Friday, April 29, 2011

Homeschool Product Review - "The Curiosity Files: Quicksand"

I have been wanting to try The Curiosity Files series, with Professor Ana Lyze, for quite some time, so I was excited when I received the "Quicksand" unit from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew to sample.  If my kids and I were rating the unit on a 5-star scale, we would enthusiastically give it 5 stars!

The Curiosity Files are published by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  These downloadable PDF files are designed to spark students' interest in science by studying "outlandish oddities."  While the main emphasis is science, the unit study includes a Scripture section, a math section, writing, spelling, vocabulary, copywork, a geography section, music, and ideas for further reading and internet study on the topic.  There is also a section with "Curiosity Snippets," mini-book activities that could easily be used to make a lapbook.  I personally use unit studies as supplements, and since I have fairly comprehensive music, math, and writing curriculums, I skipped some of those sections.  The unit study is, however, complete enough to be used as a week-long program covering all subjects.  It works well as a complete unit or as a supplement.

The "Quicksand" unit study works well for teaching various ages and learning styles together.  I have a 7th-grader, a 5th-grader, a 2nd-grader, and a kindergartner.  While the kindergartner was somewhat bored during the reading portion and had no understanding of phrases like "non-Newtonian liquids," he absolutely loved the hands-on portion.  The copywork, some of the music portion, and some of the geography portion are also appropriate for him.  The older children, however, can dig into the more difficult assignments and the further research.  I believe there is enough challenge in this unit study to interest even high school students.  My middle school student certainly enjoyed it and learned a lot of information.  The study includes material for visual learners, auditory learners, and hands-on learners, so there was something for everyone.

I must admit that I am generally a person, being a book-learner myself, that will skip over labs and hands-on work.  If a science lab involves much preparation, materials that I do not have on hand or cannot easily obtain from a grocery store, or just seems too time-consuming, I am just as happy to find someone doing it on a YouTube video and let my kids watch it or read about it in the textbook.  I have had to overcome this tendency, because my boys especially are extreme hands-on learners.  If you share my propensity to skip labs, DO NOT SKIP these hands-on activities!  We actually made a substance similar to quicksand in this unit.  It required household products that I had on hand and only about 5 minutes to set up.  What was much more time-consuming was trying to get my kids to put it away!  As they sank toy after toy in the "quicksand," accompanied by gales of laughter, we reviewed the science lesson, the vocabulary words, how to safely get out of quicksand, etc.  This was definitely a worthwhile activity, and my children are begging me to replace their current science curriculum with more Curiosity Files!

The only drawback that I found, although it is true of many homeschool curriculums and would be a plus for many people, was that the Scriptures given were all in the KJV.  This is somewhat difficult when you are working with younger children, but easily remedied, as we simply pulled out our NIVs and read the Scripture verses from there.

The "Quicksand" unit is available at The Old Schoolhouse Store for $6.95.  Click here to go to the store.  There are several specific The Curiosity Files units on sale for $1 right now, or you may purchase a 9-pack bundle for $46 (click here).  I believe this is an excellent value for what you receive.  The "Quicksand" unit included 84 pages of useful information and great pictures.  I will certainly be purchasing more of these files.  Contact The Old Schoolhouse Store at PO Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615.  Phone: 1-888-718-HOME.  Or go to  

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.

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