Sunday, November 4, 2012

REVIEW: Science Activity Bags eBooks 1-3 and Travel Activities in a Binder from Activity Bags

My family was blessed to receive a variety of eBook products to review from Activity Bags, including Science Activity Bags eBook 1, Science Activity Bags eBook 2, Science Activity Bags eBook 3, and Travel Activities in a Binder eBook.


FROM THE WEBSITE:
 
The Science Activities in a Bag e-Books give an introduction to the wealth of material in many other books available in libraries and bookstores. They engage young children with experiments they can see, touch, manipulate, and modify; situations that allow them to figure out what happens. All of the experiments have been tested by a group of moms, and they work great! Kids of all ages are observing, asking questions, learning science, and loving it! And science experiments are not a hassle anymore, because it’s all in the bag!  These science e-books are recommended for grades K-6.

         

Science Experiments in a Bag E-Book 1:  This book provides examples of 25 simple experiments in biology, general science, and nature that you can do with your children.  $15.00

Science Experiments in a Bag E-Book 2:  This book provides examples of 25 MORE simple experiments in chemistry, human body, science, and general science that you can do with your children.  $15.00
You can purchase Science Experiments in a Bag E-Books 1 & 2 as a bundle to save a few dollars.  $27.00
Science Experiments in a Bag E-Book 3:  This book provides examples of 25 MORE simple experiments in chemistry that you can do with your children.  $15.00
Together, with this book, parents and children can:
  • learn how fires are put out
  • learn how to make glue from vinegar and milk
  • learn how much iron is in different juices
  • learn how to make invisible ink
  • learn how to grow crystals in the sun
  • learn how to make your own perfume from common garden plants and spices
You can purchase all 3 Science Experiments in a Bag E-Books 1-3 as a bundle to save even more. $39.00
Travel Activities in a Binder provide a whole host of activities that a child can complete inside a binder using only a dry erase marker and a piece of fabric to be used as an eraser.  These are great for times when you might be waiting at a doctor’s office or other appointment, or when traveling in your vehicle.  The travel activities e-book is recommended for use with elementary aged students.  $15.00 

If you’d like to try out a variety of the activities included in many of the eBook products, register here and complete a quick survey to receive a free sampler by email.
 
 
OUR EXPERIENCE:
 
In order to give these a fair try and give you an accurate assessment of these products, we assembled and completed 4 science experiment bags from each Science Activities eBook, plus I prepared the whole Travel Activities Binder.  I took a photo before we started showing all of the required supplies.  Then I took a photo midway through, and a final photo to show the results.  Haylee is a 3rd grader, and I her dictating everyone’s predictions and responses to the questions on the activity sheets for each experiment.  Then we read the answer aloud together after concluding the experiment.

In Science Activities in a Bag eBook 1, we chose:
    1. CAN CRUSHER:  This one may have been the coolest of all of the expScience 1 - Can Crushereriments we tried!  All 3 kids participated in this one, but my 13 year old son, Hayden, did the handling.  He enjoyed this one so much that he immediately did it a second time!  The first time, the noise generated by the instantaneous implosion of the can startled him and made him jump backwards, abandoning the can in the pan of cold water.  I had to laugh at that!  The second time through, he knew what to expect, and he totally got a thrill out of it.  This was good stuff!  It was an excellent way to demonstrate the power of air pressure.




    2. EARTH MAScience 1 - Earth MagnetGNET:  We struggled with this one a little bit, and I think it was because the bowl we used initially was too small and kept drawing the styrofoam to the edge where it would get stuck, kind of like the way static electricity would draw something in.  So halfway through this experiment, we switched to a much larger bowl, and then the needle was able to spin about more freely.  My 8 year old daughter, Haylee, had no idea what to expect, so she thought it was neat that it kept turning the same way.






    3. EARTHWORMS:  The kids really enjoyed watching the earthworms crawl down intoScience 1 - Earthworms the soil and disappear right before their eyes.  However, our glitch with this one was that we were terrified of drowning the worms when we poured the water in!  We kept seeing air bubbles emerge, but we couldn’t get the worms to come up for air.  I think we probably just didn’t wait long enough for all of the air in their tunnels to surface, but the kids were getting emotional thinking I had killed the worms, so I relented and poured out the water and then fished out the worms with a plastic fork.  They were indeed still alive, much to the kids’ relief!  This was our least successful experiment because of our early abandonment of that step, but the kids did enjoy watching the worms and handling them.


    4. THIRSTY PLANTS:  The kids and even my husband enjoyed this one.  One adult Science 1 - Thirsty Plantsand at least one kid predicted that the dual-color carnation would come out purple, so you can imagine their surprise when that one ended up half red and half blue!  That was a great illustration of how the tubes in the stems draw water up to a specific part of the flower without any crossover amongst the tubes. We’ll continue watching these for at least another week to see how intense the colors become.  Very cool experiment!






In Science Activities in a Bag eBook 2, we chose:
    1. ANTIFREEZE:  Haylee was really surprised to see that the saltwater never froScience 2 - Antifreezeze.  After 4 hours, the saltwater was completely unfrozen, and the plain water was frozen solid.  Even the following day when 24 hours had passed, the saltwater only had some slush on top.










    2. BLOB:  Both Hayden and Haylee were pretty grossed out at the squishy, slimy Science 2 - Blobtexture of the blob they created!  We were all surprised at how quickly the chemical reaction created a completely different texture.  We added green food coloring to make it look even more cool.  Hayden tried to blow bubbles in it with a straw, but it was so slimy that it wouldn’t stay on the straw!  LOL.









      Science 2 - Color Confusion
    3. COLOR CONFUSION:  This experiment was a LOT of fun!  It was not what we expected, and it was a surprise for all of us to see how our brains were confused into slowing when reading one thing and seeing another.  The timer doesn’t lie, so this was very, very cool!  Hayden and Haylee both tried this one, and they both had conclusive results.  Neat!







    4. FINGER THE CULPRIT:  The kids had SO much fun with this one!  This was the Science 2 - Finger the Culpritone they were all dying to do.  We began by taking a set of fingerprints from everyone in the house on the printable fingerprint form.  Then we went around trying to lift prints from all over the house, stick them to clear tape, and save them on black paper so they could be examined with a magnifying glass and compare them with the known prints we had taken from everyone.  Personally, I found it difficult to dust the baby powder off the prints and still see a visible image!  I guess this probably takes some practice.  The kids are certainly willing to keep trying!  I’m sure they’ll continue using this kit until it runs out of baby powder!  (ha, ha.)


In Science Activities in a Bag eBook 3, we chose:
    1. GET GLUEY:  This was an interesting process.  The kids got to see howScience 3 - Get Gluey quickly the milk began to curdle when we added the vinegar.  They were grossed out by the separation of the curds and whey!  When we added the baking soda and water to the curds, we were really surprised at how it bubbled and expanded very quickly into a foamy sort of blob!  It was pretty cool to watch.  It turned into a nice spreadable paste.  Voila!  Hayden built a picture frame with it using popsicle sticks, and the homemade glue worked very well!





    2. GREEN COPPER:  This experiment was really simple.  We just had to fold over a Science 3 - Green Copperpaper towel and press it into the bottom of a glass bowl.  Then we poured just enough vinegar in it to saturate the paper towel.  Then we simply had to lay 5 pennies in the bottom of the bowl and wait overnight for the results.  Of course, we couldn’t resist looking at their progress after the first couple of hours had passed, and all of the pennies had already begun turning green!  The kids had never seen pennies turn green before, so that was another new concept for them.





    3. MICROBES:  This experiment worked so fast!  It really surprised us hoScience 3 - Microbesw quickly the chunk of carrot in the saltwater solution shriveled up and shrank!  It had dark lines on the outside of it, and it was visibly smaller than the chunk in the fresh water after only a few hours.  We allowed it to continue overnight and observed it again the next morning.  Pretty cool!  You can certainly see how efficient it was for people to preserve foods with salt.







    4. SECRET MESSAGE:  Haylee really enjoyed this one.  She wrote several messages Science 3 - Secret Messageusing white vinegar and a paint brush on white paper.  We let them dry for a bit, and then we carefully waved them over the candle flame and watched as the vinegar turned brown from the heat and revealed her secret messages!  It case you can’t quite make out the message in the photo, it says “this is secret.”  I’ll bet she’d have fun doing this one again and again with friends. 






For Travel Activities in a Binder, I printed out all of the pages and slipped them into clear page protectors, fastened them into a 3-ring binder, added a pencil pouch with a dry erase marker and eraser, and voila!  It was all ready to go.  This took no time at all to put together, and Haylee began using it the very next day while waiting between games at soccer.  We also took it on vacation with us.  These activities are great to use on-the-go for anywhere you might have time to kill and need something to help pass the time.  It’s always ready to pick up and use, anytime, anywhere.  It got her seal of approval!




All of the products at Activity Bags can be used as part of a group swap, where one person assembles one activity for each of the participants in a swap, with each participant preparing a different activity for the whole group.  Then a coordinator can collect them and create complete sets of activities which are then redistributed to every participant.  I can definitely see where that could be cost effective and time efficient, depending upon which activity you’re assigned to duplicate.

I did spend a lot of time assembling the science activities, but I was using them just for my own family and not as part of a swap. Overall, I can say that we enjoyed these products very much!  I didn’t have to buy any elaborate supplies…just mostly simple things I could pick up at the dollar store for what I didn’t already have on hand.  The experiments were fun, and we all enjoyed them.  The explanations in the activity sheet answers were pretty straight forward and easy enough to understand, and I think the kids really learned some things from using them.  I think they make great rainy day activities and boredom busters, and they are a great way to get the kids doing something productive in their down time, as well as sparking an active interest in science. 

The travel activities were fun.  My daughter says she hasn’t even made it through all of the activities yet, but that she enjoys doing them even if she has done them before.  Despite that, I can see where some of the activities (like mazes) could get old after doing them over and over again, so I’d only want to pull the binder out periodically in order to keep the activities fresh and new.  Some of the activities are timeless, though, such as hangman and some Mad Lib types of games. 

As for the science books, with so many experiments included in each book, there’s plenty to keep your children interested and busy over a long period of time.  I could definitely picture myself assembling more of them and setting them aside in a box to bring out for fun periodically when their regular school assignments have become too monotonous.  I think they’d also be great fun for group projects such as a co-op or with a group of friends to share and observe together.

These are definitely unique products that make learning fun and doable, even for parents like me who never seem to be able to make the time to actually conduct all of those science experiments that should be part of their regular studies!  I think the key is having all of the materials and instructions in one place, ready to use whenever an opportune moment arises!

Check out what other Crew members had to say about this and many other “in a bag” eBook products from Activity Bags by clicking the banner below.

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I received these eBooks free of charge for review purposes, however all opinions are mine and reflect my family’s honest use of the products.