Learning about squid over the past couple of days, through crafts, play and easy readers, has been sufficient for my younger children (ages 5-9), but the older children (ages 11-14) clearly needed a more substantial type of lesson.
On numerous occasions in the past, I've considered purchasing mail order dissection kits to supplement biology lessons, like those from Young Scientist.
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Happily, it seems, I must not have been the only would-be biologist sitting in the computer science lab. And now, thanks to the trickery of technology, a foreboding of formaldehyde or a sensitive soul need not keep the budding biologist from a detailed knowledge of the inner workings of squid, frogs, or even fetal pigs, and I have the certificate to prove it (my six grade self would be so proud).
But in all seriousness, I did spend quite a bit of time researching various virtual dissection options, before settling on Froguts.com as the one that works best for us. It is a subscription service, that costs $36.00 to $46.00 for a year, depending on whether you choose a CD, downloadable or online option. Considering that it allows for multiple students to complete (multiple times, if they wish) dissection labs for a starfish, frog, squid, cow eye, fetal pig, as well as a Mendelian pea and fruit fly genetics lessons, complete with section, and unit quizzes, at their own pace (I had to take the 50 question, squid quiz twice before I was happy with my score - but it really helped solidify what had been presented in the dissection activities), over the course of a year, it's not a bad price.
My children, especially my oldest two (ages 13 and 14), were quite taken with the 3-d graphics (you can view a demo - here), and clear depictions of the animals' anatomy, even if they where disappointed with the lack of an earth worm lab. I was thrilled to find easy to follow, in depth, high school level lessons, that take no prep or additional teaching on my part. I'm free to learn along with the children, instead of trying to stay one step ahead of them.
As to the missing "goo and guts" element of the sanitized virtual approach, I'm sure a fall hunting, or summer fishing trip with the Man of the House will fill in the gaps. Anyone for a guest post on "How to Breast a Grouse"?
It's great be a homeschooler.