Many Hats Mommy

live the Power of One


Diary of a Lap Book–Day Seven

Well, we finished our zebra lap book from In the Hands of a Child today. It was kind of crazy. My mom showed up for a surprise visit, which was nice for her to be able to see Dr. J’s book. The only problem was he was so excited to see her, he became a human firework! That’s ok. He’ll enjoy his completed book for a long time to come, and he’ll learn more as he goes.

So, today he started by showing Nana his book. Then (hooray, finally!) he did his last two vocabulary words–predator and bray–and got to staple his vocabulary word book together. We actually had to staple four of them because he had so many cards!

We did three mini projects today, and Mommy did most of the work. Dr. J could hardly corral himself to focus. We stapled a mini book together that was in the shape of a scale and discussed how much a baby zebra ways and how much Dr. J weighed as a baby. The other two projects were about the life span of a zebra in the wild and predators. Dr. J’s book is so full that we had to put the predator page on the back!

So, what’s the verdict?

Dr. J loved making his lap book, and he learned a lot about zebras. In addition to the guide that came with the book, we checked three books out of the library. Dr. J’s favorite was Zebra Family by Jane Goodall. It’s a book from the late ’80s, so you may not be able to find it. It’s a good little book, and that’s where Dr. J got his names for the “oxpeckers” that Niki sent him (see Day Six).

I enjoyed the lap book process as well. There were days when Dr. J’s stimming drove me crazy, but that would be the same with any other method. I think it’s a great way to break up a unit study and let kids enjoy what they’re learning. I also think it’s a great item for review–they will love showing other people their finished product and sharing that will be review, too!

Will I do another lap book? Definitely! Feel free to leave comments about your own lap booking experience or ask any questions.

This picture is neat because you can see Dr. J colored Africa, where zebras live, orange. He asked to color Michigan, where he lives, blue. Your book may not have to have as many pockets, as Dr. J has an aversion to gluing things down into the book.

Here’s one final video for Niki (sorry it’s sideways!):

If you missed any days, you can find them here:
Lap Book Diary Day One

Lap Book Diary Day Two
Lap Book Diary Day Three
Lap Book Diary Day Four
Lap Book Diary Day Five
Lap Book Diary Day Six


Diary of a Lap Book–Day Six

We are nearing the end of our zebra lap book edventure! I think we’ll be done tomorrow, unless Dr. J is too busy being a human firework.

Today we started with a beautiful surprise from Niki at Hands of a Child! When she watched the videos on Day Four, the fuzz ball Dr. J kept playing with reminded her of a crochet pattern she had. She sent Dr. J a bird family and a nest! We’ll put his thank you video at the end.

Today Dr. J worked on two vocabulary cards–incisor and graze. He was pretty excited when I told him that tomorrow will probably be our last day. “Then we’ll get to staple the vocabulary cards?” Oh the JOY!

Niki told Dr. J the fuzz ball bird family could help him finish his lap book. You can see one of them holding scissors in the first picture up top. Here you can see Dr. J likes to hold them by the hair and wing (tactile), and next how happy he was.

Today we did three mini projects–a pie-piece shaped book about what zebras eat in the wild, a flap about what zebras eat at the zoo, and a flap book about how zebras use their ears to communicate. These projects used more cutting, tracing, gluing, and folding.

Dr. J was ok with letting me paste the flap on the lap book. Then we made pockets for the other two books. The oxpeckers enjoyed looking at Dr. J’s lap book, too.

To close out, here is Dr. J’s video message to Niki, his new found love. If you have missed other days, you will find the links listed after the video. Niki, thank you for being so thoughtful and kind!

Lap Book Diary Day One
Lap Book Diary Day Two
Lap Book Diary Day Three
Lap Book Diary Day Four

Lap Book Diary Day Five
You can click here to read about our last day, Day Seven.


Wednesday’s Woman–Niki McNeil, In the Hands of a Child

A couple of weeks ago, as my faithful readers know, I won a lap book from In the Hands of a Child. I have been doing a diary-type review of what I won, a preschool/early elementary lap book on zebras. Each time I write, I send the link to today’s Wednesday’s Woman, and she always has a sweet, gracious comment in return. Dr. H LOVES working on his lap book, and I see many lap books in his future! And now, here is Niki in her own words.


My wonderful husband and I live in Michigan’s Great Southwest just miles from the Lake where I was born and raised. We have 3 amazing kids. Bryce is the oldest at nearly 15 and still enjoys legos, nerf guns, and volunteering at the local nature center. Olivia is my girly girl at 11 and often called a mini me. She enjoys anything crafty and creative. Farrah is my youngest and always wants to be seen and heard! She’s 9 and has already performed in 5 large scale musicals; she inspires me often to step out of my comfort zone.
Previous to being a stay at home mom and then a homeschooling mom I taught preschool where my love of hands on teaching was born. At that time Bryce was a wee one and attended class with me. I found that if I could put it in their hands and show them very tangibly what I was teaching them they learned it and better yet remembered it weeks later. From then on I was on the search for fun and exciting ways to teach and learn. Unfortunately there was not a ton of stuff out there in the late 90s, most of what I came up with became my own creations that were inspired by something I saw elsewhere.
When my husband and I decided to home school I naturally carried this style of learning home with us. The older the kids got the harder it was to find products to help the love of learning continue, which is how we began lapbooking. Our first year of home schooling was a difficult one as while trying to make it fun I also tried to do school at home. This did not work for Bryce or me! Once I threw in the towel with the textbooks and started learning the way we had been all along magic happened. My suggestion to anyone is have fun with what you are teaching, learn alongside your children, and listen to them. Together this is the perfect environment for loving learning!
Now for the story of how my company, In the Hands of a Child, started. Maybe my story will inspire you to try something new with your child, whether or not you are home schooling, and perhaps it will also inspire you to use your talents in an entrepreneurial way.
In the Hands of a Child began in 2002 when two home schooling moms found themselves constantly searching for the right graphics and information for their children to complete lapbooks and trying to answer the question, “What exactly is a lapbook?”   Kimm Bellotto and Niki McNeil met through an online home school email list and after chatting, they soon discovered that they both loved lapbooks and were both looking for an easier way for home schooling moms to pull together the necessary items for a lapbook.  Those chats soon turned into a business plan and the two of them quietly “set-up shop” on the web becoming the first company to sell ready-to-use lapbook kits.  With Niki’s creative ideas and Kimm’s creative graphics abilities, the two moms published their first unit in November 2002, titled “Plants”.
At first the only people who even knew they existed, outside of their families, was a small circle of online friends from a home school support egroup.  These moms began using the product and spreading the word to other home schooling moms and slowly, but steadily, the business began to grow to what is now an internationally recognized company in the home schooling community.
Niki and Katie met through a mutual scrapbooking hobby and when Niki mentioned that she and Kimm were looking for additional writers, the “inner author” inside Katie jumped at the chance!  In 2005, she joined In the Hands of a Child as an author/researcher and then as a partner in the growing business.  Today, the three of us share equal responsibilities, each bringing unique qualities and talents to the business with one goal in mind, to provide quality lapbooking materials for all educators, while serving the homeschooling moms looking for an easier way to put laughter and learning together in the hands of their children. We aim to help parents of all age and skill levels, ranging from Preschool to High School, with the use of just one product.
In the Hands of a Child has been greatly impacted by the home schooling community.  The vast majority of customers who purchase materials from our company are home schoolers.  In addition, the three of us have built a strong link of communication and mutual friendship with many of our customers through our on-line chats, on-line co-op groups, and yahoo email groups.   We are more than grateful to be blessed with such wonderful customers and friends as the ones from the home school community that make up our large, international customer base. While we often hear what a wonderful addition our company has been to the home schooling community, we are forever indebted to them for our tremendous success as a company.
Before In the Hands of a Child made its debut, home schoolers had to do all of the preparation in order to pull together a lapbook.  That task takes a lot of time and money spent on buying items and/or graphics that may not be used again.  Many home schoolers do not have the time or the resources to complete this for every unit study in their curriculum.  Knowing how much our own children learned and enjoyed learning in this style, we knew we could meet a need for home schoolers who want to put more of a hands-on spin to their schooling but are daunted by the task.  We took the preparation time out of the parent/teacher job description and allowed parents to focus on the learning experience.
As the benefits of lapbooking become more well-known in the home school arena, our business continues to blossom with more and more home schooling parents looking for a simpler way to incorporate lapbooks into their daily learning experience.  They come to us with relief because we are saving them from endless searches and confusing decisions about miniature books and graphic organizers, and we are giving them the opportunity to complete a project with their children that doesn’t require so much preparation that the joy fizzles out, for both mom and student. In addition to that, we offer custom made Lapbooking Project Packs that allow the customer the option to name the topic and grade level of the unit. We complete this within a 3-week time frame allowing customers to study a wide variety of topics of their choice, whether it is Disneyland before an upcoming vacation or The United States Navy before Uncle Greg deploys to serve our country. This is truly a one-of- a- kind service for our customers, and our custom orders have more then doubled since we began offering them.
Customers call, write, and email us on a daily basis with comments like, “This is my first year home schooling, and it has been overwhelmingly stressful trying to research all that is available and then determining what would work best for my daughter.  She is a very hands on crafty kid and worksheets just bored her. A lot of the curriculum available for purchase just didn’t have enough hands on activities to satisfy her and she dreaded ‘school time’.  I was so elated to find your site, bought all the preschool project packs that were available at the time… and got started right away. My daughter loved them so much she even asked to do ‘school’ on Saturday and Sunday. I was elated. Thank you for making these wonderful resources available to us.”
Together, we have published over 400 project packs, and we continue to release new ones on a weekly basis.  In addition, we have added other products to our company including lapbooking supplies, sticker books, coloring books, and much more.  The success of our business can be directly related to the support of the home schooling moms and children out there who use our products and continue to tell others about our company and the type of curriculum we have to offer. It is through their words, their testimonials and their efforts that we continue to grow.
Please visit our website at While you’re there, check out the “Freebie” tab and sign up for our newsletter! We’re having a big celebration this coming weekend to celebrate our 400th project pack. “Like” us on Facebook, and you can follow all the exciting news and prizes!

If you haven’t read Many Hats Mommy’s experience with lapbooking, you can get started here.


Diary of a Lap Book–Day Five

Continuing with our review of the zebra lap book we won from In the Hands of a Child, and we are on senses today. By the way, come back tomorrow to read about Niki, the co-founder of HOAC! She’s this week’s Wednesday’s Woman!

I am not going to go into a LOT of detail today. My patience was about as low as Dr. J’s concentration level. He still loves working on this, and I actually threatened to take it away today if he would not start using self-control during clean up time before. He didn’t like that idea.

If you have missed the other days, you can find them here:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four

Dr. J’s first question was, “Is today a stapling day?” He’s dying to staple those vocabulary words together! Today we did one vocabulary word, gait, which he traced while I changed Meatball’s dirty diaper. I came back to Dr. J drawing fireworks all over the word, to the point that you cannot read the definition. Oh well. He doesn’t remember what it means anyway, since he wouldn’t focus. We’ll cover it another day. It is a harder word for such a literal child to understand since he probably thinks of the word gate, even though I told him it’s different. I’ll have to write them out and have a homophone lesson. On another day, when I have more patience.

Next we made a “matchbook” about the zebra’s stripes. Of course he didn’t want it to be glued down into the lap book, so I made a pocket for it.
Our next, and last, project was making an envelope and then cutting out rectangles with descriptions of the zebra’s senses and the amazing way God provided them with extra-sensitive hearing, sight, and smell. I decided I would stretch Dr. J past his comfort zone here and insist the envelope be glued down into the lap book. I figured since the little cut out cards could be removed from the envelope, I had a good chance of getting his cooperation. I guessed right. You’ll notice he ended up cutting the cards out while sitting on the floor instead of up at the table.
At the end, he said, “I love my lap book.” Then he kissed it and hugged it. I’d say that’s successful.
Smooches for the lap book!
You can click here to read about Day Six.


Diary of a Lap Book–Day Two

For those of you who stopped by yesterday and came back to see how it went, thank you! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read about Day One with our first lap book here.

Today we started with review. I let Dr. J tell Daddy and Meatball about his lap book:

Since Daddy was home today, I decided to try letting Meatball in on the fun. I found a file folder for him to use, and today’s project became decorating the covers of their lap books. They did a letter hunt in magazines for z-e-b-r-a-s, then cut each letter out as they found them and glued them on the cover. Meatball was not interested in decorating his cover, but Dr. J drew a zebra on the front of his!
Daddy & Meatball on the hunt
Dr. J found one!
Dr. J’s attention was not the same today. The hunt started out well, but ended a bit rougher. That made me decide we wouldn’t do any more projects, but he asked to do some vocabulary words. We did camouflage, herd, and band. Dr. J wanted to staple the vocabulary book and finish it. It is hard for him to leave the project undone. He was still anxious about leaving the flap about which zebra is most common in the zoo still glued onto the lap book base.
Gotta love this zebra!
Tonight at the library I found three zebra books. The boys loved them, and Dr. J wanted to read all three. He was very excited each time we came across facts he had learned from his lap book study. We are enjoying this. We’ll see how tomorrow goes!
Today’s work

Remember, I won this lap book from In the Hands of a Child! You can click here to read about Day Three.


Diary of a Lap Book–Day One

Last week my writing buddy had a giveaway, and I won a lap book from In the Hands of a Child! I was pretty excited, as our school budget is empty right now, and the concept of lap books has intrigued me. A lap book is a way of doing a unit study. As your child learns, they do mini projects and put them on the lap book base, basically a file folder concoction. At the end, they have a nice book of things they made to reinforce what they learned.

The prize came while I was gone at Premier Designs’ regional conference this past weekend. Wow, how fast! I opened it last night, and there was a unit on zebras with everything I needed to start–a spiral bound book of instructions and master copies, a file folder base, and all the copies already made (Niki awarded me the project pack AND kit pack, which is why it was ready-to-go!). It looked like a lot of work, so I set it down to peruse later. I emailed Niki to let her know how quickly her package arrived, and that I would probably do the unit with Dr. J in February or March as I’m still figuring out what works for us with home schooling.

I lied. Not intentionally. Later that evening I picked up the materials and started glancing through it. I got excited–this is right up Dr. J’s alley! He loves making projects, and I knew he would love this. Since all the materials were there, and it was easy to read through the instructions, I decided I would start today. I don’t know if Niki has ever had an autism spectrum child review her products, but here we go!

First we started with the vocabulary book. Dr. J cut out the title page and three words I chose for today–mammal, warm-blooded, and endangered. Dr. J loves to cut, so he really liked this part.

Each of the vocabulary words are dotted-lined so your child can trace them and practice writing. Then you glue the definition into the box on the word page. We did only three words today, but there are many more. We’ll do a few each day and staple the book together at the end. I got a sandwich bag to hold the pieces until we’re ready to staple.

Then we learned about the three types of zebras, and a couple of facts about each. We learned which type of zebra is the most common at the zoo and made a little flap page to add to our lap book.

This was one of the hardest parts for Dr. J. He did not want it to go ON the lap book. I think he felt it was complete when we glued the two pieces together. He was very anxious when I glued it onto the lap book base. See his frustration:

The last project we did today was making a little book about the three types of zebras. This meant more cutting, folding, and gluing, which is good for Dr. J’s fine motor skills. Dr. J is a fan of 3-2-1 Penguins right now, so he made his 3-2-1 Zebras, which you’ll see in the video, complete with sound effects! I glued a piece of paper onto the lap book to make a pocket for the little book instead of gluing this one down. I thought it would make less anxiety for Dr. J.

I will admit when I first looked at the page for the little book I could not figure it out and felt pretty dumb. Then I found the page in the instruction manual that told me how to do it and felt not-quite-so-dumb.

There you have it, the end of Day One! The mini book about the three types of zebras is in the brown striped pocket and you can pull it out. The green striped flap is about zebras at the zoo.The vocabulary words are still a work in progress, so they’re in the sandwich baggie.

Three projects seemed to be as much as Dr. J could take. He said he wanted to do more, but I could tell he was getting distracted and tired of working so hard. The time lapse between the video at the end and learning facts about the three types towards the beginning made him forget which zebra is smallest, tallest, heaviest, etc., but we will review again. He will be sharing that information with others soon. We’ll see how tomorrow goes. Make sure you stop by to find out! Here’s a little video for Niki.

Update: You can click here to see how Day Two went.


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