Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Fun Learning Tool: Brain Quest

And yet another great gift for Christmas, this time from 2008. We received a little package for each of our girls from Brain Quest. They have been around for a while and their slogan is "It's OK to be smart". Can't argue with that (except for the assumption that they aren't already getting that message). They are basically trivia cards for kids. They have many levels--one per grade--and general, math-based, or reading-based sets. For instance, you can purchase a grade 3 set of cards that only asks math questions. You can purchase a 2nd grade set of cards specifically for reading. The company must be doing all right selling these things; they now even have workbooks, items for preschoolers, toddlers, and history.

We got Brain Quest Grade 4 and Brain Quest Grade 1 last year (a little off for Flurpee since she is very young for her grade). The format is actually fun. Not some boring book in need of turning pages and checking for answers in the back of the book. You don't even have to turn anything upside down. The answers are on the next page--just a slide away. The pages/card are fastened with a sturdy rivet to allow the cards to fan out. Ready for the next page, just slide the current card out of the way. The questions an answers are shown below.

I like the format. It's easy to use and easy to hold. Each unit comes with two of the decks shown at the top of this post. The little pictures indicate the type of question. The question categories are science, English, math, U.S. history, geography, and 'grab bag' (music, literature, cultural, sports, games). I have mentioned before that, as a homeschooler, I have issues knowing what my kids are expected to be able to accomplish at certain ages. I also worry that we are missing tidbits of information (or perhaps even whole swaths) that they will be expected to know later and that will leave them struggling to understand larger abstractions. Here are 1,500 questions across disciplines that are fun for the kids to answer and answer some things for me as well.

If there is generic science or history information most 4th graders are expected to know, then anything they haven't already been taught might be discovered through these sets. I would not call this education. It is definitely a learning tool along with being entertaining. Like other games or ways kids pick up information from fun activities. In my mind, only when it is part of an overall, orchestrated plan does it count for education. This is not it for me, but it is a tool I will happily use. I liked them so much that I bought new sets for our current grade levels.

If you click through the links and actually buy something, I might get a little money at no additional cost or hassle.

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