"Mum! This is from Taiwan! We don't know anyone who lives there and
it says Top Secret and Confidential!"
Master 10, receiving his package this week, excited is an understatement.
"Mum this is one of my dreams coming true, I think it's from a spy!"
"OMG help me open it, I don't want to wreck it!"
"OMG help me open it, I don't want to wreck it!"
That magical look of joy on his face mixed with extreme caution and urgency was priceless. At 10 years old, most parents will agree that these moments and surprised looks get less and less as their children get older, wiser and more sceptical. So to get such a huge and positive reaction from my son just made my day. Maybe even my month.
The Package gets opened.
There is a box, very official looking, another confidential stamp on it. It's like a cool grown up version of the 'pass the parcel' game. My son's anticipation is so high he is literally bouncing on the spot.
I opened the box and there on top was an envelope. Personally addressed and covered in more confidential and top secret stickers. My son is now bouncing and humming and flapping his hands.
*Note: Autism parents would be realising by now that my son has ASD - for everyone else, bouncing, humming and hand flapping are called 'Stims' (or stimulations) which my son cannot help doing and which take place during extreme anxiety - or extreme excitement - or both*
We opened the envelope. My son stopped dead to read it. He is a very reluctant reader but as it was addressed for him to read and was Top Secret, well it was apparently not for anyone's eyes but his. He read it twice. Just to be sure he didn't miss anything.
Now at this point, from the perspective of a mother, a special needs mother and a homeschooling mother - you have me sold on this product. Well and truly sold. The excitement, the want to read and the overcoming of learning issues all before we have even gotten to the actual product means a huge win win win for me.
But let me continue.
The letter informs us there is an online community to check out. I expected Master 10 to want to do that immediately but the letter says to read the first book before getting online. Having Aspergers and loving rules, of course we then went straight to the books.
There are 8 in this first series. Starting with Finland then Taiwan, Brazil, Thailand, Greece, Tanzania, Peru and Peru Too. Beautiful pastel watercolours on the covers. There are a few pictures throughout but mainly text. It was small text but clear. If you have a reluctant reader and one who is not competent at this level it's a great opportunity to encourage them and to read aloud to them.
One added bonus, was that my son wanted to find out if the main character Crameye was a boy or a girl. It doesn't say anywhere nor is it very clear - which I LOVED by the way. My son was like a little detective listening to me read and trying to pick the gender. Part way through the book one little word gave it away and that was the first mystery solved. I won't tell you here, I don't want to spoil the surprise LOL.
The unexpected thing about these books, is how cultural and social differences are introduced and explained. This is something you don't get with other Geography products. In fact you don't get this with most curriculum across all subjects. Having a child on the Autism Spectrum who struggles with social interaction, expectations and differences, having these things explained for him to read was so refreshing. My son pointed out these things when mentioned in the book and said it helped him understand what the people were like as well as the country.
The books also contain a section at the back with facts called the "Country Breakdown". I find this very helpful from a special needs homeschooling perspective. An easy reference to jog the memory. Perfect for the child with a learning difficulty who will need to refresh their memory over time to retain the information and who will often struggle to find facts within a story.
We have spent the last 2 days reading the first book and then researching the topic found at the end of the story. Again I won't spoil it for you, but I have to say I found it very clever, and my son did too. We both love a good pun and the play on words to get this end result was a great touch!
I will be adding more reviews of this product as we read more of the books and explore the online component, so keep an eye out for those in the coming weeks.
** The Adventurous Mailbox provided us with this set in order to make an unbiased review. This review is completely my opinion and the reaction of my son and was in no way influenced by The Adventurous Mailbox.**
I thought this product would be something we'd enjoy but was completely blown away by my son's reaction and the quality of the product. If you are after a product to add to your curriculum then I highly recommend this one.
What stood out for me and sets this product aside from many out there, is that
facts are told via the imagery in the story, in a very subtle way and perfect for the child who learns through story telling.
I also have to add *with a chuckle*, that my son saw me writing this blog
and nearly had a heart attack ....
"OMG Mum you aren't putting that on the internet are you?!!!
It's SECRET SPY STUFF!"
So between you and I,
no this is not going on the Internet *insert wink*,
it's still totally secret dear son *insert another wink*,
I won't reveal your identity *wink chuckle wink*.
I don't know what's more enticing for my son, his love of travel and geography or his secret dream to be a spy. Either way, the combination of the two is a huge hit!
SPECIAL OFFER FOR HOMESCHOOLERS!
Head over to The Adventurous Mailbox and using the code HSadventure at checkout, you will get the Teacher's Lounge free, as well as $10 off the Adventurer Package (the Teacher's Lounge upgrade needs to be in the cart for the coupon to work). This special is running through till the end of June 2015.