Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hands-On Ancient History with Project Passport

     In all of our history of homeschooling, which comes to a total of about six years (Wow! How did that even happen!) we have focused primarily on American History. If I'm going to be honest with you, it's because that is simply what is in my comfort zone. It's a far smaller span of time to study than the ancient civilizations, and in all honesty, it's what I learned the most about in my education. However, we are certainly coming to the end of our American history lessons, and as my kids get older they become more fascinated and curious about other areas of the world. So I think it's safe to say it's time to revamp our history curriculum to give them a broader view of the world around us!

    We have done a lot of dry curriculum. I really wanted to try something different. My kids are very hands-on learners, which is why so many of our curriculum choices work so well! However, I'm not great at planning and putting things into words myself, and need a good curriculum that's capable of basically drawing it all out for me. I love it when it takes the work away and tells me exactly what to do. Especially with multiple homeschoolers on different grade levels, it's important that I have enough time to dedicate to each learner. So this is what I was looking for as I began my search for some sort of world history program.

    When we were given the opportunity to try and review the Ancient Greece project from Homeschool in the Woods, I was just as excited as my kids were about stepping outside of my comfort zone to learn about something completely new to us! Where better to start in world history than at the very beginning, learning about ancient civilizations! So we received the hands-on Project Passport: Ancient Greece, and we were ready to begin!
disclaimer: I was given the product for free in exchange for an honest review of the product itself! However that did not affect my response written about the product. It really is amazing!!  Post also includes affiliate links!

   When we first began our life here at Bible College, I remember penning in my prayer journal that I really wanted God to impress on my heart a desire to know better the scriptures. I spent the first year praying that, and feeling like I was running on survival mode. In the beginning of the year, I resolved to be more intentional, specifically that I would get serious about knowing the scriptures and what they held, and began praying more fervently about this. We began a new bible study on campus which led us to read a book by Jen Wilkin called 'Women of the Word" At the same time, my Sunday school class began studying "Open Your Bible", which is another bible study focused on studying your Bible! So God is answering my prayers, and really impressing on my heart a desire for Biblical literacy like I've never had before.

   What does this have to do with an Ancient Greece study? A lot, actually! It is so important to have a basic understanding of ancient civilizations so we can better understand the scriptures. I remember in my study I read that Luke, which was believed to have been written around 60-61 AD, was written toward the Greeks. The introduction, dedicated to Theophilus (God's friend) opens this up. Also throughout the gospel you can see traces of Grecian style and vocabulary throughout the book. This was the moment that I realized that aside from the study of Greek Mythology in a literature class or two, I don't remember anything about the ancient civilizations. This is unfortunately, because this was the time period in which much of the scriptures were written about. So to understand these civilizations would be to better understand scripture!

   With this in mind, I was excited to begin this study and allow my kids into a world that I had never ventured, and pretty excited to try it out for myself as well!

Getting Started with Passport to Ancient Greece!

    Now to be honest, when I first opened up the project I was slightly overwhelmed! It seemed like so much prep work would go into this, and I wasn't sure I was up to the task. I'm so glad that I decided to put aside my fears and go on with this program!

    The study is available either on CD's you can order or by online download. We received both for this study. For some reason I had a lot of issues with the downloaded version. I'm not sure if it was just a personal issue or what, but I much preferred the format of the CD's. It's completely possible that it was a user error, as I find that I'm still familiarizing myself with my chromebook, but even putting the issues aside, I still loved the format that the CD version offered. On the CD's, the program is laid out in a very easy-to-understand format that made putting this curriculum together far easier! Also, I was less overwhelmed by the bright instruction page with the easily organized menus than I was an unzipped folder with all of the items listed in it. Either one of them would be easy to figure out with enough time, but I really liked the CD's better personally.

Before getting started, the first things that you need to get everything set up are;

   The program CD or downloaded version of the program, printer paper, ink (quite a bit!) colored card stock, tape, white card stock, and binders with a clear cover. At least one binder for your Guide book (your teacher's manual) and binders for each student to make their 'Scrapbook of Sights' which will contain all of the work that they complete in this project.

      This is very important, please remember this! Before you do anything at all with the program, print the instructions! I began just looking at the pdf files and printing all of them out... (note... I admittedly don't follow directions well and tend to jump in feet first on projects. This is my downfall and I'm working on it!) and I wasted quite a bit of time, not to mention ink and paper in doing so. If you print the instructions first, they are very clear on what to print, when to print it, and what sort of paper you will want to print it on to get the best results! Some files are best printed on cardstock so they are easier to color, or so that the paper won't fold when pasted (they think of everything!!) Others are okay to print on paper, and in some cases (such as the teacher's kit) you aren't required to print them at all, if you are okay with using the disk to double check as the work is being done. I wish I would have started this to begin with!

    Don't be overwhelmed, the instructions are very clear! Incredibly so, and probably more than in any other curriculum I've used before! It's far less overwhelming and certainly exciting to read through the directions! This is an important step in enjoying the program and not getting in over your head! Remember this!

    To be completely honest with you, I struggle with something that has a lot of instruction to it. I never did well with the Abeka curriculum that so so so many homeschool families used flawlessly, just because there was so much instruction and I got so wrapped up in it it just overwhelmed me. That certainly was my thought going into this! I also prefer something very simple because as a homeschooling Mom of three and a toddler, I really didn't want to have something that would take me a long time to understand, and just from looking I imagined that was what I was getting myself into.

    I could not have been more wrong! 
    The format of the directions is sooo incredibly clear and simple. Anyone could do this and understand it! It's so easy and complete! Take it from a Mom who gets overwhelmed easy, this is so worth it! As long as you are willing to follow directions, this is a very easy curriculum to put together.

     What we LOVE about this program!

    Besides the clarity of the instructions, there are so very many things that my family loves this program!

   One of those things is that it makes me one of those awesome crafty Mommies that I've always wanted to be without any research on my part! Haha! You know, those projects that take hours of pinterest to plan, just because you're just -so not that crafty person? Nope! Not any longer! These projects are written out so simply for you. Take it from the Mom who doesn't even like to put together the simple science experiments (trust me those were not written for the crafty people, however I still struggle with them) This is even easier than that! I've struggled forever just knowing how to put a lapbook together.. so my crafty curious kids were so unbelievably excited when I pull out the colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors and card stock for our history lesson! For us, this has been a match made in Heaven! Or Olympus, if you will- :-)



     We started out our passport adventure by making a passport and a suitcase to tuck away neatly all of our travel gear! I also prepared ahead of time my main "textbook", the "Guide book to Ancient Greece" The program consist of printing everything from the teaching guides, the lesson text, and the travel pages to the cover page! No effort to be creative on your part necessary! Perfect for me!

   The lesson plans cover rich lessons in Greek culture, such as everyday life, commerce, science, medicine, philosophy, arts, religion, warfare, and much more! It also covers geography, history and notable figures from the time period. Each of these lessons is listed in an itinerary, conveniently 'stopping' at each area!

                                                 Little Sister Modeling her suitcase, complete with a cute luggage tag!

            Colored pencils make coloring the tiny details much easier! This is recommended, although not required.

Sister still prefers crayons :)

How we are using this program in our Homeschool

    There are lots of ways that you can implement this program into your homeschool journey! The "Length of stay" that is found in the beginning of the itinerary is 6-12 weeks. There are 25 stops on your journey, and honestly you can customize this to fit your homeschool however you see fit! Some of our "Stops" have taken us more than one school day to complete, and we are using it twice a week (we alternate history and science, focusing on history on Monday and Wednesday and science on Tuesday and Thursday) so it will take us a little longer than 12 weeks to complete. However, some stops are not as long as others, so we may be finished in a shorter time, but I'm allowing at least 24 weeks just to be safe. This means we will be breaking up the curriculum to span into next year, which I'm completely fine with! This is a rich program with so much information, so much supplemental material to be found, and lots, lots and lots of activities! You could certainly make this work however it fits with your family!

When I first arranged our folders, I placed the daily text followed by the daily itinerary in my Guide book. This works well for me, since I thrive on organization. I found it works best for me to print out the daily work ahead of time and arrange it in a folder for each child and slip this into the front pocket of their Scrapbook of sights. At the beginning of each lesson we read the text (which is also well-written and interesting, and not too long!) then the kiddos open their folder to find what we will be working on for the day. This is always exciting because it is always a hands on activity, such as a postcard or a newspaper, a lapbook or a printable coloring page! There are so many fantastic different and exciting activities to do with this project, and its so customizable you can choose which projects to do, and which ones you want to skip over!



    To make this project even more customizable, there are fantastic resources listed in this book! So honestly it can be customized however you would see fit! You could expand or shorten this curriculum however you need to fit your own personal needs!


    It's also questioned about the age group that this study is appropriate for. It is listed from 3rd to 8th grade. Some of the activities would be far too difficult for my 1st grader, but I am confident that you could tone down some of the lessons and activities and easily make this work for younger siblings who want to tag along! However, we normally don't get around to this lesson until after 2:30, and my early-to-rise Big Brother has certainly finished with his daily individual work, and is very ready to surround himself in the floor with legos! So normally I allow him to play or color while the older kids work on this project.

    It is a perfect fit for my 4th grader, but with extra supplemental material I also plan to make this work as a high school half-credit for history! Along with the supplemental reading material and some other studies, I believe this will be a great addition to her transcript! It certainly will give her the time needed to use as a credit with all of the work that goes into this. I know that she's learning a lot, because I am learning a lot, and we are absolutely loving it!

    We are so excited that we have had the opportunity to review this project, and will certainly be keeping it and going along with the rest of the program! There are also other fantastic programs that go along with Home School in the Woods! This is the newest addition to some wonderful curriculum choices offered by this company! Some of the other studies on ancient civilizations available are...

and Ancient Rome will be available in 2018! 

    This is a great curriculum for everyone! If you're a history junkie, or just someone who wants to learn more about the Ancient civilizations and has no idea where to start, consider Home School in the Woods! My experience with this program has been absolutely fantastic, and I can't wait to continue on this journey!