After months and months (what seemed like years and years) of cold winter and snowy days, it is nice to sit at my computer today with the windows open. A warm spring breeze blows across my arms as I type and I can hear the birds singing outside my window. Ahhh…Spring is here. Spring is such an awesome time of year. From the moment that I hear the first robin sing, I am anxious to go outside and plant something- anything at all. Luckily, my daughters share my enthusiasm and we are always excited to get our hands dirty. Exploring and planting can be much more than just dropping a seed in the ground! It can be a joyous and rewarding experience for young and old alike!
Gardening is such a great teaching opportunity. Your children can learn so much by tending flowers or vegetables or any other kind of plant. They’ll casually (and without even meaning to) learn about other living things, such as birds, insects, worms, and squirrels. They’ll learn about hard work and reaping what they’ve sown. They’ll learn to develop patience and caring. They’ll also learn about this wondrous and awe- inspiring thing we call life! And, if things don’t go quite as you’ve planned, they may also learn a bit about loss and disappointment.
Besides the informal educational aspects of it, gardening also offers a very pleasant way to spend some quality time with your children outside of schooling, on a regular basis, and with a mutual goal. It also gives you and your children a chance to get creative! How? By planning out what you will plant, where you will plant, which plants will be next to or near each other, and so on. Will you plant everything directly in the ground or in containers or a bit of both? Will you be creating a design or simple rows? The possibilities are endless!
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one other benefit of gardening… Exercise! That’s right! Gardening is great exercise! Raking, hoeing, digging, weeding, planting, and pruning for 30-60 minutes are just as good for you, and burn just as many (if not more) calories as doing aerobic exercise for the same amount of time! Plus, you and the kids will be doing this kind of physical activity outdoors and you’ll be taking in lots of vitamin D from the sun!
So, there you have it. Gardening is a win-win situation for the entire family! In addition, In the Hands of a Child offers a huge selection of Lapbooks and Note Packs that complement gardening and other springtime learning connections! Here are some excellent suggestions:
HOCPP 1067 The Five Senses: Spring is a great time to use your senses! In the Five Senses Lapbook, you and your students will find an 11-page Research Guide that covers the five senses and how they work. The guide includes detailed explanations of each sense and the body parts that correspond to each. In addition, there are 16 hands-on activities to correspond with all the topics included in the guide.
HOCPP 1122 Healthy Bodies: Spring is the perfect time to get your bodies moving and get into shape before summer! It is very important to keep our bodies fit and working properly. A person who is fit eats well, has a healthy weight, and does lots of physical activity. The Healthy Bodies Lapbook includes a Research Guide covering the 5 basic rules for staying fit and healthy, fun exercises to do alone or with a friend, ways to move the heart and muscles, how to keep your body balanced, and more! Next, there are 11 hands-on activities to help your student learn how to achieve a healthy body and a healthy mind!
HOCPP 1002 Butterflies: Grab your butterfly nets this spring and complete a lapbook on butterflies! Butterflies are colorful insects that could well be the most popular and easiest insects to recognize. Learn all about these incredible insects in the Butterflies Lapbook. This 81-page unit contains a 15-page Research Guide covering anatomy, range and habitat, diet, pollination, life cycle, predators and defense, collecting, and conservation. With 24 hands-on activities including creating a model cocoon, your student will complete a Butterfly lapbook of his or her very own!
HOCPP 1017 Spiders: Grab a flashlight and a magnifying glass and do a little spider watching this spring! You won’t have to travel far to find one. There are more than 35,000 different kinds of spiders and they can be found living in every part of the world. Learn about the different types of spiders and how they are more helpful than harmful with the Spiders Lapbook. This 83-page unit includes a 10-page Research Guide and 22 hands-on activities to help your student learn about the 8-legged arachnids we call spiders!
HOCPP 1044 Extreme Weather: Many people only think of winter when they think of Extreme Weather, but tornado season, which occurs in the spring in many locations, can be extremely deadly. There are many different types of weather and some types can be very wild and dangerous! Tornadoes can tear down buildings and trees, rainstorms can flood rivers, and hailstorms can crush a farmer’s crop in minutes. Your student can learn about these dangerous weather patterns in the Extreme Weather Lapbook. This 80-page unit includes a 19-page Research Guide and 25 hands-on activities to complete a lapbook on Extreme Weather.
HOCPP 1003 Plants: Plants grow on land, in fresh water, and in salt water. The more than 400,000 different plant species play an important role; without plants, most life would not exist! Plants provide oxygen, food, shelter, and much more. Your student can learn more about the plant kingdom with the 79-page Plants Lapbook from In the Hands of a Child. This pack includes a 14-page Research Guide and 25 Hands-On Activities about plant classification, anatomy, reproduction, life cycles, photosynthesis, and plant uses. Encourage your student to complete a Plant lapbook today with the Plants Lapbook.
For your PreK to Early Childhood students, there is also a selection of wonderfully fun springtime Lapbooks to complete!
HOCPP 1164 In the Garden: Flowers & Insects: The In the Garden: Flowers and Insects Lapbook is a great way to celebrate spring with your PreK to Early Elementary student! This 41-page Lapbook includes 5 days (3 activities per day) of fun activities about bugs and blossoms! From counting activities, crafts, and matching games, this Lapbook is sure to have your PreK to Early Elementary student completing a springtime lapbook in no time!
HOCPP 1167 Down on the Farm: Early Childhood students can have some fun Down on the Farm in this 58-Lapbook, which features 5 days of hands-on activities (3 activities per day) that include counting, matching, animal sounds, and crafts. Young students are sure to have a great time down on the farm with this fun unit.
HOCPP 1183 Bubbleology: Spring is one of the best time to blow bubbles! Almost everyone has blown bubbles, but have you ever studied them? Well, if you’ve never studied “bubbleology” now is the time! Not only can you and your child have fun blowing bubbles, doing bubble crafts, and drinking bubbly punch, but you can learn how bubbles form, what makes them colorful, and what makes them pop! The BubbleologyLapbook contains a 5-day lesson plan with 15 hands-on activities, recipes, and crafts to help your student study the science of bubbles!
HOCPP 1219 Traveling Seeds: Plants may not travel, but their seeds sure do! In fact, a traveling seed is one of the ways new plants begin! The 45-page Traveling Seeds Lapbook from In the Hands of a Child introduces your PreK- 2nd grader to the science of plants. The 6-page Research Guide includes brief information about plant anatomy, pollination, growth, photosynthesis, and plant uses. Next, there are 14 hands-on activities that correlate to the information covered in the Research Guide. Your PreK-2nd grader will conduct an experiment to see how plants get water, learn the parts of a plant, how plants are pollinated, and much more!
Plant a seed and grow a mind this spring with a Lapbook or Note Pack from In the Hands of a Child!
A few years ago I took a day trip with my three daughters who, at the time, were ages 6, 5, and 2. It was a 150-mile trip one way and we left at about 9:00 a.m. We stopped twice along the way to stretch and take a bathroom break and arrived at our destination in a little under three hours. Since I was traveling alone with them, I made sure I had plenty of things packed to keep them busy along the way.
Each girl had her own individual bag filled with her favorite snack mix and fruit. I also had coolers packed with water, juice, and milk. I knew they would be drinking a lot, so I also had the porta-potty packed in the back. Each child was equipped with a clipboard that had crayons, paper, colored pencils, and stickers. We had all their favorite CDs to listen to, lots of books, and small toys. Since we were going out to dinner with family and then to my niece’s college graduation, I packed a couple changes of clothes and a dress and sandals for each girl. We would be traveling back home that night, so I also packed pjs for each of them so I could just put them in their beds when we arrived back home. The back of my SUV looked like we were going on a weeklong adventure instead of just a one day trip.
We sang songs and played “I Spy” along the way, the two older girls played word games, and despite the pouring down rain, it was a pretty good trip. As I drove, I couldn’t help but think about the recent units I had written for In the Hands of a Child. For a few weeks before the trip I had been researching and writing two new units; Pioneers and Westward Expansion. As a child, I was always interested in reading books about the pioneers and people who made their lives on the American frontier. I was a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan and I can remember telling my mother, on more than one occasion, that if I could go back in time I would be a pioneer.
As an adult, I am still interested in that time period and the research I did for those two units was quite fascinating to me. So as I drove along, both hands on the wheel, windshield wipers frantically clearing the buckets of rain off my windshield, and cautiously trying to avoid the huge potholes that tend to pop up every two inches in the spring, I thought about what it would be like to be a woman on the westward trail. What if my husband decided to move our family 2,000 miles away to a place that has not been settled before? In the modern world of today, I would have equal input in a decision like that, but in the 1800’s I would have had to go along with my husband’s decision whether I agreed with it or not. In addition, I may have had to make that journey alone with my children.
Many of the pioneer women traveled the westward trails alone. Their husbands had gone ahead at an earlier time to find land or work and then sent for their wives and children later. I recall reading a letter in my research. It was a letter that a man had sent to his wife telling her what to pack for her trip and giving her tips for traveling. The tip that stood out most in my mind was, “make sure you don’t let our son jump from wagon to wagon.” Many children were injured and even killed along the westward trails when they jumped from one wagon to another.
It only took me an hour or so to prepare for our short journey, but when we go on vacation it usually takes me a few hours to pack everything. Pioneer women planned their trips for months. Not only did they need snacks and things to keep their kids occupied, pioneer women had to sew a cover for the wagon, extra clothes and blankets, and prepare foods that would sustain a 6-month journey across treacherous land. They faced illness, hunger, and death. They traveled across the dusty plains, deep rivers, and high mountains. They were strong, brave, and courageous.
When the girls and I were at my niece’s graduation a family friend asked if I had made the trip alone. When I told her that I had, she exclaimed, “My, you are a brave woman.” Well, I’m not exactly a pioneer, but I did manage to keep my daughters from jumping from one car to another along the way!
If you and your students have not studied the pioneers or westward expansion, I encourage you to do so! The westward expansion was an important time in the history of the United States. It is a history filled with interesting stories and adventures about men, children, and the women who traveled west in search of new beginnings.
How a Trip to the Library Can Be Just Like Grocery Shopping
By Katie Kubesh
When preparing to write a Research Guide, the first thing I do is go to our local library website and search the card catalog for books about the particular topic I am writing about. I make a list and then when I visit the library, it is just like grocery shopping…I simply head down the aisles and check the items off my list as I go. Just like the convenience items and junk foods that tempt me at the grocery store, the shiny, new books that are prominently displayed also distract me. The “New Book” sticker seems to call out to me more than a bag of chips on sale for $1.99 and what could be a 10-minute trip to the library often turns into 45 minutes.
It was on one of these trips to the library that not only the “New Book” sticker caught my eye, but the title. I Found a Dead Bird: The Kids’ Guide to the Cycle of Life and Death. Written by Jan Thornhill, this children’s book takes something that can be quite traumatic for a child (finding a dead animal) and turns it into a great learning experience. The book begins with, “I Found a Dead Bird. It made me sad, but I also asked a lot of questions like why did it have to die…”
With a sense of pride for finding a new book that was not only interesting, but also one that could help me (be sure to download our June Super Member unit, Animal Life Cycles*) with my research, I enthusiastically added the book to my bag and took it home.
The book includes information about life spans, what happens to an animal’s body after death, and how people cope with death. It is factual, to the point, but yet it is light and at times funny. The book had many ideas and questions and sparked lots of curiosity and conversation with my own children plus I found it very useful when writing the Animal Life Cycles Project Pack.
So, just like at the grocery store a quick trip to the library can turn into much more, but the great thing about picking up a tempting book with that “New Book” sticker isn’t nearly as fattening as the bag of chips I find for $1.99!
*Not a current Super Member? A Super Member at In the Hands of a Child is someone who has purchased a subscription to our Super Members Area to download one free ebook each month! To find out more about In the Hands of a Child Super Memberships, please visit us at www.handsofachild.com/shop and click on HOAC Super Memberships under “Categories.”
Each of us probably has his or her own way of folding towels the “right” way. The way you fold your towels may or may not be the same way your mother taught you and your own daughter may or may not fold hers the way that you taught her. I never really thought about the art of towel folding until the other day when I was folding towels with my three daughters. Each one has her own way of folding them; Sophie folds them in half one way and then another, Sammy folds them just like Mommy, and Ella just scrunches them up.
My husband said, “I can’t believe you are letting them fold your towels. You are such a perfectionist when it comes to your towels!” You know, before I had three girls that statement was correct. I have a certain way of folding my towels so that each one will fit perfectly on the shelves I have for them. There was a time when I would have been very distressed if my towels were not folded just right. Now that I have children, most days it doesn’t really matter much to me how they are folded, but that they get folded at all!
That is true for so many things in life. We all have a routine, a certain way of doing things that works best for us as individuals. But does our particular way of doing things work best for everyone? Probably not. For example, my folded towels might not fit on the shelves in someone else’s home. The way I teach my child about a particular subject may not work for another parent and his or her child. One of the advantages that I think many parents who homeschool have is that they realize that what works for some students does not necessarily “fit” the needs or skills of their own. They realize that what may be the “right” thing to do for some families is not necessarily the “right” thing for their own family. The challenge that homeschoolers face is seeking ways that works for each individual child.
For example, a homeschooling mom recently expressed her concern that five of her children enjoy doing lapbooking as part of their curriculum, but two of them do not. What could she do to make the other two enjoy that activity too? Well, she can certainly try to encourage them to do that with the others, but if they just do not learn well from that type of activity, then they may have to work together to find an alternative for the other two to work on. If you are homeschooling more than one child at a time, you will soon realize that each child has different likes and dislikes as well as skills and abilities.
Another challenge that many homeschoolers face is the concept of teaching many different age levels the same curriculum or even the same unit study. How do you approach the same unit study with a 12-year old as you do a 5-year old? Obviously a parent needs to change part of the study or adapt it to fit the skill level of both ages. The same idea is true for parents of children with special needs. Homeschoolers have the constant challenge of adapting to fit the needs of all of their children.
What about the reluctant readers or writers? A curriculum that is based solely on reading and writing is not going to go very far with a student who is reluctant or just does not have the ability to do this. Parents and teachers of students who are reluctant readers or writers have the challenge of finding alternative ways for those students to learn.
Adapting unit studies to fit the needs of your student can be easy. It is key to ensuring that you provide the best lessons for your student. Start with vocabulary. How can you make vocabulary words something that each of your children can learn with ease?
There are many things you can do to adapt vocabulary to younger children or reluctant readers including:
When working with vocabulary words, ask your reluctant writer to dictate the vocabulary words and their meanings as you write them.
Have your child draw a picture of the meaning instead of writing it.
When teaching vocabulary words try writing the word in a sentence and have the child copy it.
Practice. Practice. Practice. In the car, on a walk, in the shopping cart! Practice saying the vocabulary words and what they mean.
What about the older child or the advanced reader?
For the student who is older or has above average skills, ask him or her to put the word in a sentence.
Have the older student research and find the root of the word.
Give your student one hour to research a topic or one vocabulary word on his or her own.
Ask the older student to explain the meaning of the words to the younger students.
Encourage all of your students to participate in a unit study by adapting certain parts of it to meet their individual needs and skills. This is also a great opportunity to encourage your children to work together and share their talents and skills in order to accomplish a task together. To adjust a unit study for a younger child you can:
Encourage the child to draw pictures of the topic he or she is studying.
Use puppets, flannel boards, playacting, and story telling. These are great ways to help younger students learn about a particular subject.
Include storybooks and non-fiction children’s books along with the unit study.
For the older students, it is just as easy to adapt unit studies. To adjust a unit study for an older child you can:
Have the older student research the topic of the unit study. Give your student a list of specific concepts you expect him or her to learn.
Encourage your student to expand on the topic or choose a related topic to cover in addition to the unit study. For example, if the unit study is about the continent of Antarctica, ask the older student to do an additional research project about early Antarctic Explorers.
Encourage the older students to “teach” the younger students what they have learned!
It is important to realize that not every child folds towels the “right” way! Encourage your child to find what works best for him or her in order to get the best education possible. Learn to adapt your curriculum and unit studies to fit the particular needs of each child. It may take you a little more time and energy- it may even cause a bit of frustration on both your parts, but the end result will be worth it! After all, it doesn’t matter how the towels are folded, but that the towels get folded at all!
Many educators have realized how beneficial creating lapbooks can be for teaching students about science, history, social studies, language arts, and geography. Lapbooks provide students a hands-on approach to learning that not only helps to reinforce the information they have learned, but to give them a creative outlet as well. Lapbooks are economical, easy to assemble, and easy to store. With just some basic file folders, mini books and graphics, and some writing utensils, any student can create a lapbook on any topic!
Lapbooks can also be a creative and fun way to learn about the Bible! Lapbooks can turn any Bible lesson into a hands-on learning and creative activity for all ages and skill levels. Kids love working with their hands and they love sharing their work with others. What better way for your kids to reinforce what they have learned about the Bible, than by creating a lapbook of their own and then sharing it with others? Not only are they sharing their completed lapbook, they are sharing the word of God!
Whether you are a parent interested in teaching your children about the Bible, a Christian School teacher, or a Sunday School teacher, lapbooking is a fun creative way to add hands-on learning to your next Biblical lesson plan!
At In the Hands of a Child, you can choose from Books of the Bible, Character Traits, or learning about Jesus. In the Hands of a Child provides a variety of Biblical Project Packs including:
Who is Jesus? HOCPP 1028
Christian Missionaries to Know HOCPP 1096
The Ten Commandments HOCPP 1134
Jesus Loves the Little Children HOCPP 1154
Biblical Obedience HOCPP 1189
Biblical Responsibility HOCPP 1200
Biblical Honesty HOCPP 1236
Biblical Anger HOCPP 1241
Biblical Compassion HOCPP 1243
Biblical Wisdom HOCPP 1244
Biblical Character Traits HOCPP 1370
A Devotion a Day HOCPP 1273
Latin Roots of the Catholic Faith HOCPP 1230
Lessons from the Prayers of Jesus HOCPP 1351
Battles of the Bible HOCPP 1375
Discovering Genesis HOCPP 2001
Discovering Exodus HOCPP 2002
Discovering Leviticus HOCPP 2003
Discovering Numbers HOCPP 2004
Discovering Deuteronomy HOCPP 2005
Discovering Joshua HOCPP 2006
Discovering Judges and Ruth HOCPP 2007
Discovering I Samuel HOCPP 2008
Discovering II Samuel HOCPP 2009
Discovering I Kings HOCPP 2010
Visit In the Hands of a Child today to add lapbooking to your next Bible study!
Contrary to what it looks like outside my window, the first day of spring is March 20th. Here in Michigan the banks are still piled high with snow and a trek to the swing set requires thigh-high boots, a shovel, and a full set of snow gear. Once you reach the swing set, be prepared for some shoveling or you won’t be able to find the swings! Like an internal calendar, however, my girls are ready to ride their scooters, draw on the driveway with chalk (we have a small space of ice scraped away), and jump rope.
Over the winter, it becomes very easy to become inactive. Unfortunately, inactive kids become sedentary adults. This contributes to many things including a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer. Yikes! The good news is that as parents, we can help prevent those things from affecting our children. We can help our children become more active by being active role models and by creating an environment that inspires movement!
Some tips for making activity and movement a part of you and your children’s daily life include:
Find out what free or low cost physical activity areas there are near your home. Set a goal together to do one of those activities each day for a week. For example, find a great bike trail near you and go for a bike ride each day or look for a fun park to play at.
Give fitness gifts. Instead of the latest DVD or video game, give a gift that will help your child move. Examples include bikes, roller skates or roller blades, kites, yard games, sports equipment.
Host a family Olympic games. Plan fun games and sports activities, give out medals, and have an award ceremony.
Visit a local fitness center together.
Set a weekly, monthly, yearly fitness goal for the entire family and create fun incentives to reach that goal. For example, set a goal for everyone to participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day for a week and take the family out for a picnic or purchase a small fitness gift for the family if that goal is reached.
Enter a fitness event together. Set a goal to get fit and help a cause you care about. There are numerous jog-a-thons, walk-a-thons, etc. for charity events. These are a great way to get active and strengthen your family bond with the community.
Volunteer to coach a sports team, physical activity event, or recreation program.
You have just purchased a new Lapbook from In the Hands of a Child. It is titled “Mollusks” and you are wondering what other activities or “things” you can incorporate into the unit to make it even more fun and exciting for your child! How do you make snails and slugs exciting to your child? Well, if that child is a 6-year old boy, you probably won’t have a problem…. but, not all kids like snails and slugs. Before you decide not to teach that particular subject to your students, look around and see what you can do to catch their interest!
We all know how easy it is to find fun things to tie into units like Curious George. I was amazed one summer when we did the Curious George Lapbook and I found so many great things to accompany our study! For example, we bought the Curious George movie soundtrack and took time out from our reading and writing for a little Phys. Ed as we danced to the tunes! The girls had lunch at a fast food restaurant with Grandma and came home with Curious George toys. When I did a workshop at our local library, I went with Curious George stuffed animals, books, CDs, you name it! Obviously, Curious George is a fun topic by itself, so that was an easy one.
How do you take a topic or unit study that might not be as exciting as others and make it interesting? Well, it’s all about the odds n’ ends! Look around your house or community and see what objects you find that will tie into the current topics you are studying. Take a more difficult topic like World War II… Why not visit a flea market or antique store and try to find some postcards sent from that time period. Or ask “Grandma” or “Auntie Gertrude” if they have any postcards or letters that were sent during the war that they could share! Who knows, “Auntie Gertrude” may have more than postcards or letters! What better way to learn about an event in history than to talk to someone who actually lived it!
If Great–Grandpa was in the military during World War II, ask if he has a sample menu from his time in the service (I recently found a Christmas Eve dinner menu from when my Dad was in the Navy in 1954. I made a copy of it and that will be sure to go in our Navy Project Pack some day!). Visit a military museum or memorial and include the brochure in the lapbook. Pearl Harbor is a big one, but not many of us can just fly our family to Hawaii, so check in your community or state to see if there are any memorials near you. We visited the zoo this summer and took pictures of the signs that had information about the animals. After we developed the pictures, we put them in our lapbooks – one picture of the animal and another telling about it! The same thing can be done when visiting a memorial or historical site. What were the dates of the event you are researching? Try to find pennies or other currency around your house from that time period.
There are many things that can be incorporated into lapbooks and studies of all topics! Even “Mollusks” can be made interesting…you might have to rent a “Sponge Bob Video” and have your student try to spot how many mollusk characters he or she can find, but at least it will add a some more fun!
Some other examples of “odds n’ ends” that you can use in your unit study include:
With just a little imagination, and some interesting odds n’ ends, your student’s studies will come to life and you will be putting laughter and learning together in the hands of YOUR child!
Open any newspaper or watch a nightly news program and you are bound to find a report about a tragedy somewhere in the world. From natural disasters like forest fires and hurricanes to tragedies like September 11, 2001 and war; these are some of the unfortunate events we hear about and experience on a daily basis. How do we explain these types of things to our children? How do we help our children understand what a crisis is and teach them how to deal with it? One way of helping your child understand tragedy is to create a lapbook about the event or a related topic.
I recently spoke with a mom about her son’s love of Steve Irwin, the “Crocodile Hunter”. She recounted to me how upset her son was when he heard the news of Steve’s tragic death in 2006. While snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, Steve was pierced by a stingray barb; what some experts says was a one-in-a-million incident. While trying to console her son and think of a way for him to honor his hero’s memory, this mom came across our Steve Irwin: Crocodile Hunter Project Pack at In the Hands of a Child. They had never tried a lapbook before, but thought this would be a good time to start.
By creating a lapbook on his hero, this young boy learned about and celebrated Steve’s life. He learned about his childhood, his family, his career as a television and movie star, his work with zoos and animals, and his work as a conservationist. Even though it has been 7 years since Steve Irwin’s death, his young fan can pull out his lapbook and remember his favorite “Crocodile Hunter.”
In the Hands of a Child has a variety of topics that can help you create a lapbook that will help kids understand some of the unfortunate events that may be happening right now in or have happened in history. Some of those topics include:
Found a great tool for photo manipulation. It allows you to take out unwanted people and objects from a photo. It’s easy to use too. If you like to play around with your photos then you should check it out! http://www.softorbits.com