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Digital Field Trips Review by Melanie Bunnett

Digital Frog International
Trillium Place, RR #2
7377 Calfass Rd.
Puslinch, Ontario, N0B 2J0, Canada
800-621-FROG (3764)

What a great resource for today's homeschooling family! We all desire for our children to have broadened horizons and many varied experiences in life, but most of us don't have the finances to take them to places such as the Blue Creek Rainforest Reserve in Belize, Central America. This product is a wonderful substitute for a real-life field trip to a rainforest in Central America, five North American deserts, and a wetlands ecosystem represented by Cloud Lake in Algonquin Park, Canada.

Each digital field trip (The Digital Field Trip to the Desert, The Digital Field Trip to the Wetlands, or The Digital Field Trip to the Rainforest) is offered to homeschoolers with the same features as are used by schools, but at a discounted price of only $45.00 per topic. Digital Frog International also provides a discounted package, with all three field trips offered on one DVD for only $99.50. Considering the amount of material presented in each virtual field trip, and the possibilities for reuse for several students, it seems to me that this might be a worthwhile investment for almost any homeschooling family.

In addition, Digital Frog International offers a free downloadable demo version of each field trip, or a DemoWare CD (a small $5 shipping fee applies to the CD request). This is a great way to explore this type of resource before investing the money to purchase.

These programs are quite simple to explore using your computer mouse, even with the vast amount of information provided. In addition to wonderful "real-life" photos, graphics, and videos, there are also many informative narratives and tutorials.

As a great way to reinforce what you learn on each field trip, Digital Frog International has included a customizable workbook on each CD-Rom. These printable materials are offered in a variety of formats and allow you to print exactly what you need. The student materials include tips and suggestions for utilizing the CD-ROM and quizzes reinforcing the material taught. The teacher's guide provides answers, teaching suggestions, and some graphic resources for younger elementary students.

As you explore the Rainforest Digital Field Trip, 30 of the rainforest's plants and animals are profiled in detail. In addition to information relating specifically to the Blue Creek Rainforest Reserve, there is also much information given on rainforests in general, such as a profile of the different types of rainforests which exist, and the mechanisms of a rainforest ecosystem, helping your student understand what conditions are necessary to perpetuate a rainforest.

The Desert Field Trip allows you the opportunity to explore the Sonoran Desert, the Painted Desert, Cattail Falls oasis in Big Bend National Park, Black Rock Desert, or Death Valley. As well as profiling 49 desert organisms, more than 3,000 vocabulary words used in this Digital Field Trip are defined. This means that even younger students can benefit without fear of being overwhelmed. As in the Rainforest Field Trip, desert types are defined, mechanism of desert ecosystems are explored, and human impact on this type of environment is highlighted.

The final Digital Field Trip offered explores wetland ecosystems, profiling 33 plants and animals and defining 3,000 vocabulary words unique to this type of environment. You can learn about a bog, how they form and what type of plants and animals inhabit a bog. You can learn more about endangered wetlands, including information about conservation and pollution. You can also learn about the different types of wetlands, including a march and a bog.

All three of my students, ages 9 through 14, have had a wonderful time exploring these programs. The best part is they are learning so much information about God's creation without even being aware of it. All they know is that they are being entertained and having a good time. Currently we have been using the field trips as supplements to our science program, but I am considering expanding our studies and using these programs as a spine for next year's science studies.

This series provides so much varied information that is impossible to go into as much detail as is warranted. I would highly recommend families that would like to expand their homeschooling boundaries to further explore the Digital Frog International website and look over the available demos. I'm guessing there will be many of you who would choose to invest in these excellent teaching tools.

Product review by: Melanie Bunnett, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2008