Science. Why it continues to remain the bane of my homeschool existence I just don't know. I have access to awesome resources and I have good intentions, but somehow it just isn't the subject I reach for. I realize how stupid that sounds, but surely I can't be the only one who has her favorite subjects and goes for those first...or am I alone in that? In any case, when I saw Funtastic Unit Studies' Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers, I was very excited. This book is full of units, which are, in turn, chock full of experiments, that my children can do by themselves! After all, the kids love science - I'm the one who is gun shy (and not because I don't think science is important - it's because I'm a perfectionist. If I don't think I can do something perfectly, I'm afraid even to give it a try. I know it's ridiculous, but there it is.). In any case, when Michael and Mary-Catherine (10) saw this book, they decided that they wanted to do the unit on Weather (Chapter 16).
Briefly, this incredibly versatile book is divided into two halves. The first half is geared toward 4-7 year-olds, while the second half is geared toward 8-13 year-olds. Chapters in the first half are perfect for the early elementary set, and include topics like Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life, Insects and their Kin, and Stars and Planets. If you like insects, but you're a little older, don't worry: there's a chapter on insects for the 8-13 crowd as well. Sadly, there is no chapter on dinosaurs for the older set. Older kids focus far more on chemistry and physics, with chapters on Atoms and Molecules, Matter, Chemistry Fun, and Force and Motion. Because I had 10 year-olds using the book, I'll talk about the way the chapters in the second half of the book are laid out.
Chapters start with a list of materials needed for each unit. In the case of the weather unit, that is 34. When Michael first saw the list of materials, he was totally chagrined. He told me we would never be able to get everything. I told him to look carefully at the list and realize that we already *had* almost everything. Don't you love the science experiments that so cleverly use what you already have at home?
After the materials list, comes an Introduction. For the Weather unit, that is followed by Part 2 - Temperature. There are three activities to accompany this part. Part 3 - Clouds and Rain six activities. Here is The Water Cycle Michael drew from that section.
What is great is that you only draw the water cycle after first observing it in the previous activity, so you see it first and then draw it. The order really works for teaching the information and making it stick. The next activity in this section is simply cloud observation, but even I learned something from this activity. I love it when that happens! Part 4 - Humidity has one activity, but since you're building a psychrometer (a kind of hygrometer), that's okay! I have to confess that Michael's did not work very well, but I let him build it all by himself. I think we need to try again with my helping him. Part 5 is Barometric Pressure, and it has two activities. Part 6 - Wind has two activities. Making a wind vane was probably Michael's favorite activity of all. It was the easiest for him and it gave him the best results.
The chapter concludes with a 10 question multiple choice test. If you have read the chapter material even cursorily, and if you understand the concepts at all, the test is easy.
I think that this book can be great for families who love simple experiments with many items that are found around the home. I think it's probably especially good for younger children. Michael really enjoyed working on the activities alone. For the section for older kids, though, I think that Michael is on the cusp. He still needs some help with some of the activities. The best way for you to judge whether or not this book is for you is to try it yourself! Check out the chapter on Atoms and Molecules! That should be enough for you to know how you feel about the book. You should definitely, of course, click on the banner below to read all of the reviews to see how other Crew members used the book.