Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Journey Through Learning {Schoolhouse Review}

Lapbooking is a popular activity in the homeschool community, but it is something we had not tried in our homeschool until recently.  I am not an organized person.  I wasn't sure if I could handle the work in preparing and organizing the components of a lapbook.  Then enters the opportunity to review products from A Journey Through Learning.  I'm always up for at least trying something new, so I jumped in.




A Journey Through Learning was started by best friends, and homeschooling mothers, Paula and Nancy.  They were looking for quality, educational, hands-on activities.  So they eventually created their own business.  In addition to lapbooks, they offer unit studies, copywork, file folder games and more.

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was offered the following units:

Letters, Numbers and Shapes lapbook (ages 3-5)
The Earth lapbook with Study Guide (Grades 1-4)
Knights and Castles lapbook with Study Guide (Grades 2-7)
Astronomy and Space unit study with Study Guide (Grades 2-7)

We received each of these as instant downloads ($13/each), but they provide different products in additional different formats, so if you prefer a CD or even an assembled product, they may offer that option.


LETTERS, NUMBERS AND SHAPES
After looking over the contents of each, I chose to focus on Letters, Numbers and Shapes with Emory, who is 3 years old.  He has recently started asking for school work like his big brother, so I decided this would be something simple and hands-on to start.

Letters, Numbers and Shapes Preschool Lapbook



The lapbook is from the "I Can Do School Too" series, and includes a variety of early learning concepts.  Throughout the process of creating their very own lapbook, preschoolers are offered the opportunity to identify letters, shapes, colors, numbers and animals.  This is done through activities such as counting, tracing, coloring and drawing.  Fine motor skills are also exercised through cutting and pasting.

Please note that this lapbook just happened to get printed in black & white, but these products are in color.  It didn't really matter for us in the end, because my 3 year old is in a color the entire page with full force stage right now.


Practicing beginning letter sounds

Coloring squares

Drawing "circles" for his gumball machine!


Emory is often off in his own little imaginary world, and I do not require school work for him at his age, so I was a little surprised that he showed so much interest in this project.  {I did help with the cutting.}  He would ask for his "school work" and was willing to sit for about 10 minutes at a time, but since each component of the lapbook is very easy to do in short segments, it worked out well.


The first folder



The lapbook also came with many suggestions for activities, games and finger plays to reinforce the concepts covered in this lapbook.  Emory is on the younger end of the recommended age range, but for older preschoolers, the lapbook could serve as a nice "year end" type of project to assess and showcase what they have learned!







ASTRONOMY AND SPACE



Although I have only used the preschool lapbook so far, Elliott will be using the others as we get to those points in our studies!  He received a telescope as a gift from his grandparents, and wants to study astronomy.  I have been looking over this unit study, and I am very excited, because now I do not have to create a unit for him.  I will be using this as our core, and branch off as I see fit.

I like that the unit study covers more than just the basics of the sun, moon, and order of the planets.  Other topics include galaxies, constellations, astronauts, comets, asteroids, rockets, telescopes and more!  It is full of great vocabulary, and it looks comprehensive enough for the early elementary grades.  I do think for older students you can go more in-depth with additional readings and research.  The unit even provides some book suggestions.  I think we will have a lot of fun with it!


FINAL THOUGHTS
  • Very user friendly with step-by-step directions and pictures 
  • Minimal materials needed:  file folders and basic school supplies
  • Authors give options for how to use their product, making it flexible for each family
  • Preschool material is a little pricey to me, but I'm of the "less is more" mindset for this age group, so that definitely influences my opinion
  • Materials for elementary and up look well put together and I think those could be worth the instant download price if it is used fully and made into a comprehensive unit 
  • The $1 Express Lapbooks on the website are meant for quick, easy projects, and seem more my speed
  • My 3 year old enjoyed it and my 6 year old even asked for his own lapbook, so I know he was intrigued by the concept
  • Hands-on, interactive and engaging for kinesthetic learners
I have heard many good things about A Journey Through Learning, and now I know why.  Overall, I felt like these were quality products, and I would definitely recommend them to families who enjoy lapbooking or want to give it a try!


My crew mates and I all were able to choose from the four units I mentioned, so be sure to read their reviews to learn more about all of these great products and how they were used in other homes!





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