Thursday, August 22, 2013

TOS Review: In the Hands of a Child (Natural Wonders)




I love Lapbooking. It’s one of my favorite homeschooling tools. It’s a little like scrapbooking. I don’t know if Josiah shares my deep affection for lapbooking, but then again he is at the age that his deep affection is seldom given to anything resembling “schoolwork.” 




Some of my favorite lapbooks I’ve used over the years have been created by  In the Hands of a Child. They have a huge selection of  Project Packs (which give you enough information and material to create a lapbook).  So, I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to review Natural Wonders. I was given an enormous list to choose from, but I decided that studying about the great natural wonders of the world would be fun for both Josiah and I. 


What I received



I received the (PDF) downloadable version of the Natural Wonders Project Pack.  The “Wonder” included are Angel Falls, the Aurora Borealis, Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Mount Everest, Paricutin and Victoria Falls. This particular version is available with a “type it in” option. This allows the student to type in their answers before printing off the different elements of the Project Pack. The Project Pack includes a suggested schedule for completing the lapbook, recommended literature on all of the natural wonders, a research guide, 20+ interactive activities and the instructions for completing the activities. The schedule is laid out to give the student 6 days to complete the lapbook. You can certainly extend that time according to your needs. We stuck to it pretty faithfully. We like to keep things moving in our house!

Natural Wonders is intended for grades 4-8. It is regularly $12.00, but right now you can purchase it for only $5.00. That is a terrific price!! I’m not sure how long it will be such a terrific deal so act fast!

If you are unfamiliar to lapbooking let me give you a brief description. A Lapbook is simply a wonderful hands-on tool. It is made up of a collection mini-books or other folded materials. It is truly interactive. A student can add any number of things to a lapbook. Minibooks, creative folds, drawings, graphs…The options are endless. They are very easy to make especially with the assistance of a great company like Hands of a Child. They do all of the heavy lifting for you. All you need is a printer, paper, a few file folders and stick glue. We also added some color with some scrapbook paper and colored pencils.  There is also a suggestion to use colored paper and maybe some cardstock when you print out certain of the minibooks or folds. I kept it simple. Plain paper all the way. If it wasn’t at my house I didn’t use it.

How I used it

Upon receiving my download of Natural Wonders I first checked out the book list. The nice thing about the book list is that they are just suggestions. My library didn’t have all the books recommended, but I was able to use others. The Research Guide located in the Natural Wonders in the Project Pack itself is really all your child needs to complete all of the minibook activities. 

After I had gathered my lapooking supplies I printed the descriptions section and the directions for assembling the lapbook.

We read and talked about each of the Natural Wonders, following the recommended schedule. 

I did take advantage of the “type-it-in” feature. Josiah enjoyed that part of it. That is a great option for some of your students who might get frustrated with so much writing. The jury is still out for me about the “type-it-in” feature. One thing I appreciate about the lapbook method is that I can prepare lapbooks way ahead of time. I generally don’t bother with letting Josiah cut out his own pieces. I’m sure somewhere there is a good reason for me to do so, but at this stage of the game I don’t want him to get side tracked with creating the Death Star with his scissors and the lapbook I’ve printed off for him. It happens at my house. 

One thing I did in addition to including the extra literature recommended was that I found pictures online of each Natural Wonder. Josiah really enjoyed that. So much that he wanted to print off a few pictures and create a collage for the front of his lapbook.
I want to show you how it all worked out. I did stay fairly close to Josiah while he was assembling his book. Some of you have a boy like Josiah. You understand. 



The Project Pack really has some nice activities in it.  However, there were a few that (somehow) didn’t make it into Josiah’s lapbook. We aren’t quite sure where they went. Some of Josiah’s favorite activities included a survey about everyone’s favorite Natural Wonder (there were only 3 of us, but he still enjoyed it). He loved learning about Angel Falls. He is convinced that it kind of looks like an Angel from far away. Not that he has had much experience with that. 



He was also fascinated with Ayers Rock. I think perhaps because it was a Wonder he had never heard about before. The same applies to Paricutin, a volcano located in Mexico. Apparently, this volcano just appeared in a farmer’s corn field one day. 

Fascinating! I can guarantee you that any boy will find the Natural Wonders Project Pack really cool. I am glad we got to do this Project. I can’t even imagine seeing some of these sights in person. I vote for The Great Barrier Reef in Australia! How about you! Road Trip!

This is a view of the insides of the Lapbook. I think Josiah was supposed to make a shutterfold out of the survey in the top box.
This is a close up view of one of the little books. The first picture is the front. The second picture shows you what you will find when you open up the flaps.
These 2 pictures show you what it looks like when the flaps are closed. I am sure Josiah didn't follow the recommendations for placing everything in his book. But he had fun!

Here is the front of Josiah's lapbook. I think he did a pretty good job! He was pretty proud of himself.



A few more thoughts.

Z I really think that the Project Packs are ideal for families with multiple children. I understand that there is the added cost with printer ink and paper (or other printing cost), but you don’t have to by multiple copies and you can adjust them to a variety of ages. While I only have Josiah, I have used them when teaching a group of children. It works. Hands of a Child has lots of options. Even though this particular project is listed as appropriate for grades 4-8, they give you a list of recommendations to adjust it to a variety of age groups.
Z There were a couple of craft options included in the Natural Wonders Project Pack as well. We didn’t have a chance to complete them, but I like having that option. I think the beauty of a Project Pack of this kind is that it allows you to integrate so many different subjects into one lesson.
Z As I mentioned before I am still undecided about the type-it-in feature. Perhaps this is a better option for those students who can complete the lapbook entirely on their own. And I wish there could have been a way to adjust the size of the font when necessary. I understand that the folks at Hands of a Child probably have no control over this little option. I also wish the graphics would have been a little crisper.
Z One great thing about using Hands of a Child Project Packs are that they are very versatile. They are short enough that you can complete them in between things or around holidays or they can be made into longer projects….especially if you are using one as a supplement to let’s say a History curriculum.
Z While lapbooking is certainly not rocket science there is a little technique involved sometimes when figuring out the folds. I like that with a PDF Download I can go back and reprint a project...Just in case we’ve really messed it up. Or it’s disappeared into the Death Star. 

We had a lot of fun with this project. I fully recommend the Natural Wonders Project Pack to any and all homeschoolers who enjoy teaching and learning “hands on.”

Members of the TOS Crew reviewed this Project Pack and Tons more! You should really go take a look at all the great lapbooks.


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