Thursday, March 16, 2017

Reading Adventures With Circle C Stepping Stones Books from Kregel Publications {A TOS Review}

I love reading. Just putting that out there right away. When I was growing up, my nose was always stuck in a book, even when I was walking to school. It means so much to me to see my daughters following along this same path, though it has been longer coming for Amelia than it has for Tabitha. I love finding new books for them to read, to encourage this love of reading. So, yes, I was thrilled when I learned that we were chosen to review the first two books in the Circle C Stepping Stones series from Kregel Publications. Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, we received Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top, written by Susan K. Marlow

Yes, they were thrilled to receive them. 

The books in this series are geared for children who are 7-10 years old. They tell about the adventures of nine year old Andrea (Andi) Carter who lives on a California ranch during the late 1800s. The author had previously published three other series about Andi Carter. There are books for younger children that share the tales of Andi when she was six years old (Circle C Beginnings), books for slightly older children that tell the story of preteen Andi (Circle C Adventures), and a series for teens that focus on Andi when she is a teenager (Circle C Milestones). Sadly, we have not had the opportunity to read the other series, but I have a feeling the children would love for us to be able to get a hold of them. I think Amelia would love the Circle C Beginnings books, and Tabitha would enjoy the Circle C Adventures, and would probably want to read the Beginnings books as well.  

The two books we received are about 100 pages long with slightly smaller font than the Circle C Beginnings books. Each book begins with a "New Words" section that introduces a list of vocabulary words and their definitions. Each chapter is only 5-8 pages long, and there are black and white illustrations spaced throughout the book, one in about every two or three chapters. The illustrator is Leslie Gammelgaard, the same illustrator of the Beginnings books. These illustrations are also available as free coloring pages over at the Circle C Stepping Stones site. Here is a sample, which is a picture from the first chapter of the book.

At the end of each book, there is a short "History Fun" section that shares a bit about the true history of the events that transpire in the story.

Now I would like to share a little bit about each book. 

Andi Saddles Up

This story begins on Andi's ninth birthday. She is so excited because she is going to finally be able to ride her palomino Taffy whenever she wants to. But more than that, she is highly anticipating her very own, brand-new saddle. Her birthday is full of emotions, from joyful anticipation, to disappointment, to fear, and finally excitement. The story continues with Andi finding a new friend at her new secret fishing spot. A friend who also loves horses and fishing. Unfortunately, due to border disputes between their families, this friendship is on rocky ground. We learn a bit about the "Sheep and Cattle Wars" through this story. Andi's brothers are the cattlemen, while her friend Sadie's father is a sheep herder. It is finally thanks to Andi and Sadie's friendship, and an accident, that things are settled between the families. 

Andi Under the Big Top

The second book in the Circle C Stepping Stones series begins on a sweltering summer afternoon. Andi is waiting for her family to get ready to go home after church. Suddenly, her friend Cory surprises her with the news that the circus is coming to town. During the week before the circus arrived, Andi's imagination ran wild with thoughts of being a part of the circus. On the day that the circus arrives, Andi meets a young boy named Henry, whom she soon discovers has run away to join the circus. Sadly, she also finds out that the glamorous circus life is not all she would have thought it would be.  She does have a wonderful time with her family watching the performances, and then getting to go behind the scenes. While in this area, she comes face to face with Miss Minnie Mae, the bareback horse rider, whom she idolized, until she makes a disturbing request of Andi. Before the circus leaves, Andi wanted her brother, who is a lawyer, to help Henry get back home, but Henry disappears. Then there is a more pressing issue to deal with, as she discovers Taffy is missing. It is through an unexpected turn of events, that things begin to straighten out. 

How we used these books:

I read Andi Saddles Up before I would let either one of the girls get their hands on it. Then I allowed both girls to read it independently. Tabitha loved the book so much, she didn't want to wait for me to read Andi Under the Big Top, so I allowed her to read it first. Amelia is still in the first book, as she reads at a bit of a slower pace. She is also enjoying the book. 

Once Tabitha and I were done with the first book, and Amelia was past the first few chapters, we began to utilize the free Activity Pages that are available at the Circle C Stepping Stones website

These Activity Pages are about 25 pages long per book. There are reading comprehension questions for each chapter, along with other language arts activities, such as vocabulary, poetry, alphabetizing, word puzzles, and similes. There are also lessons in geography, history, math, science, character traits, Bible, and other fun miscellaneous activities. A schedule has been planned out, which will take 28 days if followed. As we do not have the lapbook, we were able to shave quite a few days off of the schedule. The lapbook pages are scheduled on days when there was no reading, so it was quite simple to just eliminate those days. I am also combining some of the activities, so it will take us even less time to finish the sheets. We are still in the middle of them, as I had the children start with their independent reading. I figured that would give them a chance to be able to just enjoy the books before having to dig deeper into them. Plus, a second reading, with mommy reading a chapter at a time to all, has given them a chance to re-hear the story and remember details. 

There are several questions about each chapter, that the girls answer after I read the chapter. Then, after three chapters, they can work on the other pages for that section. Every three chapters is a section. 

I think the girls favorite activity so far was writing the Cinquain poetry. 



I do love that there are so many subjects touched on in these activity pages, and that they connect so well with what is being read in the story. For instance, we learned about poetry because Andi was learning about poetry in school. Our math lesson in Andi Saddles Up was based around the trout that Andi and Sadie were catching. 

The stories themselves are wholesome stories which honor God. A prayer of blessing is prayed before meals, Andi herself prays to God frequently, and the family goes to church. Morals have been taught to Andi and you see her catching herself doing something wrong and correcting herself, or being corrected if need be. Besides this, the stories are full of adventure and have conflict/suspense. Even I wanted to continue reading to find out what was going to happen with Sadie and Andi in Andi Saddles Up, and what was going to happen to Henry and Taffy in Andi Under the Big Top.

The recommended age range of 7-10 seems to be just right. Both girls were able to read the books with no problem and were able to answer the comprehension questions, showing me that they did understand what they were reading. Even the younger children (who are 5 and 7) have been enjoying the chapter I read aloud each day. I do not have them work on the activity pages though. 

These are definitely books I can recommend for yours and your children's reading pleasure. Each book can be purchased for $7.99 from Kregel Publications. You also have the opportunity to purchase the Activity Pages for both books as a spiral bound book for $6.00 plus shipping. Personally, I have found it easy enough to print out the pages as we need them, but it is nice to know that option is available.

You can find Kregel Books on Facebook and Twitter.
You can also find Susan K. Marlow on Facebook and Twitter.

Don't forget to stop by and see what my fellow Crew Mates though of these books. Just click the banner below:

Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for your enthusiastic review of the new SS books. :-)
    I LOVED the cinquain poetry you posted from the girls. Nicely done! Thanks for sharing all the other fun and educational things you can do to get more "bang" for your "buck."


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