We use a mixture of curriculum resources but rely primarily upon Sonlight as the backbone of our studies. Hands and Hearts history kits are a perfect complement to Sonlight's history. My "hands-on" learners enjoy doing the projects, and I enjoy extending their learning with the additional commentary and resources included on the CD that comes with each kit.
|Buffalo tooth necklace from Westward Expansion kit.|
I have chosen to print out all the project instruction pages and keep them in a binder, printing out the notebooking pages as needed. We have especially liked using the notebooking pages as the base for each of my boys' field trip scrapbooks where they paste photos and brochures from places we visit that correlate to our lessons.
|Buffalo horn whistle from Westward Expansion kit.|
In addition to using Sonlight, we spent a year doing The Prairie Primer by Margie Gray (see my sidebar for a link) along with the two Hands and Hearts American history kits. Using the Early American kit, the boys made apple pomanders which they gave their grandmothers for Christmas, beeswax candles, bamboo flutes, bone cross necklaces which they still wear, and authentic-looking wooden hornbooks among other projects.
|Hornbook from Early American kit.|
Some of our favorite projects from the Westward Expansion kit were the leather pouch and glass marbles, the buffalo whistle, and the buffalo tooth necklace. My boys are proud of the crafts they have completed, and ask frequently if I have a project for them to go along with something we are reading or learning. My 7-year old carries around his marble pouch all the time, and even brings it along when we travel. The necklaces have been worn around town as well as during dress-up play time. The boys enjoyed comparing the buffalo tooth to their teeth, our dog's teeth, our cat's teeth, etc...
|Leather pouch and marbles from Westward Expansion kit.|
(My son added in some of his other mables, too.)
A nice aspect of these kits is that once you buy the main kit, you can order additional student kits for a reduced price since some of the materials can be shared. My boys appreciate having their own materials, and they proudly wear, display, and play with their completed "artifacts."
|Buffalo bone cross necklace from Early American kit.|
The kit instructions are clear, and though some of the projects are more challenging than others, the kits are easily adapted to various ages/grades. I have successfully used the projects with a preschooler, an elementary schooler, and a middle schooler. I have used the background material as a resource which I refer back to time and again. Though I have used these kits as an accompaniment to our other curriculum resources, I believe you could use them as stand-alone history courses.
Though I purchased all of my own kits, Hands and Hearts has graciously provided me with a coupon code for my blog readers for 15% off any order. Simply use the code "learningtable" with your order (expires at midnight on June 11, 2011.)