Category Archives: Unit Studies and Lapbooks

Noah and the Lego Ark

Got building blocks, Legos, or craft supplies?

Then get your kids busy reading, building, and re-telling bible stories!  Check out The Beginner’s Bible, or another youth bible you have on hand, for an easy to use resource for kids.  This is a great way to build family time together and a great way to incorporate daily devotions into your kids learning.  Your kids will have so much fun interacting with the bible stories and building props and seeing the stories come to life!


Noah’s Ark is a great story to retell with Lego’s because just like your child building with blocks of different sizes, Noah was also a builder and he built a big boat with different sizes of wooden boards.  In addition to building the largest boat ever created, called an Ark, Noah was also a husband, a father, and the “ultimate prepper” and “homesteader” and he had to store feed and safely house and care for a huge amount of animals as well as his whole family for an entire year on the floating zoo-boat /house-boat called the ark.  The story of Noah and the ark can be found in Genesis 6, 7, and 8.    As they read the bible, kids will learn about the man called Noah, his faith in God, and also about righteousness, judgement of sin, and God’s plan to save a pure remnant of the human race that were willing to put their faith in him.


God told Noah it was going to rain, and it would become a flood that would wipe out every living thing on the earth.  Noah was instructed to build a big ark (boat) and he was given the blueprints with detailed instructions to create it.  He built different size pens inside the ark and he was given instructions to save two pairs of every wild animal, three pairs of every “clean” animal,  seven pairs of animals that were to be sacrificed, and to also save his family including his wife, three sons, and their wives, by loading them all onto the ark before the start of the worldwide flood.


God told Noah that people had become evil and violent and he must cleanse the earth and wipe them out with the flood.  He could no longer stand to live with mankind and watch their evil deeds.   God caused the earth and sky to give forth water for 40 days and nights to flood the earth.  But God promised to protect Noah’s family and anyone righteous who had faith to believe in God.  God gave Noah the plan.  He gave him the specific dimensions, told him what wood to use, and how to build it and save his family and the animals.  His sons helped him build the ark, but the rest of the world mocked him as he worked and preached and did not help him.


Noah preached and preached to the people about God and the coming flood, but no one believed him and they did not turn from their wickedness and did not worship God. They had never seen rain or a flood before.   They did not care about doing right.  They did not turn away and repent of their wicked sins.  They did not want to trust that Noah had heard the truth from God.  They thought Noah was out of his mind to believe a God they could not see, and believe in a flood and rain that had never happened before, and work so hard to obey God and build a big boat.


If you don’t have Lego’s on hand, make your boat with paper, or other recycled materials you have on hand, or use other toys your kids might have in their collections.  Besides building a boat, they might have mini characters, and animals, trees, etc. they can also use.  Perhaps they can also create items to represent the weather changes, the flood, and make a rainbow too.   You can use as many props as you want to add to the effect of retelling the story.

Another wonderful way to use this learning opportunity is Language Arts (have the kids read, re-write the story), Science (weather, engineering, physics), Arts and Crafts (create Noah’s Ark themed art and craft projects), Math (how many legos?,  build to scale, use grid paper and draw their own blueprints to scale, etc), Geography (draw or color a map of where Noah was from and where the ark landed), Movie Making (use props and make stop motion animation), Unit Study and LapBook, and have the kids Share their project with Grandparents, Neighbors, and Sunday School class too.  There are lots of ways this method of learning can be used and incorporated into your curriculum.

Your kids will really enjoy this activity.  In addition to building up their faith as they read the bible, kids can relate in a hands on way as they put the story in action and retell the story with their own mini-size boat.

Here are a few Noah and the Ark themed videos we found:

Noah and the Ark Bible Story Animated by Beginner’s Bible

Noah’s Ark Lego Movie Trailer

Arts and Crafts

Noah Preschool Paper Plate Craft and Story


Online Bible

If you don’t have a printed copy of the bible, check out Bible Gateway for a digital online version.  You can read it from your computer and your phone and digital reading devices.

You can choose from several languages and several versions to use.   They also offer free bible studies and a free verse of the day they will email you if you desire.

Lapbook and Unit Study

will update more soon.

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Sam The Minuteman Study Guide Review

What is a Minuteman?  That is a very good question, and it has a lot to do with American History.


We recently reviewed Sam The Minuteman Study Guide by Progeny Press to learn more about these important people and their role in American History.

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A Minuteman is an American Citizen who is ready to defend his/her person, family, property, neighbors, town, state, and country with just a “minute’s notice”.    There is an interesting fictional story that helps kids learn about these defenders and their role in history called  Sam The Minuteman.  This story is about a boy who’s dad was a Minuteman when the colonies were still occupied by Britain.   This study guide helps you dig deeper into the lives of people, their character, family and community dynamics, and their faith as well as the battle they fought for independence from Britain.

Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

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Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

For Elementary 1st – 3rd Grades

42 pages

e-Book PDF download

Retails $11.99

Table Of Contents

  • Note To Instructor
  • Synopsis
  • Background Information
  • About the Author
  • Before You Read Activities
  • Vocabulary
  • Cause and Effect
  • Word Pictures
  • How the Author Creates Mood
  • Looking At The Story
  • Important Words to Remember
  • Thinking About the American Revolution
  • After You Read Activities
  • Additional Resources
  • Answer Key

How We Used The Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

We received a PDF download of Sam The Minuteman Study Guide to review in our home.  I printed the study guide and put it into a three ring binder.   This study guide was a great addition to our study of American History this fall.


To complete this study guide, you will need a computer, an email address, and printer, as well as the book Sam The Minuteman.  The book is easy to find at local libraries or for purchase through book stores, or even easier is to find it as a read aloud on youtube where you can listen, watch, and read along with the word in the story.


When you purchase the study guide, you can either print off the whole study guide and put into a three ring binder, or have it bound, or you can just read it from the computer screen and print off what pages you need as you go along in the study.  This is so flexible and will fit with just about everyone’s needs.

 Activities We Did In The Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

  • Make Homemade Butter  (in the story they ate homemade bread and butter).  Recipe for making butter provided in the study guide.   We purchased cream, put it into the stand mixer (because shaking it in a jar takes to long) and made our own homemade butter.   We used to do this every week when we had our own fresh milk from our cows.   We also made homemade bread, and made biscuits on another day, to eat the butter on.
  • Historical Timeline (dates and headings provided in the study guide)
  • Crossword Puzzle
  • Worksheets: Vocabulary Words
  • Worksheets: Several “Question and Answer” worksheets throughout the study guide.
  • Bible Study:  Several scriptures and question and answer were listed and encourage character and understanding of the Christian faith.
  • Worksheets: Coloring Page of the Liberty Bell
  • We used several online resources to complete the study guide through Progeny Press, and also to learn more about this period in American History.

Crossword puzzle and worksheets from Progeny Press Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

About the story:  Sam The Minuteman

The story book is historical fiction.   The characters are made up, but are based on historical facts so it is a great addition to any American History study.   Reading this story will help kids understand and relate to people who lived at this period in American History and America’s fight for independence and birth as a nation.


screenshot of Sam The Minuteman read aloud on youtube

We have a copy of the book, but we also found the book as a free read a loud on youtube (read by Stories with Sarah), and this was a perfect option for us.  The kids had fun hearing another child read the story aloud and following along.  This is a great option for those folks who don’t own their own copy, don’t want to go buy one, or who have kids who are fascinated with everything on digital media like my kids.

The read aloud is only a 10 minutes long and the kids can read right along with Sarah as she reads the book on the video.  In addition to the book, we added in watching several other videos about Minutemen and read through the wikipedia explanation, did coloring pages, made a lapbook, and more too.  These activities really helped the kids appreciate the learning material and activities, and deepen their understanding in the Study Guide even more.


screenshot of Sam The Minuteman on youtube

The main character in the story is a boy named Sam Brown who lives with his mother and father on a farm in Lexington, Massachusetts.   America has not become a nation yet and is still a British colony, but has formed it’s own local governing proclamations. The people living in the colonies are upset because of the increased taxation and trade regulations placed on them by Britain, and the increased presence of British soldiers and governors the King has sent to enforce the new regulations.

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screenshot of read a loud book on youtube

During the story, Sam experiences the beginning of the war.  He sees British soldiers from Boston pass through his town as they trying to keep orders for the King, and he feels the frustrations of his father and neighbors.   Then one night, the church bells ring and wake Sam and his family and this is the signal to his father that it is time to go and defend his freedom.

They meet with other men and learn that the British soldiers are marching to Concord where the colonists have hidden weapons.  Then Sam goes with his father and the other minutemen to try to hold back the British and give the Americans time to defend their supplies and hidden weapons.  One of Sam’s friends gets shot, but survives.  Eventually the Minutemen Militias grow stronger in their fighting skills and are able to drive off the British soldiers.

Additional Resources We Used To Further The Learning:

We love turning everything into an expanded unit study.   That is what I love about study guides, they spark your curiosity and invite you to dig deeper.    We expanded our learning with several additional fun activities including videos, reading, Legos, cooking, life skills, and more to learn about this fascinating period in American History.   We would like to take a field trip too. Several years ago, we went to see some Revolutionary War History in Charelston SC,  another trip to Kings Mountain where the Mountainmen (Mountain Minutemen) fought a battle with the Brittish Soldiers, and another trip we went to a Revolutionary War Museum and State Park with a Ford (where the militia crossed the river).  We are also creating a lapbook to hold our completed the Sam The Minuteman Study Guide activities, and additional projects we did while learning about Minutemen Militia.


Minuteman received notice (image source)

Legos:  I have 6 kids and 5 of them are boys.  We love building with Legos and it just makes learning fun!   We recreated and retold the story and the events we learned in the study guide with Legos.  The kids set up a village and a house for Sam’s family, and showed him and his dad riding a horse out to meet the other Minutemen to fight with the British soldiers coming down the road.


Sam and his dad are in the Minutemen Militia. Story retold with Legos.



Coloring Page Paul Revere (notified the Minutemen the British were coming and then rode out to the army to notify them the British were coming to take away their weapons and subdue them).


Coloring Paul Revere as he rode out from Boston on his horse to warn the Minutemen the British were coming.

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Who were the Minutemen?  Wikipedia

Geography Map

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Geography and History video:  The American Revolution in 9 minutes.  This was our absolute favorite “quick” video that explains the history and geography of the war, and best of all it is told with stick figure animation.  This is much more fun for kids to watch than other history videos.   The kids also have fun watching a grade school class retell the events in a video they made called American Revolution.

History of the part time militia known as Minutemen 

History video: the Force Of Citizens

History video: Minutemen Militia from “History of the US Constitution”.

Visit the Minutemen Historic National Park

Volunteer with Friends of the Minutemen

American Revolution Lapbooking Pages

It is amazing what you can learn from history and how it applies today.  A Minuteman is a person who is ready to handle trouble at any minute.   Formed in 1645, these homegrown militia men were to be ready within 30 minutes of being warned and carry with them three days provisions of food, shoes for both snow and regular weather, and weapons.  They played important roles in history from 1645, 1750, 1774-1776, through the Civil War (mountain men), and beyond.    The government passed the Militia Acts of 1792 by Congress requiring all citizens to arm themselves with a musket, a bayonet, and no less than 24 bullets.   The Militia Acts of 1903 passed by Congress states that 1) the organized Minutemen Militia will become the basis of the National Guard and 2) a provision that states able bodied citizens ages 17 to 45 are to take up arms to defend themselves and the country.

American Minutemen (image source)

American Minutemen (image source)

We actually learned there are Minutemen Militia (also known as Watchmen Militia and Family Protection Group, etc) today all across this great nation we live in that are ready on a moment’s notice.   The Discovery Channel produced a documentary about them.  They meet together in groups and are trained to use weapons, and secure resources such as food, water, and have supplies on hand to last from several weeks to several months. These groups are made up of people from all races and from all walks of life from mechanics to librarians to students, etc. The documentary followed men and women from across the USA who get together and practice drills in Florida, Indiana, and Arizona for combat in the event the government cannot protect or help it’s citizens.  That kind of circumstance could happen when mobs breakout in the cities, such as when natural disasters happen (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods) and folks are without resources, nuclear meltdowns or if there is an EMP or asteroid that takes out communications and infrastructure, and during racial tensions in inner cities and mobs breakout, as well as illegal drug smugglers coming across the borders, and with mass shootings and terrorists attacks.

Just like they were through out American History, these modern day Minutemen Militia are ready at any minute to handle any trouble that arises to defend our towns and people from threats of danger.   Approximately 30% to 70% of Americans are legally armed depending on what part of the country you live in.   The nationwide average is about 80 million gun owners who own at least one registered gun, (there are between 280-310 million guns), or approximately 1 out of 3 households are armed.  These registered gun owners are willing to protect their homes, family, friends, and neighbors from attack from those who would attempt to cause harm to life, liberty, and the pursuit of freedom in our country.

Progeny Press has created a great study guide to get young people interested in American History using a simple story with characters they can relate too.  Would you like to learn more about the Minutemen Militia and the American Revolution?  Then you might want to go on this learning adventure, and check out this great study guide from Progeny Press, and perhaps your family will be inspired to be a part of the Minutemen in your local area and will gain a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices so many have made for the freedoms we enjoy today.

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Heroes Of History: Billy Graham Review

Are you hungry for true stories about real heroes?  Then you and your children might like the Heroes of History book series and Unit Study Curriculum Guides by YWAM Publishing.

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The Heroes of History series contains approximately 20 volumes of fascinating history of real life heroes. Some of the great men and women covered in these books includes the lives of: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Ben Carson, Laura Ingles Wilder, etc.

Heroes Of History

Heroes of History are ordinary men and women (many who faced poverty and disadvantages in their youth), who over came challenging circumstances and changed the course of American History.

Heroes Of History

Billy Graham

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Paperback Book

208 pages

Ages 10+

Retails for $9.99 and is on sale for $7.50

This book covers the story of Billy Grahams Life including his youth, his acceptance of Christ as his savior, his family, and life long ministry as a world wide evangelist.

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Unit Study Guide Cover

Unit Study Curriculum Guide

PDF e-Book

Retails for $9.99 and on sale for $7.49

This unit study guide corresponds with the paperback book.  It provides structured questions, vocabulary words, and activities for each chapter to help the student dig deeper into the story. It also contains the answer key and a few printables such as maps, a timeline, and a fact sheet about his life.

Unit Study Table of Contents

Unit Study Table of Contents

How We Used This Product In Our Home

We were sent the Heroes Of History paperback book and the corresponding Unit Study Curriculum Guide to review in our home.  This curriculum is filled with fascinating stories about Billy Graham’s life.  He is considered “America’s Pastor” and is loved by millions of people in America and around the world.

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Billy Graham (source Unit Study Guide)

There are so many details from his life that you just have to read the book for yourself to grasp the big picture, but I think this sums up this amazing journey: Billy grew up on a dairy farm in North Carolina.  God took him on a life long journey from those humble beginnings to become an evangelist who has preached in 185 countries reaching over 200 million people with the message about Jesus Christ and eternal salvation.  It is amazing how God used a farm boy in an amazing way to expand his Kingdom.

My children are enjoying learning about Billy Graham’s adventures growing up and his life working for the Kingdom.  The story starts our when he is about 12 years of age and goes through many of his memories growing up and my son was hooked to read about his boyhood.


The unit study guide contained about 5 printables (located in section 2) and the rest was of the guide (section 1) was structured questions about each chapter in the book and a few activity ideas.  We liked a couple of activity ideas in the guide such as creating an itinerary for Billy Graham’s Travels and computing costs for airfare and travel etc.  And an idea to watch one of his speeches from the 1960’s and compare it to a speech from the 1990’s for example and see any changes in his presentation of his message.  Also an idea to learn one of his speeches and then repeat it yourself as a speech was a cool idea.  But otherwise, the guide really needs some tweaking and some fun activities added for kids.  So my suggestion to other families would be to come up with your own activity ideas to make this part of the learning fun.

Fact sheet from unit study guide.

Fact sheet from unit study guide.

My Personal Experience with Billy Graham

When I was about 13 years old, I went to a Billy Graham crusade in Kansas City, KS.  It was life changing for me.  I dedicated my whole heart to Jesus that night.  I sat on the edge of my seat in a huge stadium filled with people and knew Mr. Graham was speaking just to me.  I had given my heart to the Lord when I was 8 and was baptized with water at the Open Door Baptist Church.  When I was about 11, my father’s church felt I needed re-baptized “into” their church, the Church of Christ.  Not much changed for me at that time, other than earnestly seeking God as my home life was not so great.   But when I was 13, and sincerely seeking God for answers in my life, I met a man who had the answers.  His name was Billy Graham.  He had a confidence and an assurance of who God is that I had never seen or heard in any man.  That night I went forward at the Billy Graham Crusade and dedicated my whole heart to the Lord, I was filled with a fire for God.  A passion.   It was life changing for me and I never doubted my salvation or God’s love and his hand on my life ever since.  He has guided me and held me close and watched over me and I love him more than life itself.

I know there are millions of people like myself that God placed Billy Graham in our path.  He has been a blessing to me.  When we lived in North Carolina, we lived about 40 minutes from Mr. Graham’s campus near Asheville, NC.    If you are ever in the area, I encourage you to go and visit the museum and campus.  His son carries on the ministry’s vision today and runs a world wide outreach that is the hands and feet of Jesus meeting the real needs of people called Samaritans Purse.   If you are looking for a ministry to pray for, financially support, or volunteer with, please put this one at the top of your list!

Thank you Mr. Graham for your obedience and dedication to obey Jesus and share the message of the Kingdom of God with me.

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Hewitt Homeschooling Review


Hewitt Homeschooling has some great products for homeschool families. We are reviewing My First Reports: Bugs and Worms by Hewitt Homeschooling, and we are learning lots of great information and having fun at the same time.  If you are in the process of putting your curriculum choices together, I would encourage you to add products from Hewitt Homeschooling to the list.

pic of homeschool help


My First Reports

One unique product Hewitt Homeschooling offers is a curriculum supplement called My First Reports.  My first reports uses a step by step approach to help elementary age children learn about a subject they are interested in and write a report about it.

Skills used in My First Reports include:

Critical Thinking

There are several My First Reports to choose from and they are geared for different ages, but all are flexible and can be used for grades 1 – 8 depending on the skill level of your student.

My First Report: Music
My First Report: Transportation
My First Report: Weather
My First Report: Me
My First Report: Famous People
My First Report: Wild Animals / Large Mammals
My First Report: Wild Animals / Small Mammals
My First Report: Pets/Farm Animals
My First Report: Bugs and Worms
My First Report: Birds
My First Report: Reptiles/Amphibians
My First Report: Plants
My First Report: Solar System
My First Report: Marine Life
My First Report: Olympics
My First Report: Outdoor Activities
My First Report: Sports
My First Report: My State
My First Report: Eastern United States
My First Report: Western United States
My First Report: Middle United States
My First Report: Southern United States
My First Report: Lewis and Clark Expedition
My First Report: Focus On The World

You can purchase My First Reports individually for $8.95 , or buy 14 titles as a bundle for $69.95 and save nearly 40% off retail.


Our Experience:

Bugs and Worms

We chose My First Reports: Bugs and Worms for this review.  It is designed for kids in 3rd – 4th grades, but can be used for younger students in 1st-2nd grades or older students in 5th-8th grades too.  My First Reports: Bugs and Worms contains 52 pages including reproducible forms, worksheets, suggested reading and resources, and a unit study.

When we received the packet from Hewitt Homeschooling, I placed the pages into a binder.   The pages come already hole punched so you can put it into a three ring binder for convenience, or into your students completed notebook if you desire.  I am a unit study “collector”, or perhaps a unit study nerd might describe me better.   I guess and I love being able to insert them into a binder and keep them for future use.  If someday I pass along our schoolroom to my own grown kids, or to another family, hopefully all the unit studies we have acquired or created over the years will be easy to just grab and go because they are arranged neatly in their own binders.  You could fill a whole book shelf with them.  Ooohhh Awwhhhh.  Yep, I am a unit study nerd!


We were very excited about this curriculum.  This package covers information about 12 different bugs and worms:

Butterflies / Moths




Unit Study Approach

This set is designed to used for 12 weeks, in a unit study method, covering one bug or worm and corresponding worksheets and suggested activities per week.  Being a unit study, many different ages of kids can enjoy it, and it is cross curricular for many different subjects and covers:

Social Studies
Suggested Field Trips

DSC01754 (Picture my son took of hundreds of new born baby spiders emerging from their nest on a tiger lily).

During the process of learning about a bug or worm you will also do many activities mentioned in the accompanying unit study.  For example, various activities to choose from might include:  geography you will take a map of your state or a region and list bugs found there.  Younger students might cut out pictures and paste them on the map and older students would likely create a map and write a list of various insects identifying  them and their locations or to add in an art aspect, they might sketch them too.  In the bible they would learn about insects mentioned in various verses.  For reading and literature they would read various books, magazines, news articles, and poems about bugs.   For Language you would learn insect vocabulary words and spelling of each insect, as well as answer the report questions on the worksheets. You might create word puzzles and give an oral report too.  For Math, you put the insects in order based on a category such as length or color or weight ect.  Perhaps you could make a graph for comparisons.  You might calculate speeds and distance traveled or the amount of food they eat.  For Science you will make comparison graphs for body characteristics, learn about habitats and how to classify, catch-observe-release different insects when you are studying each one, etc.  One suggestion is to build a wormery when you study the worms section.  For art and science you might make a kite and then for P.E. you would go outside and fly it.  Also for P.E. you would take a hike through your neighborhood or a park to look for insects and study where they are found, what they sound like, etc.  For music you might study and recreate the sound of various insects, sing songs about insects and songs about creation including songs and praises to God.  Art has so many suggestions like making a spider web, visiting an art museum, making collages or mosaics, sculptures, and various crafts.  Field tips ideas include hikes or nature walks in various locations like parks, nature preserves, zoos, museums, the insect section of the library, a honey farm, or other farms where insects are used in some way, nature store, etc.


While learning about each “critter”, my 3rd grader completed a worksheet for each bug we learned about.  The worksheet includes a picture of the bug, its class and scientific order, vocabulary words, and several questions to research further.   He is encouraged to write complete sentences when answering the questions.  When the week of learning about the insect is complete, and he has answered all the questions, he can transfer that information into a finished report by using his answers to help create paragraphs for a report about the insect he is writing about.


I have always loved the hands on aspect of Field Trips.  My kids love the adventure and learning outside the classroom / house.  We took a field trip two weeks ago to the Creation Museum to learn more about the history of insects and see various species in their collections.








This is a great curriculum resource and I would encourage other homeschool families to work it into their learning adventures this school year.  My First Reports would also be a great adventure for summer school, Sunday School, or afterschool learning adventures too.

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Super Bowl XLVII

Are you planning to watch the SUPER BOWL with your family on

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013? 

Whether you know a lot or a little about the Super Bowl, would you like to learn more?

Why not turn your your learning into a mini unit study with your kids?

Here is a great FREE resource!
Super Bowl XLVII  Mini Helper

It is 13 pages packed with information, internet links, and fun activities.

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Post Office Unit Study

We have been having a great time learning about the US Postal Service.   I thought it would be fun to create a Post Office Unit Study to go along with our International Postcard Exchange learning adventure.  We have joined up with over 300 preschools and homeschools to do a postcard exchange around the world and it has been a great learning adventure for us.

Be sure to check out all of our stories in this series with lots of leaning suggestions and links to resources:
Postcard Exchange
P Is For Postcard (and post office, and postman)
Postcard Geography Notebook and Bulletin Board
Post Office Unit Study

Below I have listed resources for you to enjoy a fun Post Office learning adventure with your kids.  I have a few more stories in this series to post and link up yet.  I hope to post a few additional worksheets and printables too.   But there are lots of links to printables below and feel free to make your own if you need more.  If you have some to share, be sure to leave a link to them in the comment section below.


               Post Office Unit Study

If you would like to learn more about the United States Postal Service, then why not do a unit study and lapbook or notebook to further the learning?  I have listed several resources below as a Post Office Unit Study to help you further the post office adventure. 

Books & DVD’s

Visit your local library or an online source to pick up a few books and DVD’s that center on the theme of the post office, mail delivery, pony express, or writing letters.

Some suggestions include:

In addition to reading, I have to highly recommend a movie we also watched called “Letters To God”.  Letters To God is a movie / DVD about a boy with cancer who writes letters to God about the needs of his local community and how it changes a mailman’s heart and he learns about God’s mercy and grace through the life and mail of this boy.  It is truly an amazing and inspiring story.  It is a true story!  My kids love this movie!

BIBLE (Writing, Copywork, Reading, Faith):

Find “Letters” in the Bible.
Write a letter (prayer) to God.
Read a portion of God’s letter (God’s word, the bible) he gave to you.
Copy a passage of the bible that speaks to your heart.

Videos (Social Studies, History, Geography):

Video: A Day In The Life Of A Mail Carrier

Video: Mailman on Horse Back in Appalachia

Video: Owney The Postal Dog

Video: Liberty’s Kids Postmaster General Franklin (part 1)

Video: Liberty’s Kids Postmaster General Franklin (part 2)

Video: How Stamps Are Made

Video: How Envelopes Are Made

Video: The Story Of The Pony Express

Video: Postman Pat (cartoon series).

More Postman Pat videos on you tube.  Do a search on you tube for Postman Pat, PostmanPat and you should find a large variety of shows to watch.  Postman Pat has been teaching kids about the postal service, community, friendship, and problem solving for over 27 years.

Lesson Plans and Printables (Language Arts, and All Subject Areas):

Letter Carrier Lesson Plans from First School

Letter Writing Skills Lesson Plans

Post Office Theme Unit From Ed Helper

Mail Carrier Unit From Confessions Of A Homeschooler

Mailman Unit from Lawteedah

The Pony Express History

Westward Ho From Homeschool Share
(lesson plans, unit studies, and lapbook resources about The Pony Express and the Westward Expansion of our nation).

Oweny The Postal Dog

Wikipedia US Postal Service

Wikipedia Pony Express

Wikipedia Postcard

The Postal System

Currclick The Pony Express The Mail Must Go Through

Lapbooks and Notebooks (Writing, and All Subject Areas):

Princess Correspondence Lapbook from Lapbook Lessons

Prince Correspondence Lapbook from Lapbook Lessons

Mini Office Lapbook from Homeschool Creations

The Pony Express Lapbook Pages

Mailing May from Homeschool Share
(some of these pages are perfect for a post office lapbook even if you don’t use the suggested book).

Diagram about the flow of mail: How the mail is collected, sorted, and delivered. This would be great to print out and include in a lapbook or notebook about the postal system.

Vocabulary and Spelling Words:

Post Office
Mail Carrier
Mail Truck
Post Office Box
Drop box
Mail Bag
Return Address
Pony Express

Word Puzzle Using The Above Spelling Words


Younger students practice writing the letter P and p .

Younger students practice writing the letter M and m .

In addition to copy work, and spelling words, try some of these additional writing activities.

    Write a short story using at least 10 of the vocabulary words, or write a paragraph using 
    at least three of the vocabulary words.

    Write a postcard to someone.(We wrote 18 postcards to kids around the world).

    Write a letter to someone. (We wrote a letter and made thank you cards for Postmaster 
    John, and a letter to Grandma).

Create your own stationary to write a letter on.

Literacy Ideas For Mail Carrier from Making Learning Fun


Draw a map or use a map and draw the path of a letter from your house to your local post office to a mail distribution center and then on to Grandma.  Try mapping a letter to the President, to the Queen, to a consulate or US Embassy in a foreign country.  What other special addresses can you find to map?

Map the trail and expansion of the Pony Express.
Find your location and the location of a person you are sending a letter to on a globe.

Find your location and the location of a person your are sending a letter to on google maps.  How many miles, approximately, will your letter travel?

Create a geography notebook of places you send or receive mail from.  Include details about the various locations in your notebook.  Ideas might be a map, coloring pages of the shape of the country or state.  The flag, bird, flower, tree or other symbols related to

Create a bulletin board or poster board with a map for learning about places you send or receive mail from.

50 States Coloring Pages  Just choose the states you need for your learning adventures.

Countries Coloring Pages 

Print out a map. Or use tape to make a road on a flat surface.  Use a small truck or car to represent the mail carriers vehicle.  Have the child pretend to be in the car and travel the map or road to deliver the mail at various destinations.  You can make this as involved as you wish.  You could create buildings with small boxes to make a town for the mail carrier to deliver mail and packages to.  You can place matching numbers or letters on the buildings for mail to be delivered.  You can practice your own address with this.  You can also practice directions of left, right, north, south, east, west.  You could also create a map with coordinates and your mail carrier would need to read the map to find the destination.  This could be a really fun geography adventure!

Math Activities:

Count change to buy a postage stamp for a postcard.

Count change to buy a postage stamp for a envelope.

Count change to buy a postcard and pay for a postage stamp to mail the postcard to Australia.

Find out how much per ounce it costs to mail a package local vs. overseas.

Graph how much it costs to send a 15lb package to Alaska, Hawaii, Germany, Spain, England,

France, Australia, South Africa, India, your neighbor, etc.

Find out how much money a postal worker makes in a month and add or multiply to find out their salary for a year.

Find out how many miles your letter would travel from your house to your grandparent’s house, from your house to your aunt’s house, and from your house to the White House.

John bought a page of stamps that were 4 stamps across and 6 stamps down.  Calculate how many stamps are on the page.

Find the total area of a stamp.

Find the total area of an envelope.

Calculate postage for a large envelope being sent from New York to California.

Math Ideas For Mail Carrier from Making Learning Fun

Online Games and Quizzes:

Online Mail Delivery Game at Apples For The Teacher

Braving The Elements

Help The Tiger Mail The Valentine

Quiz About the Postal System

Postmaster Challenge (Trivia Game)

Decode The Barcode (Mathematical Reasoning Game)

Rail, Sail, and Overland Mail

Coloring Pages:

Mailman carrying the mail.

Mailman delivering the mail.

Postman Pat online coloring pages.


The Pony Express Coloring Page

The Pony Express Nebraska History Coloring Page

Video: How To Draw Postman Pat

Mail Carrier Puppet With A Toilet Paper Tube

Mail Bag Craft With A Paper Sack

Mail Drop Box and Mail Bag

Mail Drop Box

Other Activities and Arts and Crafts:

Write A Letter

Printable Postcard

Create A Postcard

Address Practice Craft

Design A Stamp

Learn About Stamp Collecting

Create A History Timeline about the post office.

Dora and Diego Postcard


Toys & Games:

We played a fun role play game of “Postman Delivers Postcards”.

We cut out rectangles from cereal boxes.  We also made some rectangles with construction paper.  We wrote our address on one side and drew a stamp.  The picture from the cereal box was already on the other side, but we added our own pictures to the construction paper rectangles.  We placed the postcards into a shoulder bag. 

One person was the postman.  The postman wore the shoulder bag and delivered the mail. The other kids waited for their mail. They also sent mail to each other. 

We have a toy mailbox and the mail was delivered to the mail box.  We also made additional mailboxes out of pop tart boxes turned on their side. 

For additional fun, you can ad numbers to the boxes for the address and have the kids match the mail to the box numbers if you want to ad more challenge to the play.

There are several board games about the postal service and stamps available.  Check out these post office versions of monopoly.


Take A Field Trip:

Nothing beats a “hands on” trip to the post office.  It doesn’t have to be a formal field trip.  Just get the kids and go buy some stamps, or mail an envelope to your classroom, or to grandma, etc.  It can be that simple!  Be sure to check out our field trips to the post office in the other stories in this series.

Virtual Field Trip:

If you can’t take a trip to the post office, check out these virtual field trip resources.

Video: Field Trip To The Post Office In Knoxville, TN.

Video: Field Trip To The Post Office

Video: How Mail Is Sorted

Video: Animated Visit To The Post Office

Check out more post office ideas on our pinterest board.

Read More Stories In Our Postcard Exchange Series

Be sure to check out our other stories and more links to further the Post Office Unit Study learning adventure:

Postcard Exchange
P Is For Postcard
Postcard Geography Notebooks and Bulletin Board
Post Office Unit Study

This story will be linked up with
Raising Homemakers
Sharing Time

Please share.

Free for Homeschool Spirit Week

I am sorry to get this posted

on the last day of

International Homeschool Spirit Week.

But better late than never!


Unit Study Guides

and Lapbooks

Homeschool Pride Project Pack

The History of Homeschooling, Famous Homeschoolers, and more!

By Hands Of A Child

Retails for $7.99

FREE today only to celebrate the last day of International Homeschool Week 2012.

About My Homeschool

By Knowledge Box Central

FREE right now!

Just click on the titles and it should take you to the downloads.

I am thrilled with the one by Hands Of A Child and can’t wait to make it with my kids soon! I’ve downloaded it to a file on the computer until I am ready to use it. This is a great product and points out amazing facts about the history of homeschooling, and encourages our children, and me, in our homeschool endeavors. Everything is spelled out in an easy to follow guide. I can’t wait to do this unit study and make a cool homeschool lapbook!

Be Blessed and Happy Homeschooling!

Please share.

Lewis and Clark Unit Study

Our family loves doing unit studies throughout the year.  Unit studies make learning an adventure.  It takes what could be a boring subject, and makes the material relatable and alive.  Your kids will love doing history, geography, math, writing, science, research, and more when you combine it into learning about a central subject with a unit study.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew was recently asked to review Once-a-Week Unit Studies from Homeschool Legacy.  This was exciting to me, because I am a member of the same local homeschool association as the author, Sharon Gibson.  We have spoken on a few occasions, I have purchased two of her unit studies in the past, and I am very pleased to see her materials come through the TOS product reviews.

Sharon is a veteran homeschool mom and has graduated two son’s.  She continues to remain a resource for local homeschool families and for the past several years has been reaching out to a larger homeschool audience with her homeschool products.  She has been a guest speaker at homeschool workshops and homeschool conferences, and you can find her booth at curriculum fairs and homeschool conventions in the south east USA and other areas.

The Once-a-Week Unit Studies are designed with a biblical focus and to be done with families with kids in 2nd grade – 12th grade.   However, my opinion is that anything can be adapted.  My children are 12, 9, 7, 5, 3, and10 months of age.   We did this unit study as a whole family.  Even my 3 and 5 year olds enjoy doing parts of these unit studies and I would encourage families with younger and older children to give them a try.

The current titles available in the Once-a-Week Unit Studies include:

        Birds Of A Feather 
        Christmas Comes To America
        Early Settlers In America
        Forest For The Trees
        Horsing Around
        Knights And Nobles
        Lewis And Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea
        Native America
        Revolutionary Ideas: The Story Of The American Revolution
        We The People: Getting To Know Your Constitution
        Weather On The Move

If you have a child who needs to acquire merit badges for a club such as Boy Scouts Of America, or American Heritage Girls ,etc, these unit studies can help. Several of the learning activities listed meet the requirements for achieving these badges.  Be sure to check the website for more information.  Sharon also encourages using these unit studies to accomplish 4-H clubs project record books.

Our Experience

Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we were given the option to choose a downloadable copy of a Once-a-Week unit study, and I chose to review the Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea  unit study for the purpose of writing this review.  However, the downloadable products are currently not for sale.  If you purchase a Once-a-Week unit study, it comes already bound for you.  The Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea Unit Study retails for $19.95.  It has 80 pages and contains lesson plans for 7 weeks of study.


Included in the unit study are suggested daily schedules, weekly schedules, lesson plans, library book lists, field trip suggestions, worksheets, and more.  Some of the subject areas covered include: Bible, Literature, Language, History, Geography, Science, Writing, History, Arts & Crafts, etc.

Table of contents in the Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea unit study includes:
            Available Once-a-Week Unit Studies
            Boy Scout “Nature” Merit Badge Information
            American Heritage Girl “Nature & Wildlife” Badge Information
            Suggestions for How to Schedule Your Unit Study Time
            Week 1: New France
            Week 2: Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Louisiana Purchase
            Week 3: Fixing for a Start
            Week 4: Sacagawea Joins the Corps!
            Week 5: Trials and Tribulations
            Week 6: Ocean in View! Oh the Joy
            Week 7: Homeward Bound
            Getting the Most Out of Your Once-a-Week Unit Study

We have been using this unit study for 3 weeks.  We do the bulk of the activities one day a week with independant reading and read alouds through out the week.  We have completed the lesson plans for weeks one and two, and are working on our third week.

Gathering Supplies:

There are materials need
ed to complete the learning activities in the unit study.  Included are seperate materials lists, book lists, and movie lists that are suggested to complete each lesson.

Some items are optional, and some items or the equivalent of the listed item, is required to meet the learning objective.  Most of these items can be found at your local library, some on the internet, and some you will need to pick up at a local craft supply store.

It is a good idea to read through the unit study before hand, and gather your supplies, and plan your trips to the library and store.  I would suggest a box or basket to put items like books, printables, and another basket for craft supplies you will need. This organizational step makes my life with 6 kids much easier and helps me keep on track.

We went to a couple of different stores to find items we needed for Lesson 1, Lesson 2, and Lesson 3.  I will re-group and gather the rest of the supplies to finish the remainder of the unit study; Lesson 4, Lesson 5, Lesson 6, and Lesson 7 in the next few weeks.

Here is a list of some of the supplies I gathered:
        three ring binders to makeistory Timeline notebooks, 
        sketch pads to make exploration journals, 
        Chamois towels to make journal covers, 
        brown embroidery thread, 
        large eye needle.
        clay to create a map of the USA
        paint to paint the map
        tooth picks
        note cards to make flags
        plaster of paris to make molds of animal tracks
        cardboard to make molds of animal tracks
        measuring cup
        plastic fork
        plastic tub with lid
        colored markers, crayons, and pencils
We also picked up a few additional items, not required, to enhance our learning about this time period and these will be great to use through out the study: 
        full color laminated map
        toy knife /sword, 
        a toy tomahawks.
        arrow head
        Bow and arrow
        Fishing line and fishing hook
        Wooden Rifle
        Wooden Pistol
        Knife made from a deer antler and flattened steel
        Shells for making jewelry and use as currency
        gemstones for decorating clothing and used as currency
        Beads for making jewelry and decorations on items
        Rabbits Foot – to represent fur trapping
        Raw Hide – to represent hunting, leather tanning, and leather products
        Magnifying glass
        Raw hide wallet with old fashioned blanket stitching, to show how hide can be made 
        into a useful product
        Book about Native American medicine and some examples of the herbs and plants. 
        Beef jerky
        Dried berries and fruits, other dried foods
        Salt for preserving and seasoning food
There are thousands of great resources on the internet, including videos, books, coloring pages, printables, etc. so I encourage you to do a search and find some to use in your unit study!

I will try to post stories about some of the specific activities we are doing during the course of this study. But below are a few of the highlights from the first couple of weeks, hope it wets your appetite!

Language Arts/Bible Devotions/History/Science/Research:

Each week a list of suggested book titles is given.  Many of these books are available at your local library.  Many homeschool associations also have a resource room full of books that may have what you need.  You can use some or all of the suggested books, or make substitutions as needed.  In addition to library books, you will also need a bible on hand to complete the devotions.

When looking for books for this unit study, I found some books for sale on Amazon, Ebay, and I had several books on hand that discussed the Lewis and Clark expedition, some discussed the lives of different Native American tribes, some wildlife, etc.  I was thrilled to find these books on my book shelves:  History for Little Pilgrims, From Sea to Shining Sea, Indian Doctor, Homes Of The West, Tall Tales Cross Country with Lewis and Clark, Wagon Wheels, Beaver, The Three Little Pigs, Bearnstien Bears, Starting with Nature, Tree, I Wonder Why Trees Have Leaves, Wildflowers Blooms and Blossoms, and several more.

On Youtube, I found so many great videos to learn from.  We watched some serious historical videos and some funny historical videos too.   I will share a new story with links to several videos, but today I wanted to share two with you.  

This one is really cool made by a kid and he used clay to tell the story about Lewis and Clark:

This one is really funny and animated, but gets the message across.

 Make A History Timeline:

Making a History Timeline is a great way to visually see events in chronological order.  My son used a ruler and a pencil to draw a line acros
s the middle of several blank pages to fit into a three ring binder.  Each page represented a span of time of 100 years.  He labeled the pages from the 1400’s through the 1800’s and will continue to add more pages for other centuries as needed.  As we learn about an event or a significant person in history, we add them to the Timeline.

 Explorers Journal craft:

The kids made an Explorers Journal, similar to the Lewis and Clark journal,  to record natural science, animals, plants, and geography they learn about through out the unit study.  Be sure to read our story about the Explorers Journal, how we made them and used them.

My kids had lots of fun making and using these.  We had a few mishaps, so be sure to check out our story about these journals and see what we learned.


Science/Field Trips/Research:

Suggested activities:
    Go on a field trips to locate animals, beavers, crayfish, trees, plants.  Record 
    your observations in your exlporers journal.

Find animal tracks & make a plaster cast of them.  
We have some animal track molds to use with clay or playdough also. 
Find a beaver damn.

Geography Mapping:

Label a map with the 13 states and the territory purchased in the Louisiana purchase.
Make a topographical (3D) map.

Lapbook and Notebooking:

Once-a-Week Unit Studies also encourages families to make lapbooks if they desire to do so, but it is not a requirement for the unit study.  Included in the unit study are a few learning worksheets for different weeks.  There are also suggestions for writing assignments and research. All of these learning activities can be placed in a notebook or lapbook.  

I searched on the internet and found lots of ideas and pages for creating a Lewis and Clark lapbook, and I will share this in a future story.  I also found lots of coloring pages, worksheets, and printables to enhance our study, and we are adding them into our lapbook too. 

I think making lapbooks or notebooks about our learning adventures enhances our learning and they are great fun to look back on for review and to enjoy for years to come. Our Lewis and Clark lapbooks are a work in progress, and I will show the finished lapbooks and where to find the printables in a future story.

Well, I hope that “taste test” of our Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea unit study we did wets your appetite, and you are hungry for more!  These unit studies are a great tool to make your learning adventures fun and memorable for the whole family.

You can order the Once a Week Unit Study products directly from the Homeschool Legacy website.  You can also find these products at booths at several homeschool conventions in NC, SC, TN, and more. 

Stop over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what others on the Crew had to say about this product.


Disclaimer:  I was sent an e-version of the unit study listed above in exchange for writing and honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion. 

Please share.

Lewis and Clark Explorers Journal

This was a fun project we made from the Lewis and Clark: From Sea to Shining Sea unit study.  Be sure to read our review, and other stories about what we did in this unit study, including crafts, timelines, field trips, a lapbook, and more. 

Louis and Clark had a journal covered in leather, Elk hide, that they recorded details of their journey in from 1803-1806 as they explored the Louisiana Purchase, and further west all the way to the Pacific Ocean. They recorded and mapped their route, the landscape, animals, plants, and people they encountered. Their journal was a valuable tool for them, as well as for government, pioneers, tradesmen, biologists, scientists, and historians.

We have 5 school age children (and a baby) and we wanted each of the children to make an Explorer’s Journal.  We had a few blunders along the way.  Homeschooling sometimes is about trial and error. Life is always about trial and error.   Sometimes, projects can go awry and become something other than you originally intended.  Sometimes the lessons are for our children and us parents to learn patience and forgiveness.  Below I have shared our ups and downs with this craft project in hopes that it will bless you and so you can learn from our mistakes and perhaps be able to avoid them yourself.  It is kind of funny now looking back on it, but it wasn’t so funny at the time.

Making the Journal:

Directions from the unit study:

    Inexpensice blank sketch book available at craft supply stores
    Chamois available from the automotive section of your local discount store
    Brown emboidrey thread
    Sewing needle with a large eye

“Spread a piece of chamois out on a table.  Open a blank sketchbook.  Lat it cover side down on top of the chamois.  Using a pencil, trace around your book.  Now draw another line 3″ out from the left and right sides of your tracing.  Set the book aside.  Fold and pin the left and right sides of the chamois in 3″.  Blanket stitch the top and bottom edges of your book cover using a needle and brown emboidery thread.  Slip your notebook into the chamois book cover. Write in your journal…..”  Lewis and Clark: From Sea to Shining Sea, pages 13, 17, 18.

We went to the store and bought 5 Chamois 18 x 14 inches, brown emboidry thread, 5 sketch pads, and a needle with a large eye for stitching with the emboidry thread.   The Chamois is easy to use and recommended as a substitute for leather which requires some special tools. 

We jumped in to the craft project with both feet (actually both hands).  But I soon learned it required a little more custom work than I realized at first.  Depending on the size of your book, the binding, and the size of your chamois, it requires some calculating and adjusting.

When we opened the 7 1/2 inch long sketch pad, it measured 15 inches from end to end. It seemed that 18 inches would be enough, but 18 inches, minus 15 inches, minus the folds, left us with about 2 1/2 inches, or 1 1/4 inch for each side (not the three inches required for each side).  It did not leave enough chamois fabric length left over to make the pockets. We tried every which way but our sketch pads were to big and did not leave enough material left to make the pockets to hold the cover.

So we had to cut two inches off the length of the sketch pads. We measured everything with a ruler.

We cut the cardboard cover with scissors and the sketch paper inside the book with a paper cutter to get nice straight edges.   It took some time as the paper cutter could only cut through the thickness of one page at a time.  The pages are made out of thick card stock.

Now our sketch pads measured 5 1/2 inches long, and 5 inches tall.

Then we traced out the sketch pad shape onto the fabric. Then measured 3 inches on each side and drew another line. Next we cut out the fabric.

Again this was another place where things went wrong and we had to re-make our custom covers again.  We did not realize we needed to leave extra space on top and on bottom of the fabric for stitching and to accommodate the depth of the sketch book.


If you cut along the top and bottom of the book outline, you have no room to sew the cover so there is room left over to slide the cover in.  This was another place we needed to add in a calculation. So we re-made them leaving an extra 1/4 inch on top and 1/4 inch on bottom, and an extra 3 inches on the left and on the right.


The older boys got a lot of experience measuring, cutting, threading their needles, and blanket stitching. 

Yeah!  We got the pockets done and the cover is ready!!…  NOT!!!…  Now the journals would not close.  ARGH!!!

The next mistake was that we used a sketch pad with a spiral binder and this needed an additional allowance in fabric.  This meant that when the book was laid open, the top and bottom covers laid flush, but when closed the cover slipped forward and the spiral binder stuck out past the covers. This required extra length or the spiral binding of the cover prevented the journal from closing.  Who knew?  OOPPS! 

I just could not believe we had made the covers and they looked so nice, and fit perfect when the journal was open, but when we tried to close the journal, there was not enough fabric to allow it to close.  Another re-do!!!  We had to make them again adding in another 1/2 inch to accommodate the spiral binding when it was closed, except for my 9 year old.  He was determined not to remake his, so he took the stitching off of one side, and reduced the size of the pocket on that side and it added a half inch of slack to the cover.  Then he re-folded the  smaller pocket and sewed both sides of the pocket.  Now he had one big pocket and one small pocket and he was happy it was done!

After going through all of this, we decided not to make covers for the 3 and 5 year olds.  We still had some chamois fabric left, but they did not want a cover and liked the way their journals looked without it.  Why argue with a 3 and 5 year old?  At this point, I was fine with their choice.  Their journals had cute designs already on the covers, one in pink and one in red. If they change their mind in the future, we will make them one too.

We ended up with three finished covers that looked great (and several prototypes).  These books all looked the same when we were done, so for the two older boys, ages 9 and 12, I had them monogram theirs with their first initial on the front and middle initial on the back.  This was great practice for them in creating their initials with the thread.  We drew their initial in pencil backwards on the reverse side and they followed the design.  It turned out great on the front side.  The 12 year old also blanket stitched all the way around his cover instead of only on the pocket.  On the 7 year old’s cover, we wrote his first name on the front.  Now, we can get started using them.  Yeah!  Or not……

Finally, we had one last misshap I will share with you. Older brother had helped me a bunch with this project.  He helped make and re-make the other covers when there was a mistake.  He made his own cover last and finally his was done also.  He was very proud and had monogrammed his with his first and middle initials.  But because all the boys share the same first initial, one brother thought this was his book and used a marker to write the rest of his name after the monogrammed letter.  He was so sorry, and embarrassed when he flipped the book over to see his brother’s middle initial on the back.  But he had written in permanent marker and there was no fixing it.  The oldest brother was heart broken, but took it all in stride.  Now he would have to start over again.  This was a good opportunity for the boys to build relationships and to empathize with each other.  They had to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive each other.

He made a completely new journal cover: from measuring, cutting, folding, pinning, sewing, emboiderying, etc. from start to finish in about two hours.  He had the system memorized! 


He monogrammed the outside with his first and middle initials, and designed a pine tree and a star that he made on the inside pockets.  He did a great job and was a real trooper!


3 Keys to crafting cover success. 
If you plan to make a cover for your journal:

step one:
  make sure you measure your journal, and then measure again.  Be sure you add to your measurements these additions so you can buy the right size material:  add 1/2″ for the binding, 1/4″ for the top, 1/4″  for the bottom, and 3″ to the left and 3″ to the right.  Then when you blanket stitch the seams of the pockets about 1/4 inch from the edges, and open and close the covered journal, it should all fit just right.

step two:  buy the material based on the measurements above so that it is big enough to make the journal cover.

step three: if you have multiple children, be sure to add distinguishing features so the children do not confuse who’s journal is who’s.

If you don’t have a chamois, other substitutes for the leather cover could be felt, thin cardboard from a cereal box, or thin foam sheets.  You could also use heavy multilayered brown paper (often made into bags with nice handles from specialty stores).  I have seen several of these brown paper covers and they look very realistic. The brown paper is aged and made to look and act like leather by wrinkling it up and flattening it out several times and then “trimmed” by burning the edges. It really does make it look like old leather. Any of these options would make a nice cover for an explorers journal.  You could also make your own sketch pad instead of buying one.  We have made these many times with sheets of paper and thin cardboard from a cereal box.

Using our Explorers Journal:

In the 7 week unit study, Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea, we are given a lot of fun ideas about using our journals to record plants and animals, natural science, and geography that we learn about along the way.  We have almost completed 3 weeks of the study as of the time of writing this story, and our review for The Old Schoolhouse, and I hope to post a future story when we have finished all seven weeks.

Some of the things we did in the first three weeks of our study with our Explorers Journal include
d leaning about mammals, endangered species, animals that are native to our local area, beavers,  Newfoundland dogs, and crayfish, making a map, identifying native plants.  We spent some time reading and researching.  

During week one, the kids learned about beavers, and looked up information on the internet, what they look like, their tracks, their homes, etc. 

I found some pictures online of beavers, a beaver building a lodge, a beaver lodge “blue print”, pictures of the hands and feet, and the track that matches the hand and foot.  I printed them out for each of the children to cut out and glue into their journals.




Daddy also found a beaver damn at a local creek in Brevard, NC when he was checking one of his job sites and we put this in our Explorers Journal.  We hope to take our own field trip for all the kids to see the damn soon.

During week two, we also learned about mollusks and crustaceans, and specifically crayfish, their body parts, what they eat, and their habitat.  I found some pictures online and a really cool labeled diagram of the crayfish body.


We visited the Mills River, and caught several crayfish and investigated their habitat. 


The oldest drew all of his pictures in his journal rather than cut and paste.  He loves to draw and this is a perfect learning activity for him.

In week three of our unit study, we learned about the Newfoundland dog and its special characteristics.  We added this dog to our journals.  We will be making a topographical map with clay and paint it and add a picture to our journals. We will also learn about 15 native species of plants and 12 species of trees and add them to our journals by the end of this week too.


Each week we will add more records of our learning adventures into our Explorers Journal.  Keeping an Explorers Journal is a great way to record and enrich what you are learning.  You can apply this to so many more things beyond a unit study. 

For example, if you plan a vacation, make an explorers journal to record nature, science, and geography that you see on your trip.  There are lots of great applications for a journal such as this.  For the past six months, we have taken a nature hike at the local parks every Tuesday and Friday and record our journey with photos.  We love looking through these each week.  We are going to expand our learning and make a new Explorers Journal to keep a record of our nature hikes in the parks.  I love recording how the plants change from week to week and this will be a great way to take the information we have recorded in photos and expand our learning in a hands on way.  Eventually I hope all the kids will draw many of the plants we see and I can save money on ink for pictures.  But I am willing to commit to buying the ink for this years record of hikes we have done to get us started and enjoy all the learning we have done over the past several months.

During our unit study adventure with Lewis and Clark, we also made a history timeline journal to record events we learned about.  I hope to post a future story about this also if I can find the time.  I don’t know where time goes, I need a personal historical timeline to record every 24 hours of my day so I can keep better tack of it.  By the time I feed, clothe, clean, teach, write, go here and there, with six kids the time is gone and I have a back log of stories I wish I could find more time to write about and share with you.  Lord willing, I will get it done soon…….

Be sure to read my review of the Once-a-Week Unit Study “Lewis and Clark: From Sea to Shining Sea” to learn more about the fun adventures we are doing with it. 

This post will be linked up with:
No Time For Flash Cards
Show and Share Saturday
Science Sunday
Sharing Time
Raising Homemakers
All Things Beautiful

Please share.

Space Exploration Sensory Bin

I have been wanting to do a space unit study with the kids.  I had planned to do this at the start of the school year but I didn’t have a space bin ready, so I waited until I had some items accumulated.  I have several books ready, a telescope, some worksheets to make a lapbook, and have been collecting mini space stuff to make a space exploration sensory bin.

For at least the past six months, the kids have been missing a few toys they thought they had.  He, he, he, he…mom was sneaky!   If they got something space like to play with, and a few weeks would go by and they quit playing with it, and if mom finds it, then it went in the bin.

For storage purposes, I kept everything in a small clear bin that fit on a shelf in my storage room.  But when I was ready to assemble it, I put it into a large black bin to resemble being in outer space.

Yeah! I am finally ready to do our space study and build and use this bin.  Here is what I have been collecting.

The base layer has lots of black and clear beads of different sizes and shapes.  Then I added small dark blue, light blue pompoms and small black, blue, metallic, and other color marbles.  the next size was medium black pompoms, and medium silver white pompoms (these look awesome).    Then I layers in larger marbles that resembled planets.  Also a yellow golf ball that looks like a sun.  Some zoob balls that resemble meteors.  We had some glass beads, glass drop shaped spheres, and glass star shaped rocks too. 

The middle layer has all the planets in our galaxy, a moveable globe of earth, a large yellow golf ball for a sun, wooden stars, black and blue snap cubes that connect to build stuff or have holes that can be laced with string. I added black string and gold string too. Star shaped cookie cutters can be filled, used to trace, laced with string, or play with playdough, etc. There are also lots of glow in the dark stars, comets, and planets.

The top layer has lots of astronauts in white and orange.  A poseable astronaut with a removable helmet and backpack.  Lots of rockets, space ships, satellites, space centers, space capsules, land rovers, a wind up land rover, a lego moon explorer, a transformer space explorer, and another special space explorer that came with the poseable astronaut. 

This bin has so much to see and do.  I love it!  All the kids love it too.

This bin really captures the interest of the older kids too.  The first and third grader are busy playing and the fifth grader is drawing items in the tub!  Yahoo!

One of the activities we explored in the bin was the glow in the dark planets and stars.  The kids had so much fun with a flashlight, dark rooms, and holding glowing planets.

We will be learning lots about space related science stuff in the next few weeks.  I love this bin because it has so many hands on realistic science objects that we can use as props in our study in addition to just having lots of fun playing with them.  Check back soon for some space exploration adventures!

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Kids Coop
Sharing Time
Raising Homemakers

Please share.