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Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision Lapbook with Study Guide Review by Donna Campos

By Nancy Fileccia and Paula Winget
A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks and Unit Studies

Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision is a chapter book written for "tweens" by Susan K. Marlow, and it is book two of the Circle C Adventure series. This fictional series, which is about the life of Andrea Carter in the 1880s, is published by Kregel and includes historically accurate references. This review is for the Lapbook with Study Guide that is designed to be used with the chapter book, which must be purchased separately. Designed for children from 2nd to 6th grades, this lapbook is available in several formats--a downloadable format for $7, a CD format for $11, a printed format for $15, and an assembled format for $30. This review is for the printed format of the lapbook, which comes in a thin plastic bag with sticky closure strip. Prefolded lapbook file folders are also available for $1 each. Three file folders are necessary for this lapbook, but they do not have to be prefolded or brightly colored. Standard manila file folders will suffice. You will also need scissors, markers, pens, brass brads, a stapler, and glue to assemble the product.

Included are 48 pages of lapbook components, informational text pages, and instructions for assembling the lapbook. A "Things to Know" page explains the folding patterns for lapbooks, placement of the mini-booklets, and the lapbook assembly choices. All necessary instructions are included. Several pages of photos and diagrams are included to show how to make the three-folder lapbook, including pictures specific to this particular lapbook. Students new to lapbooking will have no problem getting the items completed successfully. The Table of Contents clearly lists the included items but does not state how many pages are with each component, which would have made things more clear.

Pages of extension text are included to further the knowledge initially gained in the Andrea Carter book. Activities include making ink, writing notes about the various stores in Andi's town of Fresno, learning about various types of transportation, gathering horse safety information, and more! You may choose to complete the lapbook components as you read through the book or after reading the entire book. The pages do have chapter reference at the top. The graphics are brightly colored and child friendly while retaining enough realism to keep the higher end of the age group interested and involved. We have a struggling reader in our home, and studies like this one from A Journey Through Learning allow him to work on the lapbook components as an adult reads the story aloud. We chose to have him read the book entirely first and then listen to it a second time as he worked through building his lapbook. Occasional typos were mildly frustrating, but thankfully, they were also very few. A copywork activity is included, which we loved. We've come to rely on Susan K. Marlow for her Scripture references and solid biblical worldview, and this product stays in line with that reputation! A Bibliography is included along with a list of other available lapbooks and unit studies from A Journey Through Learning. We would have liked a book list for possible library book reading, but appreciated the Bibliography.

I must also stress that our family was previously able to review a different lapbook in the same series, and prices have dropped! Prices are now very reasonable for the almost 50 pages of material you receive in the printed study. I would suggest a sturdier storage choice, particularly if little hands will be helping to pull out materials regularly. The thin plastic cover is never presented as a permanent storage option, only as initial packaging material. We used and re-used the packaging, and it can be done if you stick the re-sealable flap onto itself after opening. Then you can freely remove the pages without the flap sticking to them. When ready to place the items back into the clear sleeve, just pull the flap off of itself, and it will still close the slipcover securely. The sticky strip held up throughout repeated use.

Susan K. Marlow's Circle C Adventures have been a welcome addition to our home library for years, and we are thrilled that a quality lapbooking company like A Journey Through Learning is offering activities based on the books. Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision is one of our favorites in the series, and it brought about discussion over many topics. This lapbook and study guide helped expand on those discussions and increase our knowledge of quite a few related topic areas. California in the 1880s has become incredibly interesting for us almost entirely because of The Circle C Adventures of Andrea Carter, and completing lapbooks based on the books has been fantastic! It is our hope that more quality reading for "tweens" will be supported by similar formats with lapbook and study guide activities.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2010