Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Highlights Top Secret Adventures - Review

Photobucket"/>

I've mentioned, at least once before, that we tried out Highlights' geography club, some time ago, but while I was thrilled with it, the kids really weren't. It's a mail order club, where the children are sent a new "adventure", for a different country, every couple of weeks. It took me several months to figure out it wasn't going to work for my older children, so we had five, or six of them pile up, unopened, in our closet, before I cancelled our membership in the club.




Despite the children's lack of enthusiasm, I happen to think it's an excellent concept. Each set, provides a Clue-like mystery for the children to solve. Something is stolen, by one of a number of criminals, in a certain country. The children, by solving a set of codes, and puzzles (engaging math and logic skills), and working through a country guide book (a 30, or so, page, mini-geography book, for the country being covered), must solve the mystery of who, stole what, from where.

From time to time I pull one, that we haven't done yet, out for the children to try again. This week, I pulled out the set for Egypt. Highlights' suggested age for the club is 7-12. My oldest three are 9-12, so I hoped being a little older, they might enjoy it more. There is a lot to learn in the included Guide To Egypt, but I was hoping they'd really get into the puzzles, and enjoy themselves, while they learned about the country.

Usually, I have them work together as a team, but this time I had them work through it alone. They seemed to enjoy it more while working independently - so maybe there's some hope, yet. And, despite their lukewarm reception of the puzzle books, they always end up reading, or at least browsing through the country guide book, later on their own, too.

If you have a child ages 7-12, who enjoys puzzles, codes, and mysteries, then this would probably be an excellent approach to geography. You can check out more about the club, on Highlights website, and view a PDF sample, or order one of country puzzle sets, for free + $3.45 shipping. Just be careful, you have to respond quickly, if you don't want any more, or you'll end up with a closet full, at $18.00 a pop.

For more discussion, and ideas about teaching children geography, and history, click over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Lean, for a geography, and history link up.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

9 comments:

Ticia said...

I've seen that before and so want my kids to be old enough for it. Now to see if they have anything like that for my kids.

Debbie said...

I will have to check into this when Selena is older. She loves the High Five magazines now. Thank you for the review!

Melissa said...

Oh my goodness! I found one of these at a library book sale, and my code-loving eldest ate it up. I didn't know there was a series of them! Thank you for sharing.

Dana Fredo said...

I have a 5 year old who loves problem solving and the highlight/high five magazines. I bought this for her and told her that she is a secret agent. We do it together and to say that She LOVES it is an understatment! I have 2 younger daughters as well, so this is a great activity that is for just her and I. If you have a child that is like mine, don't be afraid to order this if they are not 7 yet.

Aravinda said...

My 8-year old has been devouring these for a year now. Sometimes she has friends over and they do them in pairs. Thanks for posting the review. Nice blog!

designerdiana said...

I'm glad to see Dana Fredo's comment about ordering this for her 5-year old daughter. I just ordered it for my 5yo daughter, who has been thoroughly enjoying the Puzzle Buzz series, also from Highlights. Although I know she will need plenty of help with the reading, I think she'll really enjoy the puzzles and problem solving, even if she isn't at the target age yet.

Anonymous said...

I just got an add for this in the mail. It looks like a lot of fun, but oddly doesn't put the age group on it. I always think of the Highlights magazine for younger kids, so I was afraid my 9 year old wouldn't like this. But after your excellent review, I'm going to give it a try. Thanks for all of the details. Very helpful!

Anonymous said...

My seven-year-old daughter is devouring these. Her grandmother ordered all of them at once because my daughter didnt want to wait a month for the next to arrive. I recommend trying one before signing up for the whole thing though. Also, if your child does not like it now, she/he might like it later or another of your children might, so its definately worth hanging on to for a rainy day in the future.

Anonymous said...

I have been getting these now for six months. Im absolutly in love with the concept of solving these and learning geography in the mix but my seven year old son seems to get sidetracked or bored after only fifteen minutes. Im not sure what i can do to make it more interesting for him because i really wanted to be able to do these together to bond because im sick of xbox being the most fun he has. Would anyone happen to have some tips or advice for getting kids more interested?