Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. ~ Margaret D. Nadald

Our Father also gifted us with the nature to nurture, keen sensitivity to the Spirit, selflessness, discernment, and heroic faith. No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord's secret weapon. ~ Sheri Dew

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29 April 2011

TOS Review - The Curiosity FIles

I'm excited for the opportunity to review The Curiosity Files that is put out by The Old Schoolhouse. I received an E-book on the Platypus and I have to tell you, I'm pretty impressed! I had never heard of this series before, but it looks like there are about 9 "books" and you can take a look at those here: The Schoolhouse Store.

So! What was so impressive?? First off, after downloading the file I realized that I was looking at an 87 page PDF, I definitely didn't expect that. How much could one really delve into on the Platypus? Well, I learned a lot and quite frankly I'm science challenged so this was an experience that had me looking to find out what other subjects "Professor Ana Lyze, Expert in Outlandish Oddities" had to offer because she had really done her work!

What's more, is that I quickly realized that this curriculum was extremely Family Friendly! Included in this e-book you'll find information and activities that are made with your Elementary through High School student in mind. Honestly, besides reading and discussing the classics, I have yet to find any curriculum that is actually tailored specifically for each learning level in your home without having to buy extra packets along the way. I think the other appeal for me on this one is that because of this set up, I'll be able to use this same book for years to come! With 4 children and 1 on the way it's VERY appealing for me to know that when my younger children start on the basic information, that my older children can still be involved with our studies but in a way that builds upon their current knowledge and challenges them so that they don't get bored from doing and hearing the same things over and over again!

Next, I was pretty taken back by the pricing (since I was definitely out to buy some more once I saw this one!), and at $6.95 I think this product is a steal! (Some of the other Curiosity Files are going for $1 right now!) Additionally, I read on the TOS website that all of their e-books come with a 7 day 100% guarantee.... so, if you don't LOVE your product, they will happily refund your money. You really can't lose with that, they really stand by their products.

Okay, so what do you get in The Curiosity Files: Platypus E-book?
-You get all the information you could possibly want to ever know about the platypus in addition to full color pictures of everything from the platypus itself to how it feeds it's young to different photos that relate to your child (food, other children, letters, etc.). You'll receive complete information on what the platypus eats, where it lives, and walk through the many mysterious parts of the animal that made it tricky to classify as to whether it was a mammal, or a bird.
-You get questions AND answers (answers in the back of the packet of course :-D), to test what your child is retaining... if you feel so inclined to do so. They could use it just as a normal worksheet while you're doing something for a younger sibling, or as a family you can just sit and chat about the answers... which is more our style, I'm not a big fan of worksheets unless it's a collaborative effort. I like that this gives you options!
-You get application into other subjects:
**Math: For example, figuring out a table of how much food family members would need in one night to eat 30% of their weight and then figuring out how many pounds of flour that would be. There's a challenge to find a recipe with lima beans and double it... and of course make it, because that would be the most fun part! Right in the packet as well you can count by 10's, figure out probabilities, do a worksheet on sunrise and sunset and more. Again, you can find what projects are best for your child's age(s).
**English: There are limericks to play with and they are well dissected so that you know how to write your own, there's spelling and vocabulary lists for all grade levels, younger children can draw pictures of what they find most interesting about the platypus and for older children there are prompts to write about their favorites and link to a website that helps give an idea of how to write funny riddles. Children can also fill in missing vowels for words that they've learned, do a word search and crossword, and junior/high school students can spot misspelled vocabulary words and write those words in reverse alphabetical order (I may or may not have done this myself to give my brain something tricky to work on... keeps you young right?)

And every child's favorite: ACTIVITIES! This book is chalk full of them! You may need to purchase a few items if you're like me... there's a great section on the nervous system, and they walk you through making a neuron, but I don't keep marshmallows and fruit by the foot-like food on hand, so those kinds of things are special. For the most part there are art supplies and other extras that I'm sure you'll have laying around. I really like that there are pictures for all of the activities and there are quite a lot of things to do! You'll color pictures (links provided for extras but there is a platypus to color right in the book), design a coin, be encouraged to write in your nature journal (or start one if you haven't already! :-D), test out map skills, learn about the olympics (the platypus was the mascot at the 2000 games, I had no idea!). you'll craft paper bag puppets and model them out of clay (which I need to buy as well, but playdough works well in a pinch... my children aren't picky, but I think it would be fun and be more sturdy, and for the recycler in you there's an activity that shows your child how to turn a cereal box into a duck-billed platypus! There are a ton of activities here and we'll be doing a lot of them this week since we didn't get to do as much this last month as I wanted to this month thanks to a crazy start.

Speaking of which! The whole emergency surgery thing, recovery, and knowing that November will be yet another tricky month with a new baby and bouts of nausea along the way, I have REALLY enjoyed having this product. I printed it out so that I could easily grab what I needed and we could just sit and discuss and look at pictures, or have a list of things that needed to be gathered right in front of me that I could send the children to go and get. Easy, yes, easy is the operative word here. I wasn't really up for getting together my own information over the last few weeks, which is what I would normally do to save a buck, but at these inexpensive prices and the completeness of the e-book (LOVE the internal hyperlinks that automatically take you to whatever outside source you may need), this is one of those products that keeps the children learning/having fun/exploring new things, with very little effort on the homeschooling parents part. It is also very accessible so I can give information to my husband and he could easily take over (I'm a little more hesitant about him doing things like spelling, math, etc., he just doesn't know the technique, that's my job :-D), so this he can take over and have fun and not have to worry about if he's doing something right. It's all right there and he can just have fun with it! They can even keep track of their investigations by printing out an information card and creating a booklet of all they've learned about this interesting animal!

The only part of this product that I really don't care for is the amount of scripture/copywork, I do like some, but for us we aren't going to finishing every last page of it. I like that they include both manuscript and cursive examples for the copywork, and of course the nice thing about an e-book though is the ability to print out what you want and leave what you don't! If you love copywork then your child may enjoy the fact that there's plenty of pages to choose from and if you're like us and just a little is sufficient, then you do less! We'll also enjoy going over some of the scriptures, but again, not all.

My last comment about this product really is what pushes it over the edge for me. There are a few pages in the book specifically for children with special needs. I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be to teach a child with special needs and what kinds of things need to be taken into consideration to help them get the most out of what you're trying to present to them. Here TOS has helped ease this pressure by giving you ideas of how to teach, and it gave me a little more insight into how a child perceives things. Included in this section there are more of those lovely internal links that parents can use to help their children. That gives this product an extra gold star from me!

Overall, you really can't go wrong with The Curiosity Files! At a price of $6.95 for the Platypus and other selections at only $1 with a 7 day 100% guarantee I think you'll really enjoy having all of this information right at your fingertips! You could spread this out over a month or two or just have it on deck as something quick you can pull out when everything has gone awry and you haven't planned a lesson, or you're looking for something fun to do to shake things up. We'll definitely be getting a few more to help bridge the gap over "emergencies," and when I can't bolster the energy to do much more than hang out in bed :-)


crazy4boys said...

Very thorough review. I haven't heard of these before and will have to check them out. By the way, the link to the TOS store for these is not working.

Cherie said...

I think I've worked out the kinks... would you try it again for me?

crazy4boys said...

The link takes me directly to the one about MRSA. Did you want to link to the page with all the options? There are some fun looking title there...and I love things for $1!!!!

The Garner Family said...

4 Kids with 1 on the way?!?! Why do I have to find this out from your blog? Congratulations! How far along are you? Are you feeling ok?

Also, I just started with a new curriculum that I would love to show you. It is for all ages and is very rich in history, literature, art, government, philosophy, writing, etc.

Let me know if you want to come visit and check it out!