Monday, September 27, 2010

Rocking Robots DNG Review

This past week we've been using Amanda Bennett's Rocking Robots unit study, available from the Schoolhouse Store for $7.95. We received this study free of charge in return for an honest review.

This five-day study covers the following topics:
* What is a Robot?
* The History of Robots
* People and Places of Robots
* Science Secrets of Robots.
* Goodies and Gadgets of Robots

It covers a variety of subject areas, including history, science, and language arts. And, as with all DNG units, it facilitates the use of lapbooks as a means of documenting learning in a keepsake fashion. (We have done several lapbooks over the years, all of which bring back great memories when they are pulled off the shelf and perused just for fun.) If you'd like a glimpse inside "Rocking Robots," you can click here.

One of the things I love about the DNG unit studies is the wide range of internet links provided, all of which, of course, connect the user to MORE links on the topic, making the available resources virtually endless. During this unit, we particularly enjoyed watching the videos about robots -- in the kitchen, under water (rescuing a very daft marlin, among other things), and in space. For some reason, we got a big kick (ha!) out of this You-tube clip of mini robots playing soccer:

We were able to acquire a number of library books on the topic of robots, but we found that there was more than enough information available online via the links provided in the unit study to keep us busy. I was particularly impressed by a timeline of the history of robots/automated machines, including the work of Leonardo DaVinci. I'd never really thought of him in relation to the modern concept of robots!

I will be frank and say that DD8 wasn't the least bit interested in the unit, it was mostly way above DS3's comprehension level (though he did enjoy the matching exercises and the videos), and DS11 was disappointed that it wasn't more hands-on. He was excited when he noticed the "Design a Robot" subtitles in the unit -- but lost his fizz when he discovered that such designs were simply words or pictures on paper. We'd all hoped there would at least be some links to sites that would teach us how to build simple robots at home. But, alas, we only found one for making "bristlebots" -- which we tried -- unsuccessfully -- mostly because I'm inept at mechanical things.  We couldn't even detach the motor from the cell phone we'd acquired from freecycle just for the purpose of making our bristlebot! {Sigh. Nothing like disappointing your son to make you feel majorly unqualified for the parent-of-the-year award!} While the connections to history, science, and even the Bible are really strong in the unit, it is disappointing that most of the "hands-on" elements consist of cutting and pasting, writing, or drawing. To be fair, DNG units ARE designed for children up to grade 4 -- so it does make sense that the unit's content would be below my DS11's age level. However, many of the links are heavy on text, so some of the material is be more suitable for older children.

The graphics are fabulous, the unit is easy to implement, and the wealth of information is impressive. If you have a young -- but not too young -- person interested in learning facts about robots, then this unit would be perfect for your family!

If you'd like to take a blog tour of other reviews of this product, go here.


  1. My kids made me replay the break dancing robot several times during the week. I have to admit some of those videos were really neat!

    God bless
    Heather Laurie

  2. Yes, indeed, Heather :) Thanks for stopping by!

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