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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Product Review: Download N Go Expedition Australia

If there is one thing that I have trouble completing during the homeschool day, it is geography. That is why I was so thrilled to receive a copy of the 'Download n Go Expedition Australia' program.

As a try-out for a homeschool curriculum review member, I received a free copy of the TOS Download N Go program for Australia, in exchange for an honest review of the product on this blog. I received no other compensation.

I was excited when I downloaded the file into an Adobe file and had a look at it. It was clearly organized into five days and each of the days had specific themes and topic areas to cover. This was exactly what I needed! It was clearly laid out and had set goals to achieve. I could handle this kind of addition to our school day. It covered a topic we too frequently overlooked: Geography. An added bonus for me was that the program not only covered geography, but also animals, vocabulary, social studies, and art!

The material and activities that your child completes centers around creating a lapbook- an activity that my children enjoy. For those unfamiliar with lapbooking, there are guidelines included in the program. Lapbooking helps your children display and review the information they have learned in an accessible way.

A typical day in the program may include learning about a location (such as a city), a geographic feature (such as the Great Barrier Reef), a word of the day (a barbie is more than just an ugly doll!), a unique animal, cultural differences, and/or seasonal differences. The program is filled with links sending you to youtube videos, National Geographic sites, world time tables... no more mindless internet searches to try and figure out the average weight of a wombat. Just gather your kids and click the links to explore together.

Possibly the greatest advantage (at least for a penny pincher like me) is the price. The entire Australia program is only $7.95. They also have location units on China, Ireland, and Mexico. A family could do a world geography study for just over $30! Other non-location units in this program include: George Washington, soccer, dolphins, and seasonal units. Check out the entire listing here:

No review would be complete without my down and dirty personal conclusions about the program:

Ways the program didn't work for us:

*There was WAY too much to complete for a single day. With our already full homeschooling day I was not able to complete all the activities and sections assigned. It worked out though, because we stretched the unit into three weeks instead of one week.

*It would have been better if the sections to print out were more easily distinguished. Sometimes you would need to print out only half the page and so the stuff on top would just waste ink. Having a specific section at the end of each day that was clearly marked as necessary printed materials for the day would have made it a lot easier on me. I also felt like I had to jump around a lot within the unit to find the printable stuff.

*It was a lot of computer time. It was worth it, but I did feel a little out of my element schooling the kids in front of the computer.

*Some of the information collected was difficult to place into a lapbook. This might have been made better by also discussing the possibility of 'notebooking' as a way to gather and keep the information.

Why I would recommend this program:

*It was easy to adapt the program to fit the needs of my Pre-K student as well as those of my third grader. I could see doing this program for older students as well, as many of the unit topics could be expanded and explored independently.

*Although I also mentioned this as a disadvantage, the unit has a wealth of information about the topic, and tons of activities to help your student expand the knowledge they are learning.

*An extensive book list is offered in the beginning. I didn't use any of the books referenced because I felt the program was already bursting at the seams with information without the book supplements.

*The unit is divided into days, and although I felt the days were too long, it does offer a goal for the parent as to how much to do each time.

*Lapbooking is such a great way to collect and store completed project work, and they hardly take up any space at all.

*It was a fairly easy way to squeeze geography into our homeschooling day.

*No only did the unit end up covering geography, but it also enriched our social studies, science (leaning about animals), vocabulary, and art lessons.

*The price is great.

I think the highest recommendation is knowing that I will personally be purchasing other units in this series. They are a fantastic way to compliment our schooling day.

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