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Lapbooking? Doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, as they say in Britain. I am married to and have raised self-proclaiming”geeks”. Truth be known, I am probably a little on the geek side, too. I have just never cared for things that seemed like art. I was about to dismiss this review as “not very useful” if I am being honest. I wouldn’t give a bad review for that reason, of course, but I don’t know if I would have put a good effort into it, though. My conscience wouldn’t let me do that really, so I asked around and got other opinions about lapbooking in general and this particular set from A Journey through Learning. Boy, did I get a surprise!

Almost every parent in my school for homeschoolers had heard of lapbooking and loved it. The parents find it so useful for their children in learning and more importantly, retaining the information they learn. These parents felt that the process of building presentation booklets on specific topics increased their students’ interest level in the subjects, too. The ability to make lapbooks almost 3D with the use of various paper folds adds additional interest and skill to the unit studies. This method is very similar to scrapbooking and just as versatile, it seems. A Journey through Learning unit studies take a great method and make it easy to learn with the detailed instructions and tip guides. The well-designed templates and colorful photos and clip art helps make it easy to create advanced and spectacular booklets. The study guide provided with each one gives your student a great start at learning. Lapbooking and A Journey through Learning cover all the modalities needed to make learning a success with the ability to teach the skills of following instructions and working together (when a family tackles each project). You can then tie it all together with the ability to express themselves creatively.

Accessibility for these projects is there for the .pdf since Adobe has the text-to-speech ability. Of course, there is no braille output for this, but the authors do have the ability to copy text for accessibility turned on which will allow it to be pulled into other screenreading programs for large print, better voices for the blind, and braille for the deafblind. The great colors available in the templates are good for low vision, and the templates can be printed out at larger scales for those with low vision. These can definitely be modified for many special needs students.

These great lapbook units on all kinds of subjects from amphibians to reptiles, to the Civil War to the Bible can be found at the web site, http://www.ajourneythroughlearning.com. The prices are very affordable and are available in three formats: downloadable .pdf at $13.00, CD_ROM at $14.00, and print at $21.00. Created by two homeschooling moms for homeschoolers who understand what you do and what you need to teach your students, these lapbook sets are just the ticket to success.

Nutrition guides and fad diet information can be found anywhere. Many are not worth the junk science they are based on. I wouldn’t want to bring that kind of program into a classroom of any type, but my fears were totally unfounded on this program. This is not just another nutrition guide, and it is not based on junk science. Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is a full nutrition and health curriculum. Its design is an excellent way to bring the study of health into the homeschool way of doing things.

 

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! written cooperatively by Debra Raybern, N. D. and Sera Johnson and Laura Hopkins and Karen Hopkins as part of Growing Healthy Homes, LLC. brings the study of the body and how it works into the homeschooling way by integrating the program into the lifestyle of the family. The resource itself is full of interesting reading about each of the body’s systems complete with colorful pictures and diagrams loaded with details. Biology study alone, it isn’t either, though. The delightful twist is nutrition and how food affects the workings of the body systems. The ultimate goal of this project is to help the family “develop lifelong habits and desires to eat wholesome foods that support great health”. The authors’ goal is definitely well-supported by the wealth of researched information, exciting family activities, and delicious healthy recipes. Scripture is referenced throughout the program modeling for your family what God has intended for our bodies, His temple. The activities are designed to get your students thinking and finding out for themselves what amazing bodies God made for us and how it is our responsibility to care for them properly. The delicious recipes are specifically chosen for each lesson to emphasize the many points taught in each area. They are designed with the family in mind including the picky eaters. The design is visually attractive to the eye as well as conducive to learning using the added visual cues of boldly colored and attractive fonts for vocabulary, pronunciation key facts, and fun fact side boxes.  The appendix is also packed with good resources for almost anything you might wish to learn more about such as selecting fresh produce, kitchen safety, calcium, asthma helps, mold, and more. This program really takes health to more than just “a check off the box” course .

 

The visual organization, though designed for the sighted, is still suitable for many low vision students. The colors and boxes help to separate the main lesson from the added information and to highlight the vocabulary and other features. The e-book version of the curriculum is in Adobe .pdf, and thankfully, the authors turned on the accessibility features that are present in Adobe. Unfortunately, this will not help braille readers at all, since Adobe has locked the .pdf to use only its speech-to-text reader which has no braille output features, and the Adobe .pdf format is not accessible to JAWS or other screenreaders for speech or braille output. I am not faulting the authors for this at all, and I hope they will educate themselves to the needs of the blind and deafblind market. There are homeschooling families who need these accessibility features including braille.

 

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is an amazing curriculum for homeschool use. It is so versatile being in the digital e-book format and a print format. The program can be purchased on their website for $79.95 for the CD-ROM, $99.95 for the print book, or a combo pack of the CD-ROM and book for $ 129.95. This curriculum really can deliver on its promise to help “develop lifelong habits that support great health”. Find out more about this great curriculum at http://www.GrowingHealthyHomes.com.

Those of us with vision problems or physical issues know the usefulness of a book holder. Book holders, though, are cumbersome and bothersome most of the time. When not in use, they are sitting in the way and getting knocked over. You never want to take them with you because they are just so bulky and odd-shaped that they are difficult to carry around. They are only useful when you are actually reading a book and need it sitting up right to accommodate our reading difficulties or held without the use of hands. Most sighted people are not fond of book holders because they just don’t realize the benefits while you read or study. Now there is a book holder that will catch their interest, I bet. This book holder will tickle the fancy of those of us with vision problems and physical issues, too. This is the StudyPod. It is more than just a book holder.

StudyPod is actually shaped like a book that is big enough to hold most books of varying sizes, but small enough to fit in your pack. The best thing is that it is designed to carry items like pens, paper, , calculator, magnifiers, contrast film guides, etc. With the StudyPod being made of sturdy plastic, your electronic and glass items will be much safer inside than just thrown in your pack. Even if you don’t carry a pack, and prefer to hold your books in your arms, the StudyPod being the approximate size and shape of a book will fit nicely in your stack of books making it comfortable to carry along with you.

Carrying it is easy, but what do sighted people need to know about the benefits of a StudyPod. Reading a book is much easier on the body if the book is held more upright. You keep your neck and back at a comfortable angle as you read closer to eye level. Studying is much easier, too, with the desk area less cluttered without the open book and notebook scattered across the area. The book held in a StudyPod is kept in a smaller place on the table within comfortable reading distance allowing the student to write notes or answers on a notebook or paper directly in front of them. A well-organized study area leads to a well-organized mind best suited for learning as an old adage used to proclaim. The StudyPod helps give you the perfect study area that can lead to good grades.

StudyPod comes in three colors: black, blue, and pink. The company also has the same product branded as BookPod to market to a more general audience than just students. The BookPod comes in black, gray, and beige. That definitely gives you some variety, although I hope they will eventually add red which is the last color that many people with certain eye diseases can see. I am sure some teens would like purple and lime-green as they like to express themselves.

The book holder is pretty simple to use, and the website has a video to show how you set it up to hold a book. Of course, this is only helpful for the sighted folks. I had to get help learning how to do it the first time which is a bit more difficult, since I am DeafBlind. Within just a few minutes though, I was sliding the stand bar out, and opening it, and placing the book on the pod and turning pages like a pro.

You can find out more about the StudyPod and the BookPod at www.studypodbookholder.com . One unit is $19.95, and you can purchase two or more at the discounted price of $16.95. A great price that helps me to declare that finally I can get a book holder that is actually useful in more ways than one.

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