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Hands-on History Projects: Learning About the World Wars

My middle school girls and I have been studying World War 1 and 2 as we round off our school year and prepare to take a break. We've done this primarily through reading great literature and notebooking. But I always like to have a few hands-on projects as well.

I was very excited to find out we were going to get to review some hands on projects from one of my favorite homeschool resource site. Hands-on projects are always a good way to cement learning, and they go well with learning from great literature.

Hands-on history projects
Disclosure: We received free materials, and I received compensation for this post. All opinions are always my own.

We received five  À La Carte Projects from Homeschool in the Woods. Each of these resources is a smaller, supplemental resource that can be used with any curriculum or used as a hands-on accompaniment to reading living books. We had the chance to review three mini labooking/notebooking projects, a timeline, and a file folder game.

What are these À La Carte Projects? The company describes them like this: "Compared to our larger studies, which come already filled with many different project options, these are small, “bite-size” projects that are presented in a buffet-style menu. This allows each teacher to pick and choose exactly what they want for their current schooling needs. With dozens already available, many, many more À La Carte projects are planned for the not-too-distant future!"

Why do hands-on projects like creating a lapbook and completing notebooking pages work great with living books?


Sometimes I like to just read books. I love books. And there are times that I can just read books about a topic, discuss them with the kids, have the kids narrate, and we're good. But sometimes I really like to have the kids do something hands-on to go along with what we're reading. We've tried many different hands-on activities and have enjoyed them. But lapbooking and notebooking are two of our favorite hands-on activities that go along with reading great books.

The physical action of doing something hands-on helps my active, hands-on learners.


I'm down to two children that I regularly teach. My other two have graduated at this point. One of the two could learn just from hearing me read the books aloud. The other struggles with this. She's active and learns from doing. So sitting and listening for long periods of time isn't easy for her. She gets distracted. She gets fidgety. Having a hands-on project that goes along with a subject we've been reading about helps her to absorb more.

Hands-on projects help kids to make connections with what we're reading.


It's easy to listen to a good book and understand what's happening at a surface level but never really make connections with what you're reading. This can especially be true if you're reading multiple books on a subject. My girls and I have been learning about the World Wars by reading good books. It's been great, and we've read some really good books. But sometimes it's hard to tie information from all of these books together into a cohesive whole. Often a hands-on project can help with that. When we do a lapbook or the kids create notebooking pages, they are connecting the dots, cementing what they've been learning.

Hands-on projects give kids a visual to remember what we've read.


Kids who have been consistently taught with Charlotte Mason strategies such as narration can typically remember what's been read. Their reading comprehension is good. But having a visual that reminds them of what we've been learning is even better. When we create a hands-on project like a lapbook or notebooking pages or a timeline, the girls can see a visual of what we've been reading about and it can trigger their memory of it later when they look back.

Hands-on history projects

What À La Carte Projects from Homeschool in the Woods did we get to try?


Homeschool in the Woods has some awesome homeschool history resources. We've used their timelines, Project Passport resources, and one of their Hands-on History Lap Packs. This is the first time we've tried an À La Carte Project. I loved these projects because they were simple and didn't take much time to put together, so it was easy to use them in the midst of the books we were reading about the World Wars. 

One thing I really liked about these resources was that many of them could be used as either a part of a lapbook or a notebooking page. I could have had the girls make lapbooks and put all of the projects in one. But we also had the option of making each into notebooking pages, which is what we chose because the girls use notebooking pages for history regularly.

The Roaring 20s Lap Book/Notebook Project


The Roaring 20s project is a great way to introduce kids to the 1920s. The pages in this download are made to look like a film roll- in honor of the rise of Hollywood- and can be printed on transparency to look like film if you want to do that. I chose to print ours on normal paper, and my girls created  a notebooking page with this project.

America's Progress into the 20th Century Timeline


The 20th Century Timeline was a good accompaniment to the Roaring 20s Project. Kids can learn major events from the time period by creating a multi-page timeline. This timeline fits nicely in a notebook as well.

As we moved into World War 2, I wanted the girls to complete this lapbook. The booklet, which is in the shape of a radio, gives kids a look at what happened on December 7, 1941 as the US entered the war.

WWII: On the Home Front Lap Book/Notebook Project


This project, one of my favorites, is shaped like a basket- which can be glued to a notebooking page- and is filled with smaller pieces that help kids to see what life was like for the people left at home during World War 2.

The Fight for Freedom File Folder Game


My girls' favorite was this file folder game. The game board was formed by glueing two maps to the inside of a file folder. The question cards were printed and cut apart. The strategy of the game was to win the various battles depicted on the maps- one of the Pacific Theater and one of the European Theater- by correctly answering questions about World War 2.

Hands-on history projects

Why should you try À La Carte Projects from Homeschool in the Woods as a hands-on history resource?


There are many, many more of these projects. It was very difficult to choose which ones to try. There are lapbook/notebook projects, crafts, games, timelines, and more. On the site you can look for projects by historical era or project type. These hands-on projects will make a great supplement for whatever you're studying in history. Using hands-on projects is especially great when you use a literature-based homeschool curriculum because it's easy to search for projects that tie in with the books you're reading so that your reading becomes even more meaningful.

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You can also enter the giveaway below to win an À La Carte Project of your choice! This is an awesome giveaway, so don't miss it!





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