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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Attack on Pearl Harbor Study from In the Hands of a Child, a review

In the Hands of a Child is well-known for their quality, printable lapbooks for the elementary grades, but maybe you didn’t know that they also have Note Packs for middle schoolers that require no cutting or pasting? 

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We recently had the opportunity to review their Attack on Pearl Harbor Note Pack for grades 5-10.

This Project Pack regularly sells for $12, but it’s on sale right now for $5.00!

Also available as a lapbook, type-in lapbook, and preprinted.  See the website for all options and prices.

This project pack can be used as a short, stand-alone study, as a history supplement to full program, or as a springboard to a unit study to which you could add resources available at your local library, documentaries, books and online tidbits.

review of Attack on Pearl Harbor from In the Hands of a Child at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Attack on Pearl Harbor is a 54-page printable pdf that includes:

  • a suggested 6 day schedule
  • instructions for completing the notebooking pages
  • interesting text with pictures and sidebars
  • maps
  • glossary
  • notebook page templates
  • answers

Once your child has completed this study, it can be bound into a book by an office supply store or hole-punched and added to a binder.  We chose to 3-hole punch it and bind it using a special binder clip and cardstock for the covers.

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My 13-year-old 8th grader used this study.  Two of his Great Grandpas flew in bombers during WWII, so the war is a topic of interest for him.  He was looking forward to learning more about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

It was easy for him to complete this study within the suggested 6 days schedule.  Since it was summer and we were taking it easy, we decided not to add anything to it, but just use it as is.

I printed it out and popped it into a binder with the intention that he would use it independently.

The schedule is divided up into 6 days and each has 4 parts:

Vocabulary
Words

Guide
Reading

Complete
Activities

Continue Activities

Most days have a list of 3-5 words to define. 
Vocabulary words are bolded in the text and defined in the glossary.
Notebook templates are provided for defining the words.
Headings are given for which sections of the text to read each day.  The entire text is 13-pages, including maps and the glossary.
The “activities” are the notebook pages to be completed. 
A list is provided of all the activities with descriptions.
For this study, these were reminders to continue ongoing work on the vocabulary words.

In addition to writing out answers to questions on the notebook pages, there is also some map labeling and a timeline of events during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

What did we think?

The layout of the text is slick and professional, with plenty of graphics and sidebars.  There is a good bit of information in this short study. 

The activities mostly involve recording facts, although there are some that ask the student to express an opinion or draw some conclusions based upon what he has read. 

It is essential to print out the table of contents!  Otherwise, it’s very hard to match up the notebook pages with the schedule and readings.

In the schedule, each activity is given a number and a title, and yet those numbers don’t appear on the notebook pages themselves and the text is often quite different.  One instance:   on day 1 the schedule lists activity 3 as “Allies & Axis,” and yet the text on the notebook page is “The Two Warring Factions.”   Which, honestly, doesn’t mean the same thing.

In some cases, there were multiple activities to one notebook page and in others there was one activity with multiple parts on the same page.  It all seems quite confusing.

But, if you print out the table of contents, it lists for you on what page of the file you will find the corresponding notebook page for each activity.  The only trouble is the notebook page templates don’t have page numbers on them, so if you’ve printed the file, you’ll need to keep the pages in order and/or number them so you can see at a glance which is which.   

It is still cumbersome to go between a table of contents, a schedule, the activity descriptions, the text, and notebook pages…

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It seems like there ought to be a more user friendly way to organize it.

David says, “It felt like a lapbook without the cutting and pasting.” 

Most of the activities seemed like they were originally lapbook elements that had been converted to a flat format.  I think he expected the activities to be a little different and the level of writing to be higher. 

He also felt daunted by the number of activities.  There are 20, plus an extension activity, in this study and only 11 pages of actual reading text.  It looked like a lot, but more than once a whole notebook page was devoted to a topic that had been covered in a short sidebar in the reading.  His final notebook is 19 pages, and we omitted a page or two, but he didn’t spend more than a half hour or so per day.

After he had actually completed it, he said it was easy peasy, it just looked like it would be hard.

If I had it to do over, I would have selected certain notebook pages to complete and assigned him a short paper based on one of the topics to give him the opportunity to explore it more in-depth.  Middle school to early high school is a time where students need (and want) to dig a little deeper.

We have enjoyed using In the Hands of a Child’s elementary project packs in the past.  While this study for older students is written at a good reading level for these kids, it seemed that the expected output is not quite on target, but it is easy enough to punched up the challenge a bit.

Overall recommendations:

I would recommend Attack on Pearl Harbor as an economical supplement to a fuller study of WWII.   There is plenty of fruit here for further discovery and writing topics, but you may find you need to modify the assignments in order to properly challenge and engage your child.

The Schoolhouse Crew is reviewing several different products from In the Hands of a Child.  Please check out the other reviews:

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