Thursday, May 27, 2010

Download N Go Homeschool Curriculum Review

We recently had the opportunity to work through two unit studies from a brand new curriculum.  Download N Go curriculum from The Old Schoolhouse is created to be a series of quick and easy week-long unit studies that combine minimal preparation with extensive learning.  They also provide ready-made contents to create a lapbook, quickly familiarizing even the most inexperienced lapbooker (like myself) with this popular homeschooling technique. The best way to present an introduction to Download N Go is to send you directly to their website – downloadngo.com. Also, here is an interview with the author as she answers basic questions about the curriculum.

The units we reviewed were Davy Crockett and Whales Tales. Each study included five days of links and exercises combined with the resources needed to created both a journal and a lapbook of the material covered. To avoid redundancy, I won't copy all of the information about each study into this review, but I encourage you to click on the title links to see a more detailed description of the studies.

How it Works: Download N Go offers their titles separately or in money-saving units.  Once the titles have been purchased, an email is sent when each unit studies is available.  The unit studies can then be downloaded and printed.  Each study we received contained a total of 83 pages, approximately 60 of which needed to be printed (per child) for journaling and lapbooking. 

The study is designed to be read through on an internet-connected computer and filled out on paper.   Every step of learning involves clicking on at least one link to find answers to the journal questions and lapbook activities.  Depending on the reading, writing, cutting, and gluing speed of the child(ren), each day’s lesson work will take anywhere from two to three hours. 

Comprehensiveness: Each unit focuses heavily on either science or history with references to other subjects.  Open-ended question format leaves an opportunity for grammar and writing education at the parent’s discretion.  Up to four relevant spelling/vocabulary words are listed per day.  Hands-on suggestions are included in each study, and a relevant (optional) book list is included with each day’s assignments.  A math curriculum would need to be added separately. 

Personal note: Were this to be our primary curriculum source, we would intentionally seek out additional resources to deepen our understanding of lightly referenced concepts.  For example, we learned that Davy Crockett served as a legislator, but we didn’t learn much about what a legislator does.   We learned that whales are mammals, but only lightly touched on what a mammal is and how it differs from other animals.

We would also be sure to have a timeline book or wall hanging for entering the dates mentioned in each historical study so we could clearly see how the information from various studies fit together.

Cost: The unit studies themselves are very reasonably priced at $5 to $7.95 per unit, depending on the number of units purchased at once.   This is a great price if there is access to a solid local library for readers and additional resources.  Without such access, the expenses of trying to round out this curriculum could add up very quickly.  The other cost factors to take into consideration are the basic supplies needed each week (glue, brass brads, and folders) and the cost of printing approximately 60 color pages per student per week.  There is also the consideration of a math curriculum. 

Our Opinion:  So, did we like it?  Well, we learned a lot.  And, the girls had fun with it.  Above all, we learned some new techniques that could really improve our learning experience. 

  • We discovered how much fun it is to use the internet to supplement learning – something which I have neglected to do in the past but will be more diligent about in the future.
  • We learned how easy it is to lapbook.  A lapbook is essentially a lap-sized display board.  Utilizing pictures, brief notes, and vocabulary words in handy display, a lapbook is intended to be a memory-trigger for what the child has learned.  Download N Go reminded me that hands-on activities really do reinforce memory, and it taught me how to use lapbooking as one hands-on option.

The bottom line, though, is that Download N Go is just not for us.   Here are the specifics on how it could be great for someone else and why it wasn’t for us… 

  1. Parents and children who like cutting, gluing, coloring, and writing to be the main focus on a school day would definitely want to consider this curriculum.  Parents who, like us, prefer for those to be side activities would probably want to look elsewhere. 
  2. In this curriculum, the internet is the primary source of learning information (through carefully selected and safe sites, using multiple sites for each set of information in the likely event a link is no longer active), with the goal being to create a journal and a lapbook of all you’ve learned.  Books are supplemental.  Although we enjoy looking up additional information online, our family prefers to glean our primary information directly from books.  
  3. This curriculum is created for those who like to continually jump from one thing to the next.  Five minutes of reading here, two minutes of video there.  Although my girls enjoyed the videos and online resources immensely, their attention span was negatively affected by the fact that we never rested in one place for more than a few minutes at a time.   
  4. Parents who need their children to be highly independent would be drawn to this curriculum. Children who can easily maneuver through documents and follow links on the computer (parents would need to pre-check all links each week) could do this work independently.  Parents who, like me, prefer to be more interactive might find themselves with a great deal of “dead time” while working through this curriculum.
  5. Parents who love to take a foundational curriculum and run with it would be delighted with the freedom and flexibility of this curriculum.   We prefer a more distinctly outlined and all-inclusive curriculum.
  6. Those who really like to focus on one topic at a time while keeping the topic small enough to cover in a week would really enjoy this curriculum.  Our family learned this week that we prefer a broader approach than unit studies provide.

Although Download N Go is not what we would seek in a primary curriculum, there are many who would find a perfect match in these unit studies. 

If you are interested in other people’s opinions, click here to read more reviews of this curriculum.  If you think Download N Go just might be for you, here are purchase options to get you started.  And, now is a great time to buy as Download N Go is offering 20% off any multiple pack purchase!!  Just enter the code DNG20PKS at checkout to receive your discount. 

And, finally, Download N Go is sponsoring a huge contest!  Click on the button below to learn more about the giveaway package and how to enter!

The Adventure Begins Giveaway!

Davy Crockett and Whales Tales were sent to me for review by Litfuse Publicity Group.

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