Monday, March 16, 2009

Homeschool In the Woods: New Testament Lapbook

Whenever I wax philosophical about homeschooling my daydreams take on a very definite form. I picture my children and me enjoying great literature, discussing literature and history over tea and biscuits, and creating beautiful projects that mirror our great insight. We discover, explore, and wonder while birds sing and butterflies dance around our heads. It is very Charlotte Mason-esque (is that a word?) and although never reality, fun to dream.

Homeschool in the Woods, a company dedicated to bringing history to life for children, offers beautifully designed time-line figures, unit study kits, and lapbook activity packs that easily support my daydream. Homeschool In The Woods is owned and created by Amy Pak, artist and homeschool Mom of four who says she fell in love with the topic of history while homeschooling her children.

“As we studied history through living books, drama, writing, etc., I fell in love with the topic of history, as it had become a new and exciting venture to be explored--far different than the boring textbooks I remembered in high school!”, says Pak on her website.

While teaching her children she discovered she couldn’t find images for timelines that she appreciated. “I had been a graphic designer/illustrator both in an agency and as a free-lancer for several years, and my choice of art was rather picky. I vowed that, Lord willing, someday I would create figures that were classic and realistic in illustration. With young ones and a lot on my plate, the time was not to be then."

In 1998, Pak created a website to offer families resources for unit study education, but in 2002, she began researching and illustrating her hearts desire, figures for the timeline project. With the creation of the timeline figures, the Lord provided a time and purpose for completing them and Homeschool in the Woods was born.

When I first viewed Homeschool in the Woods products I couldn’t resist their charm. I purchased every packet of figures available at the time and began using them in our homeschool immediately. As a long time unit study family, Pak’s products were a delightful, fresh new resource for us designed by a company that understood my non-text book mind set. In addition, Pak’s attention to detail and comprehensive instructions and ideas offered me the expertise I needed to create beautiful projects with my children with a minimal effort and time commitment. What more could a busy homeschool Mom ask for in a product?!

Homeschool in the Woods timeline figures are extremely detailed and come accompanied with a brief description of the event or character. They are designed only in black and white which encourages children to personalize them in color. Pak sells beautifully designed timeline books for those wishing to place figures in a notebook format. She includes dated timelines in her packets of figures so that families may also create a time-line wall. This visual reminder of history cements dates, people and events in the mind in ways no amount of quizzing or memorization can. I have found it to be a powerful teaching tool and terrific discussion starter, not to mention quirky way to decorate the living room on occasion.

As a TOS Crew member I received Homeschool in the Woods New Testament Lapbook activity pack for review. It is one of three of the company’s “Hands On History Activity Packs” available for purchase as a downloadable product for $18.95 or a CD for $19.95 plus shipping. With either purchase selection customers will want to make friends with their computer, have cardstock and copy paper ready and a full supply of ink to print off as many copies as needed to complete lapbooks and projects for each student. It is designed for grades 3-8 to use independently, but my 1st grader started the project and with a little direction is completing a lapbook too.

For those unfamiliar, lapbooks are a special project made from common office supplies centered on a common theme or topic. Little mini-books/activities are created by the student as they study different aspects of the topic at hand and are eventually displayed in a finished product; the lapbook. The best way to explain, lapbooks is to see them. The screen shots below are from the New Testament Activity Pack.

The New Testament Activity Pack contains 15 mini-book projects for a finished lapbook designed to take the student through the history of the New Testament. In addition to the lapbook, The New Testament Activity Pack contains directions to create “The New Testament News” and an “Armor of God” poster personalized with your child’s photo. Beginning with the Birth of Christ and ending with Paul’s Missionary journeys the projects provide a delight-filled comprehensive educational experience for students. The New Testament Activity Pack is designed to be used as a stand alone unit study experience or supplement to Bible study. All projects are complete; including detailed directions, examples of the finished projects, and Bible verse references for deeper study. The homeschool teacher need only supply basic school supplies and encouragement.

My daughter Micah, age 11, and daughter Sierra age 7 and a half both used the New Testament Activity Pack for my review. I printed off two copies of each of the necessary pages, noting when asked to print some on cardstock and others with regular weight copy paper. After about a half an hour of printing, all the copies were made and I placed them in two different colored file folders for storage. The colored file folders will later serve as the covers of their lapbooks. Since Micah will complete the lapbook project on her own I made a copy of all directions and samples of the mini books for her reference; three hole punched and placed the paperwork in a 1” three ring binder. My total prep time was probably one hour.

Over the past few weeks, we have made several of the mini-books. Micah easily completes one in about 15-20 mins. of time, but Sierra and I take closer to a half hour due to my 40 something brain that seems to suffer from short-term memory loss and cannot remember directions any longer than 10 seconds. Both Micah and I agree the mini-books are beautifully designed; artfully crafted and help even the artistically challenged in the home create a colorful, keepsake treasure filled with well researched information and illustrations.

“I think the activity pack is a lot of fun and it is really easy which makes it even more fun. I like doing crafts like this because you have all the supplies already in the house. I can’t wait until I do the next project and the next one after that, because they are always so pretty when I finish them. It will be nice to look at my finished lapbook at the end of the school year,” said Micah.

To view all that Homeschool in the Woods has to offer visit their website at . Refreshing, informative and meaningful, their projects, timelines, unit studies and new activity packs just may help your homeschool daydreams translate into real school time.

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