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Westward Expansion & Early America History Kits

Hands and Hearts
Jeff & Kate Estes

Hands and Hearts makes some really unique (and really nice!) hands-on history kits! Nothing brings History to life like "hands ON!" We love projects, crafts, living history books, and notebooking - so these kits were a BIG HIT with our family!

We have a continual study of the Westward Expansion and Early America going on in our house, due in part to Laura Ingalls Wilder! So these kits and projects fit right in to our homeschool!

Hands and Hearts kits come in a nice sturdy box to keep everything in one spot. The kits have a nice comb-bound Instruction Manual, with easy-to-follow instructions for all the projects included and suggestions for lessons to include in your study (such as spelling lists, writing, etc., etc.). There is also a folder of various papers to use in your notebook, such as blackline maps, map lesson plans, and others with western pictures and graphics (lined and unlined) to use for writing, stories, or reports. Hands and Hearts kits also include sturdy cards that include Bible verses for memorization. You can get so creative with the ideas and suggestions that have been provided and toss in your own to customize further!

The list of projects and crafts included is extensive, all with the highest quality of supplies to make the nicest finished product possible. You can do your projects in any order, customized to your family's study and desires. In the Westward Expansion kit, just some of the projects included are making a cornhusk doll, playing marbles, making a copybook, stringing a buffalo horn whistle, making a fringed leather pouch and a buffalo tooth necklace, not to mention panning for gold (pans, sand/gravel, and gold included)! In the Early American kit, the projects (just a selection is listed; the list goes on!) are to create hand-dipped beeswax candles, craft a "talking feather," stitch a lavender sachet, learn to trade with authentic trade beads, make your own hornbook, and try a black tea brick. The children just love these projects!

Hands and Hearts has created fun, high quality history kits that whole families will enjoy immensely! I love the fact that we can grab our notebooks and boxes and jump right into learning and FUN. The Estes have really thought of everything - oh, and do you know (I didn't!) that you can buy a full kit (everything included of course), and if you have additional children, you can buy "additional student kits" at a greatly reduced rate from the price of the regular kit, and all the children in the family can have their own kits full of their own projects! (These "additional student kits" don't include instruction manuals or notebooking pages, maps, etc. - only projects.) You have permission from Hands and Hearts to copy the notebooking pages, etc., for your family use; therefore, you can buy one full kit and additionals rather than, say, five full kits for your five children. You will save your family a good deal of money, and the best thing is, all the children have "their own" kits and projects.

The smiles of satisfaction on your children's faces when they finish a project is priceless! The projects they make enhance their play (the buffalo horn whistle is now a permanent part of the girls' wardrobe, as is the fringed leather pouch). The memories that are being created are those of smiles, time with Mom and Dad making these projects (reading and learning together too!), and fun learning that will be remembered!

I definitely recommend these kits. See all the hands-on history kits (and more!) that Hands and Hearts has to offer at

-- Product review by Lisa Barthuly and Family, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, January 2006

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