Friday, April 29, 2011

Homeschool Product Review: The Curiosity Files- Quicksand

Being that I recently combined my homeschooling blog with this one, I am going to start this review with a brief biography of our homeschool.  I have 3 girls and 1 boy.  My daughters are ages 10 years (4th grade), 8 years (3rd grade), and 4 years (pre-school) and my son is almost 3 years old (also pre-school).  I have been homeschooling from the beginning and use an eclectic mix of styles and curriculum.  Due to the age gap in the children, we generally do a broad study of a topic together and then I work with them in groups of two, based on age.  Having told you all this, you will better understand how I will review homeschool products.  

My children and I had the opportunity to review an e-book from The Old Schoolhouse.  It is part of The Curiosity Files, a series of unit studies that cover a variety of topics including quicksand, dung beetles, Zombie fire ants and more.  We received the e-book about quicksand, edited by Karen Sargent and compiled by a team of researchers, led by Heidi Strawser. 

This e-book is a comprehensive study of quicksand at an upper elementary through junior high level, but can certainly be adapted to slightly younger ages and older age levels as well.  The e-book starts  with an introduction to quicksand by Professor Ana Lyze and goes on to address myths and scientific facts about quicksand.  Once the reader has learned a bit about quicksand, including what to do if you encounter quicksand, there is a quiz to test the reader.  After the quiz, there are several passages of Biblical scripture and a Bible story, all having to do with sand and building a firm foundation for life.  There are several math problems, covering a variety of math topics such as conversions, place value, and basic operations.  The math problems cover a range of abilities and I suggest using the ones that are appropriate for your student and creating your own if more are necessary.  Language arts are also covered, both in the form of word games, an essay topic, a blank outline and tips for writing essays, spelling and vocabulary lists for elementary and middle school levels, and games for learning and reinforcing the spelling and vocabulary words.  In the copywork section, there are several scriptures both in manuscript and cursive so that you can choose the form your child is working on, or both if need be.  My favorite section was the science section which includes lessons and labs to learn about surface tension and viscosity.  In social studies, the reader learns about geography.  The book then offers recipes to make goo, a mixture similar in properties to quicksand; as well as an edible quicksand.  There are several art projects to do as well, including making a sand bottle, sand art pictures, and a painted walking stick.  Near the end of the e-book, there are snippets that help walk the child through creating a lapbook or notebooking pages for the topic; and there is a page with some music ideas as well.  The e-book concludes with a list of books and websites for further study and answer keys to the quiz and worksheets found in the book.

When I first received this e-book, I reviewed it by myself to see how it would best suit my family.  The topic of quicksand is not one that we have encountered in our daily life and not one that we have discussed at any great length.  After reviewing the activities in the e-book, I decided that I would do all of the teaching activities with just the older two, but that I would involve the younger two in some of the more hands on activities, mostly the science and art activities and in the making of the recipes.  

You can purchase The Curiosity Files- Quicksand for $6.95 at The Old Schoolhouse Store.  It is an instant download so it is available for use right away and there are no shipping costs.  If you are interested in other e-books in The Curiosity Files series, they are also available on the website.  Prices vary from $1-$6.95 for individual e-books, or you can buy a 9-pack bundle for $46.

I recommend this for anyone that has a child with an interest in quicksand, as well as those who are teaching across a variety of ages, particularly if at least one of them is in the upper elementary or junior high level.  This could also be nice if you want to study quicksand every year or every few years, adding activities as they are appropriate. 

I received a free copy of the e-book in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.

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