Thursday, April 4, 2013

TOS Review: A Journey Through Learning

I heart Unit Studies. They are my favorite way to school. I kind of see life in themes... And I have to be careful to not let my Unit Study approach take over our lives. For example, Josiah comes to me with a random thought about stink bugs. I then spend the next week researching stink bugs. I create all sorts of stink bug learning helps. We then study the dickens out of stink bugs, sing about stink bugs and make stink bug art...listen to any stink bug inspired music. That’s all fine and good, but I also start making stink bug themed suppers, make a stink bug wreath to hang on the front door and stitch up a cute stink bug apron. That's just the way I roll.

Somebody help me.

But I really like Unit Studies. And as I don’t always have enough hours in the day to prepare the way I wish to, I like to rely on a well-made product now and again to help me through my madness.

I was delighted to be able to review products from A Journey Through Learning. I chose the Astronomy and Space Unit Study for Josiah to start with. After all, I feel it is my duty as a parent and teacher to clear up some of misconceptions (via Star Wars) he has of the Universe.

A Journey Through Learning was started by two moms just like you and me. I was so inspired to read their story. It made me appreciate even more the time and dedication put into their products. I received PDF downloads for the following products.

Knights and Castles  (grades 2-7)

The Earth (grades 1-4)

I have expounded on my love of Lapbooking before and was initially tempted to start with Knights and Castles. After all, who doesn’t love a good joust? But, because of Josiah’s insistence that the planet of Alderaan did indeed exist until the Death Star blew it out of existence, I felt that the Astronomy and Space Unit Study would be a good place to start.

Instead of the mini-books used in Lapbooking, the Astronomy and Space Unit Study includes notebooking pages. It is suggested that the entire study be printed out (there are black and white options available if you are trying to save your colored ink) and placed in a 3-ring binder. 

There are 27 lessons in this unit study. They start with Genesis 1 and include lessons from The Sun to Astronauts (and much more!).  Each lesson begins with a reading assignment (included) and then ends with a notebooking activity. Included are additional resources and forms you can use as well. There is even a form for a book report and reading log.

Check out the sample pages to view the Table of Contents and what's involved. There is a lot of great material included!

The PDF Download is priced at $13.00.  The CD  is $14.00 or you can order a printed copy for $21.00. I really love the instant downloads. They have made my life increasingly easier!

How We Used It

I did worry initially about the reading involved. Josiah is dyslexic and gets a little “deer in the headlights” look whenever presented with a good chunk of reading material. But it is also my job to make sure he can adapt. I assisted him in breaking it up and we read it together in manageable sections. The reading is not difficult, but this is science and it does use language that he doesn’t come across in his everyday reading.

I copied out what I needed to for every week and we completed 1 or 2 pages a day. There were many questions.  Do astronauts use toilet paper? Will you freeze on the moon? How do we really know Darth Vader didn't blow Alderaan up?
Is "Because I said so" too harsh?
Josiah's favorite lesson was the one on Astronauts. The lesson encouraged the student to visit the NASA website. Big hit. He sat and watched a tribute to Neil Armstrong.
We checked out some of the suggested books to read and added to the pile a few we have in our own library.

Surprise! Surprise! Josiah got such a kick from reading the little paragraph below about toilets in Space. I hope that's not the only thing he goes away with from this study.

Josiah also created his own cover for his notebook on the computer with Word. He was so proud of it.  We had to go off on a little rabbit trail, however. He was so curious about how The Milkway got its name and then how the makers of the Milkway candy bar were inspired to name the candy bar. It was all I could do not to whip up some homemade Milkway bars and make a bunting made from Milkway wrappers. Talk about Rabbit Trails!
Didn't he do a great job?

I really appreciated that the notebooking activities in the unit were as simple or as complicated as you need them to be.  I do like lapbooking better than notebooking for this very reason.  A blank page with lines to fill is overwhelming for Josiah.

I appreciated the pointed questions and activities.

I got a kick out his solution to the task below. Draw the Universe. He looked at me and simply shrugged his shoulders.

I love that A Journey Through Learning provides the student with Scripture as well. The very first lesson is a copywork assignment from Genesis 1.

Overall, we had a great experience with the Astronomy and Space Unit Study. I like that it was just enough material to provide a great little study. It wetted his appetite for a more intensive course later on.
I encourage all of you to take a look at some of the other great products this company provides. If you are not familiar with lapbooking there are "how-to" videos available on their website. How great is that? And the whole "instant download" feature is about a good as it gets. I love that I have so many learning helps available to me with just a click of a mouse.
We can't wait to start our Knights and Castles Lapbook. I'll let you know how it turns out. After all, I'm pretty sure Darth Vader wasn't around back then!
 Check out some more reviews from the TOS Crew!



  1. Great review! I reviewed the preschool lapbook and loved it. I look forward to trying out the other ones on my school aged girls. They look like fun!

  2. How fun! We really enjoyed our lapbooks too! We used the PreK and Knights lapbooks. My kids really enjoyed them (even if I did a lot of the work) so I can't wait to do more with them - especially as they get older and can do more and more of it on their own!

  3. I love there lapbooks and I think this is one on our list to do yet. Great review!


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