My family has enjoyed reviewing Home School in the Woods product before, but, honestly, sometimes we just don't have the time to dig into deep unit studies, so would like to nibble on quality without a large commitment. That is just what Á La Carte projects offer - the same wonderful design as all-in Home School in the Woods products but in small,fit-into-life sized bites.
Games, newspapers, timelines, and more - depending on which Á La Carte projects you pick, you can discover fun, learning, or review for an hour, an afternoon, a week, or even longer.
We selected two products for review: The Art Gallery File Folder Game and the A Young Country Newspaper Collection. Both came as e-files that were easy to download, print, and use.
Art Gallery came with different options for printing color or black and white art cards (depending on your printer/ink situation) and clear directions about how to print and assemble the game.
Directions for play were easy, too. Basically, four players move about the Art Gallery board as they answer questions about who painted artworks, what the artworks names are, and what mediums the artworks were done in.
Since my children are not familiar with all of the art within the game, we adapted the directions to be: If you can name the artist, artwork name, or medium, you can automatically move a space. If you cannot, but can use enough "art speak" to describe what you see in the artwork that other players give you a thumbs up, you can move on a space. Playing this way allowed my children to review what they have previously learned about art appreciation -things like describing composition, noticing warm and cool color palettes, commenting on tone, describing how many central figures there are, naming if something is a portrait, landscape, or still life, etc.
We had quite a few laughs as we put on "art tour" voices and described the paintings. We also began to better notice similarities and differences in styles, picking out "another one by (fill in the blank artist)!"
When I asked my children for their quick feedback about Art Gallery, they said:
"I liked the selection of artwork. There were many different styles. I had fun playing with my friends."
"I liked the artwork because they have so many different types of artwork and a good variety of artists. I like guessing who the paintings were by. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci was so easy! A lot of the others, I didn't know who the artist was, but I liked them."
"I like how the board looks, and I like how there was not hundreds of teeny tiny pieces. Instead of just having the artist's name, the board had illustrations.
I like artwork that was picked for the cards. It was many, many different styles. It made it fun to not know what was coming up next.
We played it differently than you are meant to. We decided to use big "art language" to talk about the artworks, because we did not know a lot about some of the art.
Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, and Beatrix Potter were easy to figure out, because we have studied their styles before. The others were not all familiar, but we began to notice more about their styles.
It is a fun game!"
For us, the game is a keeper we will enjoy again. If you're looking for a fun way to introduce picture study or review prior art appreciation learning, I'd recommend it!
The game is meant for grades 3 and up, but my second grader played along just fine and we even had a two year old buddy teaming up with a preteen to play and enjoy!
The A Young Country Newspaper Collection was also a hit here.
Meant for children in grades three to twelve, the collection includes 10+ pages of templates for creating a newspaper called the Daily Bugle and another called the Westward Weekly, thereby reviewing early U.S. history studies while practicing creative writing skills at the same time.
Headlines for articles and advertisements encourage writers to report on specific topics, yet allow them freedom to decide which facts and ideas they wish to include. Blank templates allow complete freedom of choice.
I found my children truly enjoyed using their own ideas and words to create their newspapers - and I enjoyed how doing so acted as a catalyst for them to do some independent or team research, work on beautiful handwriting, and seek how to spell words correctly. I also loved that it was print and go - no research, prep work, nor fussing about trying to design something for Mom.
My children said:
"I really like how you can write what you like and don't have to write something specific. The headlines and pictures give ideas, and, then, you can write about anything in the topic. The newspaper style makes it fun to write all my facts about history."
"I like writing the newspaper! I find it really fun to do. I like how you kind of have free range about it, but you don't completely. They give you a topic and you write what you know. It also encouraged me to figure out what some of the stuff was that I didn't know about. I want to do more newspapers! I like their style!"
"I chose to write about my own thing and used beautiful handwriting. I researched the Pony Express."
The newspapers proved a great way to engage my children in learning and narrating history while exercising creativity and writing skills. Not only that, but they encouraged my developing reader to happily practice reading, too! I love that and would therefore recommend A Young Country Newspaper Collection to others studying early American history that have creative kids who enjoy telling stories.
Home School in the Woods offers many Á La Carte products to choose from, ranging n price from jut under $2 to about $13. Click through the images below to learn more about specific projects.
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