Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Journey Through Learning: Letters, Numbers and Shapes Lapbook Review

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I was thrilled to be able to have an opportunity to review one of A Journey Through Learning's Early Learning: I Can Do School Too lapbooks titled "Letters, Numbers and Shapes." I have done a few lapbooks in the past with the girls, but they were all lapbooks I created myself. I just don't have the time to organize and create all that is necessary for a quality lapbook right now. And, I do have to say, even though we enjoyed working on the lapbooks I came up with for the girls, they looked far from professional. 

Okay, you may be wondering what a lapbook is. Before I go any further I would like to explain. I like to think of lapbooking as a way to combine scrapbooking with unit studies. Usually, you would focus on one subject, studying about it and creating mini-books with information and pictures which are glued into a specially folded file folder. These are a great way to have all the information your child has learned in one place for review, or perhaps to share with the grandparents, or even to add to a portfolio if one is required in your state's homeschooling law. In Pennsylvania, we do have to put together a portfolio of the children's work once they are of compulsory school age, so I definitely want to keep lapbooks in mind. 

We were blessed to review the learning lapbook Letters, Numbers and Shapes in download format. This lapbook is geared for children ages 3-5 years old. 

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I figured this would be a great way to help Hannah learn these concepts as she didn't seem to be grasping them as easily as her sisters have. I realize she is just under the age range, but knowing she would be turning 3 this month I figured she could handle it. What I wasn't prepared for was the older girls each wanting to make one too. Fortunately permission is granted to make copies for other household members.

What did we get in this downloadable lapbook?
We didn't just get pictures and mini-books to cut out and glue. The authors, Paula Winget and Nancy Fileccia, have included all you need to know to make a wonderfully presentable lapbook. Each lapbook download starts off with a section called, "Things to Know."  Here you will find instructions for folding and cutting the mini-books, a key to where each mini-book is to be placed in the finished lapbook, assembly choices, expected time needed to complete the lapbook, storage tips, how to fold the actual lapbook base, the Table of Contents and the printable pages/mini-books. In addition to the key, they share an actual sample of a finished lapbook so the parent can really see what it is supposed to look like.

The only additional supplies we needed were file folders, crayons (or colored pencils or markers), pencils, glue, a stapler, paper (we used plain white paper, but colored card stock or construction paper could also be used), and a printer with ink of course.  There was a place were a brad could have been used, but, seeing as I don't seem to have anymore I used a stapler.

I will admit that I did not print out all the instructional pages. I love that by downloading them I have them right here on my computer when I need to pull them up for a refresher. What I did print out were the actual parts of the lapbook, and I printed these out as we were getting ready to use them.  It helped immensely that each sheet had the instructions right on it. The authors have made it really easy for you to put this lapbook together with your child. It tells you how to cut and fold, plus how to color, write or draw, plus how to assemble if needed. It also shows a picture in the corner detailing not only which folder to attach it to, but the exact placement.

For example:

It is stated that it will take about a month to complete a 3-folder lapbook. I wasn't sure if they meant it would take that long for the lapbooks geared to older children or if it included the preschool lapbooks as well. I have to tell you, it took us the entire month to (almost) complete this lapbook. I wanted to incorporate the shapes and numbers sections with our dinosaur unit. We also worked on colors at the same time. 

We started out with the shapes. Each day we were focusing on a shape the girls found that shape on the cover picture and colored it. 
We started with Circle.

I created these shape mazes to reinforce the shape and to include our dinosaurs. The mommy dinosaur has to find her way to the nest following the circle path. I made one of these for each of the shapes. The girls really enjoyed them and I was surprised at how well Hannah did with them.

Then we made salt dough fossils that we formed into circles as well as we could.

And they worked on the actual lapbook piece, which for "circle" was a gumball machine where they had to draw circle gumballs in the circle gumball machine onto which I would staple another circle. 

I even incorporated circles into their muffin tin lunch. I also made a square lunch and a lunch with all 4 shapes.

There are so many ways you can reinforce the shapes as you work on them in the lapbook. The idea isn't to just cut out the gumball machine, draw the circles, staple the circle on the top, glue it in the lapbook and say you are done with that shape. At the end of the downloaded materials you will find many ideas of how to extend the learning for not just the shapes, but the letters and numbers too. The authors have included snack ideas, activities and finger plays. It really is a complete unit.

Here are some more pictures of the girls working on their lapbooks and some extension activities.

Tracing number words.

Playing a counting memory match dinosaur game I created.

Cutting out the Counting Items for the Numbers Pocket Game.

Gluing pictures behind the alphabet flap book flaps. I have decided this will be an ongoing part of the lapbook. The girls will put a picture behind each letter as we get to it in our My Father's World Curriculum As we have gotten through 8 letters of the alphabet this year, I printed out and had them color and cut out only pictures for the letters we have done.

Drawing animals in the tab book.

Gluing the lapbook together. We opted to finish all the pieces before gluing them into the lapbook. I did most of the gluing for Hannah's book. Tabitha and Amelia used Hannah's as a guide.

Their completed Letters, Numbers and Shapes Lapbooks:




I do have to say that this was a fun experience. However, there is a lot of cutting involved. I had the older girls do as much cutting as possible for their lapbooks. When Tabitha and Amelia said they wanted to do a lapbook as well, I knew I had to give them some extra responsibilities as they already know all of these concepts and this was just a simple review. Some of the pictures were too detailed for the girls to cut themselves, so I took care of those. Keep in mind, this lapbook is for younger children, so as a parent you probably will be doing most if not all of the cutting. 

There were two concerns I had with this lapbook.

I was disappointed to see, that in a shape lapbook the square was not actually a square. The sides were not all the same length. Pictured below is a pile of the squares, bottom squares turned sideways under the cover. I had a bit of trouble trying to explain to the children why the sides weren't all the same length.

Also, the Number and Counting Item cards were too wide to fit nicely in their pockets. I followed the sample picture and folded the cards to make them fit. I just think they would look neater if they could lay flat. 

I did have to arrange the lapbook a little differently than pictured. That, however, was not a problem with the A Journey Through Learning lapbook. Our file folders have the company name big and bold in the center of each folder. So, when I was arranging the lapbook I made sure to cover them, which changed the layout a bit.

A Journey Through Learning carries lapbooks and unit studies for older children as well. If my girls were a bit older I would have been able to choose to review one or more of these lapbooks:

The Earth (grades 1-4) which is a lapbook plus study guide. (Part of me wants to try to do this one with a few of our upcoming units: Octopus (where we will be focusing on the ocean), Water and Rocks. But I think the reading will be a bit over their heads.) 

Knights and Castles (grades 2-7) which is also a lapbook plus a study guide.

Astronomy and Space (grades 2-7) which is a unit study.

From what I've seen of the lapbooks for the older children, they look really educational. There is a passage to read on a specific subject, after which the child fills out the mini-books with the answers found. Then they move on to another subject. For example, The Earth lapbook has the following passages they are to read (or have read to them):
  • The Earth
  • What is the Earth Made Of?
  • The Earth's Crust
  • Earth's Sphere
  • How Earth Moves: Days and Seasons
  • Landforms: Continents and Features
  • Mountains
  • How are Mountains Formed?
  • Atmosphere
  • Water
  • Ocean Zones
  • The Ocean Floor 
  • Volcanoes
After each passage there are lapbook mini-books to work on. They have also included suggestions for books to read, crafts to do, poems and songs to recite, and science question to ask. As you can tell, they may be just a little over the girls' heads for now. 

All of these can be purchased for $13.00 for the instant download version. Or you can opt to purchase the printed copy for $20-$21 dollars. Personally, I love the download version. Even though there is quite a lot of printing to do, I now have it on my computer to use when needed.

You can see more Schoolhouse Review Crew thoughts of the Letters, Numbers and Shapes lapbook plus the other 3 products by clicking here.

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