Monday, May 6, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Home School in the Woods' The 20th Century in America LapPAK

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I recently admitted that I'm a timeline momma wannabe and that I am working hard to become a timeline momma.  There are actually two things that I consider to be the epitome of homeschool success stories -- one is that timeline I'm working on and the other is lapbooking through unit studies.  We haven't done lapbooks in YEARS but my Princess and Boy Scout enjoyed them immensely the last time we did.  I was super excited for the opportunity to jump in and try one again and we've been working diligently to complete the absolute coolest lapPAK by Homeschool in the Woods Publishing.  Amy Pak (as in lapPAK) is the creative genius behind Homeschool in the Woods and she's a homeschooling mom like me -- so I KNOW that she knows just what it takes to get students motivated to learn.

The 20th Century in America is hands-down our favorite activity that we've worked on together ALL year.  This 22-project lappak written with students in the 3rd - 8th grades in mind, has been absolutely perfect for Long Leaf Academy.  I am enjoying sitting around the table with two of my favorite students and watching their faces as learning comes to life.  Isn't that truly what every mom wants for her children?    Now, if you don't mind indulging me, I'd like to share with you exactly what it takes for The 20th Century in America lappak to come to life.  Keeping in mind that as all homeschool mommas do, we adapted portions of the study to best fit our needs.

It all started with an e-mail . . .

And once that e-mail arrived, I immediately began the download process -- it was painless.  I quickly downloaded the files and we were set to begin.  I couldn't wait to try out my new printer so I printed the Text Assignments and Project Directions (a pdf that compiles everything together for you in a step-by-step way to make the most of the lappak) in order to find out how we should proceed.  We gathered all of our supplies and it was time to begin.  As you can see in the picture below, most of what you need for this lappak is probably hiding right in your own home.  (My paper cutter has been one of my best friends as we work through it.)

Paper, Scissors, Colored Pencils, Tape, Glue, and File Folders -- Oh, My, FUN

At this point, we were more than ready.  We were EXCITED.  Provided with the directions is a reading booklet to help you begin your exploration of the 20th Century.  This booklet could be printed many different ways -- whichever way best suits your family -- and I chose to print it on full 8 1/2 x 11 pages and comb-bind one for each child.  This served as our starting point for each project and our beginning text.  For each of the projects included, there is an accompanying reading.  I read aloud the text then turned the Boy Scout and the Princess (8th and 6th grades) loose on the artistic nature of the project.

Something worth noting:  You could do this entire lappak by printing on white paper and cardstock, or you can use colored paper and cardstock.  I'm all about color (and I happen to have plenty on hand) so we printed the components using a mixture of all that I had.  I especially like the neon colors of paper and cardstock -- they are totally tubular (slang terminology from the 80s -- gotta love it).  Because my printer is new to me, it did sometimes take me a few tries to get the pages printed correctly when I needed to flip them over when the lappak components were double-sided.  Silly, printer, sometimes seemed to have a mind of its own -- but I won.  Amy Pak makes suggestions for each project that is to be included in the completed lappak, but you are certainly free to do it as you like.

And then they were off . . .

Because we've finished our core studies for the year (and had just wrapped up the 19th Century), I wanted The 20th Century in America lappak to be a delight-directed experience for us.  We started at the very beginning -- wars that America has been involved in in the 20th Century -- and from that point, my boy was hooked.  We decided to just dive into the study and make sure to complete the basic lapbook BUT each was allowed to go more "in-depth" on the topics that most interested them.  What that has meant for us is the opportunity to taste new foods (or really old foods for me), the chance to watch YouTube videos that pertained to the project being studied, the excitement of finding movies on Netflix, and the fun surrounding discussions of "I remember when" with mom, dad, and grandparents.

The "extracurricular" moments as we've study through the lappak have made quite an impact on each of us.  There were tears shed as we watched the Hiddenburg Disaster, the Space Shuttle Challenger lift-off, and the famous "Tear Down This Wall" speech by President Ronald Reagan.  We've laughed together watching early "television" and seeing newspaper articles from times gone by.  My children were shocked to see how big the first computer was -- and find it hard to believe that I lived in a time before there was even an internet.

We've studied Art Movements (and even tried out a few new techniques) and great artists (they understand how much I like Norman Rockwell now).  We've looked at Famous Authors of the Century and counted how many of them we've actually read together.  We've eaten macaroni and cheese casserole and caramel apple pie.  My Princess has enjoyed trying the "new" recipes on the nights she cooks each week.   We've laughed at the different Fashion statements made through the decades -- and pulled out some clothes from my day that were stuck in the back of the closet.  Funny thing, that neon is back in style now.  I even offered to model some of the "fashions" that were, but they turned me down completely.  HMPH.

We've been reminded of the sacrifices of Modern Missionaries (and watched The End of the Spear), danced to fun Music (minus our blue-suede shoes), and caught up with some People of Interest (bring on Bill Cosby's laughter anyday) -- all in the name of learning.  And although The 20th Century in America lappak is aimed at students in the 3rd-8th grades, it has been a neat family resource because it has gotten us talking and laughing and thinking together.

And did I mention that you can adapt this lappak?  Amy suggests that you store each completed project in a ziploc-style bag.  We certainly could have done this, but instead chose to store our completed projects in the file folder that would become the lappak.  This worked great for us.

But one of my favorite adaptations was a stroke of pure homeschool mom genius {even if I do say so myself} . . . after we cut out all of the Slang Terminology cards, I had each child put them in alphabetical order before they put them in the little file pocket we'd made to go into the lappak.  Tricky, I know -- but a great reinforcement of skills.  And they will NEVER know that it wasn't actually a lappak requirement.  

There really are a multitude of ways that you can shape this lappak to be everything that you want it to be.  You can utilize it to study numerous topics in great detail and make sure that your children have a deep appreciation for and knowledge of ALL that is important about the 20th Century.

As I think you can tell, we really are having the best time as we tackle the 20th Century and all that it involves.  You can purchase a download for only $21.95 or have a CD sent to you for only $22.95.  This is a great price for weeks of study (and even months if you do all of the extra activities suggested) that can be used for all of your family.  I highly recommend that you give this study a try and that you check out all of the great products at Homeschool in the Woods.  You're family will be glad you introduced them to perfect hands-on learning fun.

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I was given the opportunity to use and review The 20th Century in America by Home School in the Woods as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.    You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought as well (or just click on the banner below).   


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1 comment:

  1. That was a great review! It sounds like you had a lot of fun with this. We did the 20th century lap pak and were just as impressed. :-)


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