Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Science, Science Everywhere - A New TOS Review

I really thought that teaching science was going to be "hard" for me to teach, especially since I am really an English/history gal. Math and scienceis really Stephen's forte. So when we first started researching curiculum, I was quite happyto find the Christian Kids Explore series of books published by Bright Ideas Press. So you could only imagine our joy to be on the review team.
The Product:
This series of science books have 4 books all beginning with Christian Kids Explore . . . Biology, Earth & Space, Chemistry, and Physics.  We were given the biology book to review, which has 290 pages with a soft (paperback) cover. This book is available for $34.95 and you can also download student activity pages for just $7.95

I was excited to get this book to review because I knew all three of my littles would enjoy learning about plants, animals, and themselves (humans.) There are 8 units divided into 35 lessons as well as an appendices.  The appendices include many reproducible forms and maps as well as coloring pages, recipes and supplemental pages, an answer key, a book and resource list, as well as a memorization list and Scripture Memory list. The beginning of the book also has a brief section which gives ideas on how to teach the lessons along with a breakdown of how your teaching week could look like.

At the beginning of each unit there is a vocabulary list of all the words that the child will encounter while reading.  There is also a material list for the entire unit so that you can prepare in advance and be sure to have your items ready and on hand. Each lesson is broken down also.  There is a teaching time which can be read by you or read by an older student.  In the reading there are words which are bolded - these are some of the vocabulary words you would have seen at the beginning of the unit.

Sometimes in a lesson there's a "One Step Further" section - a great part for your older students.  There is also a Hands-On Time in every lesson.  This is the section that will help cement the lesson into your child's memory.  The author is clear to let you know not to skip this portion and I FULLY agree!

At the end of the unit there is a "Unit Wrap-Up" which is a type of 'test' - nut not a typical test.  You can ask the questions orally for younger students or have it written for your older students and the 'rules' are to go through the test the first time with no book and then for those questions that weren't answered or answered properly to go through a second time with the book as your guide.  There is also an additional writing assignment a perfect accompaniment for the older student who needs a little more work. ;)

Our Experience:
We LOVE this series and I really didn't have to do much to have my kids get into doing the lessons.  We actually have already completed this book a few years ago, so this time I decided to take a more unorthodox approach to completing the lessons.  When we received the book we had just come home from our impromptu vacation trip to Chicago.  While we were in Chicago we went to the Shedd Aquarium and the children had picked some "favorite" animals.  So I decided to start off our review with lessons about the animals we had just seen in real life.

So we started our review by exploring Lesson 26 on Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins.  Did you know that there were 3 different types of "turtles" and they all have very distinct characteristics?  We also learned that a tortoise has the longest life span some over 150 years!  My children LOVED this lesson, especially after learning about Nickel - a leatherback sea turtle who had been injured while a baby and had injured front legs.

We also did some mammal lessons on monkeys and apes (after exploring the monkey house at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago) and the Canids, Felines, and Bears lesson (after we had a close encounter with a jaguar).  All of these lessons had a greater impact this time after we had just seen all these animals.  While we were talking about monkeys and apes one of the days our snack was bananas so they became monkeys.  They also tried to pick up things WITHOUT using their thumbs, which is one of the characteristics of the Order Primates.

My Thoughts:
I have a wide range of children both in actual school grade as well as ability.  My eldest is in 3rd grade and I also have a 1st grader as well as K3, but even though there is a wide range I think they all learned something from the lessons.  The books are primarily written for the elementary age range (3rd - 6th), but I believe they could easily be used for an older school child with little effort using the writing assignments and hands-on times as a jumping off area or a younger student by not requiring as much writing or memorization by them.

I really love this curriculum for many reasons, one of which is that it teaches from a Christian point of view.  It also does briefly discuss the Big Bang Theory in the first chapter, but from such a unique perspective that I was highly appreciative of the mention of evolution as a theory ... and only a theory.  I also LOVE that is written with a classical flare which fits our style of homeschooling perfectly.

There is plenty more that I could tell you about this curriculum, but I encourage you to check it out for yourself.  You can download a sample week and view the Table of Contents.  And if you want to learn more about this book or the others in the series be sure to read some other reviews from my other Crew members. You can also check out the Suggested Further Reading list for the Biology book if you want to see what else they have to offer to help expand the lesson times.

Bright Ideas Press also offers other curriculum in History and other Science choices.  They can be found on Facebook, Twitter, on their blog, and even on You Tube.

*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is one of those books that I wish I was a reviewer so I could have gotten it.... =(

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