Discovery Centres! (AKA Lapbooks)

Friday, September 27, 2013

A few years ago, at our local homeschooling convention (OCHEC) I attended a seminar on Lapbooks.  Now, this was a concept I was almost completely ignorant about; I'm not even sure why I attended.  I have a vague memory of watching this lady up at the front, sitting on a chair or stool with this folder...on her lap.  Hence the name. :-)
At the time, honestly, I thought it was a little weird.  Where did this idea come from?  How did it evolve?  Why was it something so fabulously wonderful that it prompted a whole seminar at the convention?  After watching the presentation, I still thought they were a little weird, and I still didn't quite "get" them.  Still, I filed the info away in my brain...and it resurfaced a few days ago.

I now think they are FABULOUS.  SO fun.  Such wonderful organized creativity in one little package.  Love it.  But I still think the name is weird.  So in our house we renamed them Discovery Centres.  The only problem is that the templates I find use the word Lapbook....oh well, no biggie.

Our first foray into Discovery Centres was a few days ago after a little field trip to the Chiefswood Historical Site, the home of the late E. Pauline Johnson.  Since moving to this area early last year, I had driven past the site numerous times and thought it looked like a nice little place to visit and complement our Canadian history lessons.  We scheduled our trip for a few days ago.  We invited a couple other families who live close by, but schedules did not align, so off we went on our own.  I love doing group trips, but I also enjoy getting out on our own, just me and my four. :-)

It was a very nice trip, with a very informative and gently speaking curator who managed to insert just enough questions throughout his presentation that my kids were kept engaged and interested.  This is not the first old historical house we've been to (Laura Secord Home, The Gage house of Battlefield in Stoney Creek) but we found this one to be in particularly good shape, with lots of original artifacts, which just makes it all the more fascinating.  I had prepped the kids the day before with some reading about E. Pauline Johnson off the internet.  I find that having a base of knowledge makes all the difference on trips like this, as the kids instantly connect what they see with what they've learned about already, and this engages them all the more.
Usually after these kinds of trips, I try to have them all make a scrapbook page or two.  This is fun, but I was inspired to try the Discovery Centres.  Verity actually got me thinking about it, as a few days ago she and Afton were spending all their free time catching grasshoppers and crickets.  Wanting to take advantage of this natural interest to promote some further learning and skill practice, I found a lapbook unit (free!) on grasshoppers. (links later).  Verity started putting it together, but then our trip day arrived, so she's not completed it.
I decided they would need a demo to see, in living colour, before attempting to make our own DC's.  So I perused the list of units and downloaded one about honeybees.  Fascinating!  I learned some facts myself!  Here is my demo:

In a nutshell, two (or more, if you like) file folders are refolded and pasted together to form this unit.  Inside, are all kinds of mini books, flaps to open, cards to pull out, cute pictures and fold out 'centres' of information.  A bonanza of easily accessible info for your visual learner! (Verity found this totally overwhelming, lol).

I decided to start a little simpler for the kids and their Chiefswood Visit Discovery Centres, so they just used one file folder.  Behold!

 I asked them to pick which thing inside the DC they liked the best...Jairus chose the fold out picture puzzle.  On the outside of the flaps we pasted a picture of the Chiefswood house and when it opens up; a picture of the antique piano we saw there.  Each kid picked a different picture to go 'inside the house'.

 Verity chose to show her 'matchbooks'.  Simple paper folders with a tab to tuck in, like a matchbook. We posted various pictures inside and they wrote some info about the picture on the inside of the flap.

 Honour likes both her matchbooks and a mini tabbed folder.  It served as the title, with a labeled picture of Chiefswood on the front, and it opened downward to reveal information about the house and its' inhabitants.

Afton couldn't decide on her favourite.  Here she is showing the tri-fold booklet that explains E. Pauline Johnsons heritage (Mohawk and British), with pictures of her parents and Pauline in Native and British garb.

 She also liked her mini tabbed folder and matchbooks.

My favourite, which no one demonstrated, was the 6 petal flower (you can see it in the top right of Afton and Honours, bottom right of Jairus and Verity's).  It folds out to show icons on each petal of the Six Nations.  We made a stop at the tourism centre across the road after the House and learned a little more about this community that we live so close to.

The beauty of these Discovery Centres is that all the work has been done for us!  The grasshopper and honeybee units I found here.  All the templates that we adapted for the Chiefswood DC's were found here.  It's like a treasure trove of awesome resources to make these very fun learning resources.  We'll be making lots more of these!