Saturday, May 4, 2013

TOS Review: Home School in the Woods (20th Century in America)




Admittedly, I am a History Geek and the fact that I'm also a Scrapbookin' Junkie, this particular review of Home School in the Woods was a perfect fit.  

Call me nosy (I call it being inquisitive), but the people and events of days gone by have always fascinated me. I will admit that some of the events considered history in the Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America were unsettling. I remember them! I can’t be old enough to remember the history we study...I'm in denial.

What I Received and How it Works

I received a Download of Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America. I was able to access the PDF files directly or use an HTML start page. The menu was easy to navigate.

I had a somewhat of a hiccup along the way. My computer crashed and because I was printing what I needed just for a week’s worth of projects you could say I was up a creek (without a product to review). Thankfully, the Pak family sent me another download link immediately. Crisis averted!
Full Disclosure. I have used Home School in the Woods products before. In fact, I am a big fan. The beautiful graphics and unique projects are what drew me in to begin with. I found this particular product as stellar as any I have purchased.
The Lap-Pak is a sweeping guide to the 20th century. The 22 Topics covered  include Wars, Literature, Art, Science and more.  The elements are exceptionally designed and just plain delightful. Amy Pak, who along with her family owns Home School in the Woods, is a graphic designer and illustrator. This is evident in her products.

The product is intended for grades 3-8. The download is $21.95 or you can purchase a CD for just $22.95 (plus shipping). 

The Lap-Pak is divided into a few categories. The Introduction contains an overview, some general instructions and a list of additional supplies.  These include: card stock, colored card stock, white paper, colored paper, glue sticks, scissors, colored pencils and some other odds and ends. I used what I had (more on that in a minute). 

The Introduction also includes suggestions for additional resources. This is primarily a list of books and a few other helps. 
The next section you will need to print is the Text Assignments and Project Directions. These are invaluable for knowing how to put the Lap-Pak elements together. I consider myself a Lapbook aficionado and these instructions are necessary and invaluable. Don’t try and wing it, please. You will only frustrate yourself. 

There is a section for how print the Reading Text.  You have the option to print it in a booklet form, but I chose to print it so that I could fit it in a notebook. 

The other sections in the menu are for Lapbook Assembly and the Project Masters themselves. There is even a little button to click so you can see a picture of the finished product.

 How We Used the Product

After I printed my initial helps (the resource page and project directions) I gathered what I would need for our first week and we were off! Let the Lap-Paking commence! I want to share with you some of our favorite projects (so far).

Josiah is not entirely opposed to coloring. He just isn't as enamored with it as much as I am. I didn't have to threaten him too much with certain loss of poptarts for the rest of his life (or until next week).


 I was okay with a little Ipod use while he colored. A man needs to keep a certain dignity. Especially if he is going to come to school without his shirt on. Anybody else noticing that somebody needs to take out the trash?



 He may not be into the coloring scene, but he loves to discuss history. He had such a good time talking about what he was learning. Josiah just has a good time talking. Period. One of the reasons I enjoy Lapbooking so much is that is accommodates Josiah's learning challenges. He is dyslexic and dysgraphic. With a Lapbook he only needs to worry about one element at a time. This is not to say he doesn't tackle those kinds of projects, but Lapbooking helps him enjoy what he is learning.


For this product, I simply read the Reading Text to him and then we discussed the material. We used the Internet to follow a rabbit trail or two. Or three. We then completed the project attached to our particular Reading Text of the day. I am of the "use what you have" persuasion. While I didn't have colored paper or colored cardstock, I had plenty of white paper and cardstock. We simply added a bit more color to our projects with the colored pencils.


The above project is about 20th century disasters. When I talked to him about remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy (I was home sick that day from school and watched all the news coverage) we had to look it up.  I don't think he could get over I was 13ish at one time.



The Dining through the Decades project is just adorable. It is a menu of popular foods of the era along with a little recipe pocket (complete with recipes) in the back. We made the Macaroni and Cheese casserole. Of course!


Not all of the Reading Text contains what you need. Your student will need to do some independent research to complete a few of the projects. The project above is a fun Sports ticket pocket that holds sports cards. Josiah chose Michael Jordan, Johnny Bench, Jackie Robinson and Francis Ouimet to research. He printed pictures from the Internet and completed his cards. When he found out how Jackie Robinson was treated, Josiah was flabbergasted. How could people be so rude?

This is another really neat project. The syringe is actually a pocket. The needle and stopper contain the information and can be moved up and down. Such creativity at work! 


One of my personal favorites is this record player. We completed this project after reading about Music in the 20th century. We then were encouraged to go on youtube.com and listen to a variety of music. Gershwin, Louis Armstrong ("is he related to Lance or Neil Armstrong, Mom?"), Elvis Presley and the Beatles. I did have to explain the Record Player. Now I really feel old!

The other projects are equally wonderful. We have completed many of them, but still have several to go. There is even a little book on Fashion. Yes! I now have legitimate reason to introduce the "parachute pant" into our vocabulary...though I am still debating on the "mullet." 

I encourage you to take a closer look at this product and the other wonderful  products available at Home School in the Woods. The Timelines in particular are terrific. Other members of the TOS crew reviewed this product in addition to Composers and Great Empires.

You can read more reviews at the Schoolhouse Review Crew or click the banner below.


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