Career Studies: Joining the Workforce

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career studiesCareers: Joining the Workforce is a preset unit activity that comes in two formats: Notebooking Project and Project (Lapbook) Pack. We recently did both as part of career studies, and overall, I think it was a great experience.

The activities are designed for students in middle and high school grades. My oldest, who is at the end of his eighth grade year, completed the Notebooking Project. My younger two sons, who are in sixth and fourth grades, did the lapbooking project.

Yes, my youngest is definitely outside the target group for this unit study. However, to be honest, he gets a bit weary (and I do, too) of being the youngest and “not old enolugh” to participate in his brother’s activities. In this case, I saw no harm – we talked about he (and his 12 year old brother, too) have plenty of time to change their minds, and their interests and skills would change a lot before they need to make a decision about their future careers. In the mean time, if they didn’t know what was interesting, it was okay to just pick an area or two and explore them.

Overall, I think we all found this unit study to be an excellent source of content. My oldest son completed the work largely independently; the younger boys and I would read aloud the text sections before they would work on the daily unit activities on their own. All three boys found the content interesting and really seemed to enjoy the self-examination and self-assessment activities. The project pack leads students not only through exploration of categories of careers, but also through a process of structured self-reflection and assessment. There are great “handles” for students to connect with:

  • A career may sound appealing at first, but does it match with this specific aspect of your personality?
  • Are you willing to complete the requisite education?
  • As the setting for a give career one in which you are interested, or even willing, to work?

The activities serve very well to facilitate the student’s exploration of these concepts, as well as produce a final, tangible product.

The two versions of the unit activity have some elements in common:

  • Both are designed to be completed in five days. Each day, there is a reading, and three activities to complete for the day. At the culmination of the fifth day, the completed activities are assembled into a final product – either a notebook or lapbook.
  • While both versions have fifteen activities, and the topics are the same, the nature of the activities are different. For example, in one activity, students completing either version will be defining six categories of career types; one student may be writing into a form that will be included in the final notebook, while the other will be filling out cards that will be placed in a specially designed pocket that will be glued into a lap book.
  • Both versions require a certain amount of research (online or in reference books), as well as participation in specific (free) online assessments.
  • The reading assignments are identical.
  • Both versions involve an interview or job shadowing activity. This is one activity that, for our family, we could not complete within the five days. However, we were able to do all of the planning (identifying what career, planning how to contact someone in that field, coming up with a list of questions) for completion of the activity at a later time.

The major differences between the two versions are the format of the completed project.

career studiesNotebooking Pack

Completing the activities for the Notebooking Pack version of Careers: Joining the Workforce results in a stack of pages, intended for placement in a binder of some sort. A traditional three-ring binder would suffice, as would a report cover. We opted to comb bind my son’s notebook, making for a tidy, clean looking result that will store easily in a file.


Another option we took – the final activity (for both versions, actually) is to create a comic strip illustrating certain concepts. A page with panels is provided for sketching. My oldest opted to create his comic using, which produced a great looking product that integrated very nicely with his final notebook.

Project Pack

career educationThe Project Pack activities are a hodge-podge of mini-books and information cards with coordinating pockets. This project could have gotten really messy, and actually did a few times. We protected the activities day-to-day in a gallon zip-closed baggie. When all activities were complete, we took the time and sat down to configure and assemble the lapbooks.

The electronic file shows some cheerfully colorful versions of the finished projects. At the time we began to work on this, we did not have any colored paper or file folders in the house, and we do not currently own a color printer. I talked with my sons about the options of using colored pencils and pens, but they chose to go with a strict black-and-white approach to completing the written activities.

IMG_1866Overall, this was a very positive experience. I cannot honestly come up with any downside to these activities. I will share with you “things you should know before starting.”

  • Completing the activities each day took my children longer than I expected. My oldest was quickest, but I think that was more because he did the notebooking version. With the Project (Lapbook) pack, there was a lot of cutting out, some assembly (even as the week went along). Another part of the time issue was that in defining vocabulary terms, sometimes it’s not as simple as just dragging out the dictionary. This, well, forced my sons to think outside the box (something they were reluctant to do with this project). This was definitely, from my perspective, a big positive. But it did take them more time than they are used to spending on other school activities.
  •  career studiesWhile the activities are completed in five days, or five sessions, this does not include assembly. I simply set aside time on a sixth, separate day for my sons to do the assembly. They’d done all that work, I didn’t want to have a sloppy final presentation because they felt pressed for time.
  • The five days, or work sessions, do not have to be five days  in a row. That was my original plan. Our family simply doesn’t do well with short-term projects that are stretched out over time. We get distracted and have difficultly getting back on track. That said… my oldest was able to follow this plan, but not the younger two. Through no fault of their own, we ended up with sickness in the family and a full seven days of hospitalization, with one parent (and two homeschoolers in tow) making daily trips to and from the hospital. (The other parent and the remaining homeschooler were at the hospital.) Everything worked out fine, but the project we’d started fell by the wayside. The good news here is that the well communicated structure of the project (and the zip-lock bag storage) allowed up to pick back up seamlessly, and complete the remaining days when we were all back at home again.

You can find both the Notebooking Pack and the Project Pack versions of the Careers: Joining the Workforce career studies resource on


I received complimentary copies of both the Notebooking Pack and the Project Pack of Careers: Joining the Workforce for review purposes.
Any opinion expressed is mine alone, and based on my personal experience with the product. This post contains affiliate links.