Showing posts with label Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Science. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Considering God's Creation by Eagle's Wings

Considering God’s Creation Set

Are you a Lapbooking family?   Do you  teach using notebooking and worksheet pages that enhance the lesson? What about your students?  Do they enjoy hands-on activities, singing (now this is subjective-some kids will and others won't but hey-you don't have to use this option if you don't want to), and exploring additional avenues to find out more on any said subject?  Do you want material that will compare worldly thoughts to Christianity [while remaining in the Christian context, school of thought] in regard to all the amazing goodies contained within our universe, on earth, in creatures and ourselves?   Do you want a science program that is easy to use, and enjoyable for all parties involved -hile being flexible to your schedule? Then this review is for you.  

Not surprisingly, Eagle's Wings has a lovely variety of products, which are Christian/Biblical based and meet the requirements noted above.  I have actually used their Remembering God's Awesome Acts and Remembering God's Chosen Children history/Bible courses with my daughter (and will with my son in the future).  I have to say I LOVE them.  I learned right along with my child and I am quite pleased that the lessons met many of my teaching methods (lapbooking/notebooking/hands-on activities/non-textbook approach) to a "T".  Even though this review is not about those two products, I do encourage you to take a look at them-as I highly recommend the courses. That said, when I found out I was on the list to review the Considering God's Creation-I was so elated!  

Topics Covered:

[Lesson plan example]

I  now have [within my grasp] a curriculum meant to cover a wide variety of subjects which can be taught over a few years.  I can use this as my main backbone (which I will) or as a supplemental component.  The lesson plans themselves are easy to navigate , all the while remaining flexible enough to allow me to pick and choose what fits our situation. Considering God's Creation highlights the main "you should know about this" for elementary to early junior high aged children, making it quite versatile~especially for families with a lot of kids in that age range. I have required my teen to do a few of our lessons, which she enjoyed. Even though it is not meant to be a high school level program, I felt she would benefit from listening to the Bible tie-ins and working on the material too.  I don't think you are ever too old to color, cut and create a fun page with mini-booklets and notes.  She admitted that she learned a few things that her Biology course had failed to mention.  So keep that in mind, because you really can add selections to compliment your older student's basic lessons as well.

This was such a fun page to work on.  The addition of the salt to represent the pollen was quite clever! Since we are always working on nature study-this particular lesson just begged for us to do it.   I love how it is a 3-D display of the flower-very eye catching and appealing.
They also have an AWESOME sheet where the kids can circle different parts of a plant or tree they are looking at and draw their finding-which is a great Charlotte Mason way to cover nature study.  I will be using these forms over and over again. It makes it so much easier and lessens the stress of having to draw it all themselves.

Where were we? Oh yes...we had just finished up my son's science book, and I was really trying to figure out what to do next.  I was feeling a bit burned out on the current model, and so was he.  We needed something new and refreshing and more our style.  Considering God's Creation is the perfect fit, especially since it grafts onto the Charlotte Mason method quite nicely.  I have decided to play a bit of hopscotch with it-grabbing components from a few lessons here and there, to mesh into my own concoction of a unit right now.  We have been working on birds this whole year.  We have studied John J. Audubon as our artist (and you know he loved his birds) and focused a lot of our nature study around them.  So I pulled out the sections that directly discussed the charming critters, so that we can tie all of this together to finish our bird study.  

These beauties will go into their Bird Study Notebook
 that they have been compiling.
CGC had 3 lessons on birds, but there were also 
mini-sections found throughout the text, 
regarding them so I just zeroed in on those to make my 
own unit study which is perfect for our 
interests and needs right now.

I found most of the  lessons to be amble enough for my son's ability and age-others will need to wait until he is a bit older because I really want to go into more depth with those.  Obviously, we have not done all of them (good grief! I am not that crazy to try to cram a few year's worth into a couple months) but I have pretty much read through the book to see which topics I want to cover this coming semester/year. There are a couple areas that I want to stretch out over several weeks-so I am planning on adding [from my vast collection of materials] some extra reading selections and activities (but that is the beauty of this program) to round them out.  As for the lessons we did accomplish-they were short enough to not bog him down with too many details, and offered enough hands on mini-booklets and notebooking to keep him occupied while he remained engaged and interested. 

This is not your usual science program (you know the type), as it is not crammed with stuff that makes the student's head swim and practically drowns them in useless data.  Rather, this is a gentler, Christ-centered program which allows you to head out to sea for a long exploration, or stick close to shore to do a mini-unit of study and call it a day.  The pack comes with the Teacher's Manual (and a CD with all the songs/poems on it-which is a fun way to memorize and cover the details) along with one student workbook-all of which is unabashedly Christian in nature.  I suggest you read the FAQ section to help you get a better understanding of this particular curricula, before you decide whether it is right for your family.  I have to say that for us-Considering God's Creation is one the most favorite products we reviewed this year.  So yep-I certainly do recommend this science program from Eagle's Wings Educational Ministries.  


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$29.95 for set (TM, ST WKBK, CD)
You can make copies of the pages for your students-and I suggest making a ton of the plant/tree fact finding sheets...but you really should purchase a workbook for each student. The printer ink cost will be more than just buying a wkbk all ready to go
$13.99 for each additional student workbook

Grades 2-7th

**Don't forget to read what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products, over on our TOS Review Crew homepage.

***Eagle's Wings Educational Material provided me with a free Considering God's Creation pack (TG/St Text/CD), so that I could write this review.  I did not receive any financial compensation for my honest opinion of this product.

Friday, April 8, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Science Weekly

In today's cyber world technology it is still nice to receive a fun packet in the mail (obviously not bills) and this product is no exception.  Science Weekly is a bit like those magazines we used to get as kids, but focused on all things relating to earth/life/physical science, technology or mathematical in nature.  Two issues arrive in one's post box during the school year (Sept-April), to be used to further their child(ren)'s knowledge and add some fun back into their studies.  Originally geared toward the typical classroom environment, this series is another way to add some sparkle to one's homeschool curricula as well.  

We received the Fractions issue [Vol. 27, no. 5] to explore [they included one handout per level] along with the teaching notes [with answers to student's worksheet questions and additional ideas].  Each "packet" is approximately 4 pages worth of info-which includes a description of the topic at hand, then a practical demonstration highlighting it (so for the fractions one-the level B has the student looking at an apple and grapes which have been divided into equal parts), a vocabulary section, a weekly lab (fun idea for highlighting the concept), a math section, a small writing opportunity, a challenge that asks for the child to practice what the concept they have been learning about, and finally a "Bringing it Home" section to wrap up the study. Some of the higher levels dropped a couple of the last ones, added a puzzle challenge and/or even a "Further Your Interests" and "Meet the Scientist" section; whilst the lower levels kept it more simple by not offering more than a typical child that age would want to cover. 

My son and I worked through the C-E levels and found the "Weekly Lab" to be our favorite part of the series.  Most of what they ask the student to do is easily obtainable through every day items found in your home. So it isn't difficult to carry out the experiments at all.  It is charming and a fun way to incorporate a few subjects which usually produce moans and groans from frustrated students and teachers alike.  For about $1.33 per issue/per student, it really isn't that bad of a deal actually.   What's more, they now have an interactive program online [this is a great test to see if you like the product], along with printable coloring pages to explore.

This as a supplementary item to one's regular studies, and for those with children who love to do paperwork and science experiments-then this is a wonderful way to go about reinforcing their interests.  It is definitely a traditional approach to learning. So depending on your teaching method, it may or may not be a good choice.   Oh, and for those who use the workbox method, this would be a good item to tuck into a box for an occasional "fun" activity.  As for us, it was interesting to try but not something we would normally seek to acquire for our homeschool. Now I am not implying that the Science Weekly publication is terrible or not worthy of further investigation/subscribing to.  Actually it is a nice complementary tool for some to use in their studies, and could certainly bless many homeschoolers.  For us,  it just is not our regular "cup of tea".   

the younger set will need your assistance and some experiments will also need supervision

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$19.95 for 15 issues (per child) [2 issues per month September through April]
works out to about $1.33 per issue/teacher guide
ages K-5/6 grade
Classroom rate:  $4.95 per student/ 20 student min.

*Don't forget to read what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschooling products on our TOS Review Crew homepage.

**Science Weekly provided me with one free packet on Fractions for ages K-5/6, so that I could use it with my family and write this review.  I did not receive any financial compensation for my penning of this review, nor for my honest opinion of this product.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Curiosity Files Ebook: The Puffer Fish review

I do believe I have come across Ms. Frizz's zany, and somewhat lesser known (but not for long) cousin-Professor Ana Lyze...who apparently grew up [and earned her degree in all things curious] with the same ideals, and extreme need to explore the unique and somewhat obscure scientific situations, found throughout the Lord's great creation.  She doesn't wear clothing that correlates with her subject matter (thankfully), but that doesn't stop her from her pursuit for the "need to know" about her topic!  

Jam packed with oodles and oodles of info-these are far from "cheesy" or "lame-O".  In fact, I found these [look for 2 more reviews coming soon] to be the BEST ebook unit studies I have had the pleasure of exposing my peepers to! 

The Puffer Fish Ebook is spattered with links to various on-line sites to learn more, quizzes, Bible connections, math, language arts activities, copywork [KJ, but you could easily adapt one to your favorite version. Both print and cursive options available], science lessons, natural history information with extra projects/research [think nature study/journaling here], adorable art/crafts ideas, a ditty focusing on geography, a dash of music mania, and a nice book list to round out the study.  Best yet, they have included "Curiosity Snippets" [lapbook mini-books] to jump start your notebooking needs.  Did I mention the beautifully colored pages and graphics? Well, that is included too. 

Neat facts just abound in this study!  I didn't know a Puffer can tell whether something (or someone) is coming or going past them, and all at the same time! Or that they get all puffed up in a rather curious manner, but not from the way I assumed it was.  These little factoids were quite surprising to learn [but I am not going to share that info-don't want to spoil it for you] and subsequently,  have made it so I will never ponder or look upon a Puffer in quite the same way after learning so much about them!

Best yes, the Curiosity Files: The Puffer Fish touches on several areas, so I know that when we delve into this as a part of ocean study this winter, my son will have many of his core subjects covered. We can literally take a break from our regular routine and just enjoy this Bible-based, analyze it [or should I say, Ana Lyze?], and go forth, exploration of a very curious creature.  Now that is quite puffalicious!

image from

Surf on over to the Old Schoolhouse Store 
to learn more about this great unit study.

$6.95 Ebook download-you will need to print the pages.
Target age range is 8-13 but can be adjusted to fit younger and older students nicely

***The Old Schoolhouse company provided me with a free Curiosity File: Puffer Fish Ebook, to use and enjoy with my family.  I am an independent contractor for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine, but did not receive any financial compensation for my honest review of this item.  It is that puffalicious and excellent, I couldn't help but be puffed up about this great study-for real folks!

Friday, October 8, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Digital Frog Field Trip Series

One of the beauties of being a homeschooling family, is that we can head out to explore all sorts of neat places-which is often referred to as a "field trip".  I actually don't refer to it as such, because it is more than that-it is a life experience that we can tuck into our child's heart and mind.  I can tie in various lessons (science, history, culture, etc) with the experience, to really infuse into the children all that we have learned about that subject.  And it is very Charlotte Mason like (which is our backbone method of choice),  in thought and philosophy-having them experience it first hand (well lots of other methods are covered here too-I just wanted to highlight our choice of learning style) and so that is one of my goals in educating my children-to include these outings.

But being the realist that I am-I understand that visiting a lot places is simply not going to happen within the time frame of what our lessons are about...unless we are fortunate enough to go with daddy on one of his business trips, with places to explore, that just so happen to fit what we have been studying. So for example:  the desert is not a very tangible option right now (although when we first started homeschooling, we lived in Phoenix, so we were able to see some of it whilst we lived there) because we live in the north east part of the country-but what if we have been covering that climate, and I truly wanted to add an outing to tie the lessons all together? What options are available that are  interactive and provide more than a spew of info in a short amount of time.  Where could I go for that?

That question was quickly answered when I received the Digital Field Trip Series DVD to review.  Not only does this cover three different climates and an assortment of other scientific like processes/happenings (like photosynthesis, adaptations, botany, etc.) but it is actually interactive-like we are there but in virtual form, and we can experience it from our cozy home, any time we want.  Now sure, it isn't the "real" thing-but the real thing also costs money to get to, has obstacles and challenges that frankly, we may not always want to deal with. Such as hot, sweaty and cranky kids, or timing it so our visit is during the time/season the parks/places are open. Oh, and lest we forget- bugs! Those blood thirsty mosquitoes, biting gnats, and yes-fire ants which litter the desert landscape, and can administer very painful bites, indeed. 

And how about those critters I do not want to meet whilst traipsing through the great outdoors [snakes, bears, skunks or some crazed Howler Monkey, for example], during our exploration? Well they are virtual so "no harm, no foul" here! This is proving to be a great way to get those hard to do field studies into our schedule.

And like a great "Ginsu Knives" commercial-there is that "But wait!  There is more!!!"  to this than just a virtual 360 degree tour of the place. You can download both a teacher's and a student's workbook for all three of the field trips, to use as you explore the selected climate. As you walk through the well marked (by numbers) trails, you will be able to click on signs to gain details about what is around that point in the tour, or view diagrams, take a quiz, and more-all to gain further insight while on your outing of discovery.  To not over load you with the details of each tour-I put the direct link [above the picture of each climate] that will navigate you over to the page detailing what each field trip covers, but I couldn't resist giving a few personal comments on each for you...

We live in an area that one could consider the wetlands-well close enough to one that we could fact the kids have climbed through a plastic reconstruction of a beaver's home at our local nature center...but we did not get all this information on our quick tour.  No way Nellie-sure didn't.  On our virtual tour, we hunted for various critters, as if we were on a nature seek and find quest; and we even heard the local bird residents chatter and sing. And if we forget the details of what we just heard, we can revisit any time we want to take notes, play a game and well-not sink in the bog!  Besides-we didn't need a passport to go on this Canadian wonderland excursion!   

Visiting a rainforest is not really that easy for most of us. Now granted, we just returned from Hawaii, which  has 11 of the 13 climate zones found throughout the world.  So we actually were in one-but not "in" it long enough to glean much [you simply do not hike in flip flops when the paths are steep and you have no water], because I was not about to go exploring the unknown entanglement of plants and trees and creatures, just to provide some sort of educational opportunity for the kids.  So yes, we may be able to get near one-but to venture deep within it?  Not so sure...that is why this is a great option for anyone.  I was able to hear the birds sing, a fly buzz by, and even was tempted to lunch in at the Cafe o' Jungle (not sure what its name really was-but it was rustic!) And again-the info is right there, so if I forgot something I could simply click on the sign and re-learn it.  This was probably my favorite tour, but the boy was totally digging the bog.  Actually this series is like a smörgåsbord-it can suit just about everyone's tastes! 

After living in the desert area of Arizona, I can truthfully say-you really wouldn't want to explore this puppy on your own unless you had a guided tour, and lots and lots of water!  No need for Cody Lundin (co-survivalist on the show, Dual Survival) to get you from point A to B without the need for a search and rescue. Plus, finding all the creatures and plants, within a decent amount of time, is probably impossible. So again, this series takes you there and all without leaving your home! Going on tour of the several deserts in the Southwest US, we meandered all comfy-like in our jammies, soaking in the knowledge...and without needing to pick barely visible cactus needles out of our skin (which we did many a time while living there).  Re-visiting the Sonora Desert was like a step back into memoryland for some of us,  and a totally new experience for our youngest.  Too bad they didn't include a Pink Jeep Tour of the place-that would have really added some nail biting excitement to the visit.  

So there you have my side comments of all three of the Digital Field Trips.  We have only scratched the surface of these; as we did a quick tour for now, but plan on turning each into a mini-unit study down the road.  It was a delight to review this item! I cannot close without mentioning that the Digital Frog gals also have a couple other great virtual products-one being the Science Matrix: Cell Structure and Function (which I got when I renewed my TOS magazine a while back). My daughter used this as she worked through her Biology course-in fact, it helped her "get it" quickly, and she had fun learning it too!  They also have the Digital Frog 2.5 program, which involves virtual dissection of the amphibian (and without the stink/grossness of it all) right on your computer screen. So these gals certainly have created some very useful and Twenty-first Century ways to teach with a different approach!

You can try a free demo version by clicking here, or join the Frogger Club for worksheets, game cards, additional videos, and more.  

**For those readers who like to know the angle of the material:  these definitely are not coming from a Christian view point.  There is reference to "millions" or "thousands" of years in a few places.  I personally just insert a more realistic number and let it be.  I wasn't finding it to be too much of an issue.  As with most science oriented material we come across, we had to tweak it to fit our beliefs as Christians.  Frankly, there is so much good information in these, and the concept is a great way to get your field trips in without leaving home-that the good totally outweighed the glitches of a worldly view point for us.  But I did want to mention that so you knew before purchasing.

the younger children will need assistance

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Digital Frog Homepage
Field Trip Series info
For the Series DVD:  $125.00 (plus shipping) for a single home license. Different prices for co-op use or for purchasing individual virtual field trip DVDs. Pricing page

I figure most kids of any age will enjoy this-but I should think the upper elementary and Jr. high kids will find the material best suits their skill levels the best. Once could certainly have their high schooler or younger elementary students go through this too...ah geez-let's just give it a rating for all ages, as it can easily apply to just about everyone once tweaked to fit their skill level.

Don't forget to visit our TOS Crew Review Homepage to see what my crewmates had to say about this and many other fine homeschool products.

***Digital Frog International provided me with a free Field Trip Series DVD, to use and explore with my family; so that I could write this review.  No financial compensation was provided for my honest and field trip exploration opinion of this product.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Educaching

Living in today's high tech world, most are familiar with the wonders of a Global Positioning System-better known as GPS.  So using it to find your buddy's house or that location for the office picnic is great-but what else can one do with it,?  Well, there is Geocaching.  If you are a Boy Scout (or parent of one), or are lucky enough to have stumbled across this info-then Geocaching (sounds like geo cashing) may be a familiar term to you.  Basically, it involves using your hand held GPS device to locate a hidden cache (sounds like "cash") or treasure, that has had its location noted online in a data base for you to find.  It is a world-wide activity that has really become popular in recent years.  That sounds interesting you say, but how about something more "educational" in nature?  Is that out there?

Actually, there is just such a product.  It is called Educaching though-as well as it should be, since you are following a curricula that has several areas covered (educationally speaking) using a GPS, with your students.  So what you have is a program that teaches (the good "not in your face" approach that is "fun" and not "boring") while the children are searching for the cache that is relevant to the lesson.  Talk about a neat way of modernizing the old  (using clues on paper to denote the next location)  approach to a treasure hunt.

The Educaching curricula is designed to meet the national and state education standards (I am not that concerned with such things-but alas, some of you may need that info in order to meet your state's requirements),  which are duly noted in the 20 different lessons contained within the guide.  There are also sections covering how to use your GPS, definitions of the terms used, and helpful insight on how to purchase a device that is best for your situation.  Everything you need for the lesson is noted, and when possible- provided within it.  I found the Teacher Training section to be quite useful, as I have had limited exposure to our GPS unit, due to it being gone with my husband (he needs it for his work) when he is traveling,  more than it is here at home.

Keep in mind, this program was written for a classroom setting, so it may be difficult for some lessons to work as intended, or they simply may have more activities than a typical homeschooler would need to complete-or want to, depending what educational method you prefer. I just picked out the sections that would work for us, and left the rest.  It didn't deplete from the goal of the lesson, and the kids certainly didn't notice.  That said-I started out with the beginner level lessons for our kids, because they had never used the hand-held GPS, prior to this review.  I read through each lesson to determine if it would suit the varying age levels of my children [it states that it is for grades 4-8; being that I have a highschooler and an early elementary student-we were "out" of the suggested age range. I wasn't deterred, as I wasn't expecting my teenager to do this for anything other than for fun, and my boy will grow into the more difficult ones soon enough], I then decided on the activities that would interest them.  After doing the introductory lesson (which offers the students the chance to work through the GPS's buttons/gizmos, and how to properly find the designated cache location-we were ready to try the others.

This was our first test run.  Daddy (the dude with the GPS experience) assisted with the entire lesson-which is wonderful, as he usually doesn't get the opportunity to do so very often.  The kids figured it out pretty quickly-so we were ready to move along to another lesson later that week. I did laminate (no surprise there) the teacher's and student's map (so as not to go through reams of paper) to get more use out of them, and just provided the kids with a wet-erase marker and a clipboard for the excursions. The children seemed to enjoy these activities (mostly the boy) but I did find some things that could (and did) curtail its use, at times. Please note what the boy is wearing-as this will be discussed shortly (no pun intended).

What you have here is our Dinosaur Bone Hunt.  This lesson required the teacher (that would be me) to first copy off the sheet with the various bones of this mystery dino,  then strategically hide them,  set their waypoints into the GPS and mark their location on the master map. The students were to then search for the "bones" (which I put into 5 baggies with varying sections in each), using their newly learned GPS skills.  When all of the bones were collected, they  then were to come back to "class" to create a dinosaur that they felt best fit the bones they found.   For us, seeing that we only have 2 "students" in our wee little homeschool-the suggested  4-5 person team had to be reworked a bit.  So our two ended up switching back and forth with the recording [the Scribe] of the waypoint coordinates, and serving as the official Navigator; while I took on the role of the Photographer, and Daddy served as the Reader.  It was very helpful to have at least one child or an adult handy, who could accurately read the info off of the GPS, so the excursion does not take forever to complete.  At first my teen was a bit unimpressed, but after one find, she quickly became engrossed in the activity-so we found it truly can be used with all ages successfully. I  was impressed with what the kids came up with for their mystery dinosaurs-and their names were pretty funny too.  I built the Partiasaurus after watching their attempts-I simply couldn't resist the urge not to-it was a really fun activity. 

What are the "pitfalls" of this product you ask?  Obviously, with such a program, there is going to be a shelling out of greenbacks in order to have the necessary equipment to complete the lessons.  For the Educaching, program, that would be the GPS device-which can run about a hundred dollars (or more) each. We have one available to us, because as noted-my husband has to have one for his work, so we didn't need to invest anything. But for the families who do not have one already (check your mobile phones, as I have heard that certain systems have that built into them), I recommend that you see if you can borrow a GPS unit first, copy off one of the free downloadable sample lessons, and give it a test run-before buying. The folks at Educaching also have a couple different Classroom Kits which include the Guide and a GPS device(s), to help get you started.

Furthermore, a  few unfortunate situations presented themselves as we worked through the activities. First off, living in a state (such as mine) where the clouds can be thicker than a metropolitan phone book-there is potential to experience lost satellite reception. **[additional note here-I was made aware that there is a "high sensitivity feature" which is basic on most, if not all, manufactured newer [GPS] units.  It provides users excellent reception under heavy tree canopy, or on a cloudy day.  In fact, Garmin (they run about $135) now only produces hand held receivers with this feature. Well how cool is that?  I have to go check out our GPS unit to see if this is there or not-again, if you are looking into purchasing a unit-this would be one feature to check for.  We personally cannot expend the money to buy one of our own right now-so we are stuck with what we have. I actually think our batteries were a bit oldish-which would explain some of the moments of lost reception, so be sure to have fresh ones in there before you head out to do your Educaching. ] In fact, we had so many cloudy, rainy (another problem because this has to be done outdoors) days during the review period, that I started to give up hope that we'd ever have a chance to get out and try it. And since our area can boast about being one of the windiest places (seriously) around-we were stymied by gusts that could have swept up the kids (along with the caches), and planted them in the land of Oz, all  in a blink of the eye! At least we knew they would have been able to figure out their longitude and latitude coordinates with their GPS device!  Seriously though, it simply has not been a great fall with which to give this project a whirl. So weather can be a great deterrent to using this curricula.

Secondly-and here is where I need you to recall the boy's outfit of shorts and flip flops, it is a seasonal type of activity. If you live in mild weathered states, no problem-but for those of us in the polar region (well it feels like it lately) you can have very few days were you can get out and actually "enjoy" (I say enjoy because I am sure you could do this during mild winter days-but that opens up a whole new can of worms that frankly, I simply do not want to bother with) the process. If you look closely at the pictures of the kids doing their Dino Hunt-you will see quite a drastic change in their attire-we froze our tender vittles off that day [but we had to do it because it was going to be one of the only "nice" days for a while, and I was running out time to get these done!)-it was 35 degrees, and blustery. That is just another example of how one's plans can be waylaid due to the weather. So thinking about the area where you live, is an important factor in whether or not it is feasible.

Lastly, I did find that it felt like a lot of work for one or two students.  I think this would better suit a family with a lot of munchkins or work in a co-op/group setting much better.  I was having a hard time justifying the preparation VS the outcome.  I had to go through the lesson, collect the items, get a moment to go out and "hide" them (and because we do not have a ton of areas in our yard that can successfully cloak the caches, I had to venture out into the neighborhood-which was risky, as I had to work around sprinkler systems, hope that curious folks wouldn't tamper with the caches and so forth) and then return to do get the lesson started.  I definitely think it would work better with more participants, and have suggested it as a possible class for our homeschool group.  One of the main ideas (at least in my opinion) with this type of curricula, is to get the children to work in groups, as a team-so with 2 (and sometimes it was just my son) that simply was difficult to accomplish.  So,  figuring your student count into the equation is important, as well.  It can, and does work for smaller "class" sizes-it just involves adjusting and tweaking  to get over a few extra hurdles in order to complete the assignment. We did enjoy the actual search part of it (once we were able to get out and do it), and my son has requested to do several more-which will now have to wait until spring-so for us, it was a pretty decent experience.  If your children enjoy such activities, and you need more guidance and/or lessons plans, the Educaching Curriculum is a great choice.

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Educaching Homepage

$32.00 eBook Version
$32.00 Book with CD, with additional $6.95 shipping fee. **I have to say that unless you live overseas, have dial-up, or in an area where the mail is super slow-go this route-as it is only $7 (plus tax)  more to have the printed copy and CD ready to go.

*I also wanted to note here:  their website is one of the nicest designs I have come across in some time.  It is very professional -a very nice cache to explore, indeed. 

Be sure to visit our TOS Crew Review Homepage to read more posts on this product and many other homeschooling products.

**Educaching provided me with the free copy of Educaching Guide eBook, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Guardian Angel Publishing

Not being one to turn away an opportunity to have a look-see into children's books-I was delighted to be a part of the group to receive a couple of the eBook versions offered up by Guardian Angel Publishing. The two I received are The Sum of Our Parts:  No Bones About it, by Bill Kirk; and Earthquake by Susan Berger.

The Sum of Our Parts Series: No Bones About It

This one could not have arrived on our computer doorstep, at a more timely moment. Just a few weeks prior to its arrival, our eldest son had broken his collar bone, 2 ribs and his shoulder blade. So when my youngest and I read the part about clavicle being one of the most frequently broken bones in the body-we simply nodded our heads in agreement. In fact, for a moment we felt the book was written just for our family. This one is penned in rhyme, to teach children the names of the main bones in the body. I read it 2 times before I even realized this...that is how subtle it is. But effective, because I found myself saying a lot of the lines without much review. My son (younger one) read through it with me, but on certain pages-asked me to quickly scroll through the picture sections. I found a few drawings that were a bit scary or freakish looking-which rendered this one to the "we won't read it again" [with him] pile. So all though I like the concept of a verse to teach the bone names-the illustrations were gross or too freaky to be able to use with my 8 year old. My high schooler just shrugged her shoulders in regard to it, so it is really a personal issue. The more sensitive the child-the less I recommend this particular book.

Earthquake! [book DVD version coming soon]

The Earthquake eBook proved to be a better fit for our family. Loaded with details, diagrams and drawings of the reason behind them, factoids and terms, and how to prepare for/survive one; this definitely is a great tool to build upon geological science studies, or one on the earth in general. Due to it being in eBook form, it lends itself nicely for printing-so we can add components of it to a lapbook, report or mini notebook on such things. It is a bit advanced in regard to where our studies are right now with the boy; but I recognize the usefulness of it for future reference or as a tag-a-long source to our study, down the road. I see it also has won an Honorable Mention in the Green Book Festival for 2009. Obviously, I am not the only one who thinks this one is a keeper.

All in all, from what I can see, the Guardian Angel Company strives to provide decent books, in quite a variety of subjects and media forms, that will "delight, tweak curiosity, teach and inspire your children!" An admirable goal indeed.

and if you will need to read it to your child(ren)

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Now, even though we were not asked to critique the web design of any of our vendors, I feel that I should mention a few things I noticed as I tried to navigate the site. It is very "busy" and not the most "user friendly" webpage out there. If one pays a visit and their eyes bug out-it isn't a good design. If one becomes frustrated because of all the "busyness" of it, and leave-then you have lost potential customers. I truly hope the GAP folks take the suggestion of revamping their site into a cleaner, easier to navigate site seriously. I would hate to think that they are losing business because their webpage design; especially when they offer families a great alternative of decent children's books VS the multitude of junk that has flooded the market in recent years.

Guardian Angel Publishing Homepage
Books are geared for children ages 0-12
The paperback versions are a bit higher than I would be willing to pay, unless I really loved it-but the $5 cost is not out of the range of normal. Especially, if I needed the information to print for activities and projects. Since everyone has their own idea as to what is a good "deal", you will have to decide what is right for your family and your budget. You can also print the eBook version to have a hard copy to hold in your hands, but be forewarned-most of the books are full of vivid colors, so it may not be the best financial approach.

eBook version of No Bones About It: $5
Paperback: $10.95 plus $6.95 shipping
CD version of book: $9.95 plus $5.95 shipping

eBook version of Earthquake: $5
Paperback: $11.95 plus $6.95 shipping
CD version of book: $9.95 plus $5.95 shipping

Look for their free eBook downloads, to test drive before you buy!

The TOS Store also carries many of the books published by Guardian Angels as well!

For more reviews on this, and many other fine homeschooling products, visit our TOS Crew Homepage for more information.

**Guardian Angel Publishing provided me with one free copy each of No Bones About It and Earthquake! eBooks, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.