Is it possible for games to be educational and fun? We are finding the answer to that question is, “Yes!” with the hands-on Á La Carte products from Home School in the Woods we have been using in recent weeks. When agreeing to choose items for this review I opted for two file folder games: Battle Blitz and Liberty at Last.
The budget-friendly educational resources offered by the folks at Home School in the Woods are a wonderful way to reinforce lessons you are already studying. But if you are into build-your-own, this is a terrific option! It’s no secret I’m a big fan of hands-on learning, and not that we live right in the midst of where many of these event actually took place we had a lot of fun testing our knowledge of the American Revolution.
We received access to a downloadable pdf file. I saved this to my computer and after opening the zip file I was able to follow the instructions included in the file, printing out our game boards and playing pieces. I used a combination of card stock, white and colored printer paper.
The graphics on the print-outs are black and white. You can jump right in and cut/assemble your game or you can add some color in as much detail as you wish. We used colored pencils to add a touch of color but not too much. You could go all out with bright markers if you wish, the choice is yours.
After adding our touches of color we cut the game board, game cards and player pieces as recommended, the used double-stick tape to attach the two halves of the game board to the inside of a file folder. For the Liberty at Last! game we folded and taped the game pieces so they would stand up. (All this is given in the printing/assembly instructions included in the download.)
I followed all these steps in a few different sessions — downloading one day, printing another, coloring and cutting another. All together I spend less than an hour to have both games ready for play. My goal for using these two games was to review and refresh our knowledge of the facts surrounding the American Revolution and I was pleased with the results!
To play Liberty at Last! each player chooses a historic figure from the time period (maybe Abigail Adams? Betsy Ross? Nathan Hale? Ethan Allen?) Using a die (which you need to provide yourself) each player moves the number of spaces rolled. Each player proceeds forward along the board, but when rolling a ‘6’ they draw from the card pile and jump to the place mentioned on the card. This gives us opportunity to discuss places and people and events from the time period.
The game continues until the first player reaches the Signing of the Treaty of Paris. War over, game done. Kind of like Candyland with a historic twist. It’s fun and easy plays quickly. The best part for us was hen we my son draws the card for Paul Revere’s Ride, the kids say, “Cool! We’ve seen the spot where he was captured!”
Battle Blitz! was a little more challenging. Each player (up to 6) chooses a group of soldiers — American Soldiers, British Soldiers, American Indian, German Hessians, French Soldiers or American Frontiersmen. The first player chooses a card from the trivia deck and reads the question. If they can answer it correctly they claim the first battle square with one of their markers. If they get it wrong, the next player gets opportunity to answer correctly. First person to answer the question correctly claims the battle spot. Then move on the next square and question card. The person with the most battles marked wins!
This game offered us a chance to change up the way we memorize and drill some of our history facts. It’s always fun to sit around the table and spar back and forth. A little competition doesn’t hurt either. My children ages 11 to 17 enjoy playing together, but even younger children can play when there is an adult to read the questions.
NOTE: the answer to each question is actually printed at the bottom of the card. I asked my kids to cover with the finger as they held they card, but it might be best to have a designated reader as you play the game.
- Tape or glue game instructions to the outside of the file folder.
- Cover game board with contact paper for great durability.
- Tape or staple a zip storage bag to the folder for storage of game pieces and cards.
- Use the pieces! It’s easy to re-print new ones if necessary.
We have been very pleased with all resources we’ve used from Home School in the Woods. In the past we have back in time to the Middle Ages and playing these games gives us opportunity to add more people and events to our timeline.
Home School in the Woods offers many of their hands-on history projects Á La Carte. There are dozens of resource options available through the Á La Carte menu. Lapbooks, Timelines, even 3-dimensional art projects and dioramas.There is such a wide variety of thing available, such as The Art of Quilling which would keep my daughter busy creating. I know my boys would have fun with the Pirate Panoply Game and the Art Gallery Game is something I’d really like to play with all of them. I think I’ll be ordering the Literary Genres Lap Book Mini-Study for my budding writers, too. There is not enough room for me to list everything available, so I know you’ll want to visit the whole list of Á La Carte items on the Home School in the Woods website yourself.
You can see what items my fellow Review Crew Mates chose from the Á La Carte and read about how their families are using them – just click on the image below: