Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Curiosity Files ~ Zombie Fire Ants

Zombie Fire Ants

There are times in every homeschool year when we need to change things up a little bit. The daily routine seems stale or daunting. Mom is tired, the kids are balking, and everyone is ready for something different. I have found one of the greatest cures for the homeschool blues are unit studies.

If you have never done a unit study, let me explain what they are. Unit Studies focus on one topic, and then put together an array of subject matter so that you may cover all areas of learning. Reading, writing, math, penmanship, critical thinking, drawing and coloring, map studies, science, some games, crafts, and Bible study are all organized and centered on the subject you've chosen. Many unit studies will give you a variety of exercises for different abilities so that a family can do them together. For example, there will be both print and cursive copywork. There will be several different math, vocabulary and writing assignments. When they are E-book based, there also a myriad of links included, and lots of reading suggestions so if a student really enjoys a subject they can continue to learn more about it.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Store offers a great series of unit studies called The Curiosity Files. These are designed for 8-13 year olds. Professor Anna Lyze (cute, right?) has put together fun, interesting and age appropriate lessons about some really intriguing subjects. Right now, there are nine Curiosity Files, and more are being developed. The first nine titles are:
  • Blue Diamond
  • Dung Beetle
  • MRSA
  • Puffer Fish
  • Red Tide
  • Zombie Fire Ants
  • Blue-footed Booby
  • Cicada Killing Wasp
  • Quicksand
We were really happy to get the Zombie Fire Ants E-Book. It came at the perfect time! It was mid January, the holidays were over, the decorations had been taken down. It was also cold and snowy, giving us cabin fever. We all had the enthusiasm of a slug on a salt lick. Dr. Ana Lyze came to the rescue!

I surprised the boys by leaving the textbooks on the shelves and pulling out binders with over eighty pages of interesting, new, entertaining, and even gross material about Zombie Fire Ants. The lessons are written in conversational style. so they held the boys attention. (I will admit, I found it interesting, too! ) We learned a lot about red imported fire ants, and the way God had intended to keep their population under control. I was appreciative of the way the authors took a potentially scary subject like fire ants and gently reminded us that every creature has a purpose. It also reinforced what we already knew. Until we disrupt or disturb things, all the parts of an ecosystem work in beautiful harmony.

The activities and the links included did a great job of keeping all of the senses engaged. This is always a plus with my very visual and hands on learners.

Another great thing about Unit Studies is that you have the flexibility to do them over whatever period of time you'd like. You can do daily work until you are finished, once a week, or whatever works best for your family. When the workbook style pages are completed there are always links to websites and suggested reading for more information, so it's possible to go back to the book again and again and still find fresh ideas or material.

I can try to describe to you all of the great things included in the Unit Study, but the webpage does a great job and they keep it simple.
Zombie Fire Ants will keep your kids occupied and answering questions like these:
  • What is God's plan for controlling the number of fire ants?
  • When out of control, how can scientists restore balance to the natural world?
  • What's so special about phorid flies, and how do they fit into the ant equation?
  • Okay, so how does a fire ant morph from a hard-working colony participant into a zombie-like creature?
  • If regular fire ants cause havoc, why create a zombie version?
  • Does history tell us anything important?
  • What can we grasp from the Bible?
  • And a whole lot more!
As I mentioned, each Unit Study will cover all of the bases so that you don't have to be concerned about neglecting any subjects while you explore these titles.

Zombie Fire Ants Unit Study

To learn more about the Curiosity Files, visit their page at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine store. You can also find the Curiosity Files on Facebook.

The Curiosity Files may be purchased in a 9-Pack CD-Rom bundle for $49.00. The 9-pack of E-Books can be downloaded from The Old SchoolHouse Store for $46.00. The Unit Studies may also be purchased individually, but prices vary, and can change from month to month.

It should be noted that the curiosity files are presented in PDF format, and an adobe reader is required for viewing and printing. The links will only be active if there is an internet connection. When clicking links, I like to supervise my children. There are also some links to YouTube videos. Here, parental assistance is suggested, and the instructions to hide YouTube comments are included in the book. If you purchase the CD-Rom, you should also have a working CD-Rom drive for your computer.

We definitely enjoyed the Curiosity Files, and recommend them as a great change of pace. You'll see reviews for all of the different titles posted on the Crew Blog today.

**I was given an E-Book Download of Zombie Fire Ants to use in order to write an informed review. I was not compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.