Sunday, May 5, 2013

Homeschool in the Woods - Great Empires {Schoolhouse Review}

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I have mentioned in many previous posts how I approach unit studies: I start with a topic and go straight to literature for non-fiction and fiction books to anchor our study. We read and do activities related to the topic. In my opinion, reading is how you learn and doing is how you reinforce your learning. Homeschool in the Woods is a company whose product I had the pleasure of reviewing this past month, and we chose the Great Empires activity study from their vast collection. It was fabulous and fell right in line with our way of doing things.

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The Great Empires activity study covers 14 major historical empires, including Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Viking Empire, and Russian Empire. Each activity study includes text about the empire, reproducibles (including maps), and an activity page with several fun-filled activities. There is also included a recommended book list. Each empire takes between 1-3 days to complete.

How we Used the Curriculum:

We used the Great Empires activity study as our unit study during the review period. Each afternoon we would read a book chosen from the list provided, or another relevant book, read any relevant text, and then do a worksheet and/or activity provided in the activities section.

Some of our favorite books we used.

Here is an example of our time spent studying the Viking Empire. We read the text provided in the activity study about the history of the Viking Empire, plotting information on the white board. We also reinforced with the book How People Lived in Viking Times.

The kids plotted the route Leif Ericson took when he discovered Vinland, aka America!

They made Viking coins.

They spent some time peeling potatoes and chopping vegetables for beef barley soup.

This was the finished barley flatbread. Mmmm ... not so yummy.

The barley beef stew was pretty good and we even took it to church for our potluck dinner that night.

We read and learned about Viking longships, colored pictures and completed notebooking pages.

My Opinion:

We liked everything about this product! In fact, when we do a more in-depth study of the ancients, we will be using this product! I highly recommend it! The information included in the text portion was a tad dry and "textbook", but the recommended books and other books brought it to life. Then the activities nailed down the concepts beautifully! In fact, it sparked some additional interests and the kids have requested some extra activities, like building a longboat.

I thought the product was a perfect unit study. But we do unit studies like this all the time. What I love most is that everything was pulled together and took virtually no planning by me, except to just get the supplies together and check the books out from the library. But I did think while I was using how great it would be for someone who is not used to doing unit studies! It's that easy!

Product Details:

The Great Empires activity study is available in both Download and CD form. The Download version is $18.95 and the CD version is $19.95 and can be purchased from the Homeschool in the Woods website. The suggested age for the Great Empires activity study is elementary school students.


Other Crew members reviewed this product, as well as the Homeschool in the Woods products Hands-on History Activity Paks - Composers and The 20th Century in America Hands-On History Lap-Pak. To read reviews on all of the products, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.



  1. One of our recipes was not so good, too, but making the Viking coins was enjoyed.

  2. Looks like a great product! We have only done a few unit studies here and there, but they are fun. I'll have to keep this company in mind.


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