Friday, February 11, 2011

TOS Review: Curiosity Files

Recently, I've seen a lot of homeschool moms blogging about homeschool burnout or about how to survive the winter doldrums. I'm not sure we were approaching burnout, but I do know that recently we all enjoyed a short break from our regular school assignments.

Brennan and I worked through The Curiosity Files: Zombie Fire Ants, a new unit study ebook from The Old Schoolhouse. Please don't tell him how much he actually learned that week -- he thinks he got off easy.

That week I saw how Brennan does with reading comprehension and narration. He actually did quite a bit better than I thought he would. I think the high-interest level of the materials made it easier for him to pay attention and pick up new facts. At one point, I had to stop listening to him read so that I could answer a phone call. He continued reading on by himself and then excitedly told me what he had learned. Another reading comprehension activity was disguised as an art project. I'm not sure it was his best effort in terms of art, but he did follow all of the directions correctly.

For math, we explored great real-life applications for the skills he's been learning in his other math programs. For instance, he calculated travel costs, read flight schedules, and even adjusted for time-zone changes. Some of the other math activities dealt with measurements, averages, perimeters, and more.

I was a bit tickled at the way this unit study covered grammar. It was just perfect -- zombie sentences. Those are the ones that wander aimlessly and go on and on. My teachers would have called them run-on sentences, but zombie sentences makes much more sense. I have a feeling Brennan will remember the concept a whole lot better this way.

If I listed every subject we covered using this study, I'd probably end up writing an awful zombie sentence myself. Perhaps I'll just say that Bible study, science experiments, geography, art, copywork, and even snack time were fully covered.

All told, the Zombie Fire Ants study contained 91 pages of activities. We easily divided it up so that it was completed in about a week. There are lots of internet links included, but we were able to complete nearly all of the activities without having to look things up online. It is a big help for me if we can work offline because we often carry schoolwork along with us to doctors' appointments or on long road trips.

These studies were created for 8 to 13 year olds, and I agree that they'd be perfect for upper elementary and middle school students. Some of the activities included both both an elementary option and a junior high/high school option.

I've already purchased a few other Curiosity Files studies to have on hand. They'll be perfect for a week that's packed with outside activities, a week when we're all in need of a short break from the normal routine, or perhaps even a week when the big kids need to work more independently than usual because I'm busy taking care of Lauren. I'm perhaps most interested in the MRSA one, but I have a feeling that Brennan will vote for doing either Cicada-Killing Wasps or Dung Beetles first.

The individual Curiosity Files ebooks are available at The Old Schoolhouse Store and most of them currently retail for $6.95. The best value is the 9 pack bundle that costs $46 for the download or $49 on CD. I've sometimes seen some of these ebooks available at a discount.

Many other homeschool children have been using Curiosity Files studies over the past month. If you'd like to see what their parents thought about it, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog. I can't wait to find out what the other families thought about studying Dung Beetles. Maybe it won't be quite as gross as I fear.

I received a free copy of The Curiosity Files: Zombie Fire Ants ebook to download as a member of the 2010 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I'm a fellow crew member popping over to follow you with GFC. I reviewed Quicksand. Fun!



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