Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Digging Into Ancient Rome with Online Unit Studies from Techie Homeschool Mom {A TOS Review}

Sometimes we just want to have some fun as homeschoolers. That might mean doing a bit of a review of material we recently learned to try out a really, really neat online curriculum. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may know we started out this year learning about Ancient Rome. Though we have moved past that time period, I was quite excited to have a chance to review the Ancient Rome Online Unit Study from Techie Homeschool Mom. Thankfully, the children agreed, especially when they saw the fun hands-on projects that were involved. 

Personally, I was always more of a "notebook and paper, I'd still rather read a physical book, and computers still make me nervous" kind of gal. However, I realize times are changing, and the children NEED to know how to use technology. Honestly, it isn't that the children are not familiar with computers and such. We have been using some websites to help supplement their schooling since Tabitha was a preschooler. These days they use the computer daily for various subjects, they play on game systems, and since Christmas of last year they even have their own tablets. Something about these Online Unit Studies intrigued me, as I am a big fan of unit studies, and wasn't quite sure how that would translate into a digital curriculum, so I thought it would be fun to try it out. And I am so glad we did. 

Each of the Online Unit Studies that are available from Techie Homeschool Mom are self-paced courses, meaning a family can take as long as they need to complete them, without losing access. There are a variety of different courses available. You will find courses in history, science, social studies, holidays, art, and more. As members of the Crew, we were given the choice between seven different courses:
  • Ancient Egypt Online Unit Study
  • Ancient Greece Online Unit Study
  • Ancient Rome Online Unit Study
  • Famous Artists Online Unit Study (Vol. 1)
  • Famous Artists Online Unit Study (Vol. 2)
  • Famous Inventors Online Unit Study
  • Solar System Online Unit Study

While I would have loved the chance to have checked out the artist or inventor studies, I had noticed that there were quite a few trickier-to-come-by supplies needed for the hands-on projects. So, even though it meant a bit of review, I decided to go with Ancient Rome.

I was pleasantly surprised that we have actually been learning quite a bit of new information. I have to tell you, this unit study is chock-full of learning in the eight modules that it is comprised of. Each module is broken up into a number of lessons, ranging from 3-8. There are videos to watch, articles to read (or sometimes listen to), quizzes to take, projects to complete, recipes to make, games to play, and books to read. Here is a list of the different modules:

  • Introduction to Ancient Rome
  • Roman Mythology
  • Daily Life in Rome
  • Roman Architecture and Engineering
  • Roman Government
  • The Roman Language
  • Entertainment in Ancient Rome
  • Roman Military and War
In addition to the lesson modules there is a "Before You Start..." section with the following helps:
  • If this is your first Online Unit Study
  • Project Supplies
  • Book Club
  • General Questions/Broken Links
Then there is information about the Unit Study Project, which in this case was a Quiz Game App called Heads Up. 

We have made it a little further than halfway through the study in the five weeks that we have had it. 

These unit studies are designed for children from mid-elementary to middle school age, so the older girls probably would have been fine navigating the program and working on the material independently. However, we have always worked on history together, and they are already working on several subjects independently during their computer time, so I decided to work on this together as a family.

Once I had access to the unit study, we sort of dug right in. I did neglect to read the "Before You Start..." information in depth originally, though I did glance at it. Thankfully the study is quite easy to figure out and navigate, so I didn't run into any problems. I did go back and read the information when I had some free time, and realized I had been doing everything correctly. It really is self-explanatory. (Remember, this is coming from someone who gets nervous around computers, and can feel overwhelmed on new websites.)

We would do approximately one lesson from a module each time we sat down to learn about Ancient Rome (or review as the case was on occasion). Sometimes the lesson was short, so we did another one, and sometimes it was a bit long, so we spread it out to a second day. So far we have done a total of 19 lessons, though there are a couple of projects that still need to be completed. 

For our first lesson we got to discover where exactly Rome, Italy is, and we got to use Google Maps to see how far away we are from it. I honestly did NOT know you could measure distance using Google Maps, so that was sort of fun.

We then got to watch a fun video about the history of Ancient Rome and the Byzantine Empire, plus we looked at a timeline and answered a 10-question quiz. 

Quite a few of the links in the lessons lead to these fun articles and quizzes. I also like that with some of the articles on this site you can have the article read to you. It's sort of nice to save my voice, and it allows me to pay better attention to what is being read.

Usually there is a space at the bottom of the article to leave a comment in reply to a question or two posed at the end of the lesson. However, if there is a project to complete or a recipe to make, there is no comment thread. The reason for this is, when the project/recipe is finished, you are supposed to take a picture and share it on Pinterest and Instagram. Thanks to this I learned how to pin just a picture without it being inside a blog post. And I decided to teach the children how to make pinnable images. I will say, I sort of wish these lessons still had comment threads. That way we could note how our project went and post any suggestions or tips. 

We've had to answer such questions as:
  • Share the distance from your home to Rome, Italy.
  • What did we think of Aeneis and the Aeneid?
  • How did the worship of ancient Romans differ from other ancient religions?
  • What things were different for the ancient Romans than today? What things are similar?
So far the children's favorite parts have been making the different foods. We made a Roman Honey Cake while learning about food in the "Daily Life in Rome" section. We also chose to make the Edible Roman Road when learning about Roman Roads in the "Roman Architecture and Engineering" Section. I actually posted a Kids and a Mom in the Kitchen post for the Roman Honey Cake. It has been ages since I have posted one. I'll also be posting our Edible Roman Road this weekend. 

Roman Honey Cake

Edible Roman Road

Here is the collage Amelia made:

And here is Tabitha's pinnable image:

And here are mine:

We have also started working on a model Pantheon using craft sticks, hot glue, a balloon, and paper mache. It was put on hold as we didn't have a balloon. Plus we are having a bit of trouble following the video as the instructions are not very clear at all. We also haven't had a chance to go outside to make a sundial to tell time like the ancient Romans because we need to find a compass. That, and the weather has been a bit cloudy and rainy lately. 

The children are also in the middle of building a couple of colosseums on Minecraft. We aren't quite sure how long it is going to take to finish them. Tabitha and Amelia have been working together, while Hannah and Harold have been working on theirs. 

In addition to the lessons and projects, the Unit Study requires us to choose at least one fiction book on Ancient Rome to read. I actually had the children each choose their own book, plus we are still trying to get through Twice Free by Patricia St. John, which we have been reading as a read aloud for quite some time. Tabitha chose to read Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld, and then she started the sequel titled, Mystery of the Roman Ransom. Hannah read Magic Tree House: Vacation Under the Volcano, which is about Pompeii. Harold is slowly making his way through the Magic Tree House books in order, and is getting close to being able to read Vacation Under the Volcano. Finally, Amelia chose a couple of books to read which I had taken out of the library. The first is titled, The Roman Twins by Roy Gerrard and the second is The Roman News by Andrew Langley. At the end of each module we are asked different questions about the chosen books. 

And to help us review information about Ancient Rome, we have been using the Heads Up app with the Build Your Own Deck in which we add lots of words regarding Ancient Rome. So far we have added 34 words. We did have to pay 99 cents for this specific deck. Not a big deal, just thought I would mention it. We aren't ones who usually pay money in apps. 

Here we are playing the game. 

Even mommy and daddy enjoy taking turns.

Here's a look at some of the words we've added:

Just a note, my husband and I are keeping this app on our phones, but we are not allowing the children to have this app on their tablets. There are some iffy, more adult decks that are included in the free ones which we do not want our children to have access to. However, we have been having a blast playing the one on animals. 

We are really enjoying using the Ancient Rome Online Unit Study from Techie Homeschool Mom. I really appreciate the time she has put into this study to make it easy for us to just click through to learn some awesome information about Ancient Rome. The site is easy to navigate and not at all overwhelming. I also love the way the site keeps track of our progress (as long as we remember to click "Complete and Continue" of course). I am very thankful for the General Questions/Broken Links section of the site. I have had to ask a question and I have had to report a broken link. Beth replied quite quickly and she fixed the link for the "Tell Time Like an Ancient Roman" project right away. Additionally, I love the way she has incorporated hands-on projects with a primarily digital, online study. It really does help to break up the screen time. Granted, if you are a parent who doesn't want your children online or in front of a screen too much, this might not be the curriculum for you. However, we have been incorporating educational websites for years, and I feel this unit study is well worth having some extra time online.

So, do I recommend the Ancient Rome Online Unit Study from Techie Homeschool Mom?

I most certainly do! I feel it has been a great addition to our homeschool, and I'm sure it will be to yours as well. You aren't interested in learning about Ancient Rome? That's okay. Don't forget, she has Online Unit Studies for multiple subjects. Maybe you will find one that fits your needs.

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Don't forget to click the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of the different Online Unit Studies they reviewed. 

Solar, Ancients and Famous People Unit Studies {Techie Homeschool Mom Reviews}

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an awesome program! I love that you were able to review and also learn lots of new things about Ancient Rome.


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