Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review of In the Hands of a Child's National Parks Lapbook

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If you homeschool, you have heard of lapbooks, and if you have heard of lapbooks, you know that In the Hands of a Child (hereafter abbreviated as HOAC) is the gold standard in lapbooking. For this reason, Michael (8) and I were both thrilled to have the opportunity to get to review HOAC's lapbook National Parks.

Like all of HOAC's Project Pack style lapbooks, National Parks comes as a download (although it is also available on CD or printed for an additional charge) with both the activities and research guide included. Hence, it really serves as a full curriculum for the duration of the time you are using it. And for the breadth of topics HOAC has available, you absolutely could lapbook your way through a school year using only their Project Packs. When you visit the website (and if you read to the bottom of this review, you will realize that you are GOING to want to visit their website) you will absolutely realize the truth of that statement.

Back to National Parks, though! This Project Pack has 15 total activities and a lesson plan guide suggesting that you spend six days working on it. Given the 16 titles in the "Related Reading" section of the curriculum guide, though, you could conceivably spend a lot longer. Or, like my son, you could work through it in only a couple of days. It really depends on how you approach it (and isn't that the beauty of homeschooling in general and lapbooking in particular?).

The National Parks Project Pack covers 16 national parks, but it also talks about issues related to national parks, like conservation and the junior ranger program. The minibooks (or foldables) are a nice range of styles from a cute flower style, to a pocket, to a simple horizontal fold. There were no folds that were too complex for my son to do on his own (HUGE bonus). As to the activities in the foldables, they ranged from the typical vocabulary words to the less typical (and for Michael much more fun) designing your own National Park Service Patch (to replace the current one). Whether your student is artistic or more of a look it up and write the answer type, this Project Pack has activities to satisfy.

Michael and the National Parks

As I indicated, Michael completed this lapbook in two days. Rather than treating it as a fuller curriculum (which I have done with some HOAC Project Packs, including, most recently, The Great Ice Age - a MONSTER hit in my family), I just went through each foldable with Michael to cover its content. We talked about each national park represented, and spent more time on the ones with which he was less familiar, specifically Isle Royale NP and Denali NP. Because my husband and I have been to more than half of the parks covered in this Project Pack, I was able to show Michael pictures of the parks and talk about their features and wildlife. Because Michael did the Junior Ranger program at Rocky Mountain National Park two years ago, he was able to tell ME all about that section of the Project Pack! All in all, he loved learning about the parks he hasn't learned about, hearing (again) about the parks I have been to, and filling in the minibooks.

However, it must be said that, in Michael's opinion, the whole point of lapbooks is cutting and pasting! Hence, once he sat down to that part of the lapbook, it only took a few hours for him to complete it. I love, love, love that In the Hands of a Child makes its minibooks simple enough for kids to cut out and fold on their own. Honestly, I am not a cut and paste girl. I didn't like it in kindergarten. I don't like it now. With HOAC I don't have to. Michael can do it all on his own. He can follow the diagram included with the Project Pack, put the minibooks in the right place, and be super proud that the finished product is all his. Michael really likes lapbooks, but this one is probably his second favorite ever (behind The Great Ice Age - another In the Hands of a Child winner!).

The Nitty Gritty

The National Parks lapbook is for Grades 4-8, but is easily adaptable up or down depending on which supplementary books you read, how much time you put into it, and where your child is curriculum-wise. I would think even a 2nd grader would love hearing about these national parks, looking at pictures of them, and cutting out some minibooks. How much they could write in them is, of course, up to a parent's discretion.

The lapbook normally retails for $12.00 for the downloadable version (the absolute best way to get lapbooks, in my opinion), HOWEVER, right now HOAC is having an amazing sale! They are offering at least 50% off on all their ebooks through 8/31. I have never seen prices this low on all of their Project Packs. Now is the time to stock up. National Parks is only $5.00. The fun Michael had with this lapbook is worth twice that.

I'm off to go stock up on lapbooks. While I do that, click on the banner below to see many more really great HOAC lapbooks that the Crew got to review. It will help you choose your next one!

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