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My Animal Family: Ella, A Baby Elephant's Story My Animal Family: Leo, A Baby Lion's Story Review by Charlotte Gochnauer

Kathleen Duey
Ideals Publications
535 Metroplex Dr.
Nashville, TN 37211

These two books are a fun way for young children to learn more about baby animals. There are three parts to this product; the story itself, an accompanying DVD and a password for access to their website.

The book is a very simple story about the young animal and some adventures they have. In the lion cub story the cub tries to climb a tree limb, sees other animals and then gets lost, only to be found by its mother. The baby elephant welcomes a new cousin, helps her get to the river and protects her from a hyena. Both books are written in first person and are in very simple language geared to ages 4-8. The illustrations are beautiful, with African sunsets and close ups of the animals.

The DVD is attached to the inside cover of the books. The first chapter is another story about that baby animal and what it does through in a typical day. The BBC footage is good and matches well with the story, which is narrated by a child. The second chapter is a song about the animal, using some of the same footage from the story. These were entertaining for younger children. The third chapter is labeled Animal Fun Facts. A narrator tells all sorts of facts while still pictures are shown. How much they weigh, how long their gestation period is, and what they eat are a few. The entire DVD can be watched in about 20 minutes.

To use the website, you provide an access code found inside the DVD pocket. The games range from matching, dot to dot, animal trivia and puzzles. There are very few 'video game' type activities on this website. Most of the games are about that specific animal and their habitat. As your child completes different activities, he is awarded with money which is used in a store to buy objects which help him further access other activities. Your child can choose between easy, medium and hard levels. I found this range to be appropriate from ages 4 or 5 up to about 11 years old.

Although not made specifically for homeschoolers, this product would be a very useful addition to a unit study or also to supplement animal science. I do feel this product utilized the DVD as a teaching tool and not just purely entertainment. My children enjoyed reading the book and watching the DVD - I even learned some facts about the animals I didn't know before. The songs may seem a bit silly and the tune to one my older son found annoying, but overall it used the visual and audio senses to teach animal facts. At $12.99 retail, the cost is good, considering you receive a hardback book, DVD and access to the website for a year. My younger children really enjoyed this product and would love it if we bought the other ones in the series.

Product Review by Charlotte Gochnauer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2008