Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review of Homeschool in the Woods' The 20th Century in America

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Homeschool in the Woods just can't make a bad product.  I'm convinced of it.  Everything I have ever bought from them is simply gorgeous.  In fact, I recently bought their complete map sets simply *because* they are gorgeous.  I definitely didn't need more maps.  I needed these maps, though.  So early in the review and already I digress.  This time I was fortunate enough to receive for review one of Homeschool in the Woods' newest products: Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America.

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What is Included?

Obviously, by looking at the above picture, there is a lot to this project! In fact, it covers the whole 20th century! In your Lap-Pak project, appropriate for 3-8 grade ($21.95 download or $22.95 CD), there are a total of 22 lapbooking projects and 32 pages of text.  You can complete the project as a lapbook (as shown above) or as notebooking project, as my daughter is doing.  The Lap-Pak contains the pdf masters and instructions, along with the 32 page text.  Additional resources are suggested if further study is desired.  You can make this project as in-depth as you desire.  It can take a couple of weeks or it can take a couple of months.  It all depends on how long you spend on each minibook (the word does not justify the art of these projects) topic.

What Therese Is Doing

I use the present progressive tense here because Therese (11) is still working on her Lap-Pak.  She has chosen to immerse herself in this study of the 20th century.  The organization of the Lap-Pak takes all of the burden off of me in terms of creating a 20th century study.  There is so much material to work with here, but it is presented in such a way that Therese doesn't have to get bogged down in any one particular area, which is my failing when teaching history (one of the hazards of having a degree in the subject).  She hasn't even taken the projects in chronological order.  For example, the first place she chose to start was "Dining Through the Decades," a menu describing dishes throughout the 20th century.  She had a blast finding pictures of the various dishes and creating the menu with those pictures.  She also made a great (and, in my opinion, timeless) meatloaf dinner taken from the menu!

While Therese has used some of the suggested resources provided in the Lap-Pak, she has also just used some of the materials she has found on our schoolroom bookshelf.  When she was completing the section on Medical Advancements, for example, she read parts of The Great Influenza by John Barry, a wonderful and comprehensive study of the flu epidemic.  When studying natural disasters, she read A Crack at the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester about the San Francisco earthquake.  Again, as with all things homeschooling, you can put as much into this Lap-Pak as you wish. The thing with Homeschool in the Woods, though is what I said earlier: your end record will be simply gorgeous.

The Final Word

Homeschool in the Woods is one of those companies whose products I buy even if I'm not sure I will use them.  I know that's not always a good habit, but the products are such great quality.  Amy Pak, the genius behind the brand is a graphic artist, and her talent just shines in her work for her homeschool company.  She is a true professional who pours herself into her product.  Her care and precision are evident in everything she does.  I only have one minor complaint and it has nothing to do with the quality of the product, which is unassailable.  Printing the material is a bit onerous, as each project is in its own individual file.  Hence, it seems as if one is forever opening pdf after pdf.  It would be so helpful if the project could be compiled into one, comprehensive, pdf.  That would make everything so much easier to print and keep track of.

Homeschool in the Woods provided Crew members with several products to review (and I know that I will be buying Composers next), so please do read the other reviews to see some more amazing products.


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