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Box of I.D.E.A.S.–Salt – TOS Homeschool Crew Review

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Box of I.D.E.A.S. is a company dedicated to providing interactive unit studies for homeschooling families.  I don’t use unit studies in my homeschooling very often, especially now that my children are teenagers, so this was something different for us.  We received a product organized around the theme of Salt, and had a blast exploring the many ways salt has influenced the world and shaped history.  The box had activities on history, geography, science, language, political systems and more.  Salt is something that we use every day, but rarely think about, and it was interesting to see how many different directions this one idea took us in!

I wanted to review the Salt Box because salt was a big export for this area of New York, and it is still produced here today.  My son has been studying New York state history this year, and I figured this would be a fun way to add to that topic.  I was glad to see that this area was mentioned multiple times in the activities, and we are going to finish our study with a field trip to the Salt Museum in downtown Syracuse.

We received the pdf version of Salt, and the areas covered were:
  • History of Salt
  • Need for Salt
  • Producing Salt
  • Science of Salt
  • The Salt of the Earth
  • Very Salty
  • Language of Salt
  • Preserving with Salt
  • The Salt March
  • The Wall that Salt Built
Each file contains all of the things you need to print out for each area of study, and a list of additional materials.  The box included lots of hands on activities, and some worksheets too.  The history unit was our favorite one, probably because my son loves history.  The Chronology type game that is played with cards is fun, and you learn as you play the game.

I also thought the Need for Salt unit was excellent, and my son has been recording his meals and tracking his sodium intake.  He has a much better appreciation of how much salt is in some of this favorite foods now!  One of the best things about this study is all the unexpected connections it led us to.  I had no idea that the Great Wall of China was paid for with salt, or about the trade routes through the Sahara Desert.  And learning about the importance of salt in the diet made my son recall a classic Star Trek episode with a Salt Monster, who sucked the salt out of people to kill them.  So we went from discussing the Ming Dynasty to science fiction aliens, all in space of an hour.  My son especially liked the somewhat bloody history of salt – battles were fought over it and lots of people died, which is apparently very interesting to 13 year old boys.

The study is also available in a physical box, instead of pdf format.  The box costs $79, while the pdf format costs $49.  The pdf format does require a lot of printing and cutting, and I think the physical box would be worth the extra money.  In addition to Salt the company also has modules on:

  • Pigs
  • World War II
  • Eleven
  • Quilting
  • Laundry

The 10 units in the product can be used in any order. We have been doing them once a week, spending about an hour to an hour and a half and covering one or two topics at a time.  The product also includes an end of the unit test and answer keys to the various worksheets.  There are also links to website for further research, which is very useful especially for older kids.  We have thoroughly enjoyed this study, and doing it has made me realize we need to do unit studies more often and ad in less structured learning to our days.  Just because my kids are teens doesn’t mean we have to do book work all the time!

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

By on October 4th, 2012

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