The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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FoldingGuides™ Review by Sheila Chairvolotti

Earth Sky + Water
28 Howard Street
Wilton, NH 03086

Nature study is an important part of many families’ homeschool lives. Field guides are an invaluable resource that allows observers to identify the specimen that they are observing as well as to learn more about its natural history and place in the environment. The FoldingGuides™ produced by Earth Sky + Water are a “take-it-with-you” style of field guide which will enhance nature and wildlife viewing and help build anticipation even before going outdoors. These guides are a slim size, about 9 ¼ inches by 4 ¼ inches, and are six pages which are accordion-folded so they open nicely and then fold back for easy transportation. The pages are a stiff material, fully laminated, and they are constructed in such a manner so that when folded up they are not bulky at all. Their cost is $8.95 apiece and there is a wide range of guide topics, from the night sky to hummingbirds to woodpeckers, and more. 

The “Bird Guides” have many pictures of the different birds of the type, with defining features pointed out. Their sounds are written out so they can be identified by call, and there are maps to show the normal ranges of the varied species. Interspersed between entries are bits of information that encompass the group, such as nesting habits and viewing tips, behavior patterns and feeding strategies, as well as identifiable comparisons, such as flight patterns or drumming patterns (woodpeckers). 

The “Night Sky Guide” has a full-sky map for each season of the year, along with instructions on how to orient it for use. Little informational segments give the viewer information that will enhance their appreciation of what they are viewing as well as enhance their entire stargazing experience.

These guides can be used by people of any age, from adults to young children. They are very sturdy, waterproof, and have enticing pictures that encourage nature exploration and identification. They fit easily in a backpack (or a big pocket!) to carry along; they also fit nicely into the glove compartment of a car for impromptu nature experiences. While homeschoolers would love these products, anyone can use them. Their lamination makes it easy to keep them clean, even if you use them on the forest floor, in a canoe, or anywhere!

In our family, we used these lovely folding guides in our backyard and woods area to identify some creatures we see (and hear) in our area. We had the opportunity to use four of these guides: Night Sky Guide, Hummingbirds of North America, Owls of North America, and Woodpeckers of North America. The guides were quite easy to use and my daughter was able to identify several species of birds that are around, including one hummingbird which had previously mystified us. 

I love these products--anything that helps students get excited about nature and allows them to discover things (such as identifications of birds, in this case) is worth recommending. The quality of these folding guides shows extreme care in the design and I imagine that they will be used for many years without showing wear.

This product has my recommendation--and it is the type of learning product that does not scream “academic!” although it is very educational and enhances exploration. These folding waterproof guides would be great to have on hand on hikes, in the car, at the beach, and even in your yard. They would make a nice gift, as well, for students and adults! It is a wonderful thing to go out to appreciate nature, and these guides take that experience to the next level as they help the viewer to understand more about what is around them. These are quality products that I highly recommend!

-Product review by Sheila Chairvolotti, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2020