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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bring Ancient History to Life with Home School in the Woods, a review

Take a tour through the classical world with HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece from Home School in the Woods and learn about the lasting influence these remarkable people have had on our own modern culture. review of HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Taste Greek foods, explore Greek philosophy and art, dress like a Greek, organize your own Olympic Games, “build” ancient architecture, assemble the Platonic solids, and more.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study

HISTORY through the Ages Project Passport World History is a hands-on activity-based program designed for grades 3-8.

The tour of Ancient Greece includes 25 stops of interest with informational text and varied activities including:

  • a picture timeline
  • a Greek newspaper you create article by article and ad by ad
  • finely detailed maps
  • postcards from famous (and infamous) Greeks
  • audio tour stops
  • lapbook elements
  • notebooking elements
  • paper crafts
  • crafts and other activities

Ancient Greece could be used over 6 weeks (which would be a little intense for my crew), spread out over a semester, or even spread out over a year.

It is a stand alone unit---you really could use it without adding additional informational resources, but we are adding both fiction and non-fiction books. Documentaries and other resources could also make great additions.

Ancient Greece can be purchased as a download or on CD and is both Windows and Mac compatible.

We are loving Home School in the Woods’ Ancient Greece.

This was a midyear replacement for us. We started out studying another period of history last fall but were getting bogged down, so when the opportunity to review Ancient Greece came along, we decided it might be fun to change things up. I’m glad we did.

I am using Ancient Greece with a 2nd grader (Emma), a 5th grader (Peter), and a 7th grader (Mary). Content and output wise, this unit is perfect Peter and Mary. They love, love, love the exquisite artwork that is just begging to be carefully colored and shaded with their colored pencils. The Emma also loves the coloring but needs more help with the cutting out and assembly of some of the paper crafts.  Peter and Mary are doing nearly all of the activities, but Emma is not doing all the activities that require writing.

We are averaging 2 stops a week, and just started stop 10 on Monday.  I anticipate that we will be finished right before Easter.  This is a little longer than I would normally spend on a single unit, but every time I ask the kids if they want to keep going, they say, “Yes, please!”

Age recommendations:

I think this program will work best for grades 5th – 8th. It could also be used for older students as an extra for a high school level course or for an older student with special needs. I think it works fine for grades 2-3 if they are tagging along with older siblings, but if your oldest child is in 4th and you have younger kids tagging along, I would suggesting wait a year or two before taking a crack at Ancient Greece. There are some fun activities that younger kids will probably enjoy, but they will enjoy the whole thing much more and get more out of it in a few years.

What’s the prep like?

You have two ways to access the materials from your cd or download. If you choose to use the “start” file that is provided, your computer will open a menu in your browser. Here’s a glimpse out how the menu is laid out:

project passport screenshot

Each stop has a “Guide Book Text” to read and a “Travel Itinerary.” The itinerary explains the various activities, lists the materials you need, and gives detailed printing instructions for those things that require printing. You can click through the menu to open and print any necessary pdfs or click the “play” button to listen to the audio tour.

Alternatively, you can open the main folder and access the files you want directly. There are subfolders for the texts, the itineraries, the blackline masters (pdfs for printable activities), and for the audio tour mp3s. File names are very logical, so it’s easy to find which file you are looking for.

At the beginning of the study, you will want each child to set up a binder. Printable covers and spine inserts are provided. I printed my children’s spines each on their personal “color” so I can easily tell the binders apart.

project passport cover page project passport spine

To prepare for a stop, I first print the text and the itinerary and pop them into a binder. Then I refer to the itinerary to decide which activities we will do and what things I need to print. I store those printed materials in pocket dividers in my binder so everything is in one place.

I precut many of the paper crafts if they have straight edges (like the postcards and the mini booklets), because it’s easy and quick for me to cut them all at once with a paper cutter rather than have my children cut everything by hand. This helps to streamline our time spent on the paper crafts. They do cut out the timeline figures and other detailed (not straight) cuts themselves.

What’s a typical stop in Ancient Greece like?

The length of each stop varies. Some we are able to complete in an hour or two and others we spread out over a few days. It took us a few stops to find our groove, but this what we do now: Mom reads the text while the children color and cut out things.

kids working on Ancient Greecekids working on Ancient Greece 2


Most stops will involve coloring and cutting out a timeline figure or more,

Project Passport Ancient Greece Timeline


and adding things to a map.

Project Passport Ancient Greece Map


Labels are provided that can be cut out and pasted onto the map (great for my 2nd grader) or older kids can write the names.

Project Passport Ancient Greece Map 2



Some stops will have a postcard from a famous Greek that needs a picture added to it. Postcards are stored in the postcard rack.

Project Passport Ancient Greece Postcards 1


The postcards serve to reinforce the day’s reading and are often humorous.

Project Passport Ancient Greece Postcards 2


After I finish reading the text, we will work on one or more of the other activities.

Sometimes they will be directed to add an article and or ad to their Greek newspaper, which gives them an opportunity to synthesize some of what they have learned. I usually have Peter and Mary work on these in their own time---the newspaper is too much writing for Emma, so she skips that bit.

Project Passport Ancient Greece Newspaper



Some stops have more involved activities. My kids loved coloring and assembling their own Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns.


Project Passport Ancient Greece column 1



The columns are ingeniously 3-dimensional and yet still fit into a 3-ring binder.

Project Passport Ancient Greece column 2Project Passport Ancient Greece column 3When we worked on this project, I wondered if all the detail work was worth it. I mean, they look awesome, but were they learning anything?


The other night, Peter came home all excited from karate. He had spotted a perfect example of a Corinthian column---obviously the lesson stuck.

We also learned about different forms of Greek government and made these pop up booklets:

Project Passport Ancient Greece government

I printed these on colored paper, which was what was suggested in the itinerary. If I had to do it over again, I would have used cardstock (and I have printed all similar items in cardstock)---the minibooks are a bit flimsy and prone to wrinkling.

We compared Athens and Sparta:

Project Passport Ancient Greece AthensProject Passport Ancient Greece SpartaProject Passport Ancient Greece Athens close up


We dressed like Greeks and made overlays showing different modes of dress for Greek men and women.

Project Passport Ancient Greece greek man clothes 1Project Passport Ancient Greece greek man clothes 2Project Passport Ancient Greece greek man clothes 3

We did have some trouble with out cutouts peeling off the plastic we used (we had used permanent glue sticks to attach them, which is what is suggested in the activity notes), but reattaching them with double-stick tape fixed that problem.

We made laurel wreaths and held our own Olympic games, awarding a wreath to the winner of each contest.

Project Passport Ancient Greece olympics

The unit included instructions for making the wreaths out of felt. I did a modified version using construction paper, which I had on hand.

This is just a smattering of all the things we’ve been learning about Ancient Greece from this HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study.

The Kids’ opinions of Ancient Greece:

Emma (age 7):

I like it, but I think they they should make it so that the longer stops are a little shorter.

She went on to suggest that maybe more, but shorter stops would work. Mary agreed with this observation---they like to have a routine and the varied stop lengths make that  a little harder.

Mary (age 13):

I like it. I really like some of the projects, like the pillars and the ones for the Greek clothes. I think it would be nicer if the stops were more regular in length. It would be nice to learn more in-depth about some of the famous people mentioned.

You can, of course, add resources to go deeper.

Peter (age 11):

I like it. I like the columns, the postcards, the audio tours, the timeline, the overlays…

…he kept going, listing virtually everything we’ve done in the study thus far. Smile

Mom’s Opinion:

I love quality of the illustrations and maps. My older children have been applying their artistic talents to coloring these and the results are impressive. I also love the flexibility of this program. I can just use it as is and add nothing or add things I have on hand or find on the internet or at my library. I can also pick and choose from the activities. If we only have time to do the timeline and maps one week, it would be a shame, but it would also be ok!

We can work on the projects as a team or each kid can do his own. My kids all wanted to make their own columns, for instance, but I can see that being a group project. Kids could also take turns illustrating the postcards or adding pictures to the timeline.   This would be one way to cut down on printing, resources, and time.

It is a lot of printing! Make sure you have a selection of papers, including cardstock, and plenty of printer ink on hand.  But it has been worth it. We are all learning so much.

Overall, I’m impressed with the quality of HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece and would highly recommend it if you have kids in grades 5-8.  Younger kids can tag along with their older siblings.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study

Other HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Studies available from Home School in the Woods:

Ancient Egypt
The Middle Ages
Renaissance & Reformation

Ancient Rome is coming in 2018!

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study


For reviews of other units, please visit:

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews
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