Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 20th Century in America - Home School in the Woods {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Confession: Our family has been homeschooling for 15 years and in all that time, I think we've made ONE lapbook. It was one of those projects that I figured would have been great when I had little ones, but I didn't think it would be worth trying to invent one again. Lapbooks look great, but I thought it was a lot of work to put together. Recently, through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we had the opportunity to try out Lap Books from Home School In the Woods, and when my daughter and I looked through the choices, we were more than willing to try it out. These Lap Books looked exciting and colorful - and the templates and layout have been planned for me. We chose to do The 20th Century in America Lap-Pak.
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Home School In the Woods is a family business, started by homeschool mom Amy Pak. The Paks had been homeschooling for a couple of years, and Amy found that timelines were a great way to help her family visualize and understand history. Amy had experience as a graphic designer and illustrator, and was disappointed that it was so difficult to find figures to put on the timelines. Her business began with a website in 1998 that offered some of the unit studies she'd developed to other homeschool moms. In 2002, she began producing the timeline figures for which this family venture is known. Their website now offers not only the timeline products, but map sets, history studies, Activity-Paks, and Lap-Paks.

We have been studying American history this year, and have been working on the events of the 20th century for the last several weeks, so I felt that The 20th Century in America Lap-Pak would line up really well with what we were learning. This Lap-Pak is designed for students in Grades 3-8 and includes all the masters for the printed pieces, a 32-page text booklet, and detailed instructions for putting together all the components and assembling the lapbook. We received this as a download, but it can also be purchased on a CD.
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I printed the instruction pages first and then started printing the individual projects. For each project, the instructions clearly explain which pages to print and whether it should go on paper or cardstock, colored or white, and which pages need to be printed front-to-back. That turned out to be the only problem I had in printing - and that's because I couldn't figure out how to get the little Dining Through the Decades menu to print front-to-back with the right sides up on both sides of the page! Totally user error. Rather than print a bajillion wrong copies, I just printed those on separate papers and we doubled them up when we assembled it. The instructions to assemble each project are very clear as well, so that Kennady rarely needed my help to cut out and put together all those fun moving parts! Again, we had one project (out of 22!) that we realized we had put together incorrectly, but we made it work out just fine.

The Lap-Pak is designed to be a self-contained unit study project, if you'd like to use it that way. The text booklet explains each of the aspects of the subjects, which include medical advancements, world conflicts, art movements, fashion, politics, and plenty more! If it happened in 20th century America, it's probably  represented somewhere in this Lap-Pak. Many of the projects include a space for the student to write in a summary of what they've learned, or as in the case of the Sports Figures project, they can create their own collectors cards for a few of the famous athletes they are particularly interested in. Students can also do additional research which would allow this Lap-Pak to extend to several weeks or even months of history study.

How did we use it? After I printed instructions and the templates, I turned those over to Kennady and allowed her to color, cut and paste to her heart's content. Sometimes she worked on it while we did our regular history lessons, but most of the time she gave it her full attention. Since we had covered - or were in the process of covering - most of the events in our history lessons, projects like the Space Race, the Stock Market Crash, and Transportation, those projects provided review and reinforcement of what we had learned, and we discussed those events and I helped fill in some details using the text booklet provided. Other subjects such as Fashion and Art Movements that we hadn't already addressed in detail were very interesting to Kennady and the text booklet and a little bit of extra research provided the information we needed. We put together all (okay... almost all!) of the projects first, and then spent about an hour assembling the lapbook itself. That went very smoothly, and I'm convinced that it's because the instructions for assembly were so clear and easy to follow. It was even okay that we hadn't yet completed the Modern  Missionaries and Science/Inventions projects, because their places on the lapbook were clearly defined and we knew where they would go and that they would fit once we finished them. We chose not to print out the text booklet, but there is a suggested place to keep that with the completed Lap-Pak if desired.
Here's Kennady showing off her (almost) complete project!  (Wow, her hair is pretty messy - try to ignore that! LOL)

What we liked best:
  • we loved the creative and varied projects! This is much more than just pasting a picture into a folder - there are moving parts and many of the projects actually illustrate the subject. For example, the record player project to illustrate music throughout the 20th century.
  • the instructions are very clear and easy to follow. We didn't have to guess how anything fit together.
  • the finished product is something the student can be very proud to show off!
What I need to mention:
  • make sure you're well stocked with printer ink and lots of paper before starting! All the needed supplies for the Lap-Pak are listed at the beginning of the instructions, so it is easy to get everything you need together at the start.
Our bottom line: This was a lot of fun, for me and for Kennady! I'm so glad we gave lapbooking another chance, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is something even older students can enjoy and benefit from. Kennady learned plenty of new things while working on this, and got a chance to review and better understand some of the events she was already somewhat familiar with. I would highly recommend this Lap-Pak or one of the other products from Home School In the Woods to any homeschool family that is interested in trying out lapbook type projects. These Activity Paks and Lap-Paks make it easy and fun!

Would your homeschool enjoy hands-on history from Home School in the Woods? Here's what you need to know:
Read the background information on the Meet the Pak Family! page; explore their list of Freebies and Samples; and check out the FAQ's.

Pricing: The 20th Century in America Lap-Pak is available as an instant download for $21.95, or as a CD for $22.95. See the Product List for pricing for all Home School In the Woods products.

Recommended Ages: The 20th Century in America Lap-Pak is recommended for students in Grades 3 through 8. See the website for age recommendations for other products, as they vary.

You can follow Home School in the Woods on Facebook and on Twitter.  You can also check out their Pinterest boards.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other Crew member reviews. Crew members reviewed three different products from Home School in the Woods - so be sure to check out their thoughts on other titles!

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Lexi said...

We really enjoyed the Great Empires Study that we reviewed. It is really well put together and very fun. As my kids get a little older, we're going to try some of these lapbooks. They look really neat!

Karen M in FL said...

Great review. I enjoyed reading your family's experience with the 20th Century. We really enjoyed it as well. I was surprised at how much my 8th grader enjoyed it.

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