Thursday, April 28, 2011

TOS Product Review – The Curiosity Files: Puffer Fish

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I applied to be part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew for 2011-2012 school year. As part of the application process, I was given the e-book, The Curiosity Files: Puffer Fish, to review.

The Curiosity Files are a set of 9 e-books created by The Old Schoolhouse that focus on uniquely bizarre science topics including:

  • puffer fish
  • zombie fire ants
  • blue diamonds
  • dung beetles
  • MRSA
  • red tide
  • snow rollers
  • cicada-killing wasp
  • blue-footed booby
  • platypus
  • quicksand

Each e-book includes:

  • Bible study, discussion ideas, and memory verses
  • Math, history, and geography investigations
  • Literature and suggested book list
  • Writing, spelling, and vocabulary activities
  • Beautiful copywork pages (manuscript and cursive)
  • Science observations, projects, and experiments
  • Discussion questions
  • Art, crafts, and drawing and coloring pages
  • Lapbook/notebook pages and helpful lapbooking links
  • Special needs, hands-on discoveries
  • Internet resource and video links
  • Complete answer key

At $6.95 per book, these are a great deal. The puffer fish e-book that I received had 85 pages!

When I first opened it, I struggled with finding age-appropriate activities for my 4-year-old daughter, but I dug a little deeper and found some great information and activities that we were able to use. It came at a great time too, because we took a little break last week from our regular schoolwork, so this fit in nicely. The publisher states that the units are designed for 8 to 13 year olds, but I think that Kahlen learned a lot and had fun with the projects anyway. There was a lot of pieces that we could not use, such as the copywork, math, and and spelling sections, but we found enough to make this unit fun and engaging.

I printed the information pages about puffer fish and read them to her. It was like getting a non-fiction picture book about puffer fish; lots of pictures, facts, and a little humor too. She enjoyed most of it, but got bored by the end of the third page. She also struggled a little with really thinking of it as a book, since it was just printed pages from my computer. I might have changed that to leaving it on my screen if I were to use something like this again. We then moved onto her favorite part, making a paper-plate puffer fish. 2011-04-18 Puffer Fish (1)  The book included basic instructions but sent me to one of my favorite school websites for a picture of what it was supposed to look like and a template. 2011-04-22 Puffer FishThere was a link in the e-book directly to the page that I needed, but it would have been helpful for a visual learner like myself to have a picture of the completed project included in the book. Because of the painting, cutting, and gluing, we were able to spread this project out over 2 days. I let her pick the colors, so we ended up with a chartreuse fish (no idea where she learned about chartreuse, silly girl)

 

 

 

We also printed out and read the section that included reasons why God made the puffer fish the way he did, which included several verses about fear and turning to God with our fears. This was a good segue into discussing something that’s hard to make real for small children, so I appreciated this section as it brought the scientific learning into the personal realm.

After we read the verses (selectively, with some modifications. She is only 4, after all, and the verses were in KJV and a little over her head) and discussed them, we did two activities that were about ordinal numbers. These were challenging for her, but in a good way. It was a good exercise in following directions also. Because she can’t read yet, I cut off the instruction portion and read it to her step by step. I think I may have to find more activities like this because she liked it so much! (Hard to take pictures of her actually doing it while I was reading her the directions)

2011-04-22 Puffer Fish (8)

So, while this e-book is designed for 8-13 year olds, we were able to learn a lot about puffer fish (did you know they use water to puff up? or that they’re really slow swimmers?) and do some fun activities as well. If my kids were older, I would have definitely been able to use this as a week or more unit study on puffer fish and would consider purchasing additional units. The material the book contained was interesting, biblically based, encompassed enough subjects, and had a lot of variety for different levels that it would also be easy to use with multiple children of varying ages. We used several of the activities and information that was marked to be used for special needs, simply because of her skill level, so I was glad they were included. Also, the price ($1 for some units, $6.95 for others, with a discount on purchasing all 9) is so reasonable that I might just go purchase the rest anyway to use over the summer as rainy day activities.

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~S

I received this book free from The Homeschool Magazine for the purpose of review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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