Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nature Friend Magazine - A Review

Product: Nature Friend Magazine

Company: Dogwood Ridge Outdoors

Price: $36/12 issues. Study guide is an extra $2/issue
Until Nov. 30, save $3 on a new subscription with code "BLOG93"

Where to buy: Nature Friend

Brief OverView:

Nature Friend Magazine is a Christian magazine whose motto is "Helping families explore the wonders of God's creation." While ages 8-16 seem a good fit, the magazine may easily be enjoyed by the younger ones and also by the parents and grandparents.

In-Depth Look:

I have tried several Science textbooks over the years with my daughters. Some we enjoyed more than others. Some we disliked so strongly that we put them away FOREVER. I had struggled over which book to use this school year. I finally came to the conclusion that this year, I wanted science to be FUN. I didn't want it to be a drudgery, something that we read and endured because we had to. Science is all about God's creation and how it all works and fits together and as such, it should be enjoyable. So that was my plan for this make it a pleasant experience that we would enjoy together.

Well, lo and behold, if God didn't plop an answer to prayer right smack into my lap with the arrival of this magazine in my mailbox. The magazine is Nature Friend, a monthly publication focused on exploring God's creation.

The first thing that caught my eye and left quite the impression was the quality of the photographs. No dull black and white sketches here. These are full-color, crisp and clear, with amazing detail. The photos are beautiful.

The next thing I noticed were how many hands-on activities there were for the children.
-Invisibles (finding the hidden items in a picture) - my girls love these
-Word Search
-Vocabulary Match-Up
-You Can Draw
-Who Am I (guessing the animal from the clues)
-Experiment Ideas
These hands-on activities help to draw the readers in and reinforce the lessons. Many learn and remember better when they listen and write on a subject.

We have enjoyed reading the articles. In the August and September issues, we learned about the cicada, soft-shelled turtle, eastern screech owl, California tree frog, banana slug (it really does look like a banana), animal tracks, pygmy owl, a walkingstick, and the malleefowl (this bird is amazing). And we have many more interesting articles awaiting us.

My daughters enjoy the short, informational articles and I've learned several facts right along with them. Have you ever heard of the malleefowl bird? I sure hadn't. It doesn't sit on its eggs. It builds its own incubator and when the male gets the incubator to a perfect temperature of 92 degrees, the female starts laying eggs. How amazing is that?

And check out the walkingstick insect. I thought they were totally harmless. So, my kids and I were astounded to learn that God gave it a defense system. The American walkingstick has a potent spray that is not only painful, but can cause temporary blindness!

These are just a sample of the many interesting things that we have learned. And I am excited to keep on learning.

Something that I found nice about the magazine is that it encourages its readers to send in items of interest for a chance of publication. Each issue has quite a sampling of reader input.
-The Mailbox (Readers ask a question and Nature Friend gives an answer)
-Reader submissions from the "You can draw" segment
-Articles about animal encounters
-Funny captions to be printed along with the back cover photo

As a stand-alone, the magazine is impressive. But for $2/issue, you can have a study guide enclosed in the magazine. This takes the lessons to another level, making it great as a unit study. Here are some of the things that you will find.
-Word puzzles
-True or False questions
-Research questions
-A lesson in writing
-Photography Tips
-Motto for the Month

What I Like:
I love that this magazine is from a Christian point-of-view. I don't have to skim ahead as I read aloud. No worries about "millions of years" or evolution references. And I appreciate the references about God having a hand in it all, a reminder that it didn't all just happen by chance. The photographs are gorgeous. The articles are not only enjoyable, but informative.

What I Don't Like:
The only thing that I don't like is when I get to the last page. I wish there was more.

Extra Tips:
Check out their website for some great resources.
-Sample Issues of the magazine and the study guides.
-Homeschoolers Guide to Nature Friend
-A recipe to neutralize the odor of skunk spray

Special Offer:
Save $3 off your first subscription until November 30th, with Coupon Code "BLOG93".

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