February 17, 2016

US Elections Lap-Pak by Home School in the Woods {Curriculum Review}

I have discovered that my boys do well with unit studies and lapbooks. Not only do they enjoy being able to pull out the completed project to show friends and family, but they enjoy the process that involves coloring, cutting and pasting. We were recently given the opportunity to review the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections by Home School In The Woods and I had a feeling that this was going to be a great way to introduce the subject of US Government and the electoral process to my oldest son--something very apropos for a presidential election year!
U.S. Elections Lapbook Product Review

Product Summary

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review
Home School in The Woods is a multi-award winning company that is dedicated to providing materials to make history come ALIVE in your classroom! Steering clear of the typical history textbook, Home School in The Woods chooses to help your child make living and real connections with the men, women, places, and events they experience through their history experience, with hands on materials. One of the ways they do this is through their Lap-Pak units. Following the concept of lapbooking, Home School In the Woods has newly designed unit studies for teaching history to children grades K-8.

One of the newest of these products is the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections. This lapbook unit introduces your student to the presidential election process by briefly taking your child back to the foundation of our government structure, through important parts of a presidential campaign, and then to how we choose a new president. This product is designed for grades 3-8 and is available as a downloadable version ($18.95) or a CD version ($19.95).

The Lap-Pak activities include:

* Definition of “Election”
* Different Forms of Government
* The American Experiment
* The Three Branches of Government
* Suffrage
* Who Do We Vote For?
* Terms of Office
* A “Handful” of Political Parties
* Caucuses & Primaries
* National Conventions
* The Presidential Campaign: Platform
* The Presidential Campaign: Stump Speaking
* The Presidential Campaign: Media — News Source
* The Presidential Campaign: Campaign Advertising — Spreading the Word!
* Raising Money
* Statistics
* Election Day
* The Electoral College
* Inauguration Day
* The Electoral Race!
* The “Vocabinet”

We were given the downloadable version to review with Little Britches, age 10.

Using the Product


The first step of using the product was to download the link I was provided. This gave a folder that contained images, mp3s, pdfs, and a "start".
I began at the beginning--the start, of course! This page gave me a great idea on how to use the product and explained it very well.

One of the first things I did was check out the "Directions for Printing the Reading Text". It allowed me to determined what to do with the informational text. It was possible to print it and turn it into a booklet that went with the lapbook, or simply print it out to go in a binder. Since it was for me, I decided to go with the binder and went ahead and printed out the full unit study reading.

I discovered by reading the start page, that I even had the option to have the reading text READ to my student for me via audio links. I liked this idea, but decided that unless I really needed to do something else, I would be the principle reader.

I checked out the project directions next. This gave me an idea on whether I wanted to do the unit as designed for a lapbook, or if I wanted to go with a notebooking style. I decided to stick with our tried and true winner of lapbooking, so I began printing out the first few lessons.

Each lesson is labeled by a title, and the title is alphabetical in a list of pdf files, so you simply find the ones you want and then print them out. To make it a lot easier, I FIRST printed out the information regarding putting each lesson's lapbook portion together. This told me whether I needed to print something multiple times, the type of paper I needed, and how it was going to be used. This saved a lot of trial and error.

I decided to start by printing the first 5 lessons. To save time, I also pre-cut a lot of it. Not that Little Britches couldn't on his own, but because this would make it easier for us to complete a lesson within a time frame. Once I had the first few lessons done, I paper clipped them all together in order.


The next step was to put together the lapbook's base, which was easy to do using the color directions provided. I pulled the directions up on my laptop while attaching everything and it was easy to complete. I have made lapbooks before, so I had a general idea of what to do.


After I had the first few lesson components together, I knew I could just get started. We started this on a Monday and I decided based on the reading for each lesson that we would complete 1-2 lessons a session depending on the lesson's length and the complexity of the lapbook components. The first few lessons had pretty lengthy readings, so we did just one lesson a day.

When we began, I gave an introduction on the topic and why I felt it was perfect for the time. Little Britches was rather excited when he discovered it was going to be a lapbook--"I really like putting lapbooks together!" As I decided in advance, we completed one lesson a day for the first week.

The lapbook recommends waiting until the very end to put all the pieces of the lapbook together (following their directions for placement), but I like to see how the lapbook progresses, so after completing each week, we attached the elements we had finished.

Here are some photos of us working through the lapbook:


We worked through one reading passage (I read aloud), and 1-2 lapbook coordinating components per day and we completed our entire lapbook within our review period. The unit took about 15-20 minutes per day over 4-5 days a week.

Our Thoughts On The Product

Little Britches:
"I love lapbooks because they are short lessons and it's fun to look on the whole thing when it's done. It was interesting to learn about how elections are done and now I understand more watching TV with my Papaw right now because he likes politics shows."

Me:
There are so many great things about this product to mention, but I will try to focus on the things that I like the most.

1. I really enjoy having all the information already provided for me. The notes are there for me to read (or let him read) and then we simply can talk about it and complete the lapbook piece for it. Sometimes unit studies can be discouraging when you have to go round up all the resources yourself.

2. The instructions for using the product were very detailed, but allowed for some leeway--like letting your child write something out instead of printing it for them. It was easy to follow along with the printing directions to know what kind of paper I needed to use and how it all fit together.

3. It worked well having short lessons. My son learns best with concise lessons. I handed him the lapbook components and then read aloud while he colored or cut the pieces. Each piece only took us about 15-20 minutes, but the information was very comprehensive.

4. Good for different learning types and ages. This product provided the lesson that could be worked on independently by the student or used as a read aloud. The lesson was in visual form to be printed or read, and audio form to be listened to. Thus, this makes it a good product for a larger spectrum of ages. I felt my reading aloud was a great fit for my 4th grader. If he had been older, I would have had him read, or better yet, listen to the audio clips. Because the lesson information is provided, it would be easy to fit it to your child's needs.

5. I appreciated that the information was presented without bias. Because it's an election/politics lapbook, there is always a chance for a bias. But this information was strictly taken from the federal and state level laws and also focused on the Constitution. A simple play-by-play about how an election works logistically.

6. Lapbooks are great for using as a portfolio of sorts. Now that we have completed the lapbook, I can easily store it in my files and have Little Britches reference it later in our studies. There won't be any extra papers anywhere to worry about.

7. It's all digital. Now that I have this lapbook, I will be able to pull it out and use the same information for my younger son at a later date--and it's all saved on my flash drive! There is a definite bonus to having it all as a download.

8. The supplies are standard for any classroom. I love that everything that is required is available easily! The main supplies are colored papers, cardstock, crayons and scissors. Sometimes you need brads for moving parts. I never have to go buy anything for these projects!

Cons?
There are two that I would put forth as the main ones.

*If you don't have a good printer, then you will be in trouble because all the pieces of this lapbook get printed out. There is a lot of paper and ink being used just for the lapbook components. Fortunately, we have a good printer and I restocked my ink. I also have a lot of different types of paper which is a plus for lapbook work.

*There is a lot of prep work that goes into a lapbook. If you have a child that isn't a strong cutter, you will need to do the cutting in advance, or allow for a lot more time. There are also pieces to be printed on numerous different sheets of paper, so you need to spend a good amount of time getting everything ready to use. Unless you prepare every piece for the lapbook, it's NOT an open and go. Some of the lessons I prepared in advance, and some of them I let Little Britches do the cutting.

Will we continue to use this product?
Well, we actually were able to finish the whole lapbook, which is great! But I definitely plan on investigating some of the other lapbooks this company has because this one worked so well for us!

Would I Recommend This Product?

HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections is a great product for the child that does better with short concise lessons, and needs things to manipulate and move to keep them focused. This is a great product if you are trying to teach multiple age groups under one topic. The lap-PAK is great for someone who doesn't mind having to do quite a bit of prep work for a lesson. This is also a great product if you need something that is already researched for you. The lapbook promotes more creativity than typical activities as there are some open ended activities, and there are movable pieces and coloring involved.

I wouldn't recommend this product if you like an open-and-go product with little prep work. It also might not be a good choice if you have a child that doesn't work well with putting together projects. Someone who is more of a classical or traditional style teaching method, won't like that there aren't simple reading and writing activities. I also recommend that you observe the age range because this product is definitely for the 3rd-8th grade level child. I believe that the price is very reasonable for the quality and comprehensiveness of the unit--and because you can use the product over and over with future children since it is downloadable.

If You Want To Know More...

We reviewed the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections ($18.95-downloadable) by Home School In The Woods. You have seen how we used it and read our thoughts on it...but what did the other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew think?
U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

You can learn more about Home School In the Woods by following them on these social media outlets:

Facebook: 

Google+:

Pinterest: 

Twitter: 


***
Little Britches really enjoyed learning about how an election process works, and I enjoyed revisiting the topic as well. It is great to hear him use his new knowledge as he discusses what he sees about the current 2016 election year with his Papaw and I know it will be nice to have this lapbook to refer back to later! Working through this with him, showed me again how much he enjoys these type of units. I am definitely going to be checking out some of the other products available from Home School In the Woods!
 photo 2015blogsiggy_zpsfy0kfo4t.png