Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Homeschool Resource Review: Download n Go Expedition Australia

TOS Magazine's Schoolhouse Store asked us to review their Download n Go e-book Expedition Australia. This is just one of many Download n Go resources TOS has available, see the whole list here.

This e-book is designed as a 1 week (5 day) unit study for grades K-4th Grade. It's available as an instant download for $7.95.

I'd seen Download n Go ebooks advertised often, and was excited to see one in person. Because we were reviewing this in connection with other homeschooling, and didn't want to lose momentum on our regular studies, I opted to spread it out over several weeks rather than using it as our main curriculum for one week. Since each day was separated into a variety of "subjects" (an animal of the day, Australian word of the day, etc) this was easy to do.

Overall we enjoyed this unit study. My nature-loving girls LOVED learning about the Australian animals & geography (Great Barrier Reef, desert, etc). Also many of the lapbook activities included drawing which is always a hit with them.

I found the layout not conducive to using with 2 (or more) students. The actual lapbook pages are all in the back of the e-book but there are many "worksheets" throughout. This is a LARGE e-book so I hoped to avoid printing the entire thing out twice, but essentially that's what I had to do, because so many of the pages included SOMETHING for the child to write/draw (draw a picture of a wombat, answer questions about the Great Barrier Reef, etc).

Another frustration I had was with the recommended books. I would have found it very helpful to have brief descriptions of the books or at least an age/grade designation next to them. There were a couple that even my K/1st grade children found much too "young" for them (a simple counting book of Australian animals, for example, a year from now my 1 yr old would have enjoyed being a part of things, but I wouldn't expect most K-4th graders to be interested in such books). Additionally, the books were listed by which day to read them, but some, I wished I'd looked through sooner as they were about Australian geography in general and included sections on things we'd covered on an earlier day. So, rather than sorting them by day, or in addition to it, a brief synopsis of the book, including which areas of study it pertained to, would have been very helpful.

Despite those minor frustrations, we learned alot about Australia, and enjoyed it. Personally, I don't think I'd want to use these as our main curriculum (but then, I tend to not like using any one thing as a main curriculum LOL) but I will definitely keep them in mind and if my children show significant interest in a topic that Download n Go has a unit study for, will consider using it, there is a ton of information included and a variety of activities for different types of learners and different interests.

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