Saturday, September 29, 2012

Review of Box of I.D.E.A.S.

While Box of I.D.E.A.S. is a clever name, this product is definitely more than that! Giving "hands-on-history" a whole new meaning, we have had a great time working with our Ideally Dynamic Enrichment Activities for the last month or so.  Given my love of history, I was delighted that we got to review the "Pearl Harbor Box of I.D.E.A.S."pdf version.  So, even though the picture below is of a really cute box with a bunch of paper, we reviewed downloadable pdfs.  I just think the physical box gives a really good idea of how much material you do get with this product.

This Box of I.D.E.A.S. focuses primarily on Pearl Harbor and the Japanese attack, but in so doing it looks at events leading up to the U.S. entry into WWII and other aspects of the U.S. war in the Pacific.  Overall, it provides a great introduction to a U.S.-centered study of the beginning of WWII which can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.

Each Box comes with at least ten modules and is designed for kids 9-16.  Pearl Harbor included these modules:

Before Becoming a Base
Beginnings of Naval Presence
A Week Before the Attack
Day of Infamy
Day After the Attack
Weeks After the Attack
Six Months After the Attack
A Year After the Attack
Victory Over Japan - VJ-Day
Decades After the Attack

Each module, in turn, begins with a cover sheet, whose job it is to summarize the module's contents and provide printing and cutting instructions for the pdf.  In the case of my favorite module, Day After the Attack, the cover page summarized the module's contents in this way:

Contents of this module
 Introduction, Extensions, Weblinks
 In the News—Activity Instructions
 Facts & Opinions—Portfolio Piece
 10 Newspaper Headlines
 24 Flash Cards
This summary is very typical of each of the modules, which are 10-15 pages long.  For example, each module contains a portfolio piece, such that when the entire Box is complete, the student will have a complete notebook of the subject studied. The reason this module appeals to me so much is that it is history at its purest.  It was my eldest daughter's favorite for the same reason.  When the module contents says "10 newspaper headlines", that's exactly what it means! 10 actual "day after" headlines are reproduced for the student to see.  It is a stark way to learn exactly what Pearl Harbor meant to this country.

The Day of Infamy module is wonderful, too.  It is an in-depth look at the timing of December 7, 1941 with both a final and an in-progress copy of Roosevelt's famous speech.  We went one step further when doing this module and listened to Roosevelt's actual speech.  It is fascinating to compare the political rhetoric of yesterday with that of today.  That actually became one of the rabbit trails we followed at school the day we did this module.

History is my favorite subject.  I read history books constantly.  I have a degree in history.  My 11 year-old (with whom I did this Box) loves it just as much.  Thus, we finished this whole Box in two weeks.  We had no problem completing one module per day, and sometimes completed two.  I need to stress that I don't think that means that the Boxes are a bad buy.  For one thing, I don't take activity instructions too seriously.  In the Day of Infamy module, there are 40 "Longest Morning" timeline cards that have pictures, times, and events that are relevant to that morning.  There are also activity directions for a game to play to collect the cards.  Games like that aren't really our style.  Therese just cut out the cards and made matchbook minibooks out of them to put in her notebook.  They are really great cards, but we didn't use them in the way the creator intended.

Further, I have no problem doing history for 3-4 hours a day.  I live in the great and free state of Texas and have no homeschool regulations at all.  As long as my kids stay above grade level in math and grammar, I have no problem ending up spending a week on a WWII study.  We essentially did that the first week we were doing Box of I.D.E.A.S.  In fact, my daughter (whose normal fascination and area of expertise is Tudor England) so fell in love with this study that she wanted to continue studying WWII.  I told her that she couldn't understand WWII outside the context of WWI so, thanks to this Box, we have now started an epic study of WWI!

I really like Box of I.D.E.A.S.  I think that the physical version of the Box would be a lot of fun.  It would be neat to be able to page through all of the modules to see the activities and portfolio pieces.  However, given that the physical product costs $79.00 (with $4.00 for extra copies of modules), while the pdf download version is only $49.00, I could never justify the price difference.

Box of I.D.E.A.S. is a neat product.  For hands-on learners who like to go in-depth on a topic area, they are wonderful.  With topics as wide ranging as salt, quilting, and eleven (!), with many more planned (I have to get cemeteries!), there are I.D.E.A.S. for all families.  Crew families got to try out several of these topics, so if you're not sold on Pearl Harbor, make sure to read the Crew reviews to find a Box that is right for your family.

Disclaimer: I received this series of pdf files free in exchange for my honest review.  I received no other compensation.

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