TOS Review Crew: Hands of a Child

If you've been homeschooling at all, you most likely will encounter the terms "lapbooking" and "notebooking" in your journey. What in the world do these mysterious terms mean? Simply put, a lapbook is a file folder filled with mini booklets and folders of information of all kinds. Think scrapbook meets school. A notebook is the same idea, but without all the fancy little folds. My older daughter preferred lapbooking; my older son preferred notebooking. In either case, both are ways to record your children's discoveries as they learn and study new topics. Many of these become special repositories of memories as well.

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Company Information: Hands of a Child is a company that specializes in lapbooking products. Kimm Bellotto and Niki McNeil, both homeschooling moms who love lapbooking, put their heads together to help other moms streamline the process. They started their business in 2002. Ten years and 450 lapbooks later, they are still at it! Subject areas span from Bible, science, art, economics, language arts, history, math...you name it, they've probably got it! If it's not listed and you really don't want to plan it, they'll even create a custom product just for you.

9781603084406Product Reviewed: Honing Your Study Skills, notebook option. I received this as a PDF file, but it is also available in lapbook form (PDF, on CD, printed form, or as a kit).

Price: $12.00

Age Range: listed for Grades 5-10

Parental Preparation: As this was a PDF, my main preparation consisted of downloading the file and printing the pages out on paper. I only printed out the notebook pages, not the reading pages, which he simply read off the computer. In the past, I have also put these files on my iPad and we would read from that.

The lapbook form will also require file folders and adhesive. If you are new to lapbooking, you may also want to take some time to familiarize yourself with the introductory material.

How We Used It: I chose this particular topic because my older son has always been an auditory learner. Much of our work is done verbally. For an elementary age student that works. However, as he is now in middle school, I am realizing that eventually, no matter how much he doesn't like to hold a pencil, he will still need some basic study skills.

The lapbook includes a 5-day suggested schedule, which we used without alteration. Matthew would read the assigned sections, which were very short, and write out his responses on the corresponding notebook pages that I printed out. After he completed the sections, we would discuss them or find ways to put them into action. We evaluated his room, talked about suitable snacks he could prepare, and tried using the note-taking suggestions on one of his textbooks.

What We Liked:

  • I'm glad that this topic is covered in notebooking as well as lapbooking formats to suit all types of kids!
  • The topics covered a wide selection of study skills that are helpful for children to develop. 
  • The notebook pages are attractively designed to help organize the information covered.
  • The suggested guide for study helped us to complete the lapbook in 5 days, about half an hour per day. This was very helpful for me as it allowed Matthew to be independent. The last assignment, researching a person, took a little longer for us though.
  • The topics opened up areas of discussion for us as he learns how to study on his own. As the topic of study skills is so broad, I appreciated some ideas to work on. We enjoyed being able to look at how we might be able to apply them to his own work.
  • This was a great study to do for the summer! It was short, but gave us something to do on those days when there was "nothing to do."
  • The list of other suggested resources in the beginning of the book will give me more to look into to round out this topic in the future.
  • Because this is an ebook, I know that I can use it again for my younger students in the future.

What We Didn't Like:

  • Although there were many study skills covered, many are not covered in depth. For example, using internet resources got only a couple paragraphs. Perhaps this can be another topic entirely? I think what I will do is take the topics covered, look up some of the suggested resources and revisit these topics in more depth. However, if you want an overview of a topic or something that hits the most important points, this may be just enough information for you.
  • This may be better suited for the younger end of the spectrum. I didn't think it was enough for a middle schooler or high schooler.

Overall Summary:

This is not my first time using a Hands of a Child lapbook, nor will it be my last. They are easy to use and a wonderful way to get started on a topic. If study skills is not your thing, then take a look at some of the other topics. For us, we use these to introduce the topic, then go back to the areas that interest us most, using additional books and resources. These are fun ways to put a little spice in our homeschool and mix it up a little. I hope they will do the same for you!

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