Ever since I read a biography about Ben Carson to the kids last fall, Lauren's been very interested in the upcoming Presidential election. I was excited to use the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U. S. Elections from Home School in the Woods to teach her the basics about our government and the election process.
We have used products from Home School in the Woods before, including their "The 20th Century in America" Lap-Pak. I was confident that I'd find solid information and creative projects in the Elections Lap-Pak.
The materials in our Lap-Pak are quite extensive. I am thankful for the way that I can easily navigate between the activity pages that I need to print, the directions for assembling the projects, and an overview of a finished lapbook. All of the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. (The perfectionist in me appreciates the way they even showed how to neatly staple the spine of the resource booklet if I didn't have a long-arm stapler.)
The core of the instructional materials is a 24-page resource booklet that contains all of the information that the student needs to complete the learning activities. I've been reading short sections out of the resource booklet to Lauren each day and then completing the corresponding activity. So far we've discussed different forms of government, the three branches of government, suffrage, and which government officials we elect (on a national level). When reading this material, I often find that I have to rephrase the information to make it easier for Lauren to understand. Based on my readability calculations, it's written at a high school reading level. Our digital files include an audio version of the text, but I found it easier to read it aloud to Lauren so that I could help her understand it.
The fun part of doing a lapbook project is recording the information into an artistic or interactive format. Home School in the Woods excels at providing beautiful, creative learning activities.
Our Elections Lap-Pak has this project showing how our American system of government combines many characteristics borrowed from other countries:
I also love the way that the three branches of government are depicted on this tree:
Lauren particularly likes the way that the inner circle on this activity spins to show four of the government officials we elect and their respective qualifications.
On a typical day, Lauren spent as much time working on the lapbook project as we did discussing the materials. She enjoyed all the coloring, cutting, and pasting together. The finished project is indeed quite impressive. I was disappointed, however, that many of the activities required little or no writing. In fact, it would be possible for a student to follow the assembly direction to complete most of the lap-pak without actually learning the material.
Lauren and I have worked together on her Elections Lap-Pak, and she is learning a lot about our government and especially about the elections process. I would recommend it for students who are working closely with a parent, but I wouldn't suggest giving it to a student who is working independently.
The U.S. Elections Lap-Pak from Home School in the Woods is intended for upper elementary and middle school students (grades 3-8). We've been using the digital version which costs $18.95, but they also offer it on a CD for $19.95 (plus shipping). With either version, you will need to provide your own paper, cardstock, file folders, glue, etc.
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