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The Fascinating World of: (Birds, Mammals, Insects) Review by Tess Hamre

Bryce Mooney Ph.D and Jennifer Mooney M. Ed
BrainFood Learning

BrainFood Learning offers three DVDs: The Fascinating World of Birds, The Fascinating World of Insects, and The Fascinating World of Mammals. Fascinating is the perfect word to describe these fact-filled educational videos.

Each DVD is laid out in similar fashion; the menu has a "Play All," animal (insect, bird or mammal) section and a Review section. The "Play All" menu includes a general introduction, description, and facts about mammals, or insects, or birds. After the general facts that apply to all mammals or birds or insects, the viewer is introduced, one at a time to a select few specific animals. For the Mammals DVD, viewers will learn about 10 different mammals such as the giraffe, the chimpanzee, dolphin, or bat. The Birds DVD also has 10 specific birds which include owls, penguins, humming birds, and seven more. The Insect DVD includes information on 11 different insects such as the ant, rhino beetle, honeybee, and grasshopper. The menu selection of mammal, bird, or insect allows you to watch over and over again the creature of your choice.

Lasting an average of 3 minutes per mammal, bird, or insect, each clip features a combination of stunning still photos and beautiful video footage. Except for some of the footage of the dolphins, it looked like each mammal, bird, or insect was filmed in its natural habitat. I felt like we were on a virtual safari visiting Africa to watch the lions and giraffes.

While watching the creature, a narrator tells us facts specific to the animal, such as what the young are called or that chimpanzees have opposable thumbs. Viewers learn that lions live in prides; that hummingbirds have a very high metabolism; and that grasshoppers chew their food but flies suck their food. At the end of each creature's feature a "big word" is written across the screen and defined. These are excellent science vocabulary words such as zoologist or entomologist.

Finally, the third menu choice, Reviews, brings a deeper educational level to the DVD. All three DVDs have a Reviews feature but the birds section is a little different than the mammal or insect DVDs.

The Bird Review has 4 types of review:

  • Review Birds - a still photo of a bird appears and the narrator asks you to name the bird.
  • Features of a Bird
  • Review of Bird Facts
  • Review Big Words

The Insects Review has 5 sections:

  • Flash Cards
  • Review Insects
  • Parts of Insects
  • Review of Insect Facts
  • Review of Big Words

The Mammals Review has 5 Sections:

  • Flash Cards
  • Review Mammals
  • Mammal Features
  • Review Mammal Facts
  • Review Big Words

I love the review sections. Some are multiple choice questions. The video waits a few moments before revealing correct answer. In my opinion these review sections would be very useful for students in 2nd or 3rd grade and up. My daughter is doing 1st grade work and found some of the questions such as the Big Words sections to be a bit challenging for her but others were perfect such as the Review Mammals.

I used these DVDs as an introduction to animals with my daughter who functions at a first grade level. At first she said they were "boring." These videos are not entertainment videos. The Play All menu choice was a bit overwhelming for her. When we watched only the general introduction/description part of Play All, and then went back to the menu to choose specific animals, she was much happier. I love that you can access the mammals, insects or birds individually allowing a student to choose the order. I think her favorite of the three DVDs is the mammals. That is the one she requests most often.

I recommend these DVDs as a supplement to any animal study. Upper elementary students could keep a science vocabulary notebook and could use the review sections for notebooking ideas. My 13 year old and my 15 year old enjoyed watching the creature clips with my 1st grade daughter. I found myself fascinated with the beautiful video footage and I have to admit that I learned some new things about mammals, insects, and birds. We'll be continuing to use these as part of my 1st grader's science program.

Product review by Tess Hamre, Veteran on the Schoolhouse Review Crew, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2013