TOS Review Crew: A Journey Through Learning

When I first started homeschooling, I was introduced to the concept of lapbooking at a homeschooling conference. Who knew that pieces of paper and a blank file folder could turn into such a cool learning tool? Admittedly, not every child will enjoy lapbooking (Matthew did not), but I had a hunch that Jonathan would. So when the opportunity to review a lapbook from A Journey through Learning, I jumped at the chance!  

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Company Information: A Journey Through Learning is co-owned by two homeschool moms, Nancy and Paula, so they've been in our shoes. Their tagline is "Scrapbooking with an educational twist," which is a great way to describe lapbooking! Their company offers lapbooks on a variety of topics, as well as lapbooks that are specifically designed to supplement popular programs such as Jeannie Fulbright's elementary Apologia science, Classical Conversations, Geography Matters, and even Veggie Tales, to name a few.

A visit to their website will equip you with not only a myriad of lapbooking topics to choose from, but also a lot of practical help as well. How-to videos, freebies and plenty of samples can help even the newest homeschooler understand and gain the confidence to jump in. There's even a $1 section of "express" lapbooks with a variety of topics if you want to give it a try first.

Each product is available via PDF or in printed form. Some are black and white (for those who like to color) as well as in full-color. If you are really not a crafty person, some lapbooks even come pre-assembled!

Lettersnumbersandshapes_zps1d7d968fProduct Reviewed: Letters, Numbers and Shapes Early Learning lapbook, which is a part of their "I Can Do School Too!" series for your youngest students. I received this product as a PDF file. It included information on how to store lapbook materials, assemble the lapbook base, and activity extensions, as well as all the booklets required to create the lapbook.

Other things you will need: letter-size file folders (I needed three for this one), adhesive (I used double-sided tape and plain school glue), and of course, copy paper and a printer for making the copies. For some of the activities that looked like they would be handled more, I printed those out on card stock so it would be sturdier.

(Although we did not do them, we also received The Earth, Knights and Castles, and Astronomy and Space lapbooks. These were geared for older children, grades 1-7.)

Price: $13.00 for the instant download. This particular title also comes on a CD ($14), printed ($20) or pre-assembled ($29).

Age Range: ages 3-5

Parental Preparation: As I already have had some previous experience creating lapbooks with my older children, I quickly skimmed the introductory material. If you are new to lapbooking, you may wish to take the time to read it as it does contain helpful material.

After that, I printed out the pages for the lapbook, then made up a lesson plan. For Jonathan, who is 5, the material seemed a little simple for him, so I thought up some ways to extend the activity (more in the next section). For Anah, our 7-year-old Down Syndrome daughter, this was beyond her, so I picked and chose the activities that would best suit her abilities.

How We Used It: Jonathan was so excited to be able to do his first lapbook. We jumped right in with creating our cover:

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Although we were asked to do one page a day, there were times when Jonathan wanted to do much more than that, so I went with it. We learned number words, and I had him stamp the same number of items on each page as an extension:

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We turned the matching cards into a memory game:

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The one that was trickiest for him was finding pictures that started with the letters of the alphabet. This one we divided up over several days, doing one section at a time and doing another part of the lapbook. We started out with magazines, but for some of the letters, we had to either draw our own pictures or use printouts of photos. He particularly got a kick out of putting his own picture in the "J" door!

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What We Liked: This was a project that Jonathan TOTALLY loved. I think he would have done it all in one day if I let him. After we got the shapes section done, we glued them into the folder, and he was so excited, he had to show his dad right away. He kept flipping through it and looking at it and showing everyone his hard work.

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Other things we liked about this product:

  • I appreciated the placement guide on every page. It made it easy to put things together. 
  • You can easily tailor this product up or down, depending on the needs of your child. As I shared, this was pretty much review material for Jonathan and an introduction to what lapbooking was. For Anah, I used the list of suggested activities and put together a plan to use the booklets as reinforcement for concepts. I haven't actually used it with her because I think it still was too advanced for her conceptually, but I do have it ready!
  • With the instant download, you can make as many copies as you need for your immediate family. This makes it a great value! I have a second copy printed for Anah that I will probably create for her to look at.
  • Everything is pre-made and ready to go: all the pockets, layered books, cards, etc. I didn't have to measure or draw anything!
  • Having the PDF allowed me to print out the pages on the paper that best suited the activity. I printed the number cards on cardstock so that we could use them as a memory game.
  • This particular study would be easily adaptable to other preschool curricula or a great supplement.
  • Although I did not use them, the lapbooks for the older children have a study guide, followed by the accompanying notebook page or lapbook booklet (so you don't have to spend your time hunting for what goes together!).
  • The study guides for the older children are thorough, yet not filled with too much excessive detail. There are suggestions for further study if your child would like to learn more than what is included.

What We Didn't Like:

  • For the number cards, the pocket provided in the file did not fit the cards so I had to modify it a little by cutting out the picture and gluing it onto an envelope that was sealed and cut in half. Other than that, all other measurements were accurate. 
  • Extension activities were included only for alphabet and shapes but not colors (except as they related to the alphabet). It would also have been nice if these were included with the appropriate lapbook pages to make planning easier. I had to keep scrolling to the end to create my plans.
  • Other than that, we really enjoyed our experience!

Overall Summary:

I think lapbooking is going to be the way to go for Jonathan! He loved doing it and I am sure that we are going to be making many in the future! There are many lapbooking products out there but these are among the nicest I have seen. In general, I think lapbooking is an economical and fun way to record the things that you learn. This is great for kids who love hands-on projects or creating things. They might not work for every kid, but who knows? Give it a try and find out for yourself!

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