We’ve taken a break this past month from our normal history studies to use the Great Empires Activity Study from Home School in the Woods. I’ve been looking at a number of their packages to use in our next school year, so I was so happy to have the opportunity to review this unit study.
Home School in the Woods is a family run business by homeschool mother Amy Pak. I love products that are developed by other homeschool families since they have a true insight into what our days are like!
The Great Empires Activity Study is available in both CD and download format, we received the download version. it’s suggested for elementary school aged children.
This unit covers the following 14 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
Each empire unit contains a few pages of text with key information about it’s formation and activity. Also provided are games, maps, projects, links and recipes for each area of study. Each unit can be covered in about a weeks time, or if you use all the book and link suggestions you can stretch each empire into a month of study.
How did we use this curriculum?
I had originally planned to move through this quickly as we had in past years studied some of the early empires already. My children on the other hand had a different idea! They just love the early history time periods and we have spent the past month learning about Ancient Egypt.
The download version launches with a html page in your browser. This page acts like a home page and lets you easily move through the resources for each unit. I loved how this was set up!
I printed off the reading text, maps, activities and time line. We started off our study by reading the 2 page information guide on Ancient Egypt. This is the only part of the unit study that I wasn’t overly fond of. The text is written in a very textbook like format. My younger children were not interested in it at all, as it was to “dry” for their liking. My older children understood it, but trying to keep them paying attention was hard. I would have preferred the text to be written in a narrative style.
I would read each section then ask the children to narrate back to me.
Next we worked on the mapping pages. I have to say I love the maps in this unit! They are pretty and the detail is great. I’m also glad that they include a teachers copy with the correct areas filled out. It is not always easy to find a map of Ancient Egypt, that has everything labeled.
Other activities included in the Egypt unit were making a cartouche. We did the paper version first using their worksheet each child wrote their name in hieroglyphs. Later we worked on the more messy clay version.
Two recipes were included Egyptian Fig Cookies and Lemon & Garlic Potato Salad. The kids picked the fig cookies, no surprise there!
There is also a great list of additional reading books suggested for each unit. Unfortunately our library didn’t have most of them, and it takes them forever to order books in. So I substituted where I could, and tried to wait for the others. Luckily I already have may Egyptian books in our personal library.
This unit also includes a collection of websites, and we loved these! For Egypt links included how to make your own Senet game, a virtual tour of Egypt, websites on the pyramids, Egyptian life, art and many interesting people from Egypt’s history . Some of these include Narmer, Ramses II and Tutankhamun.
What did we not like?
We have really enjoyed using this program, the only thing that I wasn’t overly fond of was the format the text was written in. This is because our family prefers a living book/narrative style.
What did we like?
I loved how the interactive program was laid out. It makes it very easy to find the pages your looking for. I don’t have to dig through many PDF’s to find the right pages.
The overview sheets for each empire although not in the style we prefer are still very well done. the information included in them is excellent. For the remaining units, I will simply break the readings up into smaller amounts.
The additional reading suggestion are great and books are suitable for different ages. This is another way you could use the program with younger or older students. The next unit we do, I wont expect to use the overview sheets with my younger children. Instead we’ll jump right into the literature suggestions.
I loved the webpage links that were included. It takes a lot of time to search the internet looking for child friendly websites for each topic. I loved having them already organized.
The maps are wonderful! They are large and easy to read. I like the shading as it makes the maps look nicer the most we have used.
We loved the simple time lines that are included. Instead of being a time line covering every person and event in a time period, they covered the start of each empire. These time lines are perfect for younger children or for your first time line.
Our family is going to continue using this program, but in a slightly different way. I’m going to use the earlier empire units as a review of what we have studied in the past. Then as we come to a new time period of history I will use this unit study as an introduction to that, then move into our normal narrative style history.
To look at samples visit Home School in the Woods. The download version is available for $18.98 and the CD version is $19.95.
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