Friday, October 5, 2012

Box of I.D.E.As. Schoolhouse Review 2012

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     If you ask my kids what to pick one thing about homeschooling that they love the most, their answer would be Unit Studies. We all enjoy them as they are hands on and delve deep into a subject that we would like to study. We can make them what we want to make them and can carry it into our field trips and beyond. We were offered the opportunity to review a unit study company by the name of Box of I.D.E.As., I had never heard of this company before hearing about it from The Schoolhouse Review Crew. I checked out the website and I was intrigued, this sounded like something my kids would flip for, I offered the boys the chance to choose the subject box we would receive, we were able to choose either the Pearl Harbor box, or the Salt box. I was surprised when my boys chose Salt as they love learning about historic wars and such, but excited to see what this little box was all about.

      The boys were full of anticipation waiting for the box, I was expecting a small box, but let me tell you it was quite large and pretty heavy. As I brought the box into the house I was starting to get as excited as they were. We could not wait to open it up. I was pleasantly surprised with how much was in the box, and how nicely it was all put together. There were 10 large ziplock bags, probably 10x12( I did not think to measure them) and there were materials inside each bag that centered around a sub topic of our SALT unit. History of salt, science of salt, salt in cooking, salt in our body and needing it to live and so much more. I was impressed with the amount of learning was packed into this box. I just could not picture how there was to learn about Salt before that box came. I mean Salt it is a simple subject and doesn't seem too terribly interesting right? Wrong! There was so much information in each packet and more learning than I could have ever imagined on one everyday subject. I think after we started this unit study we all realized we were taking our simple grains of salt for granted and there is so much more to know about it.
Information from the website....

Modules include:

The History Of Salt - A gateway to learning world history through the ages. Take a ‘salty journey’ through time! This module gives an overview of how salt has had an influence in the world in so many ways - from building empires to starting wars.  The portfolio piece gives your child a chance to use their imagination and recreate history how THEY want to do it while the chronology of the activity portion helps them to learn the sequence of world events while having fun playing a game.

The Science Of Salt - Bring science into your home through experiments with salt. Make science FUN!  All the supplies are included in this module to allow your kids to set up their own 'labratory' and investigate the answers to some burning salt questions!  A lab write up encompasses the portfolio piece to go along with the actual experiment activity.

The Salt March - An entre into the history of India and Mahatma Ghandi, one of history’s most important figures.  The history of India is long and storied and this module will open doors for you to direct your kids to a more in depth investigation of this most interesting place - from civil disobedience to a culture so different from their own.  The portfolio piece is a matching exercise while the factual chronology of the activity that deals directly with the Salt March itself will give them greater understanding into this singular act of civil disobedience that helped free a country from foreign rule.

The Salt of the Earth - Your children will love learning about their own country and those around the world as well when they become part of the investigation to find out where exactly salt is produced.  A huge variety of countries are involved in salt production and through the portfolio piece, which teaches graphing skills, to the activity mapping exercise, your kids will enjoy their hunt for the highest, and lowest, salt producing countries of the world.

Need For Salt - Humans and other animals need salt to live - without it we would cease to function.  The key is to get enough without getting too much.  In an effort to teach responsible nutrition and give your kids the ability to quickly and easily read food lables, this module delves into how much is too much and what we actually require.  By finding and listing high and low sodium foods and then making up a daily meal plan while keeping within certain limits, kids can acquire a skill that will serve them well for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Preserving With Salt - When mankind realized that food could be preserved with salt, the whole world changed.  People were suddenly not tied down to one place, exploration was suddenly possible and making it through the winter a more likely event.  This module concentrates on food safety and the facts of preservation - the why and the how as well as key terms.  Math skills come into effect in the portfolio piece while the fast paced board game will make learning the facts of preservation lots of fun!

Too Much Salt - While most people are aware of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, many don't realize just how common salt lakes are.  They are a source of salt and a source of life for many creatures.  Your children will learn all about salt lakes and their functions as well as how they are formed in this informative module.  They will use critical math skills and logic to solve problems regarding volume, area and salinity.

The Wall That Salt Built - Take your kids on a Chinese adventure!  While most know of the Great Wall, few are aware of salt's role in its formation.  The portfolio is designed to make your children use their minds to understand why salt was so important while the activity portion of the module concentrates on the construction of the wall itself over hundreds and hundreds of years.

Where Salt Lives - Salt can be found in several different places from which is it extracted for our use.  This module will take you and your kids to all the places that salt lives before it travels to your local grocery store!  The portfolio exercise will have your children critically reading a newspaper article regarding salt mining and then answering detailed questions about what they have read.  The activity deals with all of the places salt can be found and your child must reason as to where each fact is referring.

The Language of Salt - Salt proliferates our language and that of languages the world over.  Whether a single word, an idiom or a place name, salt is everywhere attesting to its importance throughout history.  This module gives an overview of how salt helped to form many common sayings, names and words.  The portfolio challenges your child to decipher the meaning behind some common salt phrases while the activity has them matching words, phrases and place names with their definitions and origins

    One interesting fact about Box of I.D.E.As. is that each bag that holds a topic about your main choice can be used all by themselves and there is no particular sequence you need to complete the bags in or time frame that it needs to be completed. We did one to two bags per week and took our time really exploring each bag.  I let the boys pick which bag we were going to start with and they of course picked what they thought was the most Science related one, it was the Rock Salt bag. After we completed that one they took turns picking the following ones, the second one we did was how we need salt in our body. I enjoyed the fact that there were really no additional materials needed for each bag besides a pencil and maybe some paper. This makes them easy on the go learning. We took ours camping, and most recently on our 19 day Ultimate Homeschool Road Trip. It sure helped to pass the time away as we made the trek from Michigan to Texas. I am so glad we took them with us, the kids have never been any farther than Indiana and could not even imagine how long we were going to be in the car, it really helped keep everyone sane.

     The boys have already been checking out the Box of I.D.E.As. website to see what other topics we could explore. They are leaning towards the Laundry one next. The boxes are geared for children ages 9-16 and they make it easy for multi age learning. PDF versions are $49 and the print version like what we received are$79.00. Now you are probably thinking that this is a little on the high side, I know I was, but let me tell you it is worth this price and so much more. You get everything you need and so much more. I love that I did not have to go out and hunt up items from a list just to get started. Even the little game pieces and dice, and the rock salt were all included. You can buy additional modules for additional students for a small charge of $4.

      Each box includes a SAT style test so that once you complete all of the activities you can administer the test and see how your children absorbed all of the information they learned while going through the BOX. I found this very helpful as my boys sometimes do not convey that they learned what they were taught because of processing delays. I am happy to report my boys both received an A. I was as thrilled as they were and this made them feel very confident. I am looking forward to purchasing additional boxes in the future. Now to decide which one to pick, and are excited to see what new topics will be arriving to the Box of I.D.E.As. family. The boys have some ideas they are hoping for but we will have to wait and see.

    Please visit the Box of I.D.E.As. website and also check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew posts by clicking on the banner below to see what the rest of the crew and their families thought about Box of I.D.E.As. I know that if you give them a try you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was.



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