Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn Treasures DNG - Product Review

My children and I recently had the privilege of using our first Amanda Bennett "Download N Go" unit study,  "Autumn Treasures."  We received this unit free of charge in exchange for an honest review. No financial compensation was received.

DNGs are week-long, topical unit studies designed with K-4th grade students in mind.  They are, however, adaptable for use with older students (DS11 participated in several activities), as each unit offers a wealth of information via embedded internet links -- enough to satisfy the curious cravings of any inquisitive student. Daily book suggestions, lessons, activities, and lapbook ideas provide the parent with all that's necessary to conduct a thorough topical study. Books can be accessed through the local library, and do not need to be the exact titles suggested. The fact that these unit studies can be downloaded immediately means that studies can get under way right away with minimal preparation.

"Autumn Treasures" (available for $7.95 at The Schoolhouse Store) was a nice way to ease into our school year, though I think I would have preferred to do it a couple of weeks later, when the leaves are more colourful, apple and pumpkin picking are fully in-season, and it really is fall.

We began our unit by printing the pages we would most likely use, and going to the library to find as many of the suggested books as possible. Oddly enough (shoulda known!), the shelves were picked clean. (Those public school teachers -- I tell ya! ;-) (For the record -- I do love 'em -- I used to be one, and I'm married to a principal :-D ) We did manage to scrounge up a few books for most of the daily topics, which include:
Day 1: What is Autumn?
Day 2: Science Secrets of Autumn
Day 3: People and Places of Autumn
Day 4:  Time for Tips and Treasures of Autumn
Day 5: Goodies and Gadgets of Autumn

Here we are enjoying a little read-aloud of one of those books on Mom and Dad's bed:

Even the dog wanted to be in on the reading, though he did decide to catch a little shut-eye while he listened ;)

In our study of leaves and their changing colours, we did an experiment suggested by one of the unit links, which involved lots of fun snipping and smushing:

We drew the chlorophyl out of three different types of leaves. It's always fun when experiments work!

And everyone enjoyed the simple activity of leaf rubbing, though we didn't use the unit's page designated for that task:

"Autumn Treasures" also gave us opportunities to practise writing and other fine motor skills in an engaging way:

Most of the written work we housed in a lapbook, as the unit provided several templates for mini-books associated with the theme. An important feature of the DNG unit studies is that each one offers a wealth of information, including how-to videos, for those unfamiliar with the conept of lapbooking (a great way to document learning).

While some of the links offered material that was too advanced for my young learners, some of it I thought was worth keeping, so we printed it and put it in a pocket of our lapbook. We also incorporated some mini-books about butterflies from another study we did, but never got around to making a lapbook with them.

One of the things my children and I loved about this unit study was the amount of time we were encouraged to spend outside studying the real world. On one particular day we discussed the ways in which seeds travel, and after collecting an assortment of seed samples from around our neighbourhood, we set up a little science lab on the front porch. The children enjoyed examining their collection with a microscope and magnifying glasses -- and all those fluffy and clingy seeds remained comfortably outside the house, where neighbourhood children also enjoyed some impromptu studies ;-)

I think the sure sign that "Autumn Treasures" was a hit is the fact that after studying the season for the five days designated by the unit, DD8 asked why we had to stop!
(The great thing about homeschooling is -- we don't! :-)

"Autumn Treasures" has directed our attention to many of the wonderful things there are to learn about fall, and because we couldn't complete every suggested activity in the five-day time frame, we still have lots of material to use to satisfy our cravings for more knowledge and experiences. It has also reminded us of all the things we look forward to as the season sprawls before us -- decorating with corn stalks and hay bales and gourds, picking apples, making and eating apple and pumkin pies from scratch, cider with whipped cream, Thanksgiving celebrations . . .

What's your favourite part of fall? What creative endeavours does it inspire in you?

P.S. If you'd like to read other reviews of DNG's "Autumn Treasures," click here. And don't forget to check out all the other great titles available here.
One more thing . . .
"Autumn Treasures" is on sale (20% off) until September 24, 2010.


  1. I love how your lapbook is put together; ours didn't turn out quite so pretty LOL

  2. Thanks, Amydeanne :) I didn't really put it together in true lapbook style, but I wanted to be able to incorporate a pocket and some 8.5x11 sized paper, so I had to keep it looking like a file folder.

  3. Aw, it looks like you really had lots of fun!!...I think you have taught me the "secret" of not feeling so stressed to cover it all!!....Spread it out over a couple weeks! LOL My boys (well, the 10 yo, anyway) was getting grumpy, about all the work we were doing!! ;-)

  4. Absolutely, Wendy -- I decided after the first day that there was no way we could "do it all" -- which really makes the units that much more valuable because there's always something to go back to another time :)

    Thank you for stopping by:)

  5. Nice lapbook...what did you use in the middle to make the pocket?

  6. Thanks, Renee. The pocket was a pre-made insert with a peel-and-stick edge that I'm assuming was made specifically to add pockets to a file folder. We got them at a garage sale along with a bunch of file folders. I'd never seen them before, but I suspect they'd be available at office supply stores.

    Thanks for stopping by!


Sincere responses . . .

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