Thursday, May 13, 2010

Download N Go Review

I have been asked to give a review on Mrs. Bennett's Expedition Australia Download N Go study. But first a little about these little jewels and Mrs. Bennett.

The Product
If you were to read anything about Amanda Bennett you would find that the word "unit study" doesn't follow far behind her name. She has been known for years in the homeschool community because of her pioneer spirit in regards to unit studies. And she has pioneered yet again! She has taken the "unit study" method of homeschooling and turned it into an unbelievably fun and easy way to learn about all sorts of things!! She is certainly the "Unit Study Queen" in my book!

Mrs. Bennett has partnered with the Old Schoolhouse Magazine (read an interview here.) to bring to us Unit Studies and lapbooks as they have never been available before. Each of her Download N Go ebook unit studies are filled with lapbooking activities, complete daily lessons which cover geography, reading, science, spelling, vocabulary, writing, art and more. The studies are beautiful and reusable and printable so that we can teach all of our children (and even our neighbor's children if we want to) for years to come. There are book suggestions included in each study but do not "carry" the lesson so if you can't find them you won't miss anything, The hyperlinks to videos, music, arts and crafts are all built in so you just click and you're there. As if all that weren't enough these little gems are ready to go upon downloading. Whew!! Got all that? Okay, well scroll back up, re-read all the awesomeness and then get back here cause it's time for my review.

My Experience

Starting this Unit Study on Australia was a last minute decision on my part. I decided Friday that I would go ahead and do this with the children and Monday morning I found myself sitting at the table with my laptop open, ready to begin.

I was pretty excited to be honest with you. I had seen these advertised so much and had wanted to try one out but never got around to it. I was now staring my chance right in the face.

We immediately began our lessons and I have to say that I was amazed at how everything really was just "Download N Go!!" I did no prep. Not a bit! I didn't even print out the lapbook items ahead of time! Honestly!! Now normally I would be scrambling for this and that and running to my computer to "find the link to that great worksheet" but it didn't happen this time.

We started day one off with a couple of short videos, and followed that with reading a little information about the continent of Australia, learned about Koalas, found the time zone difference, learned about the Great Barrier Reef and saw some gorgeous videos and pictures of that awesome place, did some lapbooking projects and learned a few Australian words. The kids have not stopped talking about Australia! They have loved this study!!

Their favorite part by far is the videos!! We are all pretty visual here so this fit the learning style perfectly!

I am amazed at how much material Mrs. Bennett has packed into these studies! There is so much I would dare say that you could easily spread this out into a 2 week study. We are actually only halfway through this study-the Homeschool Expo started today so I've been quite sidetracked but am needing to get this review in!! (Hey, on a sidenote, the Expo was WONDERFUL today! It's too late to join but you can still purchase the MP3s here.) I said, I am going to be spreading this out a bit to ease some of the pressure off during the Expo week but it will work just fine I think.
As with all things nothing is perfect and there were a few little details that bothered me. I was a little dissapointed in a few of the video suggestions. A couple of them were more like commercials for Australia's toursim department than they were informative. They were great to watch but I really did want something more. However since these were on YouTube we had access to many other videos that we enjoyed. I also was only able to find about three of the books suggested at my library. She did link all suggestions to Amazon but I didn't have the time, or desire to purchase any. Thankfully enough these lessons are so meaty that we didn't miss the books at all.

On upcoming days I will change how I approach this study though. What I originally did was sit at the table and complete the whole thing in one sitting-like an hour or an hour and a half. In doing it over I would do it in chunks throughout the day.

The Breakdown
  • No prep work for Mom, literally just open up your computer, click, read, print as you need. Simple.
  • Full lessons!! No skimping here! Kiddos will get a very meaty exposure on the topic.
  • Multiple ages can learn together.
  • A good variety of topics are covered. (i.e. geography of the land, weather, distance from your home to cities in Australia, plenty of animal study, culture study, landmarks study etc.)
  • Lapbooking is included. Yay!
  • Satisfies all learning styles.
  • Access to videos and photos
  • Pre-scheduled books. She suggests different titles everyday.
  • The price! Individual studies are only $7.95 but you can also purchase monthly (4 studies) or get highly planned and purchase a whopping 19 studies.
  • Although I was excited about the book lists I was disappointed that a great majority for this study were not available at my local library.
  • Some of the videos that were chosen were more like commercials for Australia instead of actually being very informative.
  • Being stuck at the computer. (But that my just be me.)
Even with those cons I would still say that these are awesome and definately worth giving a try! I might sprinkle in a few here and there throughout our year next year!! Check check out the Download N Go Unit Studies today!!!

Lovin' Learnin'

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