Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Download and Go, Expedition Australia--TOS Review

I was thrilled when The Old Schoolhouse sent me Expedition Australia to review. A blogging friend is also using these printable unit studies, and I was curious about how they would be for Little Bean, so this was a great opportunity for us! Download and Go is a newer e-book series of unit studies offered on a variety of topics put out by The Old Schoolhouse. True to it's name, this 5-day unit study is ready to use as soon as you print it out! Each unit only costs $7.95 and is purchased as a downloadable file. If you are interested in purchasing several at once, TOS also offers different package deals (38 studies for $190.00, 19 studies for $114.00, or 4 studies for $30.00).

The 103 page unit on Australia is packed full of links and information to teach your student about Australia. We watched short video clips, looked at pictures and maps online, listened to audio files of different Australian words, and checked the time and temperature in different locations in Australia.

For this series, you do need access to high speed internet and a quality color printer to really take advantage of all the great things these units provide. I chose to print out only the pages that we would actually be writing on because some of the pages were quite colorful but lacked a real purpose other than visual enjoyment, and I didn't want to use up my printer ink. Instead, we just enjoyed these pages from the screen of my laptop computer. I punched holes in the unit, and added it to a three-ring binder, separated by tabs. The unit is already separated into days for you, so organizing the unit was a quick and easy process.
In the back of the notebook, I inserted this plastic pocket for keeping all our lapbooking supplies. The unit comes complete with all the lapbooking mini-books you need to make a really great lapbook of your studies. We had not previously done much lapbooking, so this was really exciting for me, as well as for Little Bean. I will say that while this unit is geared toward K through 4th grade, obviously a Kinder cannot cut out all the lapbooking components, so I did have to spend a while cutting and preparing all of the mini-books before hand.

When it was time to start our lessons, I set up another small table near Little Bean's desk to hold my laptop. We worked through the printed pages alongside the saved file on my computer, clicking back and forth from the links and writing down information in our printed book and lapbook as we went. An older child could work through this pretty well independently, but for Little Bean, I needed to be there every step of the way because he is not accustomed to working with technology, nor could he read the information on the websites (though he could understand it all!).
Aren't these lapbooking pieces great? I was really impressed with the wide variety of paper books Expedition Australia provided. Each activity was very fun for Little Bean, and gave him valuable handwriting practice as well. He loves to work with paper, cutting, pasting and the like, so lapbooking was right up his ally.
This unit was like nothing we've done before, so I was a little worried that Little Bean would not understand some of the material. Expedition Australia introduced him to the seven continents, map work, famous animals of Australia, climate and temperatures in Australia, the use of technology to gain information, and more! To my delight, Little Bean LOVED this unit! Several times this week he has shared information that he remembered about Australia with me. He is even making some of his own "lapbook" pieces in his free time, referring to his real lapbook for spelling and information!
Because of his great interest, I immediately went to their website to see what other topics we could explore in the future.

Some other Download N Go units available are:
Winter Wonders
Spring Surprises
Expedition China
Sea Shells
Pizza Party
Birthday Bonanza
Simply Soccer
and Twisting can find them all here!

These units are geared toward grades K through 4th, so Little Bean is right there on the end of the spectrum. I did have to do some scaffolding of the materials for him, but it wasn't burdensome or unrealistic to do a unit like this with him. Some of the other topics Download and Go offers would probably be a little more appropriate for his age (Birthday Bonanza, Pizza Party, Valentines Day, etc) but overall, even a more complex topic like Expedition Australia was easily adapted to fit the needs of my Kinder by simply doing a little more narration or telling-back, instead of handwriting, as handwriting is a skill that he is still perfecting and it can be laborious for him.

If these are of interest to you, you can check them out here!

Note: I was given this product to keep in exchange for my honest opinion. No compensation was given for this review.


Michelle said...

Great review, Jennifer! I really liked how you shared how you used this and I loved the pictures you included! *Ü*

Jessica S. said...

I love the lapbooks!! Good job on the TOS Review & good luck with tryouts! ;)

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