Tuesday, August 20, 2013

(Review) In the Hands of a Child--National Parks Curriculum Note Pack

I am a big fan of lapbooks and the way they allow the students (and teachers) to thoroughly explore a topic.  So I was thrilled to be chosen to review the National Parks Project Pack from In the Hands of a Child.   In the Hands of a Child has been producing quality lapbooking curricula for over 11 years, and has produced over 450 lapbooks for educators and children to enjoy.

Are you familiar with lapbooking?  In essence, it is an organized, kinesthetic way to study a particular topic.  Most lapbooks used a standard office file folder, folded into thirds, to serve as the canvas for the information learned.  Students read, color, cut, paste, journal, and more, and the results are shown on the file folder as a permanent record of the information they have learned.  It is very different than reading dry, boring text straight from a text and taking a quiz.  The hands-on aspect of lapbooking allows students to retain the information long after the unit has been completed.  Here is In the Hands of a Child’s explanation:

What is a Lapbook?
·         A 3-D presentation of what the child learned during her study
·         A collection of mini books and graphic organizers pulled together into a series of file folders
·         A hands-on approach to learning, replacing worksheets or other monotonous learning tools
·         A scrapbook
·         A unit study
·         A portfolio

So what is a Note Pack?  It is very similar to the file folder method, but the pages are laid out in a notebooking style so the student can 3-hole punch each page and store it in a small binder.  There is less cutting and pasting than a regular lapbook, and the material is laid out a bit differently. My daughter actually prefers this method, so we enjoyed learning about many of the wonderful American national parks included in this fun and interesting Project Pack.

What We Received
We received an instant download with a special password to the National Parks Project Pack, in the note pack format, which included suggested lesson plans, all reading materials, activity pages, suggested resources to explore, and an answer key to all activity pages.  Here’s a peek at the table of contents to give you a better idea of all the wonderful content contained within:

How We Used It

  • We studied the included vocabulary words, talked about the ones my daughter already knew, and made a note of the ones we needed to explore further.
  • We read through the very well laid out information on some of the most popular national parks, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Denali.   My dad, her grandfather, was a park ranger at both the Grand Canyon and the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we both had a huge interest in this topic. The note pack did not disappoint. 
  • The lesson plans included six days of activities and reading and research, and we followed that guide, adding a few extra things to our studies.  We were able to find wonderful documentaries online about several of the national parks.  Abbey was enthralled with the information, both in the National Parks Note Pack from In the Hands of a Child and from the documentaries.  She now wants to visit every national park in the United States! (So do I, by the way). If a curriculum makes your child feel that strongly about it, I think we would all agree, it's a winner. 

Here’s a shot of one of the activities in the pack: a postcard she created of her favorite national park—Denali National Park in Alaska.  She actually mailed this to her pen pal in Colorado last week. 

Here's another activity that was fun for my daughter, showing a couple of the largest and tallest natural features of our national parks: 

If you want to try lapbooking but are just not sure about all the arts and crafts part of it all, or your child is not really into all that much glue (like my rising 5th grader), I highly recommend the note packs from In the Hands of a Child. These are great for the older student. In the Hands of a Child has a TON of subjects to choose from, and these allow your child to learn in a very creative and in depth way.  As a wonderful bonus, they are all very affordable, which I know we all appreciate. 

The National Parks Note Pack is recommended for grades 4th – 8th and is priced at $12, but is currently on sale at only $5. That sale price won’t last long, so grab it while you can!

Want to read some more reviews about different project packs from In the Hands of a Child? Please click the blinking banner below and follow the links! You’ll be glad you did!

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