Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: The Curiosity Files - Dung Beetle

E-book:  The Curiosity Files - Dung Beetles

We were recently given the opportunity to review one of the e-books in The Curiosity Files series, and had some fun learning about dung beetles in our homeschool.  Yes, dung beetles - nothing interests kids like the weird and gross world of creepy crawlies that have a love affair with animal droppings!  (or maybe that's just MY kids?)  The e-book contains all the basics needed for a very adaptable unit study designed for 8-13 year-olds, including informative narratives about the dung beetle, copywork (both printing and cursive), comprehension reviews, hands-on activities, vocabulary lists, and lists of suggested reading and websites.  The main focus of the study is science, but also included are suggestions to incorporate Bible, history, literature, creative writing, math, art, and handwriting! Even some Phys.Ed. activities!

I didn't want to print out the entire e-book, especially for two students, so we gathered around the desk and did the reading on the monitor.  I read most of it aloud while the kids followed along, and I had Kennady read several parts as well.  I appreciated the clean, yet colorful design that made it easy to read and visually appealing.  I could easily have given it to either of my kids to read on their own, so the reading level was a good fit.  We paused along the way to further discuss a couple of points, and for the kids to ask questions or add thoughts from what they already knew about dung beetles.  The I printed out the comprehension review pages and they worked on it together.  Some of the multiple choice questions had a silly answer or two among the possible choices, which made it almost too easy to pick the right answer, but also brought out some giggles.  8-)  Kennady also liked the word search and vocabulary "fill in the blank' worksheets.

We only briefly discussed some of the concepts in other subject areas of the e-book.  I used the ideas more as review since the kids had both covered the material in other studies and textbooks previously.  The math lesoon, for example, focused on measuring and geometric shapes, which is something both kids are quite familiar with already.  And I, personally, was faintly disturbed by the suggestion of shaping a sphere out of bread using damp hands, in order to learn about diameter and radius, but the kids didn't see anything odd about that at all.  LOL  I guess I would have opted to do it with play-doh.  ;-)

Turns out the section on fables and creative writing was timely, as Kennady's Language Arts book has her working on fables right now! That worked out very well!

Instructions and tips are included to start your own dung beetle farm - using the same principles as an ant farm - and I considered trying this for display at our group's upcoming science fair.  A couple different designs of lab sheet templates are included (designed for different ages), which could be used for any science experiment or demonstration, with easy to follow prompts for recording a hypothesis and observations.

Overall, we enjoyed this study as a bit of a break from our usual, and we had some fun and interesting discussion using it.  I was interested in the art and activity suggestions in the e-book, and might have incorporated them more if it had been a less busy time of year.  I read through all the activities and instructions, and was pleased to find that some are similar to things my kids have done (and enjoyed!) in previous year's co-op classes, so I know they would have gone over well.  I'd certainly consider using other titles in the series and would recommend them for 8 to 10 year-olds especially.

What I liked best:

  • very adaptable!  Use as much or as little of the material as you need, based on interest and time, and which subjects you want to cover.

  • attractive layout, which was clear and easy to read, both the parts that we printed and what we read on the screen.

  • science lesson presented in a fun, conversational tone, with a touch of humor here and there!

  • Biblical and God-honoring worldview throughout.

  • quality printables, especially the lab sheets.

  • the instructions for editing and improving a piece of creative writing were practical and interesting.

What I wasn't crazy about:

  • I didn't use the copywork pages - we are just not a copywork-oriented homeschool.  For many homeschools that use copywork frequently, these would be great, but they don't fit our "style."

  • all the Scripture quoted (and there was lots of it, which I thought was great!) and given for copywork was King James Version.  Again, just a preference and "style" issue here - our family tends to the more modern translataions.  It's certainly not a big deal - we just looked up verses in the NIV or other translation if we felt we needed to.  And I know many homeschoolers that prefer the KJV, so for them, this would be a plus!

  • my students are 9 and 12 years old right now, so right in the age range this is intended for.  Most of the activities were right on target for my 9yo, but too "young" in my opinion for the 12yo.  However, the good news is that as adaptable as the study is, students much younger would be able to enjoy much of it, and it wouldn't be difficult to add some extra research projects or writing assignments to challenge an older student.  If I use other Curiosity Files titles, I would plan on using them for my 9yo only.

Want to check out The Curiosity Files for yourself?  Here's what you need to know:

The Curiosity Files - Dung Beetle is a FUN unit study for kids aged 8 - 13,  and is available from The Old Schoolhouse Store.  The regular price is $6.95, but this and other Curiosity Files titles are currently on sale!  A 9-pack bundle of The Curiosity Files is also available, as an e-book or on CD.

All E-Books published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine come with a 7-day, 100% money-back guarantee.


Loretta said...

Believe it or not, I used parts of the Red Tides Curiosity File with my class of Apologia Biology students this year. They are definitely very adaptable.

Post a Comment

I love comments! It's like visiting over a virtual cup of coffee.