TOS Review: Curiosity Files: Red Tides


We’ve been having fun around here learning about something rather curious: Red Tides.  I’d heard of them but really didn’t know anything about them.  My 15 year old excitedly defined red tides for her sisters creating excitement among all of us.  Red Tides is just one of the titles in the Curiosity Files series of unit studies published by the Old Schoolhouse.

In the introduction of the The Curiosity Files: Red Tides it says:

Our goal is to educate children about subjects they’d never find otherwise,
To get them thinking creatively and give their minds some exercise.

I like these goals.  I want my children to learn about subjects that they’d never find otherwise and I wholeheartedly want them to be thinking creatively and exercising their minds.


The Curiosity File starts with the information section.  I love the title: “Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Red Tides”.  Because it is written in question and answer  format, I couldn’t resist pretending the girls were asking the questions and I had the answers.   Sometimes I would just read the question and respond with “that’s a very good question Tailorbear” ; sometimes I would start a section with “Supergirl wants to know” and then I would read the question and answer.  The girls would giggle when I added their name to the question or to the response.

Sections following the information include:

  • Let’s See How Much You’ve Learned
  • In the Beginning covers Bible
  • Figure it Out covers math topics.
  • The Write Stuff
  • Spelling and Vocabulary
  • Copywork
  • In the Lab
  • Good Old Days covers history
  • Where in the World? covers geography
  • Let’s Get Creative
  • The Curiosity Fact Files—”These curiosity snippets” are mini-booklets.  Some home educators refer to these as lapbooks.   Templates for storage folder are included. 
  • Music Mania
  • Read All About It a book suggestion list
  • Wanna Learn More? websites you can visit for more information
  • Answer Keys


My thoughts:  We chose to do this as a group.  Supergirl sometimes hung out with us and at other times she wandered away.  As a first grader, I could have made this work for her but I chose to focus on the 6th, 8th, and 10th graders. I think this would be ideal for 4th to 6th grade. I found it easily adaptable to do with 8th and 10th graders.

The girls and I had so much fun with the activities and sections we chose to do.  My girls and I enjoyed each other’s company while exercising their brain and thinking creatively about Food Webs.   (That poor raccoon!  After creating the food web, we discussed how the red tide would affect the raccoon.  In every scenario he died.  Either he ate the fish poisoned by the toxin from produced by the red tide or he starved to death because all the fish were dead.) 

I appreciated having two word lists (one for younger students and one for older students)for vocabulary and spelling. We read through the list together and then the girls completed an activity page that taught us  the meaning of each word and they were fun.

What I wish the study had: I am not really a unit study kind of mom.  I enjoy studying one topic  such as red tides and covering multiple subjects.  However, I really need more structure than what is provided.  I would have loved some type of explanation of how to use some of the sections.  I really wanted a suggestion of how to break up the activities to schedule our day.   It was difficult for me to start the study because I didn’t know where to start or how to proceed.  I’d love to see a chart or suggestions of how to schedule the material.  Should we read through all the info section first?  When should we complete the “Let’s See How Much You’ve Learned” section?  Should we do it in one sitting?  Not knowing what to do with some sections and not having any clue about how to schedule the study, frustrated me. I’m sure that many moms who are more familiar with and prefer unit studies understand better than I how to schedule but for moms like me who need more structure, I hope that future Curiosity Files include more guidance for how to use a unit study.

Having completed the sections that seemed easiest for me to schedule and that interested my children the most, I am very thankful that we stuck with it.  The information is solid and well-writtenThe presentation is beautiful.   The “Everything You Never Wanted to Know Section” is worth reading and adding to your science curriculum even if you are not a unit study type of person.

I think these are wonderful mini-unit studies and I think taking a break for a week or two from “regular” school and completing a Curiosity File would be a great way to break up the monotony of winter.   Having completed one, I feel like I could try doing another (but I’d really like scheduling suggestions!) and even if I don’t use them as unit studies, I’m considering adding more into our school.  I will be using Red Tides again in the future with Supergirl and  I am particularly interested in the Blue Diamond and Blue Footed Boobies for all of us. There are many that focus on insects so a budding entymologist would have a blast exercising his (or her) brain and thinking creatively.


There are currently 9 studies available for the Curiosity Files with more planned for the future.  All 9 studies can be purchased as a bundle on CD here for $49.00 or as an e-book here for $46.00.  Click here for individual titles (prices on individual titles are subject to change).

If you like the Curiosity Files series from TOS, you might also like their WeE-book and WannaBe series.

Many of my crewmates reviewed other titles in the Curiosity Files series.  Please click on the banner below to read what they have to say.


Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.


  1. Well, I'll vouch for these being great for a budding entomologist! Definitely.

    Red Tides is one of the only Curiosity Files titles I haven't read. You are making me want to break it out and do so. :)


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