Friday, October 8, 2010

Review of The Digital Frog Field Trip Series

The Digital Frog is perhaps best known for its digital dissection software, and when I found out that I would be receiving one of the Digital Frog's products free in return for my review, I was half-afraid, half-hopeful.  All of my emotions turned to excitement, though, when I opened my mail and saw a product with which I was completely unfamiliar: the digital field trip series.  The Digital Frog puts its amazing technological resources to use to create virtual field trips to three exciting locations: a rainforest, wetlands, and a desert.  Through the interactive experience created by these DVDs (available separately or bundled together), the user truly experiences each habitat in a variety of ways.

Each of the habitats is explored in the same way.  By navigating a series of interlocking puzzle pieces, the user can roam every part of the habitat she is in.  For example, the rainforest field trip begins with Central America, before narrowing to Belize and the Blue Creek Rainforest Reserve.  Right from the start, your child is learning, as you are not exploring just any rainforest: you are field-tripping through an actual rainforest in a real place.  This field trip is not likely one that any of our homeschools will ever take in our lifetimes, outside of our own homes!

Once you've arrived at the rainforest, you are in the driver's seat!You can "learn about the tropical rainforest", "experience the tropical rainforest", and "learn about tropical rainforest types." The choices seem endless, especially when inside of each choice there is so much information.  You can learn all about each of the many types of animals inside the rainforest, complete with descriptions and vivid pictures.  In fact, just about anything you see in the rainforest is "explorable", some areas complete with narration, and many complemented by worksheets and teacher support materials.  To be honest, my children (ages 5, 5, 7, and 9) and I have only gone through each field trip once.  I know that we have barely begun to discover all of the wonders available on this disc! I am excited to load it up again, as are my children.  Although the readable material was over the heads of my twins, once I read it to them, it was easily accessible.  Hence, I would judge that these digital field trips are suitable for all ages.  The degree to which one can work with them independently varies with the degree to which one can read comfortably.  Younger children may not be able to take full advantage of the 35 botany screens available, but they will thrill to the images of the jaguar and the sloth, and they will come away with a true appreciation of the amazing and diverse rainforest (and desert and wetlands)!

It is hard to convey the beauty of these field trips via a written post.  I would strongly encourage you to download the demo versions on the Digital Frog's website.   Judge for yourself whether or not these digital field trips will enhance your studies of habitats, botany, biology, adaptation, and so much more.  It is true that you could just watch a National Geographic Special, but you can't interact with a National Geographic special! Kids love being able to interact with their studies!

The system requirements for this digital experience are minimal: the same disc runs on both Mac and Windows.  You will need Windows 2000, XP, 7, or Vista (32-bit, preferably), 32 MB of RAM (with 64 recommended), 75 MB of hard drive space for QuickTime.  Mac specifications, and all technical support, can be found on the website here.  Homeschool pricing for the Digital Frog's field trip series can be found here.   Each field trip can be purchased separately for $60, or you can essentially buy two and get the third free by bundling them together on one DVD, and purchasing all three for $125.

I think it's clear that I loved the Digital Frog's virtual field trips.  To see what other members of the Homeschool Crew had to say, click here!

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