We were very pleased to have the opportunity to review the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections by Home School in the Woods!
WHAT IS IT?:
Home School in the Woods is already known for offering the most amazing lapbook products for engaging your children in their history studies. Now they’ve come out with the brand new U.S. Elections lap-pak. Through a series of 21 lessons, your children can learn about the organization of American government and how it came to where it is today, the evolution of the political parties in this country, requirements for various government offices, and the complete election process. This downloadable kit is available for just $19.95 and includes complete audio recordings of the information booklet so it can be read, listened to, or both as the projects are completed.
With this being a presidential election year, the timing for the release of this product couldn’t have been any better!
I worked on this lap-pak with my 11-year old daughter, Haylee. We’ve previously worked on other lap-paks from this vendor, and they never disappoint us! We were really looking forward to learning more about the election process in preparation for the upcoming presidential election. We thought we’d spread it out throughout the spring and summer as we get closer to the election itself, but during the review we did 2 projects per week for 4 weeks. Following the review period, we plan to slow it down to only one project per week.
I’ve always found that organizing the materials is the best way to get these started, so I began by selecting a 3-ring binder and printing the text assignments and project directions to put inside. Those clearly lay out the printing instructions for each project and step-by-step directions for decorating each piece and assembling it as you go. Then I printed out and assembled the informational booklet. That way, we’d have the option of either reading the booklet or using the audio text that was included. I also printed the cover of the lapbook, and Haylee colored both the booklet and the lapbook cover.
Once I had that all set up, we were ready to begin. The first project was on the definition of “election.” We chose to listen to the audio introduction and definition as Haylee copied the Latin root and meaning from the project directions.
The next project was about the different forms of government. Haylee listened to the audio track and then used the booklet to isolate the details of four forms of government: The Rule of 1, The Rule of a Few, The Rule of Many, and Anarchy. That was it for our first week working on U.S. Elections.
The following week, we started off with the project called The American Experiment. Here, we learned about English, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, and U.S. government and the characteristics of each, showing how our new form of government borrowed the best of what each of the others had to offer and made something better. This lapbook element was particularly fun to make with movable test tubes, and Haylee had fun decorating it in rainbow colors to demonstrate how our government became a mix of the others yet something altogether new at the same time. It was a great way to demonstrate the principle!
Next, we learned about the three branches of government: the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. She listened to the audio, and we discussed the differences in the responsibilities of each branch. Then I assembled the lapbook element, while she colored and decorated it with cutouts of leaves. This element was pretty cool, too, because it looked like a tree when closed, but each branch of the tree opened up to define the roles of each branch of government. Very clever! That was the end of our second week.
During the third week, we moved on to learning about suffrage. The audio track explained to us how there were lots of parameters that were originally placed on voting which served to exclude certain groups of voters. From women to the poor to former slaves, each parameter worked to exclude various people groups. This was an important lesson to discuss. Even my husband joined into the discussion as he passed through the room and heard us talking about it. We learned about the 15th and 19th amendments to the Constitution, and then we assembled the lapbook element. Haylee thought this one was really awesome, because it made the hands on the cover of the element look as if they were actually holding the scrolls of the amendments. Then it opened up to explain all that we’d learned and concluded with the resolution provided by the twenty-fourth amendment.
Next, we learned about the offices for which we vote. While we listened to the audio, we assembled a really neat wheel that rotated to reveal the requirements for filling the offices of the President, Vice President, Senator, and Representative. Haylee was really surprised to learn of the age and residency requirements for each office. She had no idea there were such specific limitations for candidates. This concluded our third week.
The final week of the review, we started off by learning about the terms of office for the President, Vice President, Senators, and Representatives. We learned about how they came to be limited and why the specific length of terms were selected for each office. Haylee thought that was really interesting. After listening to the audio, we assembled the little booklet that explained the limitations for the terms, and Haylee colored the cover of it.
Finally, we learned about some of the political parties from the past and present and the foundations on which each party came into being. I knew about our two-party system, but some of the other parties were less clear to me, so I personally found this information particularly enlightening. After listening to the audio, I assembled the lapbook element, and Haylee colored the front of it. Then we read the information inside together aloud and talked about the differences in the parties.
At this point, we’ve completed just over 1/3 of the lapbook elements. I’ve peeked ahead at what’s to come, and it all looks very exciting! We’re really looking forward to completing the project. For now, I’ve made my own version of a lapbook base and have begun to adhere the elements we’ve made onto the base where they will go so that we don’t have to store them in a plastic bag as we go along. It actually looks pretty cool! I prefer to use sheets of white cardstock taped together rather than file folders, as I can Velcro it closed and add a strip down the left edge with three holes punched in it so that the lapbook can be kept in a binder. We like to collect her lapbooks into binders by related subjects so we can reference them later and store them in a neat and tidy way. This helps to prevent them from getting damaged or misplaced. The lap-paks from Home School in the Woods are particularly nice and very visually appealing, so I plan to keep them as teaching tools for my younger son down the road.
My husband and I were really impressed with this lap-pak. It’s very thorough, and the materials are so creative and easy to use. I usually do the printing, cutting, and assembling myself, and then my daughter does the coloring and decorating, as well as any writing that is required inside each one. I work on my part in the evenings during my free time after dinner, and then we’re prepared for our lesson the next day. This makes the lessons take only a short time, and my daughter doesn’t get bored with the assembly part. But this is one of the cool things about these products from Home School in the Woods…they are very flexible and allow you to use them as they fit best for your family. If you have a child who seems to old for lapbooking but could benefit from the material it covers, you could easily do this project in a notebook, as well. I’ve always thought of notebooking as lapbooking for bigger kids! But you can use it however it works for you and your children. The same goes for the pacing. You can work on it every day like a unit study, or spread it out over a number of weeks. For us, I think doing it on Fridays would work great since we use a 4-day homeschooling schedule, leaving Fridays for fun activities such as this.
The remainder of this lapbook will take us through the caucuses and primaries, national conventions, elements of the presidential campaign such as platform, stump speaking, media, and advertising, as well as raising money, statistics, election day, the electoral college, inauguration day, the electoral race, and the “vocabinet.” And all of it will be presented in a fun and interactive manner with this lap-pak project. It’s such a great way to prepare your kids for this year’s election process, so be sure and check it out! We’ve really had a lot of fun with it so far, and we’ve already learned a lot.
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