Friday, February 11, 2011

Curiosity Files: The Dung Beetle; a TOS Crew Review

Dung Beetles. Who knew that there is a unit study available about these uh, hmm, well, interesting creatures?

Introducing Dung Beetle from The Curiosity Files, an 80-page download (pdf) unit study (76 pages if you don't count the cover pages and two ads at the end) about an insect that survives on the dung of certain animals.

I volunteered for this particular review because I wanted a peek inside The Curiosity Files. Are they appropriate for a learner with special needs? Are they easily customized? Can I pick and choose parts and leave the others for a later time when my learner's reading skills have matured a little more?

The answers are all "yes".

We have not yet worked through an entire unit study on any topic; we use bits and pieces and create a mini-version of unit studies. Homeschoolers are experts at adapting materials; one thing I've learned is that none of us use products and resources exactly as written. The beauty of unit studies is that they are flexible and easily customized for individual learners, and this one is no exception. There are lots of little pieces about the dung beetle and related to the dung beetle that add up to big learning.

A topic like a beetle that uses poop for survival is interesting to my child who balks at anything that looks too much like "school". We discovered a new interest. (Chasing interests is usually successful learning.)

The study includes facts and information about and related to dung beetles presented in a fun way plus quizzes; science experiments (which we did not do because we have been cleaning and decluttering and being on call at a moment's notice to show our house for sale and I can't get out the modeling clay or egg cartons and hot glue gun); suggestions for working with students with special needs (deaf/blind); puzzles; vocab for younger children and older students; copywork in both printing and cursive. (Note to self: At some point in the near future, create a post of accommodations and compensations for use with a child with developmental delays.)

Something other reviewers might not mention: I like the font size. Font that is too small sends my homeschooler's anxiety rising - it looks like too much, too challenging. This particular study has a good amount of information on a page, but not too much, in my opinion. (I know, I know - my opinion is subjective.)

A negative for me: The copywork is entirely too small. I wish the copywork pages were arranged on larger lines for the child who finds small printing a challenge. I have to go to a copywork generator web page and retype the copywork into a lined page that is better formatted for our specific needs. I am not crazy about that extra step.

One of my favorite pages is an untitled one that lists 27 sentences that relate to one another but are not in a particular order. The page is part of a section of fables and stories, and readers learn about a fable, and then get to try one on our own, with the help of those 27 sentences. The instructions read, "Try to combine these sentences below in a logical way, grouping similar thoughts together." I customize this activity by choosing a smaller number of related sentences to group together into short paragraphs. (Wish I'd have thought of that activity myself.)

Dung Beetle offers some math (measuring length, diameter, for example), scripture and related lesson and writing with an emphasis on parts of speech, too. There are file-folder activity template and file-folder activities included (Li'l Bit doesn't like those). If your learner is like mine, you'll need to adapt some of the material or save it during a second trip through the material when your learner has matured.

There's even a section that has us imagining a conversation with a dung beetle - that's some great perspective taking and imaginary play experience!

The pdf file is full color; I sent the file to an office supply store for printing and the cost was almost $50. Switching to black-and-white reduced the cost to just under $9. You could choose to print just the copywork, or the copywork, file folder, and worksheet pages and your costs would be lower. I find it simpler to have the whole study in my hand and choose to print all of it. There are some hyperlinks in the study that require an online connection to access.

I'm impressed. I will buy more studies from The Curiosity Files. Regularly priced at $6.95 in The Schoolhouse Store, Dung Beetle is available along with three other Curiosity Files choices at the moment for a dollar. The Curiosity File selections are also available in bundles in the Schoolhouse Store.

To read Crewmates' review of this and other studies from The Curiosity Files, go HERE.

I was given a copy of The Curiosity Files Dung Beetle for review purposes. I was not paid for this review, do not benefit if you purchase the product, and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

1 comment:

Bright Side of Life said...

Hi Penny
Dung Beetles certainly are an interesting topic!! We have seen many Dung Beetles in various places around Africa and they are amazing to watch. In fact, much time has been spent looking at and observing how these little insects are capable of moving such a big ball of poop!! Have some photos somewhere!! :)

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