Monday, March 19, 2018

Home School in the Woods {review}

My kids love playing games, and I am trying to intentionally incorporate more fun into our homeschool.  When we had the opportunity to review some of the À La Carte Projects from Home School in the Woods, I let the boys peruse the many choices.  The options include crafts, games, timelines, lapbooks, newspaper projects and more, from different time periods throughout history.  My boys chose Battle Blitz! and Journey through the Middle Ages, both of which are games.  I knew we had some Fun Fridays in our future!

Home School in the Woods is a hands-on history program, and they design their products to be fun, engaging and interactive.  The games we chose are digital downloads.  Each download includes clear instructions for printing and assembling.  The instructions tell you specifically which pages to print on paper or cardstock, and if it should be colored or white paper.  Some of the pages need to be printed front-to-back, so you must be careful to adjust printer settings accordingly.  For our games, the question cards were like this.

Once everything is printed, then it's time to color and assemble!  Minimal supplies were needed.  File folders (as these are file folder games), colored pencils, scissors, and double-sided tape.  The only other supply we needed for one of the games was a standard six-sided die.  There were a lot of cards and game pieces to cut out, so my paper trimmer from my scrapbooking days would have been handy!

Battle Blitz!

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products
My 11 year old requested Battle Blitz! because the name intrigued him at first, but he was even more interested when he realized it was about the American Revolution.  He is currently immersed in this time period in history, so it was a very fitting choice.  The game is part of Time Travelers: The American Revolution set, and is a Revolutionary War themed file folder game.  Players first choose an army:  British Solider, American Soldier, French Soldier, American Indian, American Frontiersman, or German Hessian.

The instructions suggest to start with a subset of the questions, and I thought this was a good idea since we haven't finished covering this time period, and we aren't using the actual Time Travelers set. I figured the game would give us a fun way to review some of the content we've learned, and throw in a few new facts as well, so I carefully chose the questions ahead of time.

Each space on the board is representative of a battle, so as players answer questions correctly, their army "wins" the battle and covers the space.  If a player answers wrong, other players have the opportunity to answer the question and win the battle.  The idea is that the more the kids play the game and hear the questions, the more the information will sink in.

The individual questions are quite varied, and we found questions about pivotal events leading up to and surrounding the war, famous people, battles, important documents, and more.  Elliott would be so excited when he realized he could answer these questions because he had read about the event in one of his term biographies.

Side note:  I probably should have laminated the small soldier markers, but the boys were in a hurry to play for game day.

Journey through the Middle Ages

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products
Journey though the Middle Ages is another file folder game, this time from Project Passport: The Middle Ages.  Players can choose to be a Knight, Nun, Monk, Peasant Woman, Noble Woman or King.

Like the other game, the goal is to review and learn by answering questions.  When you answer correctly, you can roll the die and move that number of spaces.  The objective is to reach each castle, "attempting to be the most well traveled adventurer in the land" and secure a matching color card from each area of Europe.  The winner is the person who collects all six cards first.

We found this game took more time, for two reasons.  It was chosen by my 8 year old, because he wanted to pick a game related to his history too - however, it covers a much wider scope than the events surrounding single war, and it was harder for me to choose the subset of questions, because there was more information we hadn't covered yet.  I just went into it knowing there would be more wrong answers, thus taking longer to progress.  The other reason it took longer is because you aren't moving in a straight line around the board; you have to move strategically across the board and land exactly on a castle to claim a colored card.

As for the questions, there was again quite a bit of variety.  Famous people and events, as well as general facts about the way of life were all represented.

Some Final Thoughts
These games are designed for approximately 3rd-8th grade, for 2-6 players, so they are great for siblings or even sibling teams.

I will say, I found the directions (regarding the reading of the questions) a bit ambiguous, and we found ourselves winging it, but I don't feel that it affected the purpose of the game.  We didn't initially laminate, but I would recommend it for durability.

For the purpose of reviewing, this game does the job!  We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, and do not use a traditional textbook/study guide approach, nor do we typically use these types of questions.  However, the game play makes for a fun alternative for reviewing, and we found that much of the information questioned in the game has been covered through our living books.  You can even make your own question cards, which means the game can be adapted specifically to your individual needs and curriculum.

The kids have had a lot of fun with these games!  It's been a nice way to add some review and learn a few new interesting facts about different time periods, and a way for the boys to connect over history since they are now studying different time periods.  The crew has reviewed a large selection of À La Carte products, and we're eyeing the Pirate Panoply and Name that State games next!  If you're wanting to take a peek at the large variety that Home School in the Woods offers, I suggest you check out more reviews!

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