Friday, August 2, 2013

BrainFood Learning {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

We have often used videos and DVDs to help us along in our schoolwork, since they can give us the chance to see things and places that we wouldn't be able to experience on our own. We recently had the opportunity to get a closer look at the Fascinating World of Birds when we reviewed this DVD from BrainFood Learning.
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BrainFood Learning was started by Bryce and Jennifer Mooney when they had trouble finding the kind of interesting and educational video content they wanted for their own young children. They decided to make their own "Fascinating World of..." series, which aims to capture the attention of young viewers while introducing vocabulary and concepts. There are three DVDs in the series - Fascinating World of Mammals, Fascinating World of Birds, and Fascinating World of Insects. Each introduces viewers to the animals with still photos, video, and a narration describing the animals. The DVDs also include review material to help kids remember what they've seen and heard and make sure they understand.

We chose the Fascinating World of Birds. The 45-minute video features ten bird species with lots of interesting facts and great images and video of each of the birds in its natural habitat. The review questions go over the vocabulary introduced and the facts about the birds.
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How did we use it? Kennady and I watched the DVD together, in several short sittings. She liked to choose which bird we'd learn about and we'd watch that chapter. After she'd seen them all she did the review quizzes. We both enjoyed the photos and video footage of the bird and the information shared, but found the reviews were "too young" for Kennady. Since she enjoyed watching the DVD and we will be studying zoology in the upcoming school year, I know she'll be watching it again when we do the units on birds. BrainFood Learning has also made some lesson plans available on their website to expand on what is taught in the DVDs. Although the lesson plans are geared to elementary grades, it was interesting for me to look through them and I especially liked the idea for the Vocabulary review and "Wanted" birds.

Oh, and I finally convinced Kennady that American Robins and Baltimore Orioles look different. For some reason she was convinced that the robins we see in our yard were called orioles. Maybe because we live near Baltimore? LOL Anyway, I think she now believes me after seeing the feature on the American Robin in the video! I showed her this picture of the fledgling robin that was on our back porch one windy day and she admitted it was indeed a robin. ;-)  He's cute, isn't he?

What we liked best:
  • the images and video are gorgeous! Great close-ups and vivid color. 
  • when I asked Kennady what she liked best, she told me "all the pictures and video of the birds - they were all so cool! I especially liked the baby birds, and the owls and penguins." She did do quite a bit of "that-is-so-cute!!!!!" squealing as we watched! LOL
  • easy to understand documentary style narration that was balanced well with the sounds of the birds themselves.
What I need to mention:

  • students in the older part of the age range may find the quiz material in the review questions much too easy.
These are some of the birds spotted in our yard this spring and summer - none of them were special features in the video but with our renewed interest in birdwatching we had a good time looking at the photos I've been able to get and Kennady has had a chance to try identifying these birds as we observe them.
Our bottom line: Kennady enjoyed this DVD enough that it is in her personal collection in her room now, and I'm confident that she'll be very happy to watch again as part of our "official" schoolwork when we get to the birds unit of our zoology later this schoolyear. For us, it will be fun add-on to our science; but in my opinion it would be a great part of a science program for early elementary students, or as an enjoyable (yet educational!) video for all children no matter where they are being educated. And I am inspired to see if I can do a better job of photographing birds, now that Kennady has been inspired to learn more about identifying them.

Would you like to enjoy some BrainFood Learning? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website at:
See the Curriculum page for some early elementary lesson plans to use with the DVDs. You can also view Previews of the videos on the BrainFood YouTube page.

Pricing: The Fascinating World of Birds DVD is available for $14.99.

Recommended Ages: Appropriate for all ages, targeted for ages 3-11.

Follow BrainFood Learning on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other Crew member reviews. Crew members also reviewed other DVDs from BrainFood Learning, so be sure to check out their thoughts on those titles as well!

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