Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Homeschool in the Woods History Lap-Pak

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Recently, we were introduced to the wonderful world of lapbooking, thanks to The old Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I discovered that Melissa absolutely loves doing lapbooks! When I got the opportunity to get on board another review for one, I jumped at it. This time, we reviewed the Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America from Homeschool in the Woods.

This study is designed for students in grades 3-8, and covers American history of the entire 20th century. It consists of 22 different studies that each have a coordinating project. Unlike our previous lapbooking experience, the Homeschool in the Woods unit has us first doing all the work, and completing the projects, storing them in a large zipper bag, and afterwards building the actual lapbook all at once, when all the smaller projects are complete.  I thought this might be a problem for Melissa, as she would not see progress as we went, but she actually says that she enjoys doing it this way better!

I received the Lap-Pak in a download. After downloading the program, which was very simple and organized, I began printing off the projects. The study came with a printable booklet that covered all the topics we would be researching, as well as a very thorough resource list of extra materials we could obtain to study any of the topics more in depth. I love the text booklet. It summarizes all the lessons very well. There is even a place set aside on the actual lapbook to store the booklet when we are done, so it can stay with the lapbook as a reference tool.

The directions that came with this program made it incredibly easy to print. There were even detailed directions on how to print and assemble the booklet in the proper format! I found all the detailed directions to be so helpful. It was very nice to not have to spend a lot of time figuring out all the "how-to's" but just being able to jump right in and spend my time working with Melissa on the projects instead!

Originally, I had planned on completing this entire lapbook during our review period. That would mean we would not be delving too deeply into any one topic, but skimming over all of them enough to finish the 22 projects and assemble the lapbook for review pictures! As we were studying, we found that it was just too much material, and we were enjoying it so much, that our pace slowed down considerably.  I don't regret that, as Melissa is learning and retaining a ton of information, but I do apologize that the pictures I am including on the review are 'incomplete'.  I suppose that is a tribute to how much we are enjoying using this program!

The program does have an order to study the projects, and we started off loosely following it, (although you can jump around and still cover everything). It seems very flexible. We started off studying the Wars and Conflicts of the 20th century. We got a stack of books from the library to supplement what we already have at home, and really dove in, studying not only which nations were involved and where the main battles took place, but also how people (especially the children) on the home front responded here in America.

This naturally led into some of the other topics of study, including the Depression and the Stock Market Crash, some of the notable people of the 20th century, functions of the media, how fashions changed, politics, and disasters. We are really looking forward to doing the unit on medical advances next, because the project looks really neat.

The Lap-Pak capsulizes the entire study into a really neat timeline project, where an entire timeline of the 20th century folds out, and small graphics for various things we have learned about will be glued on to their proper places on the timeline. We have not done the timeline yet, but are really looking forward to it, and I think the timeline is one of the neatest features of this study.

Here's what the finished Lap-Pak will look like!

Some things we really liked: Aside from what I already mentioned, I enjoyed the fact that well known 20th century missionaries were included. I appreciate that this program approaches history with a Christian world view, which is very important to me. We also LOVED the graphics that are included. They are black and white line drawings, and they are absolutely fantastic! I tried to include some close ups in some of the pictures, so that you could get a sense of how they looked. Melissa really appreciated that they were black and white, because she enjoys coloring them while we discuss the material, or I read a book to her.  I also loved the instruction pages. This company sets you up for success right from the start with the organization and directions that they give.

You should know: This is a complete history study, so secular social movements and fads, including musicians, hippies, slang words, and sports figures, are included, and discussion is made about how they impacted American society during this century.  I thought it was very tastefully done, and I think it is important for older children to understand the turmoil of the 60's and 70's and how it affected America.  I really felt that this study gave me an opportunity to discuss those things with Melissa and give her an understanding without glamorizing events that I feel had a negative impact on America.

Who would like this: It is intended for grades 3-8. I think that Melissa is the perfect age for it. (She is 11 and in 6th grade). The reading levels of the booklet and the artwork and instructions of the lapbook are well within her grasp. I think 3rd and 4th graders would need a good deal of extra assistance, but I actually also think this would be a great project for high schoolers. It gives a great overview of every aspect of American History during the 20th century, and the Lap-Pak summarizes the events well, all in one neatly contained project.

What it costs: This Lap-Pak is available for download from the company's website for $21.95, or you can purchase all the graphics on a CD for $22.95.  I often have trouble with downloads, so I am the type of person who likes a hard copy, but I must mention that I had NO trouble at all with the downloads from this company, and all the materials are well organized and easy to find on their downloads. They really did make it very easy for me!

This is my first experience with Homeschool in the Woods and I know for sure it will not be my last. I have already looked through everything on their website, and have a few items on my wish list for the next few school years. I am greatly impressed with the thoroughness, attention to details and the creativity that is put into their Lap-Paks.

You might also enjoy reading what some of the other crew members have written. Not only did others review this same history pack as I did, but some of the crew reviewed Great Empires throughout history and others reviewed Great Composers. Click the banner below to read more reviews:

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