Saturday, November 6, 2010

Expedition Australia and Keeping it Real

We spent this week doing the Download N Go unit Expedition Australia.  I have to be honest and say that my heart just was not in it.  I still wanted to do it, but I just could not get out of my own way this week.  Do you ever have a week like that?  I guess that is the beauty of Download N Go.  We could have made a salt dough map of Australia or made didgeridoos or boomerangs or a hundred other wonderful projects that would make for a fabulous blog post and wonderful memories BUT for this week, we "only" covered the lessons and made a few of the lapbooking minit books provided in the unit study.  And, do you know what?  It was enough!  It was plenty.  In my perfectionism, I still wish that we had been able to do some projects but I am OK with the fact that we didn't.

Have you ever done a Download N Go Unit?  I'd love for you to comment on this post.  I'm not giving anything away this time but I would love to hear from you! :)

Download N Go units are designed for grades K-4 but Ryan (grade 5) also did Expedition Australia.  In each Download N Go unit study you get 5 days of lessons.  The work is really all done for you.  There is an extensive list of library books you can choose from if you wish but they are totally unnecessary!  The links provided in the unit study give you all the information you need!  There are videos, informational links, links to maps and the flag and the national anthem and so much more. I think I might say this with every unit, but I really love how much geography there is in these units.  Before I decided to use Download N Go this year, I had already decided I wanted to focus on geography a lot this year and these units sure fit the bill for that.

Our library books

In Expedition Australia the 5 days of lessons are:

Day 1: Where on Earth Is Australia?
Day 2: Some of the Special Places in Australia
Day 3: A Bit of Australian History
Day 4: Cool Things to Know About Australia
Day 5: Fun and Games in Australia

Here are a few sample pages:

The way I used this unit was to review the next day's lesson the night before and choose pages to print.The next day, we gathered around the laptop to watch the videos and complete the worksheets.  I print them on "fast draft" to save ink.  For Expedition Australia, Emma (2nd grade) and Ryan (5th grade) used this unit.  Some of the other kids also participated by coloring flags and watching videos.  This is another feature of Download N Go that I is versatile and easy to use for children older and younger than the K-4 it is recommended for.

Some of the fun things we learned about this week are marsupials, boomerangs, didgeridoos, climate, hemispheres, constellations and oceans.  (lots to learn about!)  We watched this video (warning: comment section is inappropriate) about tasmanian devils that I found.  One of the wonderful features of Download N Go is that all videos are embedded into a page so you never see youtube comments that are often offensive. (This was a video that I found was not part of the study.)

Since we didn't do any projects I don't have many pictures of this unit but here are a few that I did take on Friday.

Emma coloring her flag of Australia

Ellie's flag (not quite right but she had fun)

Our finished lap folders.  Every unit has a certificate of completion that I
 glue to the back of the folder. (If you use a pocket folder like I do be sure to use
tacky glue or something strong...a glue stick will not work.)

Currently there is a special running on Expedition Australia.  It is normally $7.95 but until Monday, November 8 it is only $5.95!  In addition, there is a fantastic National Geographic Australia map giveaway going on on the DNG blog.  Be sure to check it out!

Now go here and read what others on the DNG team are saying about Expedition Australia. Seriously, go see what others did with this unit.  It makes me want to do it again..... :)

**disclaimer:  I was given a free copy of Expedition Australia in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Molly's Money Saving Digest

Occasionally I am asked to review a product besides the Download N Go units.  This week I was sent a copy of Molly’s Money Saving Digest which is a monthly e-book “magazine”.  This is my first time reading an issue and it looks like a lot of fun.  I was given a small sample of a recent issue and a text only version of the November 2010 issue in exchange for my honest review.  The theme of the November issue is Preparing our Hearts and Homes for the Holidays.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love Christmas and the whole holiday season.   I really enjoyed reading through this issue and cannot wait to see the completed version because from the sample I have seen I know it is going to be beautiful.

Inside there are some articles, but one my favorite parts is the recipes.  There is a one week meal plan that includes meals you can make for the freezer.  I love freezer cooking and cannot wait to try the recipes. It even has a complete shopping list. There are lots of recipes for desserts too. (For my friends with Celiac Disease there is a gluten free cookie recipe as well!) Additionally, there are directions for how to make a breadbasket using plastic bags and recycled plastic lids.  I can’t wait to try making one (or letting my teens try making it.)

Molly’s Money Saving Digest is not just for recipes and crafts though.  There is a valuable article on organizing your holidays with multiple internet links to help plan everything out.  Others things you will find include a list of important dates, November bargains to look for, an article on beautiful table settings on a budget, another on dinner party manners and one writer shares her journey out of debt. Last but not least, an article on preparing our hearts and homes for the holiday season.

All in all, Molly’s Money Saving Digest is a very enjoyable read and my family will benefit from it this holiday season.

**** I saw the final version of this today and it's so nice with the pictures and that bread basket is the coolest thing.  I can't wait to try one when I have the time. 
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