Curiosity Quest Review

Children are naturally curious.  The people at Curiosity Quest know that.  In fact, one of their mottos is “What are you curious about?”  They invite the children that watch their videos to “send them on a quest” by going to their website and suggesting a topic for them to explore.

So, when we had the opportunity to do a review for Curiosity Quest, I thought it would be great fun.  They sent us two DVD combo packs:  the DVD Combo Pack – Produce and the DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea.  Each of these DVD combo packs has three Curiosity Quest episodes on it, and each combo pack retails for $24.99.

Curiosity Quest is most appropriate for your elementary and middle school students as they gear their show towards children between the ages of 7 and 14.  I used these videos primarily with my nine and seven year old children.  My two and four year old preschoolers did watch the DVDs with us, but they weren’t that interested, and the episodes are way over the head of most young preschoolers.

The first DVD that we opened and watched was the DVD Combo Pack – Produce.  There are three episodes of Curiosity Quest on this DVD.  The DVD explores how mushrooms are grown, how cranberries are harvested and how oranges are packed.  Each episode is around thirty minutes long.

We actually watched each episode several times.  It was fascinating and new to both the children and me to see how these different produce items were grown and harvested.  When taken together though, they form a good picture of how different forms of produce make it from the farm to our stores.

In the orange episode, Joel visits a I was particularly interested in how many tests and steps the oranges have to get through from their farm to be actually packed up and sent off to the grocery stores.  They screen those oranges many times looking for imperfections before those oranges make it to the store.

The cranberry episode was also very interesting and picturesque.  Joel starts off at the cranberry farm, and the lovely red berries are floating in the water they’ve pumped in for harvest.  (The video explains how that works.)  The snow is falling as they talk, and it’s beautiful and feels wintry all at once.  We learned how they harvest, how they grade cranberries for the store versus the juicer, and how they package and send to the grocer. All along the way, the kids giggled as Joel took the handheld harvester and raced his interviewee, who got to use their regular machinery, in harvesting.

 

Our favorite episode on the DVD pack, however, was the mushroom episode.  We didn’t really realize that mushrooms were intentionally cultivated to begin with, much less how a mushroom facility worked.  It’s farming of a completely different type from what we had ever experienced.  We didn’t know that mushrooms were a fungus or how much temperature control was involved in growing the perfect mushroom.  We enjoyed seeing Joel try to pick mushrooms and how fast the regular pickers were able to harvest the mushrooms.

We were even inspired to make our own mushroom crafts while we thought about mushrooms.  It was definitely a Pinterest kind of afternoon.  We made egg carton mushrooms, a printable mushroom craft and even attached mushrooms to popsicle sticks for a mushroom popsicle stick theater performance.

mushroom crafts

 

Once we’d had our fill of mushroom crafts, we moved on to the DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea.  There are also three episodes on that DVD.  They cover sea turtle rescue, penguins and salmon.  Again, each episode is around 30 minutes.

We started with the penguins, and it’s such a fun episode that we watched it many times.  Joel is visiting penguins at Monterey Bay Aquarium.  He gets to help prepare their food, watch them interact with their environment and even pet them.  This video definitely has the “aww” factor as you watch the cute penguins waddle around and climb in and out through their habitat.

We also watched the salmon video.  It introduced us to a salmon hatchery and to the ideas that these fish that live in the ocean come back to the rivers that they were born in to breed and die.  The children loved seeing the jumping fish go up the salmon runs.  I enjoyed being able to see how an important food industry was maintained. I’ve had images in my head of what a salmon hatchery would be like, and it didn’t gel at all with the reality of what I learned about watching this episode.

However, as interesting as those two episodes are, we found the most fascinating episode by far to be the sea turtle hospital in Marathon, Florida.  Joel goes here and discovers what a sea turtle hospital does to treat turtles that are injured to heal them and prepare them for going back to the sea.

After watching them care for and feed the turtles, we just had to make our own baby sea turtles.  We also learned such facts as how fast sea turtles can swim, how big they can get and even that the way to tell a boy sea turtle from a girl one has to do with the size of it’s tail.

Once we made our own egg shell turtles, the children did a ton of pretend play based on the turtles that they had created and the new facts that they had learned in the video.

sea turtles

 

We loved Curiosity Quest.  It ended up being a fun and easy science supplement for our family.  When we found an episode that really resonated with the children, we would spend all afternoon looking up additional facts and crafts to go with the episode.  That makes for an educational afternoon and happy kids.

After watching our DVDs a couple of times, Firecracker wanted more episodes.  They loved watching the DVDs.  They even started playing their own version of Curiosity Quest where they would take other topics that they were learning about and making up fun facts for them.  Firecracker’s even thought of a couple of quests he would like to send Joel on!

I loved that these documentaries were fun and upbeat enough to keep the kids’ interest without being kiddish.  There was nothing cartoonish, game showish or gimmicky about these episodes, yet they appealed to the kids and to their parents.  I have a feeling that more Curiosity Quest videos are in our future, especially since I noticed that they have a homeschool subscription program.  I’m thinking seriously about signing us up!

 

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