Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: Christmas Cheer

My almost four-year-old and I have had opportunity to review Christmas Cheer, a Custom Designed Project Pack from Hands of a Child, a premiere lapbook provider since 2002. This was our first experience with the idea of lapbooks, and I enjoyed exploring the concept. I have a vested interest since we’re planning a four-month trip for next summer – and I’m intensely interested in projects that can be done in a car seat!

The philosophy behind the idea of Project Packs (and lapbooks) is that student learning improves when lessons incorporate hands-on projects or crafts. Children learn by doing, and Project Packs put learning into their hands!

The possibilities are endless when a student begins a lapbook with a Project Pack from Hands of a Child. There are no age or skill limits, and any topic or subject can be worked into a Project Pack. All the work is done for the parent/teacher, but not for the student. In addition, Project Packs are easy to store and are an instant review tool, scrapbook, and ready-made portfolio of all the student’s studies.

The Christmas Cheer Project Pack includes instructions and reproducibles for 15 hands-on activities for a Pre-K through 1st grader to work on over a 5-day period. Each day has a different theme including snow, Santa Claus, reindeer, and various decorations. My one complaint is that a book about “Christmas Cheer” does not include the main Reason for the Season – the birth of Jesus, the Savior. (In the publisher’s defense, I must add that other Christmas Project Packs do include HIM.)

The 51-page Christmas Cheer e-book contains:

  • Poem: “Christmas Cheer”
  • Supply List (comprehensive, for all 15 activities)
  • Day 1 Activities
  • Day 2 Activities
  • Day 3 Activities
  • Day 4 Activities
  • Day 5 Activities
  • Recommended Reading (to supplement hands-on activities)
  • Folder Instructions (to make a lapbook from a file folder)
I like the e-book format because pages can be easily printed instead of photocopied.

Although we did not complete all the activities, our favorites so far are:

  • Mini Book: Decorating the Tree
  • Puppets: Snow People
  • Shapes: Santa Claus
My little one and I enjoyed some real quality time, working on the projects together, looking forward more than ever to the joy of the Christmas Season.

The price depends on whether an e-book, printed book, CD, or combo, is purchased. The cost for Christmas Cheer (Pre-K through 1st grade) is $12.00 for the e-book. In my opinion, the price seems a bit steep for a pre-school packet that has no research included. Having taught in various settings for over fifteen years, I’m accustomed to making my own worksheets. However, because doing so can be time-consuming (and time is a most precious commodity to a teacher-parent), I can also appreciate the value of having reinforcement activities pre-made and ready to go!

Because of the hands-on educational value it represents, I think the Christmas Cheer Project Pack would be a great addition to a young family’s Christmas library. It can also be a tool for teaching little ones the much-needed lesson of giving at Christmas (instead of just getting) by having them make the projects for others – grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbors, etc.

A complimentary e-book was provided to me, as a reviewer for Mama Bzz, by Hands of a Child in exchange for today’s blog tour.

A big “Thank-you!” to the folks at Hands of a Child for the opportunity to enjoy and review this fun Project Pack!

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