The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

The Pocket Paper Engineer, Volume 2: Platforms and Props Review by Kathy Gelzer

Carol Barton
Popular Kinetics Press
6005 Yale Avenue
Glen Echo, MD 20812

If you have browsed through the pop-up section of the children's department of a major bookstore recently, you will have some idea of what this book is about.

One look tells you The Pocket Paper Engineer is an art book. The format is most unusual, from the edgy cover colors and unusual binding to the tall, skinny ring-bound cardstock pages. This is a workbook, meaning the sample projects are all included in perforated fold-out pages.

The page layout of the book is superb. Tabbed pages separate the chapters, and there are double pocket pages in the middle of each of the specific project chapters--perfect for storing in-process or finished projects. The author makes excellent use of bullets, red type, and illustrations.

The Pocket Paper Engineer is well organized. The directions chapter includes a page on what to do with mistakes and a proper attitude toward them. The three project chapters (Platform Pop-ups, Prop Pop-ups, and Spirals and Straddles) begin with short introductions and complete practice projects with precise step-by-step directions. The fact that the instructions for the projects are printed on the backside of the background paper for the project makes it a little tricky. You need to flip your project over as you are constructing it to read the directions. At least the parts to cut out do not have directions printed on the back of them--just what you are attaching those cut-outs to. The example projects have more appeal to the grown-up, artsy crowd. They are not juvenile in any way. For example, one project is a colorful turtle on a detail of a marine map which many children may not recognize as a map. Another project is a fold-out of two cartoonish ladies with blue hair having tea at a table in front of two windows with realistic photographs of a rural scene outdoors. The projects are rather sophisticated for a child to appreciate.

It doesn't say what age or type of learner the book is for. My impression is that it is most suited to teens or adults, and more specifically ones who are paper craft artists. The book is heavy on instruction and light on application. How is one supposed to use these techniques? Card-making? Bookmaking? Actual works of art? Dioramas of some sort?

Some of the accompanying literature I received with the book provides examples of educational uses of the book. Making animal pop-ups to enhance science studies is one example. Writing, math, problem-solving, and basic mechanics are four applications one of the handouts suggests. Including this information within the book would expand its market as a resource for teachers of young children.

The Pocket Paper Engineer is a specialized book for a specific readership. You may want to consider it for notebooking or lapbooking and for an older student who enjoys paper crafts and bookmaking.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2008