This is the FIRST Schoolhouse Crew review of the year and let me tell you, this was such an awesome way to start the review year for us! With four busy kiddos who all love to create and explore and just “do it” we are finding that lap books and unit studies are a great way to learn together. That said, we were pretty excited to have the chance to use and review the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections by Home School In The Woods. And with my oldest having more and more questions about the government and the coming elections – this was a very timely one!
We were first introduced to Homeschool in the Woods last year when we reviewed Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages (you can read that review here if you like). Home School in The Woods is dedicated to making history come ALIVE for our kids! These materials are not like any textbooks that I remember; rather these are full of fun and hands on methods for making real connections with the people and places and things from various historical times. Lap-Oak units are one of the main ways they help make this learning happen. They have a variety of materials for teaching history to children grades K-8, HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections being one of their newer ones.
We were given the downloadable version to review with my oldest, who is 10 (my younger two were somewhat involved as well who are 6 and 4).
This material is designed for grades 3-8 and is available as a downloadable version ($18.95) or as a CD version ($19.95).
This lap-pak introduces our kids to the presidential election process. It begins with the very foundation of our government and continues on through the various aspects of the presidential campaign, as well as how the president is chosen in the very end. This is a super user friendly program. When you begin, there are lots of great tips for how to proceed, including how to be prepared for each lesson, how you want to print the informational text within this program, project directions (a step by step guide through each activity) and how to put your lap book together. Talk about making sure that the learning experience is a good one. If you are more of a visual person, don’t worry, there are tons of great images too so you can see for yourself how it all goes together. There is no question that goes unanswered here!
Since my kids wanted to get started right away when we received the email with the link to download this, I printed everything out, to go into my big fat binder right away. I admit I am a big fan of physical books so when using materials that are online I definitely prefer printing them out and having them before me. Something about being able to touch and feel and move around as we read and as we learn…:-) A really nice feature of this which we used quite a bit, is that when it comes to the readings, there is an option to have it read to you. This is great for helping my oldest remain focused and interested since he is a very reluctant reader. He will read for short times, but all in all he tends to shy away from reading. So he really appreciated being able to read as much as he felt comfortable with on his own, and theqhen he was tired, listen to the rest of the material. I appreciated having another option (although I did read some of it aloud as well as we went along).
As I read through the project directions I saw that we had the option of completing this as a note booking project, or as a lap book. I have been considering trying out note booking but my oldest son (who tends to be very crafty) was all over the idea of creating his own book as he learned all about how elections work and why. So lap booking it is! This program definitely made it easy enough to do too! We have done a lap book or two, and I admit this is an awesome form of learning that my kids just love, I tend to be not so good at all the prep work that needs to be done though to make it happen. But this one is really so impressive, no prep work at all, all of this information is already together. Notes for teaching the lessons too1 So I didn’t have to get anything, it was all right there. What a blessing to be able to just open it up and go. It can be so frustrating when the kids are excited about a new project and we then are surprised by a list of things we need in order to complete it. I don’t mind having to prepare and gather, but right now, it sure helps to not have to worry. Plus the lessons are all short enough that my kids can complete a lesson without losing interest part way through. That’s a really big issue for us too. This makes a subject that I think many of us consider overwhelming, so much simpler. And this is important stuff for our kids to know!
We began by discussing the different types of government, and defining more precisely what an election really is. The definition even included the Latin roots, which is handy since we have been dabbling a bit in Latin and this helped him to see Latin being used outside of his textbook. My kids also loved the topic of the The American Experiment! Who knew that we were a mixture of Greek Democracy, English Protection of Rights and Roman Respect of Law? This lap pak covers just about everything you can image involving the election process ranging from: terms of office, the three branches of government, raising money, caucuses and primaries, stump speaking (this was my oldest’s favorite I think) and lots more. All in a really, really fun way! And the history of it all, I was amazed at how much of this I did not know myself (and I love history and politics!). Even my husband was surprised by some of these things. The kids got a kick out of seeing daddy “not knowing it all”. ha-ha
I have to say, overall I was so very pleased with how well this was put together. This is an honest, non biased, fact based study on every step of the election; did I mention this has made my oldest son much more interested in the coming election? Its great to see him connecting the dots and noticing for himself differences between how things ought to be and how they really are. All of the information within this lap pak was provided with the use of the federal and state laws and the Constitution. This is a really wonderful way to help our kids to learn and understand how things work. And why they work the way they do too. Particularly for my oldest who is always sketching and doodling and moving about, this was a great way for him to stay focused since every lesson had something for him to DO. I don’t know about you but my boys just have to be able to do something when it comes to learning. Since this is so hands on it really helps them maintain interest and encourages an ongoing desire to learn! Isn’t that what we all want as home educators?
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