Friday, November 02, 2012

Activity Bags

Over the years, I have heard of activity bags being used to help keep preschoolers entertained while Mom is schooling older siblings.  I'm out of the preschool stage, but was intrigued when I found out that Activity Bags has eBooks available for older children as well.  I was pleased to have the opportunity to review 4 eBooks from Activity Bags:

What are activity bags?  The idea is that you take some time and assemble ziplock bags with needed supplies and instructions, so that your child can just pull out a bag and do the activity with little to no direction from you.  You can even arrange a swap with friends.  To complete a swap, each Mom is assigned an activity or two to assemble.  If there are 10 people in your swap group, the Mom would assemble 10 bags of each assigned activity.  Then you get together and trade bags, so every Mom in the swap gets a complete set of activities.  This is an efficient way to get multiple activities assembled.


Each Science Experiments in a Bag eBook contains 25 activities.  There are detailed instructions for how to assemble the bags, and while you might need to purchase some supplies for the experiments, there is nothing that couldn't be found at a local big box or grocery store.  For each experiment there is an experiment log (for the student to record their findings) and answer sheet (contains the answers and explains the why behind what occurred during the experiment). 

EBook 1 focuses on Biology, Nature, and General Science.  Some activities include:
  • Balloon Skewer:  inserting a wooden skewer into a balloon without popping it
  • Chirp, Chirp: determine temperature using a cricket's chirp
  • Geotropism:  germinate seeds and learn what is needed for healthy plant growth

EBook 2 focuses on Chemistry, Human Body, and General Science.  Some activities include:
  • Calling Long Distance:  learn about sound waves by making homemade phones
  • Crayon Creations:  learn how heat changes a solid into a liquid, and then how the liquid changes back into a solid when it cools
  • Rocket Reaction:  learn how unbalanced forces produce motion

EBook 3 focuses only on Chemistry.  Some activities include:
  • Microbes:  learn how salting foods can prevent microbes from spoiling food
  • Salt Crystals:  grow salt crystals
  • Shake, Shake, Shake:  make your own butter

According to the website, the Science Activities in a Bag eBooks are for children in kindergarten through 8th grade, however in the eBook itself it states they are for children in preschool through early elementary age.  While my 7th & 8th grade sons would have fun with some of the activities, I think they are best suited for elementary aged students.  Science in the elementary grades is something that tends to get bumped in our homeschool.  I find that my boys are naturally drawn to science so it's something that they'll easily do in their free time, especially if there are experiments involved.  I had my 5th, 3rd, and 1st grade sons complete some of the activities, and they were well suited for their ages.  I like that I can assemble the bags and then let them choose a science activity when we have some extra time.  The experiment logs are great, especially for my 5th grader, though they required too much writing for my 3rd and 1st graders (we talked about the experiments instead of writing down answers). I look forward to getting several more bags made up for my boys.  All 3 of these eBooks are priced at $15, and are well worth the money.


Travel Activities in a Binder is a bit different.  Instead of placing the activities in ziplock bags, the activities are printed out and put in sheet protectors in a binder.  You'll also need a pencil pouch for the binder to hold supplies like dry erase markers, eraser, blindfold, and dice.

This is a wonderful solution for long car trips or traffic jams.  Activities include familiar activities like hangman, tic tac toe, and mazes, but in addition there are other fun activities like drawing what you see in the clouds, doing an ABC search (looking for something that begins with each letter of the alphabet and writing it down), and blindfold drawing (one person describes what they see out of the window while another blindfolded person attempts to draw it).

We take 1 or 2 really long car trips every year.  In the past, I've made individual activity books for the boys to help pass the many hours.  I've never thought about keeping a binder of dry erase activities in the car for shorter trips, though.  I think it's a brilliant idea, and I know all my boys will enjoy having something to do when they're stuck in the van around town or stuck in a waiting room without anything to do.  This eBook is also worth the $15.


For more Activity Bag reviews (including reviews of Math Games, Reading Games, and Preschool Activities) , go here.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

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