Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Satisfying Our Curiosity with Curiosity Quest DVDs {A TOS Review}

Curiosity Quest Review
It is no secret that we love watching educational programs in our home. Of course, I am sure the children would love it if mommy and daddy would let them watch other cartoons, but we have made the decision to fill our children's minds with knowledge if they are going to be sitting in front of the television. The children don't really get an overload of tv time anyway, as they are only allowed to watch 1 or 2 shows a day while I am making lunch, plus one movie a week on our Family Popcorn and Movie Night. I was excited to learn about this new-to-me program called Curiosity Quest and thrilled when I found out we were going to get a chance to review 2 of their Combo Packs for the Schoolhouse Review Crew: DVD Combo Pack- Swimmers of the Sea (Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, Salmon) and DVD Combo Pack-Produce (Mushrooms, Cranberries, Orange Packing).
Curiosity Quest is a program that heads on out into the real world to help satisfy the curiosity of its viewers. The show is designed for children ranging in age from 7-14, but this mom found quite a bit of her curiosity being satisfied and the younger girls enjoyed them as well. Each episode is approximately 30 minutes long. In the 6 seasons of the program, which can be found on some PBS stations, they have covered quite a few different topics. You will discover various episodes in each of the following topics:
  • Animals
  • Instruments
  • Recycling
  • Food
  • Sports
  • Careers
  • Environment
  • How To
  • Vehicles
In each episode, the host Joel Greene introduces us to the topic at hand in the form of a question from one of their viewers. He then takes us on location to find answers, not only to the original question, but to others that come up in the course of the episode. Each show follows a similar format. After sharing the viewer question, we find out a bit about the location he is visiting and Joel heads behind the scenes. There are also several "Fun Facts" shared during the episode and questions are asked to children on the street to see what answers they come up with. In some of the episodes a little "ding" sounds if the child's answer is correct.

Curiosity Quest Review
We started by watching the Swimmers of the Sea DVD. This Combo Pack includes the episodes Penguins, Sea Turtle Rescue and Salmon. I thought the children would enjoy getting to learn a little more about penguins because we had studied them with our P:Penguins unit. Our focus a few months ago had been on Emperor penguins, but we also learned that there were penguins who lived in different climates than what people usually think of when they think of penguins. So, it wasn't new information to them when we were introduced to the Magellanic penguins in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. However, we did learn quite a bit from this episode. Some of the questions that were asked include, "What do penguins eat?" "What is a molt?" "What does a penguin sound like?" "What do penguins feel like?" and "What is husbandry?" It was really fun hearing the children's answers to these questions. I liked that the girls could see that it is okay not to know the correct answer to a question, that that is how one learns. Joel had the opportunity to learn about what penguins eat and to actually feed and touch the penguins. 
I figured they would want to watch one episode at a time. They surprised me by continuing to watch the DVD, finishing Sea Turtles and Salmon in one sitting. The only problem was, mommy wasn't in the room to watch along with them, so we had to watch them again so I could be able to share about the DVD in this review. Not that it was really a problem, the girls are really engrossed when they sit down to watch them. And I can see why! I found it quite fascinating to see the sea turtles who were being rehabilitated at the Sea Turtle hospital after being rescued. I was surprised to learn that it is actually illegal to even touch a sea turtle without a proper license like the hospital had. I think we all enjoyed seeing Joel get right into the water with the Salmon at the fish hatchery in Alaska. They also seemed to know quite a bit about salmon already because of an episode of another show they watch.
I did want to make sure they were actually retaining the information, so I had the girls write down 1 to 2 sentences about something that stuck out to them from each episode. Amy from Homeschool Encouragement has a free Sea Creatures Notebooking sampler pack available, so I downloaded it and printed out the relevant pages. Yes, there is a slew of information and they couldn't remember everything, but I was pleased with the details they could remember at their age. 

This is what Tabitha chose to write about:
Penguins: 100 Fethers per square inch, Need vitamins
Sea Turtles: Weigh 300 pounds. Sea turtles can swim 35 MPH.
Salmon: King samon are relest when they aer abote two.
(King Salmon are released when they are about two.)

I did have to help Amelia a bit more by asking her some questions, and she wasn't as interested in filling out the pages, so I didn't push it. She only finished one sheet so far.

This is what Amelia chose to write about:
Penguins: Penguins eat fish whole. Penguins are black and white so they can blenb (blend) in. 
One concern I did have was that sometimes as Joel is discussing these facts, some of the details get lost in the conversation and the girls aren't sure they have the correct information, such as knowing for sure how much the sea turtles weigh.
The other combo pack we reviewed is Produce, which includes the episodes Mushrooms, Cranberries and Orange Packing. We were learning about Vegetables with our V unit, so I thought this would be relevant as well, even though none of the episodes were technically about vegetables. 
Curiosity Quest Review
I wasn't surprised that they weren't as interested in seeing produce packaged as they were about the animals. They are not that fond of mushrooms, but I think they were intrigued by how the soil is prepared and how they are grown, they also seemed to enjoy seeing Joel learn how to harvest the mushrooms.  We found out that the decaying hay stinks, and that it is really cold in the fridge where the mushrooms are placed after they are harvested so it stunts their growth.  I do wish there had been a little more detail in what "ingredients" are added to make the soil. Mommy was thrilled to finally find out why the people in cranberry commercials are standing in flooded fields of cranberries and how they are harvested.

I made some notebooking pages of my own for the produce episodes.

I think one of the aspects I really loved was the fact that these episodes are unscripted. Joel is right there in the thick of things, learning right along with the viewer. There is so much energy involved as he gets involved and gets his hands dirty.  You get to see his genuine reactions to what he is experiencing.

Also, there were a couple of times that we were left scratching our heads with the information that was introduced. For example, in regard to the Penguin episode we learned that male and female penguins were able to be told apart by their wrist bands in the aquarium. Unfortunately, this doesn't tell us how they can be told apart in the wild.

One important thing to note, each DVD did have a mention of prehistoric times and millions of years. The Sea Turtle episode mentions that sea turtles were around during the time of the dinosaurs. This would have been fine, if they hadn't mentioned the millions of years. The children and I just quickly discuss how the earth is only thousands of years old and it would make sense that sea turtles and dinosaurs would be together. Prehistoric times were also mentioned in the mushroom episode.

The episodes we watched in the combo packs are also available as individual episodes. You can purchase the combo packs for $24.95 and individual episodes are $19.95. They also offer Homeschool Memberships where you receive 2 episodes a month plus appropriate curriculum for each episode to enhance your learning. Monthly memberships are $24.99 and annual memberships are $264.00.

You can find out more about Curiosity Quest on their Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube. Don't forget to check your listings to see if your PBS station carries Curiosity Quest. Unfortunately, we don't have satellite or cable any more, so I am unable to check if they are available in our area.

Don't forget to stop by the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what other members of the Crew think of these Curiosity Quest DVD's.

Click to read Crew Reviews
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