Friday, August 30, 2013

Curricula Series 2013-2014: Literature Curriculum

I will be talking about literature today. My daughter and I LOVE reading! I noticed this past year that I wasn't reading aloud as often as I wanted. The recent moves and other stress related circumstances had a huge impact on our schedule and activities. I fully intend on reading more often with my daughter this year.

Even though we weren't reading aloud often, my daughter was constantly reading. I require Alyssa to read books of her choice for a minimum of 30 minutes each day. We call this her DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time - a little activity I used to do when I taught at a public school. Most days she will read for a longer period of time. We'll continue to use this technique to encourage quiet reading time.

Without further ado, I would like to share with you our curricula and literature choices.

Literature Choices

Core Curricula
Hewitt Homeschooling Grade 2 Lightening Literature (Preview)
I will provide the company with any suggestions and feedback as we complete the lessons. The book selections look wonderful! I read a handful of positive reviews about the higher grade level curricula. The second grade level includes literature, discussion questions, grammar, mechanics, workbook pages, writing compositions, and other activities.

Supplemental Resources
Confessions of a Homeschooler Classic Literature Unit Study Mega Pack
We received this pack last year as part of an Omnibus collection I purchased. It was well worth the price! You may want to read Erica's 10 Days of Classic Literature Series for more information about the units included in this pack. Alyssa helped me assign one chapter book and lapbook to work on each month. This will give us plenty of time to read the book and complete the activities. Check out the literature titles we will read this school year!
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  • Treasure Island
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • Black Beauty
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins
  • Stuart Little
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Charlotte's Web
  • Little House in the Big Woods
  • The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Independent Reading and Read Aloud Books
My daughter also helped me create a list of books to read in addition to those listed above. This is by no means an exhaustive, final list. I won't mention ALL of the books we plan on reading, but I wanted to include our top choices.
  • The Story About Ping
  • Henry Huggins
  • Heidi
  • A Little Princess (again)
  • The Wizard of Oz (again)
  • The Secret Garden (again)
  • The Railway Children (again)
  • The Hedge of Thorns
  • Charlie's Choice
  • The Trumpet of the Swans
  • A Bear Called Paddington
  • In Grandma's Attic
  • My Father's Dragon
  • Dolphin Adventures
  • Dolphin Treasure
  • The Hundred Dresses
  • Beezus and Ramona (again)
  • The House at Pooh Corner
  • The Light at Tern Rock
  • A Grain of Rice
  • Boxcar Children #1 (again)
  • Five True Dog Stories
  • Apple in the Arrow
  • The Year of Miss Agnes
  • Call of the Wild
  • Wild Fang
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Treasury
  • American Girl: Samantha (almost finished)
  • American Girl: Felicity (again)
  • The Courage of Sarah Noble
  • Little House Animal Adventures (redo - never finished)
  • Shiloh
  • Tornado
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • Lassie
  • Prairie School
  • Homer Price
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle
  • The Blue Fairy Book
  • The Red Fairy Book
  • The Jungle Book
  • Peter Pan
  • Pinocchio
  • The Raggedy Ann Stories
  • The Velveteen Rabbit (again)
  • The Wind in the Willows
  • The Sword in the Tree
  • Hellen Keller
  • Farmer Boy
  • The Whipping Boy
  • Rascal
  • Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Sarah Plain and Tall
  • Understood Betsy
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Johnny Appleseed
  • Aesop Fables for Children
  • Pippy Longstocking
  • Five Children and It
  • The Five Chinese Brothers
  • Billy and the Blaze Series
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
  • The Littles
  • First Flight
  • Thornton Burgess Stories
*I will most likely add more books to this list. I have NOT read all of these books so please use your own judgement as to whether or not they will be appropriate for your children. I glanced at several booklists online and chose books that we have readily available either at the library or on our bookshelves. A few of the booklists I used to help me create this list in addition to Alyssa's interest-based suggestions were My Father's World, Sonlight, Heart of Dakota, and Simply Charlotte Mason.   

Other Coordinating Lapbooks
All About Ping from In the Hands of a Child
American Girl: Meet Felicity from Knowledge Box Central
Johnny Appleseed from In the Hands of a Child
Plain Tall Sarah from In the Hands of a Child

*You can see my list of Popular Chapter Books for Girls on my blog. Alyssa is currently working her way through several of the books on this list. You may find a few books of interest worth reading aloud. Keep in mind these could also be books that your child reads independently. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Curricula Series 2013-2104: History and Citizenship

World History
Focus: Ancient History (Creation to the Resurrection)
I hope to use our World History curricula 3 times per week. We will SLOWLY work our way through these books. These curricula choices may take us several years to complete. I would like to create a timeline, but I haven't decided on which timeline figures to use or how I will set it up yet. I will add that information later once a decision is made.

Mystery of the History (Volume 1)

MOH Super Supplemental Collection (Volume 1)
  • Folder Books
  • Coloring Pages
  • Challenge Cards
  • Notebooking Pages
Supplemental Resources
The Story of the Ancient World by Helene A. Guerber

The Story of the World (Volume 1) by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Audio
  • Activity Book
You can find my Story of the World Compilation List of Resources Here.

American History
The plan is to cover American History twice a week. I hope to gently expose my daughter to American History this year. We will not rush through the books. I am sure that I will be adding resources to this list as we progress through the core books.

Core Curricula
TruthQuest American History for Young Students 1
*We will use several of the listed Spine Resources.

Beautiful Feet Early American History (old version)

Core Companions Resources
A Journey Through Learning Binder-Builder Lapbook
A Journey Through Learning Maps, Timeline, and Report Package

Supplemental Resources
Heroines of the Past Colonial by Amy Puetz
What Really Happened in Colonial Times by Knowledge Quest
Draw Write Now: Books 2, 3, and 5
Cooking Up Some American History
Liberty Kids DVD: The Complete Series

American History Lapbooks
A Journey Through Learning: Pioneer Days
A Journey Through Learning: American Revolution Express
A Journey Through Learning: An Overview of the 17th Century

* I have several other supplemental items that I may blog about later this year and use in conjunction with our core curricula if we have time. This will be a work in progress.

World and American History Supplemental Helps
Reading Through the Ages: Reading Selections 4000 B.C - Present by Trisms

Heritage History Young Readers CD

Yesterday's Classics E-Book Collection
My Audio School
Notebooking Pages

I feel that our history read aloud books and the following curricula will thoroughly address this subject for several years. She turns six-years-old this year so we have plenty of time.

Intellego Unit Studies
*Intellego Unit Studies can be purchased through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. You can read about the Co-op here. It's an older post, but contains the links and information about the Co-op. Joining the Co-op is FREE. I receive SmartPoints when you join or make a purchase through my link which helps pay for Alyssa's curricula and resources. Thank you for your support! 

Knowledge Box Central Mini Lapbook
U.S. Symbols

Supplemental Resources
I Love America (Volume 1 - older version)
I Love America (Volume 2 - older version)

For Which It Stands DVD and Guide

Pledge of Allegiance Printables created by Valerie at the Crafty Classroom

Well folks . . . you just read about my history and citizenship curricula choices for Alyssa. I blogged about my Math Curricula Choices yesterday. Click on the link if you'd like to see what we are using. I am a very eclectic homeschooler. I try my best to use multiple resources at once. We will have a flexible schedule when working our way through these books and resources. I have a feeling we have enough material for at least two years. I also believe in slowing the pace down if a child wants to extend a topic of interest further. One of my goals this year is to make history more literature-based and include many hands-on activities. I hope you enjoyed reading this post!

What curricula did you choose for World and American History? How are you addressing citizenship?  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Curricula Series for 2013-2014: Math Choices

I started a curricula series last year, but never finished it due to the lack of time and the fact that we were in the process of moving. We are slowly getting settled into our new house. My hope this time around is to share with you my eclectic curricula choices for the year - covering one subject at a time. I also saw several other bloggers posting their curricula choices in this manner so I decided to follow in their footsteps. At the end of the curricula series, I will provide a post that will include links to all of our subjects and curricula choices. You will have the option of picking and choosing which subjects are of interest to you. My brain seems to work better when planning in this fashion. 

Please keep in mind that subjects or curricula may change throughout the year. I am currently a reviewer for the The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew which blesses me with a variety of curricula and products to use with my daughter. I hope to continue writing for the crew next year. Many of our curricula choices below were review products that worked well for my daughter.

Our Math Curricula Choices
Morning Work
Calendar Time

Core Math Curriculum
Math-U-See Gamma (Single and Multiple-Digit Multiplication)
We reviewed Math-U-See Beta this year. Alyssa quickly completed the book. We decided to continue using the same curriculum. Why change something if it is working well? My plan is to use this curriculum at least three times a week. We will focus on only one lesson per week completing 2-3 pages per day. I want to slow down the pace this year so that we can cover additional mathematical concepts not covered in the core and use other supplemental materials. We will also use the block manipulatives to demonstrate concepts for each lesson. Alyssa watches the DVD presentation with me. Then, I will give her a quick mini lesson using the teacher's manual and manipulatives. We'll proceed to the student pages after she explores the concept and uses the blocks making her own discoveries.  

Online Math Programs
Online math supplements are used on a daily basis. I like to alternate the use of our subscriptions. I enjoy providing my daughter with variety when it comes to approaches and concept presentations. She'll spend a minimum of 20-30 minutes using one of the online math programs listed below. 
  • A+ Interactive Math Online Curriculum (Finish 1st and Start 2nd grade) - Here is a link to my A+ Interactive Math Online First Grade Homeschool Edition review. She is working through the 1st grade program over the summer and will continue using it this fall. We'll proceed with second grade material after the completion of this grade level. 
  • DreamBox Math (Finish 2nd and Start 3rd Grade) - We have been using this program for years and we both LOVE it! It is currently available through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. You can read more about the co-op here. Several other popular math programs are offered at a discounted price. Check it out! If you join the Homeschool Buyers Co-op through my link, then I will receive SmartPoints. Joining is FREE! I use these SmartPoints to purchase curricula for Alyssa. Please consider joining or purchasing through my links. Thank you! 
  • Essential Skills Advantage (3rd Grade Math) - We won an All-Access Student Plan which includes the Math program. JAVA doesn't work properly on our old computer, but I hope to upgrade sometime this year. 
Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills
Target the Question Grade 1 by Lonestar Learning - Here is a link to my review for this product. We will be using this program until the digital subscription expires. Unfortunately, we won't be able to renew it after it expires. Alyssa may record her answers in a math journal as seen in my review.

Get Your Hands on Problem Solving Grade 1 - I found this book at a library book sale and paid 25 cents for it. We'll give it a try this year and see how it goes. She'll learn about different problem-solving strategies and develop a plan for solving problems. This resource will most likely become part of our calendar time. We'll look at one problem a day.   

  • Times Tales DVD and Mini Flip - Alyssa's goal will be to learn the upper times table facts.
  • MathTacular 1 DVD - Alyssa chooses to watch this DVD during her free time. I usually provide her with the necessary manipulatives and allow her time to explore the concepts being discussed. I usually have to put a time limit on this activity, because she'll try to watch the entire thing.
  • Math Tub Exploration and Discovery - My math manipulatives are in tubs or storage containers. On light days, Alyssa will choose a tub and "play" with the manipulatives. This is a great time to observe a child's discoveries and to see their creativity. She'll often choose this activity during her free time too. 
  • Math Centers - I will also organize several math centers covering concepts she's previously learning or those I want her to review. She chooses the ones that appeal to her most to complete. This usually happens on light days too. A light math day may happen if I have a horrible migraine, over the weekend, on Fridays, if either one of us is sick, if we were gone most for the day, or if we need a brain break from her current studies.
*We have other supplemental materials that will be utilized when I see fit. 

Our Math Games
  • Roll It Tic-Tac-Toe
  • Speed
  • Racko
  • Out of Sight
  • Rolling in the Money
  • Double Shutter: Shut the Super Box
  • Fraction Formula
  • Jumpin' Chips Addition 
*You can read my posts titled Mathematical Play: A Look at Toys, Games and Puzzles and Making Math Memorable with Games to learn more about a few math games we use. I also plan to use several printable math games from Math Games in a Bag. We use math games to reinforce learning as often as possible. We use them to wrap-up math lessons and during family game night. I tend to buy math games, because it is a wonderful way to explore and practice mathematical concepts in a fun way. 

Math iPad Apps 
*We won the Squeebles math apps last year. Speed was the only app I paid for and in my opinion - it is definitely worth the price. Speed and Hands-on Equations both have FREE lite versions available in case you want to try them before buying the full versions. The rest of the apps listed were at some point available as free downloads this year unless indicated otherwise. We have several other math apps, but these are the ones my daughter uses most often.

Math Assessment
I purchased a DOMA Math Assessment years ago from Let's Go Learn through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I plan on finally giving this assessment to Alyssa before the new school year begins for us. I look forward to seeing the results!

Well, that's it for now! I hope you enjoyed hearing about our math curricula choices for this year. I am super excited and can't wait to see what God has planned for us!

What Math curricula did you choose this year?

Please leave a link to your blog post or comment below. Your suggestions may help others. I also love hearing about new products! Math is one of my favorite subjects to teach!

This post will eventually be linked up at the Not-Back-To School Blog Hop for 2013-2014 hosted by iHomeschool Network. It's a great place to read about curriculum choices for ALL subjects and for ALL ages for homeschoolers using a variety of methods.

I will also link up at Teach Them Diligently Curriculum Choices for 2013-2014. I need to complete the curricula series first.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Random Five on Friday: August 23

I have been so busy lately. We had computer problems so I didn't blog as much as I wanted. These problems are causing a lot of stress and frustration. The Internet was soooo slow; I couldn't get anything done. Furthermore, I couldn't access my drafts in Blogger for several days. Well, everything is NOT YET back to normal, because now my screen is completely BLACK. My computer screen is also flickering. I checked all cords, shut down, and restarted on several occasions. I hope it is not dying on me. I have too many amazing files that I haven't backed up yet.

Anyways, sorry about venting. This edition will cover events from our life over the last two weeks.  

1.) Places We Went and People We Saw . . . 
We had a play date last Wednesday. Four of Alyssa's friends came over to play in her new playroom. The house was still a mess and we aren't completely unpacked yet so I probably should have waited. We still have unfinished house projects that most people see complete when visiting a new house.   

We left the house early this Friday so that we could stop by the post office to pick up a package. We won the 102030GO! accountability system after entering the giveaway during the Mommy Time Facebook party. I love how it works and plan to switch the chore and reading time amounts. I want Alyssa to complete her chores in twenty minutes and have 30 minutes of reading time. 

Afterwards, we drove to the library for an AWESOME book sale. I can't wait to tell you about the deal I got, but it will be on another day. Now, I just have to figure out where I will put all of the new books.

We also went to our friend's birthday party (Rylee) on Saturday. I haven't seen her and her mother in a long time. I enjoyed having a little adult conversation while the girls played with dolls and other toys. We played a few games, ate snacks, and hit the pinata. In the photo they are drawing their favorite sweets and food. 
Alyssa and Rile
Yummy Mini Cupcakes!
2.) In Our Homeschool This Week . . . 
I finally posted my Strega Nona review for In the Hands of a Child. We had a blast creating this lapbook. I hope you will check out my review. They are having a huge sale until the end of August (50% off e-book purchases). 

We received our new review product in the mail on Wednesday. We started reviewing See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish from Flip Flop Learning. My husband also completed a lesson. We are all liking it so far!

We were blessed and won one All-Access Student Plan from Essential Skills Advantage thanks to Jill at Blessed Beyond a Doubt. I signed my daughter up for the third grade curricula hoping this level will meet her needs. I am super excited about the Science program which covers K-3rd grade concepts. We have an older computer and JAVA doesn't always work properly. We have to shut down and restart the computer if we want to go to a different subject. The all-access student program begins with a series of pre-assessments for all subjects so that Alyssa can be placed in the appropriate assignments. She is working through Science, Math, Reading, Spelling, and Grammar material.

Alyssa finished the Reading Kingdom program on Tuesday! She was super excited about her accomplishment! Reading Kingdom states that upon completion of the program your child will be reading and writing at a third grade level. We are hoping the Essential Skills Advantage Third Grade Reading will be a good fit for an online program to supplement her core curriculum this year. I may have to upgrade our computer this year to make it easier to use. I love how the third grade reading program focuses on comprehension. She truly enjoyed the articles in the assessment phase.  

Her A+ Interactive Math Online lessons have become more of a challenge lately. She is learning concepts that I haven't thoroughly taught yet. We slowed down the pace and are completing only one lesson each day so that she doesn't get frustrated. She still enjoys and LOVES the program. I want to keep it that way since I already purchased the second grade level. 

My daughter is also still working through the Bible Writer Volume 1 copywork lessons I mentioned in a previous post. 

3.) I Feel So Blessed and Grateful For . . . 
  • The Lord's Grace, Mercy, and Forgiveness
  • My Family and Home
  • Giveaways We Won This Month
*I find it simply intriguing how God sends just the right products to us when needed. 

4.) What We Are Reading . . . 
Alyssa just finished reading the American Girl book titled Felicity. We just started reading Samantha as a read aloud. I recently purchased a Felicity lapbook for only $1.25  from Knowledge Box Central. It retails for $5.00. I used a 75% off coupon code. We hope to reread the book and begin it soon. I also plan to throw in a few craft activities and additional lapbook topics. You can purchase it on sale for $1.50 through CurrClick. Prices are subject to change. 

I am currently reading several curriculum manuals (mainly my Mystery of the History volume 1) and trying to plan for the new school year. I still need to purchase curricula. We won't officially start school until September 16th. I will slowly introduce subjects increasing our work load each day. Please keep in mind that we do homeschool year round. In the summer, I am a bit more relaxed with schooling and not so schedule oriented. 

5.) My Favorite Things This Week . . .
I won the Motivated Mom app from the MommyTime Facebook Party. I am loving how it organizes and helps me complete daily household chores for the entire family. The app also incorporates Bible reading verses. 

I also made some Skinny Peanut Butter Cookie Granola this week. The recipe was found at Dashing Dish. My family scarfed it down! This is definitely a recipe I plan to make more often. I added a few ingredients and adjusted a few amounts. It was delicious! Seriously, go try it and make it to your preferences. 

I will link this post up at Random 5 on Friday hosted by Miranda at The Pebble Pond. Please join the fun and link up your random five thoughts, facts, or occurrences for the week. I will also link this post at the Happy Homemaker Monday at Diary of a Stay At Home Mom and The Homeschool Mother's Journal at So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?

The Pebble Pond
HMJ Logo 500x484Happy Homemaker Monday

Monday, August 19, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: In the Hands of a Child - Strega Nona Project Pack

 photo handsofachildlogo_zps7221e2e2.jpg

I was thrilled that we had the privilege to review a copy of the Strega Nona Curriculum Project Pack from In the Hands of a Child. Tomie dePaola is one of my favorite authors. I own many of his books. One of my goals this year was to begin an author study with Alyssa. This lapbook jump started the project. We LOVE lapbooking! You can find out what a lapbook is by visiting the website here.

In the Hands of a Child is a company dedicated to creating ready-to-assemble project packs (lapbooks), note packs, and lapbooks with a fill-in option. Their products cover a variety of subjects and topics including but not limited to Bible, Language Arts, Literature, Math, Science, History, Economics, and Geography. The products may focus on either broad or specific topics for children in preschool through high school. The company offers a variety of formats to choose from including e-books, printed book, CD, and printed book with CD combo.

We received the Strega Nona Curriculum Project Pack in e-book format. The e-book version arrived via e-mail as a 56-page PDF downloadable lapbook file which is currently available on sale for the special price of only $5.00. Prices are subject to change. The project pack curriculum retails for the regular price of $10.00. This project pack is suitable for children in 1st through 3rd grade. You may want to take a peek at their specials and freebies this month. In the Hands of a Child is offering a discount of 50% off e-book products purchased during the month of August as part of their back-to-school sale. No coupon code is necessary!

Strega Nona Project Pack Includes:
  • Getting Started Project Pack Guide
  • Suggestions for Adapting a Project Pack to Fit the Needs of Your Student
  • Table of Contents
  • 6-Day Planning Guide
  • Bibliography of Related Reading and Websites
  • 18 Hands-On Activities with Folder Instructions
  • Creating a Lapbook Base Visuals and Directions
  • Sample Photos
  • 7-Day Research Guide
  • Nonno Vincenzo's Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe
  • Vocabulary List
  • Graphic Organizer Reproducibles
The Strega Nona Curriculum Project Pack began with a basic "Table of Contents" indicating which page to find particular sections in the document. I loved the simplicity and organization of the "Planning Guide" which stated the activities to be completed for each day in addition to vocabulary words to be taught and guided reading lessons at a glance. A separate vocabulary list was included in the pack. The company provided a "Bibliography" which contained a list of related books including other books written by the author in addition to websites that will enrich the study. The "Research Guide" is the most important feature of the project pack, because it contained all of the reading material and lessons related to the activities for the day. The guided reading topics mentioned in the planning guide matched the bold-printed text and wording used in the research guide making it fairly easy to follow. The 18 hands-on activities including booklet directions came after the bibliography list. The assignments are in the form of creative templates or mini books such as wheels, maps, petal books, accordion books, three-flap books, shape book, layered books, flip flap books, five fact books, mini pockets for sorting cards, and more. All of the graphic organizers were towards the back of the file. Here are a few photos of the activities Alyssa completed as assignments below.
Layered Story Map Book
Mini Pocket Sorting Cards
Timeline Accordion Book
Our Experiences
I opened the file using Adobe Reader on my MAC 10.5.8 computer. The file was easily downloaded and saved. I printed all the activities and stored them in a 3-ring binder with pockets. I stocked up on the items from the supply list:
  • File Folders
  • Glue Sticks (Adhesives)
  • Brads
  • Crayons, Colored Markers, Colored Pencils, Pencil with Eraser
  • Scissors
  • Cardstock and Colored Paper
  • Stapler
How We Used It
I used the Strega Nona Project Pack to supplement our geography studies and as part of Alyssa's summer reading curriculum. My daughter is five-years-old so she is a little younger than the recommended grade range, but I knew that she could handle the project after viewing the samples. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the company also suggested ways to adapt the writing activities to make them easier or more difficult if necessary.

Alyssa and I read the book repeatedly throughout the week. The planning guide indicated that the book should be read a minimum of three times during the study. I was a little confused when it showed the book being read for the first time on two different days. She asked to read the book aloud on the fourth day. Thought-provoking discussion questions focusing on comprehension were asked after each reading requiring my daughter to recall the information from the story or to think critically about the story events. We completed three activities each day. The activities usually took us approximately 45 minutes to complete. Alyssa worked independently on the activities after we read the information from the research guide or the picture book. I gave my daughter the option of either tracing, cutting out the printed text, or writing the important information in each booklet. Several activities included traceable and cut-n-paste modifications for children who dislike or struggle with writing activities. I didn't have Alyssa write the responses in all the mini books. There were a few days that she chose to cut and paste the information into the booklets. If she wrote everything, then I think I would have extended the pack possibly over a two-week period. We just finished a writing intensive program not too long ago. I wanted the lapbook experience to be fun and enjoyable so I gave her the option and didn't push the writing aspect.
Quick Facts Three Flap Book
Anthony's Job Petal Book
We completed the entire project pack lapbook in one week. The seventh day was reserved for making the meal. My daughter and I didn't take any detours from the project pack. However, now that the project pack is completed she's asking to research information on Italy at the library.

A recipe was also included in the project pack. Alyssa and I bonded as we cooked a special dinner for her father. It was her first time making meatballs! I will never forget her face when she squished the meat between her fingers. We made this recipe several times on pasta night during the review period with a few minor adaptations to meet the likes and dislikes of my family's taste buds. Yummy!

Topics Covered
I was thrilled that the project pack incorporated geography into the activities! Alyssa learned geography specifically with regards to Calabria, Italy. The project pack included information and facts about what Italy is best known for including outstanding food, amazing artwork, beautiful coastlines, vineyards, and mountains. She also learned that Italy was located on the continent of Europe through the use of miniature maps and mini books. She immediately pulled out her Europe puzzle to complete after the mapping assignments. My daughter also colored the Italian flag. Alyssa stated that it looked similar to the flag of Mexico explaining the differences in detail. She discovered that the capital city of Italy was Rome. Not to mention, she became more familiar with Italy's bordering countries which I never imagined would be covered, but was happy to see that it was taught.
Flip Flap Book About Italy
Fact Three Flap Book
Additionally, this lapbook discussed the main religion practiced and the language of Italy. She was utilizing the Italian words and phrases taught in her daily life. She would say "thank you" in Italian after her meal. On many occasions, Alyssa was asked to do a specific chore. She said "yes" in Italian showing off her newfound language skills.
Italian Language Wheel
This literature-based unit study utilized a hands-on approach to learning requiring active participation. Several reading comprehension strategies were addressed including story elements, story structure or story event sequencing, characterization, and summarization. I appreciated the fact that the company exposed my daughter to a variety of graphic organizer formats that helped aid comprehension or understanding of the text. Furthermore, additional skills were taught in the project pack such as rhyming words and recognizing some parts of a book. Alyssa recorded key ideas. She also expanded her vocabulary by learning eight new meaningful terms from the picture book that helped her comprehend the story events even better.
Three Flap Book
Her absolute favorite activity was the graphing assignment. We didn't make it into a shutter book. I decided to post a survey or poll question on Facebook with the help of my daughter. Our friends and family members responded quickly. She LOVED recording their favorite types of pasta in her graph. She has always been a big fan of graphing activities! She paid more attention to the different types of pasta at the store too. Our least favorite was the slit tab book. Creating slits in the middle of the paper without tearing it can be frustrating to younger children and she couldn't get it to fold properly or remain closed.

  • I absolutely LOVE how geography, math, and foreign language (learning to speak a few Italian words) were integrated into the unit.
  • The content and the reading level of the required picture book was age appropriate. The book was written by a well-known, popular author that is loved by many children and adults. Furthermore, the book utilized for this unit study and related literature was easily available and found at the library.
  • I liked how everything needed, except for the physical books, was included in the file. There was minimal planning on my part. The research guide contained valuable information to be read. The booklet templates for each activity were included with written directions. I simply gathered the supplies and book(s). We had all of the materials on hand so there was really no out-of-pocket expense except for the cost of ingredients for the meal.
  • The core picture book makes references to God and prayer. I felt I needed to state this for secular homeschool families. The project pack doesn't focus on religion; it only mentions the main religion spoken in Italy. 
  • The activities were flexible and easily modified for younger and older children than the intended grade range. 
  • Active learning was taking place. I could see the enthusiasm on my daughter's face.
  • The project pack contains numerous hands-on activities that foster and promote creativity while providing variety or a change in the regular activities planned for the day.

Possible Cons
  • There was no indication in the planning guide as to what size file folder to use in order to create the lapbook. I believe this information would be helpful to a new lapbook user.
  • I prefer seeing more up-close photos indicating exactly where each mini book or project should be placed instead of having to figure it out. My daughter said that the hardest part of the entire project was trying to make everything fit. I tend to agree with her thinking. The included photos only showed a partial lapbook and suggested placement for a few of the activities. A suggested placement visual or photograph of the entire lapbook would have been much more useful. I understand that children do personalize the experience when being involved and choosing the location of the booklets. However, some children may find this aspect of the project tedious. It may be better for the parent to arrange the lapbook with the child as an overseer who can willing suggest placement ideas.
Possible Vendor Suggestions
  • I felt that the research guide could be more organized. I prefer having all of the pages for a particular lesson or activity with correlating reading material, questions, and templates together instead of flipping towards the back of the file to find them. Some additional spacing may help. I felt like the pages were too crowded. 
  • I know that you have written directions for the activities, but is it possible to also include a visual of how to do the folds for each booklet enabling visual learners to be more successful.
Overall Thoughts
Alyssa was definitely proud of her completed lapbook! She showed it to several of our friends and started teaching them what she learned. The idea of a lapbook was new to them and they found the concept intriguing wishing they had been taught the same way. I was impressed with the thoroughness and found the lapbook to be complete. After using this lapbook, I quickly realized that the study didn't require or need any extensions. It could be implemented as a stand-alone project. However, the company provided a recommended reading list with suggested websites for families wanting to take rabbit trails in the study. It was evident that my daughter was retaining the information recorded during the hands-on activities. We will definitely continue using In the Hands of a Child lapbooks in our homeschool as supplements to our curricula. The activities within the unit study were quick and easy. The flexibility of the study was also impressive. Your family can do fewer activities or extend if desired. Alyssa is eager to create more lapbooks this year so I am finding ways to incorporate them into her studies.

Would you like to see Alyssa's completed lapbook project pack?
Front Cover
Left-Side Opened
Right-Side Opened
Vocabulary Mini Book on Right
Back of Lapbook

Well, we have about 27 items on our current wish list at this time so I won't be sharing it with you. However, I do know that the last three products above are being reviewed by my fellow crew members so I will definitely be stalking their blogs and reading the reviews once posted.

I highly recommend In the Hands of a Child and the Strega Nona Project Pack to any homeschool family that utilizes lapbooking or notebooking methods in their school day. Individuals that teach with an eclectic, delight-directed, and unit study or thematic approach may find their products enjoyable. Furthermore, early elementary classroom teachers from private, Christian, public, and Montessori schools may find In the Hands of a Child products appealing. General lapbook topics could also be used during after school care and more specific titles related to subject or content could be used in a co-op setting. I believe the Strega Nona Project Pack would be a great enrichment project to extend an author study and is a wonderful supplement for literature-based learning. I hope to see many more literature-based unit studies created by the company in the future!

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I hope you will visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews about various In the Hands of a Child products. 
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