2014-2015 School Year: History – The Renaissance and Explorer’s Age

The one part of our school which everybody loves and yet I had forgotten to post on was our planned history studies for next year.  I am very excited about our history plans.  They are a rather wonderful concoction of curriculum, unit studies and project based learning, in fact it really is just a continuation of what we do right now with a bit of curriculum thrown in.

Having finished the Middle Ages in September, we decided to have a break from European history and do a native American study, focusing on the Ojibwe Nation.  This has been fun and as the saying goes a break really is as good as a rest and we are now looking forward to throwing ourselves head first into the Renaissance and the explorer age.


Choosing Curriculum

I have sourced many, many reading books for this era, and as usual this will be our starting point.  This year, however, brings the addition of some bought-in curriculum.  I really struggled to pick a curriculum which fit in with our ideas of how we all wanted to study.  Some were too rigid, others too specific, still others not deep enough….I was beginning to think we had maybe set our goals too narrow.  That was until I looked into Homeschool in the Woods

Homeschool in the Woods produces products designed as a stand alone curriculum or as an extra.  Their project passport (I ordered the Renaissance and Reformation one) can be used as a take it or leave it smorgasbord of ideas, which is left very open-ended to allow for deeper study.  I can still be incredibly involved but I won’t have to plan every activity myself.

I also downloaded their Explorers Time Travellers Pak which is also full of ideas and print outs and would fit in nicely with our explorers study.

Map Making

After Christmas the children and I will prepare for our explorer travels by making one of our paper mache maps of the world.  I have kept a huge piece of card measuring the same as our dining table which sits 12!


This will allow us to retrace the journey’s taken by the explorers during this time in history.  The sheer size of it will also allow an easy comparison between routes attempted by each explorer as well as comparisons of the different explorers.

I am also hoping this will improve their world geographical knowledge.

Designing their own Elementary Tudors Curriculum 

The project based element of our term has come about after much chat with the older children.  We have decided that between them they will design and write their own curriculum about the Tudors (The Tudors ruled England and Wales between 1485-1603 and is generally thought of as one of the most exciting in British history).


I know from experience that in order to write full lesson plans for a curriculum one must know ones subject very well.  Together the children will choose what they would like their curriculum to include,  and will then divide out the topics to work on independently.  The curriculum will be aimed at the elementary age and will include reading material which has been reviewed as well as simple hands on activities.  This will be a fairly long-term project, spanning from January through to June.  The children may share their project in a blog designed just for the purpose, much like their Little House on the Prairie blog.  I am hoping they learn a few computer skills (which they can then teach to me) such as designing and making printables for their readers to down load.

I am excited to see how this latest foray into project based learning works out.  I am going to attempt to be very hands off, even more than usual.  I am looking forward to see how the children develop this year and how they will handle ever more independent work.

It is so cool to home school!


  1. I love Homeschool in the Woods. We used some elements of their American Civil War study when we studied it in depth last year. I’ve been wanting to try a different study of theirs, but the kids are really into their Veritas Press class they’ve been taking right now.

  2. Changing things around can bring forth new inspirations. I’ve heard lots of good things about Homeschool in the Woods, so am really pleased for you that you’re starting to use it. Tudor history is indeed very colourful, so with the new curriculum and the children’s independent projects, your history study looks to be very exciting!

  3. We love Homeschool In the Woods! We actually are using the same Project Passport next semester. Currently we are using the Middle Ages Project Passport. I hope it works out for you too. I didn’t think about using their Explorers Pak. I’ll look into it.

  4. Looks interestingly fun! I love Homeschool in the Woods. Their Project Passports look fantastic. We use their timeline figures and their Hands-On History Artists and Composers. I know my children would love to see a blog produced by your children. I hope they are able to do that. Your map idea sounds great. I am thinking of doing something similar as we move into that time.

    Sounds like you are moving right along. Have a lovely day, Claire.

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