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Time Travelers: The Early 19th Century in America Review by Cindy West

Amy Pak
Homeschool in the Woods
3997 Roosevelt Highway
Holley, NY 14470

My, oh my! I've truly had the pleasure of reviewing one of the most organized and well-thought-out programs I've ever seen. Time Travelers: The Early 19th Century in America from Homeschool in the Woods is a fantastic, hands-on unit study resource for 3 rd -8 th graders. By the end of the 5-10 week study, your children will have covered early American history from George Washington all the way through the Wild West. And a jam-packed three-ring binder (which you provide) will house documentation of all the fun and learning your family experienced.

Why such a large span of 5-10 weeks given to complete the study? The program is extremely flexible. You are supplied with a simple chart of proposed study, but depending on your family's needs, you can easily choose to extend the lessons with extra projects provided for you. A large bibliography of additional literature, videos, and audios is suggested too, which can lengthen the time you spend immersed in the time period.

The program comes on a CD that supplies you with an abundance of PDF resources. For those new to Time Traveler studies, the author provides you with a set of easy-to-read planning pages. Within those pages, she explains how to tackle the unit, gives encouragement to make the lessons fit your needs, lists extra supplies you'll need, and shows you how to compile the project binders. Speaking of the binders, you won't believe the beautifully photographed gallery demonstrating what all the completed pages and projects should look like upon completion! Ms. Pak has even included four printable covers you might like to use for your binder.

Each of the 25 lessons can be accessed on the CD in several ways, making it super simple to find the things that go with each lesson. Everything required for one lesson is located in its own clearly specified file. So, for example, if you need to find the timeline figures that go with lesson four, you can find them very quickly without having to scroll through everything else provided for lesson four.

All the lessons begin with the reading of a two or three-page section of text. You can choose to copy the text or read it from the CD. After reading, you will find penmanship pages, timeline templates and figures, lapbook activities, a song of the era, and/or other suggested hands-on projects. Because the study spans a large age range, the author provides you with five different levels of penmanship. You'll also love the timeline templates, which are almost foolproof for your children and which include many, many events and important people, making the timeline very thorough. Your jaw will drop as you notice every single lapbook activity explained, illustrated, or photographed in detail. And the hands-on activity ideas are meaningful and appropriate to the particular lessons.

Ms. Pak has incorporated more than one project per lesson, allowing you choices in learning. The "leftover" ideas are where extra activities for extending the unit come from. To culminate your unit, there is a chuck wagon celebration that is sure to be exciting for the whole family.

As much as I love this product, I can think of two things that might strike fear in some homeschoolers. First, there are a lot of copies to make. For each lesson you are expected to make copies of a penmanship page, songbook page, timeline, timeline figures, and lapbook templates or other project pages for each of your children. Some of these are meant to be copied on more expensive cardstock and/or colored paper. Because of the nature of the CD and the fact that various pages need to be copied on various papers, it would not be easy to send a file to an office store for quick copying and binding.

Second, although the organization of the lesson parts in separate PDF files is wonderful for finding what you need quickly, it can be a tad intimidating for those who are used to scrolling a single file for everything they need. In other words, even though clicking through the files for each lesson is a breeze, some people may prefer everything on one click.

In short, there is definitely some prep time necessary for making copies and gathering supplies, and there might be a slight learning curve to get used to the organization. However, the final product, depth of learning, and fun lessons are 100% worth the effort!

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2011