs to be organized and print the lessons out and put them in some sort of a binder or file so you can keep track of the journey and get the supplies and printables ready for the adventure. Besides mom’s binder, a computer, printer, and lots of paper, each kid also need a binder and a couple of file folders, glue, colored pencils and crayons, scissors, etc.
Our trip back in time to the Middle Ages includes 25 “stops” (1 +/- hour lessons) at specific locations where my kids learn what life was like during this time in History. We went at our own pace and did 2 lessons a week. We skipped around a bit in the lessons and are half way through at the time of writing this review. This study should take us about 14+ weeks to complete at this pace, but I plan to stretch it out longer with some additional activities.
Here is a list of a few of the STOPS and PROJECTS we have made so far:
Stop 1: Laying the foundation / packing for the trip.
Create a “Luggage” Folder and Passport.
The next step is to help the kids make a luggage or a travel suitcase, and a passport for the journey. They will re-use these items in future Project Passport studies you do. The suitcase helps keep all their papers and projects organized on their trip so they don’t get lost. Kids can use the completed printables they stored in their suitcase to create a Lapbook at the end of the journey that showcases what they have learned. Another step to prep was to print out the history timeline, news paper, and scrapbook of sights so we were ready to add in tidbits along the journey.
The “prep” work and the first “stop” (lesson) was the most challenging for me as I learned to print out everything and make the “storage” or “foundation” projects of the unit study. After that, it was easy to look at the organized lesson plans for the day and follow the plan. The rest of the lessons take about an hour or less to complete. All of the lessons and project instructions, crafts, and recipes are provided in the unit study and are easy for the kids to follow.
Stop 4: Everyday Life – Family and Class Structure
Firewood & Fence & Farming:
While learning about Class Structure and the Feudal System of land tenants (Serfs and Peasants) working the land for the land owners (Lords), we found ourselves wanting to know more about the daily life of the Serfs and Peasants who raised food. We have a long way to go yet, but a few of things we focused on so far was “fuel” to cook and heat with, tools, and fencing to hold animals in a designated area.
A two worksheets are provided as well as an audio tour for this section. Since we like homesteading and farming, we decided to add more hands on projects learning about how people farmed / homesteaded during the Middle Ages to our study. We will be adding in more learning in this section in the future. We plan to learn how to build a replica of a dwelling, how to lash boards together, how they started fire with friction, fishing with nets, butchering, growing harvesting storing and grinding grain, growing a vegetable and herb garden, etc. These are skills that will be invaluable to these kids in the years ahead and help them connect their learning about the lives of people who lived in the past. Tweaking a lesson here or there is the great flexibility that we love about unit studies.
Since we have been using this study during the months of January and February we focused on homesteading projects from the Middle Ages that were done this time of year. These projects fit right in perfect timing to our study.
Chopping and gathering firewood and building and repairing fence was a common practice in January and February for the Serfs and Peasants.
January and February was also spent repairing hunting nets and repairing and building traps, sharpening tools, making utensils etc. So we worked with the kids on learning how to sharpen a pocket knife and we also took the kids to the lake and they made their own small bait traps and worked on their fishing poles when they got snagged and lost their lines.
While researching how the Serfs and Peasants farmed the land, we learned that the most common form of fence used in small scale farming in the Middle Ages was called a “hurdle”. It is built of a “waddle” or woven fence panel made of upright posts and willow (or other flexible wood or vines available) woven in between the posts. The next kind of fence used the most was hedges and stone fences or walls were also common if enough stone was available. All of these fences were used to keep livestock in a boundary, either a small pen or a small field that was on crop rotation with livestock. The fence or hedge held livestock penned in, or it held them out of gardens, graveyards, and orchards.
We could of made a small replica of the waddle fence panels and may still do this, but one of my sons likes to “build big”. Since he did not have the flexible material on hand to weave in and out of his posts he tried another method to make a simple fence panel about 5 feet long made of upright posts.
Of course 5 feet of fence isn’t enough to keep animals in, so this panel would have been combined with several more panel sections to create an actual fence. These paneled fences would have been joined together to create pens for milk cows, ox, chickens, pigs, and sheep. He used a small ax to make the panel and it was very obvious to the kids that just creating one panel was a lot of work. Folks who farmed or homesteaded in the middle ages had to work very hard to do even simple tasks.
Stop 5: Everyday Life – Clothing and Food
When making the recipes, you can cook these in your modern kitchen, fire place, or outdoors. We did some of both. We wanted to try cooking over an open flame/hot coals for a more realistic experience. It is a lot harder to cook outside, build a fire, prep and cook the meal, bake bread, etc than it is to make this in today’s modern kitchen. It was fun to try it out both ways.
Pictures of our creating our Herb Bread:
This bread was so delicious! Some of the kids ate it plain, some ate it with butter, and some ate it with strawberry jam. My husband loved it too!
Everyone wanted second and third servings of this delicious bread. The crust and texture of the bread came out amazing!
My son also wanted to try topping his slice of bread with honey. Every way they tried it, they enjoyed it.
For the stew, we changed the recipe to fit what we had on hand. That is how the people in the Middle Ages did it too. If they had an ingredient they used it, if not they substituted. This is a good exercise in helping people to be flexible, content, and make do with what you have on hand. Here is a picture of what the kids put into their stew.
He ate several slices with butter and then wanted to try it out with strawberry jam.
Outdoor cooking with Herb Bread:
This was another “extra” we added into our hands on learning. Folks cooked over a fireplace in the Middle Ages. We decided to make our “Middle Ages fireplace” kitchen in the back yard with some old bricks laying around and cook a few meals listed in the “Dining Out Guide”.
We made the fire place big enough to accommodate two fires or two cooking areas. Two of the boys made their fires to the best of their ability to see who could heat up their bricks and get their fire just right for cooking first. These two are competitive.
It was well after dark before we could get the fires to die down enough to cook on.
The kids learned it takes a long time to build a hot fire, heat their bricks, then let the fire die down to hot coals to bake bread.
We did not have a dutch oven pot or any “Medieval pots” to cook the bread in so we improvised with foil and shaped the foil like a pot and a lid. The kids used the same herb bread recipe we had made in the house, and this time they put it in the foil pot we made and placed it on bricks we put in the hot coals to bake.
This is the finished bread from the outdoor fire. It tasted delicious, though it looks misshapen or funny! With more practice, they will be able to shape it better.
We sliced it up and lathered it with butter and some of the kids had strawberry jam with it and it was delicious! The outdoor fireplace bread tasted just as good as the bread we had baked in the house in our modern stove oven.
We would like to try to create some pots from the middle ages to cook food in again. We might make some clay pots and try firing them in the fire in the future.
This was a common food eaten by peasants and surfs during the Middle Ages. This is also a common breakfast food my kids are familiar with. We have it once or twice a week. It is very nutritious!
Stop 6: Everyday Life : Community
Field Trip Castle:
One of the fun activities in this lesson is to build a replica of a castle. Included are directions to build a castle with sugar cubes. But my kids wanted to build one that will last and they can actually play with when they are through building it, so we are budgeting out money to buy a hobby brick kit to build one. We also have a wooden castle the kids have played with for years and the kids often build small castles with Legos. We pulled out our pictures from a while back when we actually took a field trip to see a real castle. The kids remember this well and talked about it as they learned about castles in this unit study.
Stop 7: Everyday Life – Crime, Punishement, Entertainment
Jousting and Fox and Goose Game
This section was really interesting to the kids because one of the suggestions is to play indoor and outdoor games: checkers, chess, horseshoes, marbles, dice, board games, capture the flag, tag, games with balls, and physical training activities to become a knight, etc. They also learned about a competitive game knights and warriors played to prove themselves in a challenge called Jousting.
Stop 13: Medicine and Disease
“Medicinal” herb salt.
Herbs and super foods were “medicine” in ancient times. Folks who knew how to use strong herbs and oils and salt survived some of the darkest diseases in history. Nowadays, petrochemicals are used to make synthetic medicines.
Though it is sad how many people died of the plague during the Middle Ages, learning how to make your own herbal remedy was an interesting lesson to explore. This is a subject we are very interested in. We have spent some time in the past learning about herbs used for healing. We have made elderberry extract, tinctures, various kinds of honey, teas, and several herbal remedies over the years. This study gave simple instructions for creating an Herb Salt that is just salt and dried herb(s) of your choice that can be used both in cooking and health care. We made an herbal remedy with oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, and sea salt for this project. Whenever one is feeling down, you can stir a teaspoon of this into hot water and drink it to restore minerals and act as an antibiotic anti fungal. You can add a touch of raw honey and lemon juice for even more benefits. We also rub the herb salt mixture into meat before cooking, or use it to season broth or other foods or put some in your bath water too.
We would like to create an actual “Herbal Apothecary” someday. We are in the process of learning how to do this. We have a good start with herbs, salts, essential oils, and dried super foods that ancient people in history knew how to use to support the body.
Stop 22: Battles, Wars, Conflicts
During this journey, the kids learned about ancient weapons that were used during warfare. One of those weapons was a catapult. We built our own catapult variation with the instructions supplied. We substituted some of the supplies listed. We built our catapult using twigs, a pocket knife, rubber banks, and hot glue. It turned out fantastic and worked perfectly.
It is amazing how sturdy this catapult is and how well it works!
Now the boys want to build a big life size model. Oh boy!
One of the boys also built a Lego catapult. He had a battle with his Lego men. This catapult worked very well too. Do you know how hard it is to find a Lego that was flung across the room?
Dad helped the kids make wooden swords a while back. They had a lot of fun making them.
It was fun to have their own sword and compare it to the weapons used in the Middle Ages unit study. The 12 year old made a paper hat for a king, draped a blanket on as a cape and pretended he was in a heated battle with the others to protect his kingdom.
Someday they would like to make an actual shield to go with their sword. They would also like to make a long bow and set up an archer range. They have shot bows and cross bows before. But they are interested in making their own primitive long bow now. They have been researching how to make it, but we haven’t built it yet. I just hope no-one gets hurt with all these battles they like to act out.
Stop 25: Final Stop – Packing Up
Lapbooks are one of our favorite projects.
The Lapbook is the last lesson #25 in the Project Passport Middle Ages, but we decided to put ours together as we went along for the purpose of this review so our reading audience could see it in action.
We are about half way through with the Lapbook at the time of writing this review.
We still have a ways to go to finish this study of the Middle Ages and in addition to the recommended activities, we are adding some “extras” into our study as we find the time. These additional activities will add a few more weeks onto our hands on learning. The kids are really enjoying this unit study.
Because this is a flexible unit study, you can go faster or slower and pick and choose which lessons you want to complete. For example if you speed up to 3 lessons a week, and do all of the lessons, you can finish this study in 8 weeks, or if you slow down and do 1 lesson a week on the journey, this unit study will last a full 25 weeks. We chose to go at our own pace, plug in the activities we were interested in, added in a few additional ideas we researched, and customized the study to fit best with our family’s interest and schedule.
Check out this video that explains even more about Project Passport unit studies.
Home School In The Woods offers free samples of audio dramas and lessons and much more. Be sure to check out their free samples on their website. We love their History Timelines too! Home School In The Woods is a great resource for homeschool families. We highly recommend all of the great products at Home School In The Woods.
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Be sure to check out all of the great products from Home School In The Woods. And be sure to check out all of the HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Studies series including their latest “Ancient Greece”. They will have “Ancient Rome” available soon and are adding new products all the time.
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Homeschool Review Crew:
Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Home School In the Woods HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport Studies in their homeschool.