These kits are absolutely the best things since, well, sliced bread! Really! They are SO fun and chock full of excitement that we could not believe it. You will find them perfect for supplementing any study of history, any age, any stage. Sturdy boxes full of all the materials, paints, supplies and ideas you could ever need to enhance, or begin, your journey through time. Not just basic materials, the Estes' have included ALL the supplies you will need for a huge variety of projects.
I reviewed the Egyptian and Middle Age kits and my kids literally did not know where to begin. Build a working catapult, tell time with candles, decorate the candlesticks, and make jeweled crowns; the choices in just the Middle Ages kit went on and on. Even the paints, brushes, glue, and beads - everything is in the box. It felt like Christmas when we opened it. The Egyptian kit contained a similar trove of treasures. We could choose to make a mummy (with an orange we provided), trade in an ancient marketplace (with trade goods included), paint a sarcophagus (box included), make a wooden paddle doll; I can't do them justice just listing the projects. I also wouldn't want to give away all the surprises inside. The Estes' even include the baking powder and the salt to make the mummy. Paintbrushes, patterns, guides and even puzzles you take apart and rebuild. I feel like I could just list all the goodies included and you would all be amply impressed. There are also great color images of each project in progress so you can compare your work to the guide. Yet the materials and projects aren't even the best part!
Amazingly, Kate has written beautiful guides to go along with the kits. These guides include Bible Memory cards, activity instructions and more. I especially appreciated the bible supplement and memory cards. These brought, for me, a sense of reason to studying these time periods. Simply immersing my kids in the study of a pagan people would have been hard for me without this supplement. I loved being able to challenge my kids to learn something more to help them make the connection from their hands to their hearts. The lesson plans (project plans) could easily stand on their own with the Bible cards and be a complete unit or you could supplement any curriculum. These kits would merge seamlessly with any type of curriculum from textbook based to unit studies to unschooling. Kate and Jeff suggest them for Charlotte Mason or Classical educators but I am recommending them to everyone I can. What fun!
The plans are well written and interesting with a good mix of hands on and writing/reading activities. As you work through them you will be building beautiful notebook pages that can then be added to your history binders. The Middle Ages kit contains a great set of character cards and story lines that the kids actually lay out and manipulate to come to a good understanding of the feudal system. The scenarios depict possible situations that may have been found in rural medieval England and the kids do the math to figure out who gets paid what by whom and who actually winds up with the money at the end of the day. This was an eye opener for us and helped us to understand where today's system of taxation came from. Kate also includes lists of great read aloud books for each time period. We home school in a classical style (with a Charlotte Mason twist) and these kits fit right in to our routine. They perfectly balance out the reading, narration, and dictation that we were doing by providing constructive, interesting projects that we kept around the house! Usually we throw the stuff out after a few days-these crafts we used over and over and the kids were able to show them off to their full satisfaction.
The obvious love and care that the Estes' have given to these kits shows through in all the small details. Please checkout their web site and see all that they have to offer. These history kits match historical periods. Besides the Ancient Egypt and the Middle Ages, there is also a kit for Ancient Rome. You will also find some great supplementary kits on the web site such as dirty coin kits with actual ancient artifacts that the kids learn how to identify and clean for preservation. I am so impressed and impacted by this family's strong faith in the Lord and the commitment that they have to home education. Running a home school, caring for six small children, developing kits and writing plans as well would be more than enough for anyone-yet Kate just seems to handle it all and I know the Lord guides her through it. I also know whenever I may need to supplement my studies, or we simply need a good perspective for studying, we will definitely be going back to Hands & Hearts. I can't recommend them highly enough. The communication was fantastic and the products are simply way too much fun!