Wednesday, February 17, 2016

HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections by Home School in the Woods -A Schoolhouse Crew Review

With 2016 being an election year, I was so thrilled to be able to review HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections by Home School in the Woods. I have never used one of their products so I really wasn't even aware of how great they are. After doing my research, I was pleased to find out that they are a Christian based company, and of course, a homeschooling family!

If you are new to homeschooling or have never heard of lapbooks, let me explain a little bit about what they are. A lapbook is kind of like a collection of little pieces of information, which are called mini-books, and they are all combined together to make one big book. This is normally done by using file folders. They can be very fun, and you can get very creative with them. Lapbooks, to me are like the little sister of notebooking. They can be used for almost any subject and also for any age. I love them because in our house, they turn into a wonderful study tool, but it's also something tangible that the kids have made, and can go back and review it at any time.

What we got:
We received the digital download version of the Elections Lap-Pak, although it is also available in the CD version. The recommended ages are for 3rd to 8th grade, but we used this just fine with my high school age kids.
U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

What I thought:
My first impression was that this lapbook is one of the best, well put together lap books I've ever used. It guides you from the very beginning and all the way through it. It's laid out so well, that it takes no time to get started. It's full of information explaining in depth about our government and how the President becomes the President. The illustrations used for the mini lessons are some of the best I've ever worked with. They definitely went the extra mile with making sure that they were all very detailed and perfect for the visual learner.

Supplies you need:
I am not the most organized person on the earth, that's no secret. No matter how hard I try, I always forget something in a lesson. In this case, I forgot to see what supplies I needed and to make sure I had them on hand. I had most of them, but I'm going to hopefully save you a little time and list them here. I honestly didn't even use all of the supplies that they list, and it still came out beautiful. I feel like I need to also prepare you. This is A LOT of printing, especially doing more than one. I printed out everything in the beginning for 3 kids. Let's just say that I went through two ink cartridges.

colored paper
white card stock
colored card stock
pencil and colored pencils
liquid glue (I used Elmer's)
glue stick
double sided sticky tape (I didn't have any so I used scotch tape and glue sticks)
clear tape
clear packing tape
gold glitter (again I didn't have any since my kids spilled it all over the room)
a 5" square of clear acetate or Dura-Lar (I didn't even know what this was so we didn't use it)
exacto knife (I need to get one of these)
paper fasteners
one 3.5" by 5" piece of fabric
one file folder with the tab in the middle
one 6" x 9" manila envelope (I didn't have one so I made one)

How we used it:
I strongly disliked government and anything to do with it in school. It was completely boring to me. When I saw this lapbook, I thought it would be perfect, to add a little more fun and creativity to learning about elections. I knew I needed something to engage the kids, because unfortunately, they aren't fans of government or politics either. This has completely held their attention from the beginning. We haven't quite finished the entire lesson, but we have all learned so much from what we've completed.

When we got the download, I immediately pulled it up and started printing. It's laid out so well that it didn't take long. It is very user friendly and tells you exactly what you need to print. You will come to a screen in your browser that is basically everything you need. It starts out with the introduction and directions, and as you scroll down you will come to the reading text to print and the different lessons. I wanted to print the reading text before anything else, and they give you two options with this. Here's a screenshot of the printing options.

As you can see, you can print it in booklet form, or it's available to print out in binder format. We chose the binder format so that it would be easier to print. I just got a 3 ring binder to put the text portion in and also the directions for each lesson. That way it's all together nice and neat.

The text is all of the information you need to teach the lesson. You can obviously expand on it if you want to, or just simply use what's provided. It goes into detail about how our elections work in the U.S. and what it takes to be President. With the text, you also get the audio. This is a great bonus for me, because I have to talk and read so much during the day, it's nice to have someone else do it for me. We have used it pretty much every time. I love the fact that it tells you in minutes at each lesson where you are in the audio, so that you can get started quickly every time.

So, after you get the reading portion printed and ready to go, you can start your first lesson. As you can see from the above picture, the lessons are laid out to you in sections. It starts with, Definition of "Election", and continues all the way down to Vocabinet. We tried to do one lesson everyday, and that was working great for us. I think we are going to slow down a bit, and do one different lesson 2 times a week, rather than everyday. I want to really dig deep into it so that they go over what they've learned, and remember it. The "mini" lessons are perfect just for that. Again, it's easy to know what you need to print for that lesson. You just click on the different sub headings for that lesson, and it brings you to the lapbook piece for that day. It also includes a picture for each one so you can see what it is supposed to look like.

My kids had so much fun working on the different lessons. Even my 12th grader got in on the lap pieces.

 What it suggests, and what we did, was after we read the lesson and discussed it, we did the lap piece for that day. After we finished it, we put it into a zip lock bag until we needed it for the assembly of the actual lapbook.

I know I already talked about it before, but it needs to be said again. The illustrations alone on these pieces are amazing. They are so hands on, and have the perfect pictures to really help the information sink in. I used the colored paper and card stock and it really brought them to life. Some lap pieces are simple and don't take long at all, but some are so detailed that it takes a little longer to do. Some are even interactive like the ones below!

His arm moves with the help of a paper fastener

After you have finished all of the lessons, it's time for the assembly of the lapbook. Since we haven't finished, we had nothing but a bag of lapbook pieces, so my daughter was kind enough to help me put hers together so you can see a finished product. We will just go in and fill the rest of it in as we go.

The entire lapbook is constructed of one file folder with the tab in the middle, and 3 sheets of colored card stock. The file folder is folded so that the to ends meet in the middle. The card stock is taped onto the folded file folder so that you can fit all of the lap pieces on. There's a piece on the left side, the right side, and the top. The pieces are put onto the front and back of these pieces of card stock. There are detailed instructions at the beginning of the lesson to tell you EXACTLY where to put mini books. Even with those detailed instructions, I messed up and put something on the wrong page, but it didn't matter and it still looks great! Thank goodness for that! 

On the back you are supposed to attach a manila envelope so that you can keep the reading booklet in it. I didn't have one so I just made one with a piece of card stock. 

 We did something a little bit different for my 12th grader. He wanted his in a 3 ring binder so he still made the lap pieces, but he's attaching them to construction paper and he will be able to flip through easily to study them all.

We are really enjoying this project. I think it is well worth the price. It's very apparent that a lot of hard work and time went into putting this together. It's $18.95 for the download version and $19.95 for the CD version. This is the perfect time a year to study U.S. elections. Head on over to Home School in the Woods and order your HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections and get started today!

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review
U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review
Crew Disclaimer


  1. This is an awesome review. We have completed our lapbooking yet, but yours is gorgeous! I also like the 3-ring binder idea.

    1. Thank you so much Megan! We haven't finished all of the lessons yet, but wanted to showcase all of the amazing illustrations that were put into this! My 12th grader is just not into all of the crafts so most of his are white pages LOL! :)