March 20, 2018

File Folder Games: Hands-On History and Geography with Home School in the Woods {Product Review}

I love searching for ways to make learning fun. Some of the easiest are games. There are many games which incorporate things like the maths, but there aren't as many things which help teach other subjects. Especially history and geography. Enter File Folder Games. With just a bit of extra time, a file folder game can be created for nearly any subject thanks to the help of Home School in the Woods. Over the last several weeks, we have been reviewing two of their Á La Carte projects-- A Trip to Town and Name that State!--both file folder games.

About A Trip to Town and Name that State!

Home School in the Woods is one of the top producers of printable materials, lapbooks, and unit studies for homeschooling. They recently branched out and started offering some of the
pieces from their unit studies and lapbooks as Á La Carte projects. Thus if there is a particular aspect of a lapbook or unit study you would like to use, without having to purchase the entire lapbook or unit study, you can now do so!

Á La Carte projects covers a variety of projects that include creative writing, 3-dimensional and authentic crafting, games, timelines, lap booking, and much more! The company is also working on regularly adding to their lists! Within the Á La Carte projects are topics relating to Ancient History, World History, Early America, 19th Century America, 20th-21st Century America, and Bible History. It is possible to filter through the A La Carte options by era, or by the type of project you are looking for.

Two of their file folder games are Name that State! and Trip to Town.

Name that State! is designed to help your child tackle the US States. Through playing the game your child can learn about state names, capitals, and facts! It's designed to help reinforce state shapes, names, initials, capitals, regions, and more. The game is designed for the players to compete to see how can claim as many states as possible through answering facts about each state via a flashcard. By the time you are done with this game, your children will know their states backwards and forwards!

Trip to Town is a file folder game set during Early America. By
playing the game, you child will get a deeper knowledge of vocabulary or facts surrounding the colonial era. Each question successfully answered allows the players to move around the board to collect the items on their "shopping list". The first one to collect all their items wins!

Each of these file folder games retails for $4.95. They are sent as a zip file with printable pdf's. You will need to have minimal supplies in order to use these projects.

Our Thoughts on the Product

We have had experience with the Home School in the Woods products before, so I knew what I was getting into with these projects. There are four main things you need to create these projects: paper, printer ink, file folder, and time. The directions provided in the pdfs are very straight forward and explain in detail how to not only print everything you need correctly, but how to use it once it is prepared. You are told if you need colored paper, cardstock or plain white paper. Told which items should be double sided. What things you need extra copies of. Even alternatives to play the game differently. You are then told what to do with everything you printed. There is also a complete list of supplies for whatever file folder game you are doing.

I won't lie. I spent about 2ish hours preparing these two projects. That's how long it took to get everything printed out, colored, cut, and ready. And I have used products like this before so I didn't get confused with how everything worked. I would think that it may take someone new to Home School in the Woods longer.

But--once it is prepared, that's it. Everything else is just playing the game!

I set up the Name that State! first. My goal for this game was to help my 7 year old know his states. Not just the names, but what they look like and where they are in the United States. Once he knows this, I plan on moving on to having him learn the capitals. As he gets older, we can add the state flower, bird, and entry to the union. But for now, I just want the basics.

Instead of having him play against me or his brother (because we would both whoop him quickly), I used it like this:

I gave him a stack of paperclips. With each state flashcard, he would attempt naming the state. If he got it right, he put a paperclip on the state. Not only does this make sure he knows the state itself, but that he knows where it is located on the map. If he doesn't get it first try, or with one clue (usually just the first letter), than he doesn't get to mark the state.

First time: 27 states were claimed
27 states identified
Second attempt: 35 states were claimed
Third attempt: 39 states were claimed
Fourth attempt: 47 states were claimed
47 States Claimed

Fifth attempt: 49 states were claimed
Sixth attempt: 50 states were claimed

He was thrilled!

Now that we know he knows the states, we now time him to see how quickly he can work through the flashcards. Once this is done and he can get them fairly quickly, I plan on playing this game the way it is intended: flipping up a card and the first person to say the state gets to mark it. If my oldest still is way too fast compared to my youngest, I will have my oldest do the capitals or abbreviations instead to earn his state.

This game is definitely a keeper for us.

Trip to Town.
This one took more work. Lots more pieces to do. Several colors of paper. But again, once it is done, it's ready to go.
Printing and cutting. Lots of printing and cutting.
This game is more game like. It is set during colonial America. There can be up to 6 players. To start, each player goes "shopping" by drawing five grocery cards. But each card has to match up with a different store. So you can't have 2 items in the Blacksmith, or 3 items from the General Store. You have to make sure each of your items comes from a different store. Next you decide whether you will begin at "the stocks" or "the whipping post". Now the game can begin.
Four of my grocery items
The game itself kind of goes like this as I understand it. When it is your turn, another player draws a card from the stack and reads it to you. You have to then tell what it is or answer the question correctly. If you do, you get to roll your dice and move your player towards the store you are needing to visit. If you don't answer correctly you don't get to roll. So what are the cards? Well we currently aren't studying colonial America, otherwise I would add some actual questions about the time period. So instead, we are using the vocabulary cards included with the game. The cards are words relating to: Colonial Diseases, Colonial Cooking, Artisans, and Vocabulary. The cards give the term and then the definition. So another play would read the term, and you have to define it to earn your roll.
Vocabulary Term--he has to give me a close definition
Now these are cColonial America terms. Many of them I myself hadn't heard before! (Go look up Grocer's Itch!) So I quickly flipped through the stack of cards and pulled out a smaller stack that had cards I was pretty sure my youngest would be able to attempt. I gave him the rest of the stack to be the cards for me. Included in the playing cards are three special cards: Town Crier, Go to Stocks, Go to Whipping Post. These change up the play. If you get the town crier, you get to move your playing piece to the artisan store of your choice and immediately collect your shopping item. The Go to Stocks and Go to Whipping Post however, are "lose one turn" cards and force you to move to the set place on the board.

The person who wins, is the person who is able to collect their shopping items first. It only took one game and my youngest got it and enjoyed it! He even liked learning new terms like "knockknobbler", "boot-catcher", and "nob-thatcher". We've played it a few times now and he remembers more of the vocabulary each time. I also have started shifting my terms over to his pile. We are eager to add my oldest son to our game the next time.

So let me quickly run through the pros and cons of the Á La Carte product:

*Multi-Grade Friendly
Both of the games we played worked for my children--one in 2nd grade, one in 6th.
Playing games allows them more ways to learn. These two games connected visual with audio and kinesthetic
*Easy to Store
A file folder is easy to store. We just put the game pieces into a small box after they are in baggies
*No unusual supplies
It would be easy to branch into other subjects with these two games. You could use the vocabulary for spelling. Both games work for history and geography.
Seriously $4.95.

*Time Consuming
Seriously. The prep for these takes a long time. Like I said--took me almost 2 hours to get everything printed, cut, and ready to go.
*Uses lots of paper and ink
Everything is a printable. The Trip to Town games alone used many double sided pages of printing. If you don't have a reliable printer, or money to use for ink, these may not work for you
*Can get messed up easily
They are just paper. So paper can get wet and smear and tear. You could laminate several of the pieces if you wanted to. I might at some point.

All in all?
This product works for us, because I don't really mind the cons. I like the rewards when they ASK to play the game. It's like they don't realize they are learning. LOL. After enjoying these two games so much, I think I want to check out a few others to keep on hand for later history studies: War to End All Wars, Mercenary Madness, The Fight for Freedom, and the War Across Five Aprils. Actually, I think I may have received a file folder game as a freebie a year ago. I'm going to have to go look and see which one it was!

Want to Know More?

For the last several weeks, we have been reviewing two of the file folder games that are part of the Á La Carte projects collection from Home School in the Woods. You have seen how we used it and our thoughts on it, but there were sooo many other options! I hope you will give a peak at some of my fellow crew members reviews too!
À La Carte Projects - Individual projects designed to enhance your studies! {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Keep up to date with the latest news on the newest products and sales on these social media sites!

Once I get over this nasty respiratory virus that's got me in its grips, I plan on doing a video review to give you more insight into these two products. We enjoyed them, and continue to enjoy them very much. 

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