Sunday, May 27, 2012

Last review for a while

For the past two years I've been on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, which consists of a group of homeschooling parents who receive products and write reviews about them. I've received hundreds of products, some of which I liked, some I loved, some were so-so, and some I really didn't care for. And through it all, I've shared my thoughts with you! I hope I've helped some of my readers learn about new products that they may like for their homeschools. Since I started on the Crew, my family life has gotten busier and busier. My oldest was diagnosed with Autism. My middle child developed severe reflux, which caused frequent nighttime vomiting. We moved across the country and then purchased our first home. We became foster parents and are now in the process of adopting our drug-exposed foster daughter. And then we had our Little Birdie, who scared us to death with her ALTE (life threatening event) and who is now on an apnea monitor. And through all of this, I reviewed products. TOS may have been the one thing in my life that didn't change over the last two years.
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Now though, it's about to. I present to you today, my very last review for the Crew (...at least for this year). For my last review, we were sent a DVD and accompanying PDF file of lesson plans by a company called Dive Into Your Imagination. Our DVD is called What Makes a Fish, A Fish? and is presented in a documentary style, geared toward children in PreK or K, but certainly entertaining and educational for those students who are older. Set to playful music, information about what makes a fish a fish is presented to the viewer in simple, consise sentences and with pictures of real ocean fish to accompany the information. After the main portion of the video, children can continue watching to learn more about scuba diving and what it entails. The DVD itself is only about 30 minutes long, long enough to have a bit of worthwhile content, but not too long to lose the attention of a small child.
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Anne Crawley, the founder of Dive Into Your Imagination never saw the ocean until she was in college. Growing up near the Pacific as I did, this is fairly unimaginable to me! But Anne began to have this passion to help children enjoy and discover the wonder of the ocean, and that's how the company began. Through her DVDs and corresponding lesson plans, Anne attempts to interest children in the ocean and its' creatures.

The DVD alone is educational, fun, and well made. I (and my kiddos) especially enjoyed the narrator's simple explanations and the video footage of unique fish and their habitats and survival skills. See some sample chapters here. Little Bean, my oldest, LOVES fish, so he was really into this product. What makes these DVDs stand out though is the instructor guides. that come along with them. Our guide is nearly 300 pages and includes what basically amounts to a unit study on fish which is integrated with the content of the DVD. The lesson plans are laid out in a step by step manner, and untilize different educational tools (graphic organizers, anticipatory sets) that remind me very much of my time in college studying education. Lessons cover a wide variety of subject areas, including Language Arts, Science, Geography, Math and Character Education. There is a lesson corresponding to each chapter on the DVD. The lessons are not some after thought, thrown together to make the product more educational; rather, it really shows how much time and effort was put into making these lessons educational, interactive and engaging for the students. From what I can gather from the website, the instructor guides are purchased separately from the DVD. Each DVD costs $19.95, and the print version of the instructor guide is $299. There is free shipping through out June using the following link: http://www.anniecrawley.com/store/

Would I recomend this product? Sure I would! Is it essential to your core homeschooling curriculum? No, probably not. But if you like unit studies, and want something super organized and easy to implement that incorporates technology and includes a variety of content areas, and you want to learn about fish, then this product may be what you are looking for!

What Makes a Fish, A Fish? isn't the only DVD this company sells either. Crew members had the chance to review several other titles as well, including Who Lives in the Sea? and Dive Into Diversity. Click here to read what other reviewers thought. Visit the company website to learn more about these products.

I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I am not obligated to give a positive review, and all opinions are mine alone.

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