Friday, June 1, 2012

Dive Into Your Imagination

Dive into your imagination and explore the world with me...

Over the last few months we have been going through our extensive collection of videos and dvds and weeding out the ones that are too old to be viewed, too silly to be tolerated, or just plain boring. Our goal is to have a library of videos that I can feel good about the kids viewing, no matter which one they know, videos that are useful and teach something worthwhile, while still being entertaining and interesting.

In fact, our ultimate goal is to eventually streamline the collection so that on those days when we choose to utilize audio-visual media (like when the kids are sick or mom is unwell and a video is just what the doctor ordered), the kids will be able to choose any video from the shelf and mom will know that no matter which one they pick, they will be safely learning and they will be glad about it. Ultimately, when we do choose to use media, we want the children to seek want to watch only will build up their character and intellect, rather than the mindless, often harmful drek found in so many videos today.

Dive Into Your Imagination's What Makes a Fish a Fish? is a dvd we recently reviewed that certainly fits the bill of being both worthwhile and interesting. Produced by Annie Crawley, certified diver and instructor & visionary underwater photographer, author, and ocean life expert, the series is geared towards Pre-K to 3rd Grade, but appeals to all ages because the filming is so incredible and the information so fascinating. Crystal clear shots of coral reefs and brightly colored fish capture the interest of the youngest children in the family from the very beginning, and the catchy musical accompaniment is pleasing to the ears as it seamlessly ties the scenes together.

This is The Ocean Amigos loved this one.

What Makes a Fish a Fish? is a 37 minute collection of short lessons about, well, what makes a fish a fish and gives an overview about the plethora of wildlife found in our oceans. Your child will be introduced to the scientific definiton of a fish, while being entranced by the vivid photography of the many beautiful and mysterious varieties of fish who live under the sea. Each "chapter" addresses a particular topic, such as sharks, frogfish, and anenomes . Each section corresponds with lessons, printables, and activities that can be found in the Teacher's Guides, which may be purchased separately, for ages Pre-K to K or for Grades 1-3.

 As a special for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and homeschooling parents like me, Annie Crawley has generously offered to make the accompanying 300+ page printed teaching guides (which normally retail to schools for $299 for a set of six--two levels per dvd, or $69 each) available for FREE to homeschooling parents as a pdf download. WOW!! All you have to do is order one (or more) of her videos from the Dive Into Your Imagination site and mention that you are a homeschooler in the comments section of the order form. For each dvd ordered, she will provide you the teacher's guide as a pdf...this is an incredibly generous offer, and one worth taking her up on.

We were allowed to preview the guides and they are packed with loads of useful information and dozens of activities to go with every section of the dvds. While these cross-curricular guides are geared towards classroom use, they are easily adaptable to home use, and would be ideal for a small group or co-op setting. From word scrambles to stories, coloring pages to word problems, experiments to notebooking pages, the many detailed lesson plans will provide you with a nearly complete unit study on the fishy inhabitants of our planet's oceans, requiring only that you add a few picture books checked out from your local library...all for the price of one dvd.

My children enjoyed viewing the dvd all at once, and especially liked the special extras after the main show---especially a segment about divers and the one about composing the music for the video. Following viewing the dvd for the second time, we completed a few notebooking and coloring pages (available in the Teacher's Guide), then the next day the children drew various fish and ocean plants on a large piece of paper and created their own underwater scene. After viewing the dvd again on a rainy day, the next warm day they got out their boats and aquatic animals and re-enacted scenes from the video in the pool outside. I wish I could show you the photos I took of these activities, but my camera has mysteriously gone missing...thanks to our own mini-mayhem, octopus-armed boy, Boo.

Not fish, but favorites at the Living Museum.

 Later (the next week), they recalled facts about fish from the video when we went to the local Living Museum and saw the puffer fish, lion fish, sharks, and many more varieties of aquatic creatures. We took time to add a new page to our notebooks by writing down what they'd learned about these creatures and drawing pictures of their favorites.

Notebooking about favorite fish...

Throughout this time period, we expanded our learning by reading books about the ocean and its inhabitants, some informational and some just for fun, like Rainbow Fish (which has some cute activities to go with it at DLTK).

A perennial fishy favorite...

I explored a bit on my own and found some more coloring pages (a bit more complex ones; art-wise the drawings in the teacher's guides we previewed were nicely done, but fairly simple since they are geared towards young students) by requesting a free sample of  Artistic Nature Studies Magazine at CurrClick. Their Oceans unit appears to complement this video quite well, and would add a little more art to the study (which my kids really love), and would serve to make deepen the information and make the unit study appropriate for older students for very little cost (under $6). With the extensive pages offered in the Dive Teacher's Guide, this wasn't really necessary for our young Amigos, but since you can get the sampler pages for free (to try it out) and the two seemed to go well together, I thought I'd mention it to you.

We also found a great lapbooking/mini-book resource at Practical Pages (free, of course). And here are five excellent notebooking pages (including a great one for comparing fish) from Notebooking Nook.

See how easy it would be to put together a whole unit on fish and the ocean based on this video and study guide?
Kiss a fish!!

The video definitely sparked an increased interest in the ocean and its creatures in my children, and I am sure their interest will continue to grow as this is one of the dvds we plan to keep in our collection. Because of its high quality and educational value, I am happy to let them watch it, and excited by the way it engages their attention and inspires them to learn more about God's marvelous creation (It should be noted that while the video is not Creationist in nature, I did not notice any mention of evolutionary teachings.)

Amazing diversity...

While I would not say this product is vital to a successful homeschooling year, I would not hesitate to recommend it, and would add that it is definitely something that will bring color and excitement to any nature/ocean unit study, or simply to your home dvd collection. It would also make a sweet gift for a friend's child, or could be something you could ask a grandparent to purchase for a much better than a cartoon dvd or a plastic toy that will soon break or be forgotten (just remind the purchaser to mention that you are a homeschooler, so the guide can be downloaded because you do NOT want to miss out on that blessing!).

BOO! My nephew named this grumpy fish Bob.

These delightful dvds are available for $19.95 each from Dive Into Your Imagination. The three current titles are: What Makes a Fish a Fish?, Who Lives in the Sea?, and Dive Into Diversity. Another bonus is that the dvds can be played in both English and Spanish, which could be a fun way to incorporate foreign-language learning into your studies. For the month of June, Annie is also offering free shipping, so if you'd like to add a bit of imagination and ocean adventure into your summer, swim on over to Dive Into Your Imagination and order a dvd or two (or all three) today...and don't forget to tell them you are a homeschooler to receive your amazing cross-curricular teacher's guides!! 

You can check out more reviews on this dvd and the other two titles in the series as the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.



Disclaimer: We received a copy of the dvd What Makes a Fish a Fish? and access to the pdf files of the Educator's Guides in order to complete the review on this product. We offer here an honest reflection of our own thoughts and experiences with this product. If you have questions about anything I have shared here, please feel free to comment or contact me.

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