If you homeschool, lapbooking is one of those things you have likely heard a lot about. If you have homeschooled for a long time, you have probably tried lapbooking at one time or another. You may fall into one of the diehard lapbook camps: love 'em or hate 'em. If you fall into the latter category, you haven't tried the versatile products from A Journey Through Learning.
Through the Crew, we received four lapbooks for review, including Letters, Numbers, and Shapes (ages 3-5), Knights and Castles (grades 2-7), The Earth (grades 1-4), and Astronomy and Space (grades 2-7) . My children looked at all the lapbooks and, after a heated debate, decided to complete Knights and Castles first (for the official review), to be followed later by Astronomy and Space.
What is A Journey Through Learning Lapbook?
A lapbook is, essentially, a group of miniature booklets in various shapes and sizes affixed to, typically, file folders that have themselves been folded to create a larger, presentation-style, book. Clear as mud? A Journey Through Learning has some fabulous video tutorials that you shouldn't miss!They also have great "how-to" instructions explaining how their lapbooks are different, and why they truly are the easiest to use and the best on the market (and they are not wrong here).
If you have tried lapbooking before and have been frustrated by the myriad papers you have had to print, and then organize, and then cut out, and then fold, and then Google instructions on how to do the fancy fold correctly, and then thrown up your hands in frustration declaring that lapbooking was for crafty moms and that you were repurposing your file folders for, well, filing papers - A Journey Through Learning's lapbooks were made with you in mind. They are not complicated. They do not have fancy folds. The template page (the minibook about which I just spoke) is immediately opposite the study guide page. Thus, you and your child read about the relevant subject (i.e., How to Become a Knight), and then immediately complete the relevant minibook. It's right there. You don't have to hunt for it. You don't have to look up what a five-star, matchbook, super-duper fan fold is (okay - I made that up - but, seriously, some of those folds in other lapbooks have given me some major headaches!).
The concise precision with which A Journey Through Learning's lapbooks are designed makes them so easy to complete that you will actually complete them! That's a pretty revolutionary concept for someone who has bought a TON of lapbooks and never actually completed one of them!
Practically speaking, the Knights lapbook my children worked through came to us as a .pdf download of 51 pages, including study guide, templates, suggested further reading, and graphic organizers for the Knights study. The text is black and white, but the templates have a moderate amount of color - nothing that would stress most home printers, though.
What the Munchkins Thought
First of all, my boys love learning about Knights and Castles. They love it. One of my sons loves cutting and gluing. The other one loves cutting :-) Neither one has ever really liked lapbooking before. They have, however, really liked A Journey Through Learning's Binder Builders (my absolute favorite product involving anything remotely like cutting and pasting), so they were quite happy to delve into another A Journey Through Learning Product, even if it meant gluing something to a file folder (those bad associations really linger with some kids - I think maybe I even cried over a difficult fold at one time).
Happily, I think they have been healed. One thing that I have let go of is the idea that lapbooks have to be works of art. They don't. They are a tool for learning - for demonstrating information that was learned. Some kids show that by taking notes (my eldest daughter). Some kids prefer to cut, paste, and write shorter bits of information (my youngest son). A lapbook is a tool - not a reflection of my abilities as a homeschooling mom. As I have let go of my expectations and my perfectionism, my kids have been able to enjoy this really neat method of documentation. I can't say that I owe it all to AJTL, but I can say that they have really helped. Here's why:
- They keep it simple. I need simple. My perfectionism goes CRAZY with anything that is not simple and that just ruins it for my kids.
- Their minibooks are in color, negating my obsession with printing each one in a different color that will complement its file folder (and none of my kids can have the same color combination). *See #1
- There is a ton of information in the study guide, but not a ton of minibooks. That means that you are getting your money's worth in terms of curriculum, but you're not getting bogged down in the minutiae of the sheer work that can come with lapbooking. It's really the best of both worlds!
So our lapbook started out looking like this:
And ended up looking like this:
I actually intended to use the lapbook as a major part of our history studies as we moved from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages, but two things happened: first, we ended up taking more time on the Roman Empire than I planned (it's one of my favorite periods in history!), and second, Michael (8), who ended up being the one who just loved doing the lapbook, didn't want to stop to steep himself in the history. Instead, he did the lapbook in a couple of days. He read each page of the study guide and then did the minibook. He kept running in to me saying, "I love this!" and "This is so much fun!" and "The instructions are great" and "I'm already on my third cutout thing!" and "There is only one thing I don't like about this - my back is hurting" (you can't make this stuff up). Like I always say, what am I going to do? Tell him to stop? Tell him that we have to read a chapter on one topic before he can move on to another? That's not the way our homeschool rolls - er, learns!
All of my kids liked the Knights and Castles lapbook, but Michael LOVED it. He can't wait to start Astronomy and Space. I love A Journey Through Learning for all of the reasons I already stated. If my reasons aren't enough, the price sure ought to be. The downloadable lapbook is available for $13.00. You can view sample pages on the site. The Crew reviewed all of the lapbooks listed above, so be sure to click the banner below to read all of the reviews.