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Cinderella Stories Around the World and Let's Dance! Review by Carrie Wilbur

In the Hands of a Child
3271 Kerlikowske Road
Coloma, MI 49038

Before we look at these two units, I feel I must offer a small confession. I absolutely adore the idea of lapbooking. You take a topic, some craft materials, an enthusiastic child, a pair of scissors and some glue, et voila - a cool project, representing graphically what said child has learned. If you want it to, it even stands up! I own a couple of books on this subject but I have trouble getting these kinds of projects actually attended to or once begun, then completed. Enter In the Hands of a Child. This company has put together units which include reproducibles and interesting novel tidbits on your particular subject of interest. They make almost ready to use lapbooks.

Both of the following books are unit studies of their subject - the authors call them "project packs." In completing these project packs, you'll use petal books, divided card books, diamond books, layer books, up and down books, and more - all come with thorough and simple instructions. The authors suggest that you copy some of the reproducibles on colored paper to create a livelier presentation. You'll need crayons, pens or colored pencils, tape, glue, scissors and a stapler.

In Cinderella Stories, your family tours through the world's versions of the poor girl turned princess story. There are fourteen versions listed in the initial presentation with their countries of origin, with several more given as the book progresses. There are related poems in the margins as well. A short vocabulary for the stories is provided. There are 22 activities in all, with thorough instructions for every step. This selection is written for fourth through eighth grades.

In Let's Dance! you'll learn about dance styles, history of dance, famous dancers, possible careers in the field, and a short vocabulary of dance. Let's Dance! includes 21 activities, with thorough instructions, and is written for fifth through tenth graders. This selection would be most appropriate for children who already have an affinity for dance, but would also be a fantastic introduction to the subject for those whose interests lie elsewhere but could benefit from the cultural exposure.

Additionally, In the Hands of a Child provides a custom lapbook design service, allowing you to set up projects designed for your upcoming vacation or family event. I encourage you to visit their website for further information. The range of titles is amazing -- they have over 200 and counting, many of them downloadable ebooks.

It is true that the information set forth by this company (in the "Research Guide" portion of the project pack) is interesting and thoroughly vetted. But the very best part of these books is that the preparation is done almost completely. While you'll need to gather supplies for the students, you already have the activities, the layouts, the reproducible pages and a generous copyright printed in the front of the book. When your students are finished, they'll have a beautiful project in their hands. And it will be one which you can enjoy too because you didn't have to give up a week's worth of schooling and planning in order to pull it off.

Product Review by Carrie Wilbur, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2009