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Monday, July 10, 2017

Home School in the Woods: Make-a-State Activity Review

Last year in geography we studied North America. My children had to choose a country, province, or state to create a report on. The problem was that everyone had a hard time deciding which to pick! So when Home School in the Woods offered their new Make-a-State Activity, I knew this would help us learn about the states we wanted to but didn't get a chance to study.

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State

Fortunately, Home School in the Woods makes learning and recording information so much fun that the kids don't know they're doing school work! They are dedicated to teaching history in a hands-on way. The product we received comes from their Activity-Paks series. Other titles in this series cover The Old Testament, The New Testament, Composers, and Artists. They have multiple product lines though, such as world history and American history, to name just a couple.

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State

This Make-a-State Activity-Pak is perfect for school, summer, vacation prep, or just learning about any state you are interested in. We had the opportunity to review their U.S. Election Pak (from their Lap-Paks series) last year, and we really enjoyed that one. The kids still pull out those lap books to review information! This one turned out to be just as good.

What is the Make-a-State-Activity Pak?

Just for the record, I do know that the word is spelled "pack". However, Home School in the Woods is a family company. The Paks homeschooled their own children, who are now grown and participate in the company. After reading their "About Us" page on their website and using their products, I feel like their family has put effort into making sure my children have fun studying while becoming life long learners. So thank you Pak family, for helping with our education!
Home School in the Woods offers their products as a download or a CD. We received the download version. Once I downloaded and unzipped the file, I found the "start" file. This opens in your web browser and functions as a website, but is completely contained on your computer (or CD).

The Introduction file explains what you'll be doing and gives suggestions for other resources that are helpful. For this Make-a-State Pak these suggestions are especially helpful - they list books and websites that are kid friendly and contain information for the projects you'll be completing.

The really cool thing about this Pak is that you can use it for ANY STATE!

There are a few projects that come with state specific pages to print, like the state motto, quarter, geography map, cover sheet, recipe, seal, and flag. Many other pages are generic and can be used for every state. You just have to include your own research from the resources suggested or your own choices! (Included in the bonus files are fact sheets for all 50 states that contain a good portion of the information you will need.)

After the files that explain the projects and show a finished lap book, you'll find files for each project. They are arranged in a suggested order, and each includes a photo of the finished project. All files are PDFs so you can print as many pages as you need! There is a lot of printing required for these lap books, so be prepared with paper and toner or ink. I promise it is worth it though! We like to print on colored paper and white paper.

Once you complete all of the projects, there are photos of a finished lap book and instructions for where to place each project. It also explains how to create a lap book with additional pages, in case you've never done this before.

There are some bonus file folder games included so you can practice learning the states. Three levels are available to challenge your children according to their own abilities!

We printed some images and drew others. You can add pictures any way you like.

How did we use this:

We decided that all four children would complete a lap book for our home state, and one for a state of their choice. There were 5 states that they wanted to complete, and only 4 children, so I completed a lap book as well! This was pretty helpful, because I worked faster than the children did so they could see my lap book and understand what was expected of them. I did print out the instruction pages for everyone to refer to, but it was nice to have a completed book on hand.

Instructions, Utah Fact Sheet, and vocabulary list

I set aside time each day to work on a project or two, and we all started by working on the exact same projects each day. But some children spent more time coloring than others, and some children wanted to do more projects. So I showed them the instruction pages and made sure they understood how to determine what was required for each project. This means we did everything in our own order, and that is okay! This also means that I printed about half of the projects out to start with, and handed each child a stack of pages and a gallon zipper bag.

Most of my children can do everything in this lap book without any assistance. We own two books on our home state that contained almost everything they needed to research. We also used the internet, making use of the suggested websites. When we found a different website that was helpful, I would write it on our instruction pages so the next person would see it. The kids quickly learned that those were websites mom approved of them using without supervision.

My three girls absolutely love doing these types of projects. The coloring and cutting are quite entertaining for them. My son does not like to color and never has. He tolerates cutting. I did not require him to color everything, and that is how we compromised on him completing his lap books without complaint. He does great at researching and would often help his younger sisters.

My youngest isn't old enough to research alone so she would assemble a project, I'd read a page from a book or website to her, and she'd help me pick out what information I should write down for her. She did amazingly well with her state map though, I printed a map and included a list of items to place on the map. She looked through our state book and found maps that showed the rivers, mountain ranges, cities, etc. and labeled her own map before coloring it!

These projects cover a wide variety of topics, helping your child learn about the history and geography of the state. They will also learn facts about each state and vocabulary specific to it. We really enjoyed the recipe cards, but had no idea why Goo Goo Clusters was the recipe for Tennessee. My husband lived there for two years and had no idea what they even are (I did... yum!). A little more research taught us that they are the first combination candy bar, and were invented in Nashville! There are blank recipe cards so I also included a card for Memphis Dry Rub Ribs, which my husband says reminded him more of the food there.

Whenever we study a place we like to include something that is specific to our own religion... temples. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are very sacred to us, and very exciting as well. Since Tennessee has a map that doesn't take up the whole page, it left room to fold a blank paper and create an addition to the project, information about the two LDS temples in the state. Some of the lapbooks may have to add an extra fold out page for this. I like that the lap books can be "owned" by putting our own information and research into them!

When we did the U.S. Elections Lap-Pak, one of my children said she didn't want a lap book, she wanted a regular book. So we glued all of her projects to blank cardstock pages and I spiral bound them. We have a few more state lap books being made that way now. I am sure these will be enjoyed for a long time, and one child is planning to complete a lapbook for each of the 50 states!

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew received a variety of products from Home School in the Woods. I invite you to check out a few more reviews on the Crew blog. They have a Timeline Trio set that looks amazing and I'm trying to figure out how to work it into our history curriculum. 

Also, they recently announced a new way to purchase projects...A-La-Carte! I think this will make their projects much easier to integrate with the history curriculum we already use. They currently have about 50 projects available, and hundreds more they are considering adding, depending on how popular this sort of item is. You can use the code "alacarte" to get the Erie Canal project free right now. Did you know it's the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the canal? This made a great addition to my son's New York Make-a-State lapbook!
Erie Canal Freebie

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