The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

The Cooper Kit Review by Karen Waide

Cooper & Kid

Our family received a subscription craft box called The Cooper Kit from Cooper & Kid. As a homeschool mom, I am usually the one who works with the children, doing activities and crafts. Daddy does not get near as much time with the children, especially because he works nights, so even when he is home, he is tired and trying to catch up on sleep. Most of the interactions between the children and their father are sport or video game related. As you can imagine, getting the chance to do something different with daddy was an exciting proposition.

When their “Quiet! ‘on the set’” Cooper Kit arrived, they all gathered around to see what it contained. It starts off with the sturdy 12 ½ x 12 ½ x 4 ¾ inch cardboard box, which not only protected the contents as it shipped, and gave us a place to store the materials, but was also used for a couple of the activities. A Cooper Kit can contain between six to nine activities. The one we received had six, most of them individually packaged with nearly all the needed components.

Here is a list of the included materials:

1- Magic Lantern

2- The Great Puppet Caper (stick puppets)

3- Shushies (A Silent Movie Card Game)

4- Make Your Own Fake Pie Gag

5- A Delightful Egg MacGuffin

6- The Flower Man: a wordless picture book by Mark Ludy

Also included was the Activity Guide: Jack Hammer in Quiet! “On the Set”

Let us take a closer look at the contents:

The Magic Lantern activity had five Magic Lantern Sheets, which were very thick cardboard and had pieces to pop out to assemble the magic lantern. There were also two Tube Sheets and one Lens Holder Sheet which needed to be cut out. The other items included were three lenses, an LED candle, a remote, the “Going Bananas” film strip, a blank film strip, wet erase marker, glue, and markers. We needed to supply our own scissors and could have chosen to use tape and a utility knife.

The Great Puppet Caperactivity includes a “Cast of Characters” Sheet with four characters and four props that needed to be cut out. The characters are a penguin, a cat, a horse, and a pig. The props are a rocket, a car, a sun, and a moon. There are also eight colorful Popsicle sticks with adhesive on one end to attach the puppets to. We needed to use part of the box and an included brass fastener to make a scene clapper. The glue was used to finish the clapper. We again needed to use our scissors, and this time a utility knife was needed for cutting the clapper out of the box.

The Shushies is an activity that combines cards and charades. There is a deck of cards with different characters and actions, plus a small chalkboard and a chalk pen. During the game, two of the cards are combined (one from the Actor, and one from the Director), and the Actor has to silently act them out. However, there is a twist. Another player is the Scriptwriter and must write out a line of “silent movie dialogue” on the included chalkboard using the chalk pen. During the acting out of the scene, the screenwriter decides when the actor needs to incorporate this line. There is also a Critic who reviews the scene. If you do not have enough family members, someone can play multiple roles.

The Gag Reel/Make Your Own Fake Pie Gagcraft/activity comes with a foam “pie,” cotton “whipped cream,” RickRack “Pie Crust,” a felt square, a felt strip, and uses both the glue and the marker, plus we needed our own scissors and craft knife again. The finished “pie” is to be used in a pie-in-the-face gag. Though glue was included for this craft, we found that the glue did not hold, so we pulled out our hot glue gun, which worked much better.

The delightful Egg MacGuffin activity uses a Color Me Monkey MacGuffin, which is a small stuffed monkey made of white fabric which is decorated with the enclosed fabric markers. Everything learned through the other activities comes together to help dad and kids create a silent movie starring the MacGuffin. Sadly, the blue marker did not work, so we used one of our own.

Daddy and kiddos sat down to enjoy the enclosed wordless picture book titled, The Flower Man by Mark Ludy. They had a blast picking out different things happening in each picture.

The study guide is 22pages, square-shaped, and spiral-bound. It is printed on black card pages. It explains that the theme focuses on silent movies and gives instructions for nine different “scenes.” These scenes include the six activities included with the kit, plus a page that focuses on building confidence, several pages of black and white recipes (to honor the black and white silent movie era), and a scene titled “Sequel Setup.” The guide concludes with reminders to check out the digital resources available on the Cooper and Kid website, under our Customer Portal, and a reminder to “share the love” via social media.

My husband and the children spread these activities out over several weeks as they had to find times when daddy was not too tired for the activities to be enjoyed. Even I joined in with the Shushies charades-type game, and I was the one-person audience for the puppet show and MacGuffin movie. Though there is a logical order for completing the activities, we noticed that it does not hurt to go out of order.

They started with the Magic Lantern, which they thought would be able to finish in one day as the estimated time for the project is two hours. My husband felt it was a wonderful concept, and did function; however, there were some frustrating things that made implementation difficult. They found it took quite a while for the glue to dry before they could move on to the next step. So, they decided to work on one section of the Magic Lantern, then set it to dry, and work on another project. We also discovered that we had to trim the film strip to allow it to fit through the front hole. However, once we had it all figured out, and it was complete we were able to take it into a dark room and “watch” the film.

The children loved producing plots, lines, and actions for both the Great Puppet Caper and the Delightful Egg MacGuffin. For the puppet show they had to work on dialogue, and for the silent movie they had to work on helping the monkey act out the story without words. Of course, they had had practice with the “Shushies” card/charade game.

My husband had this to say regarding “The Great Puppet Caper”:

“Set up was easy, and the kids got to see the fruits of their labor fairly quickly which also helped. Everybody, including the audience, had a blast with this one. It was also nice to see all four kids working together, and helping each other remember lines, timing, and other things.”

We also love that there is a website accessible to members which offers a lot of resources. We watched part of a silent movie and the pie gag acted out. This is also where we were able to find links to the ingredients needed for some of the black and white meal ideas. Sadly, we could not justify the expense of some of the ingredients, so we skipped making the recipes.

We found that this kit was right for our family of four children, though I am sure it would work fine for families with more or less children. There were some frustrating moments, such as having to wait for the Magic Lantern pieces to dry, those instructions being a bit unclear at times, and the marker not working. But they sure were not deal breakers. The children had a wonderful time spending time with dad. They really seemed to enjoy creating the silent movie, and our youngest child said he loved being able to help color the monkey to get him ready for the big performance.

Overall, I would recommend this activity box subscription if you are looking for a way to spend more time with your children.

The Cooper Kit is a subscription box available from Cooper & Kid. These boxes are shipped every three months, for a total of four a year, giving you plenty of time to work through the kit before the next one arrives. Each kit costs $65 if paid for quarterly, or you can prepay for the year and save $24.

- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2019