Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review - Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry
Bright Ideas Press

Price:  $39.95 Text with CD
Age:  Grades 4th to 8th

We are science buffs.  With our co-op season coming to an end, I am always looking for ways to supplement our core subjects until the end of the school year.  B-Man is in 9th grade this year and finished up Biology.  Capone is in 7th and finished General Science. 
I love Bright Ideas Press!  I’ve used several of their products over the years and really enjoy the thought and organization that goes into their curriculum. 

The age range for this Christian Kids Explore Chemistry is 4th to 8th grade.  I knew it would too easy for B-Man, but thought Capone might enjoy it.  Since B-Man is doing chemistry next year – I figured some of the content would be a good precursor for him. 
After spending time with the text, I would have to say that it fits better on the younger end of the spectrum.  Or, would be a good resource for those on the older end who are not science oriented.  The content is strong, but the experiments and work are fairly simple.  I do love the vocabulary!

As stated before, what appeals to me most about Bright Ideas is their organization.  They have mastered the use of Adobe Acrobat as a vessel for providing a cohesive, easy to use platform for using their curriculum.  The Resource CD provides the user with lesson plans, supply lists, printables from the book, and a study guide for the reading book used in the later chapters.

The lesson plans provide clear, daily steps for teaching your student using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry.   You can see how meticulous each plan is showing the parent what to cover, what resources to use, and where answers can be found.  You’ll also note that additional resource suggestions have been provided to make the experience richer.  These resources would be an excellent addition if you are wanting to use this program with older students and seek to enhance the depth of their learning!

The Student Activity Book on the CD includes all of the Review It!, Activity Charts, and Think About It.  These are components included in the lessons. Not all lessons contain all three components, however.
Review It! allows the student to review the chapter by responding to fill-in-the-blank questions.  I like the fill-in format as it requires the student to demonstrate knowledge or seek out the correct answers.

Activity Charts coincide with the activity being completed for that Lesson.  What I do like about the activities is that they can easily be completed with items you have around the house.  You can see the materials listed by unit here.  Emphasis is placed on observation, which I feel is a strong technique for students to learn.  In some cases, because the activities focus on using easily accessible items, the activities seemed a little too rudimentary for upper middle school students.  I would have liked to see some additional emphasis on the scientific method as well.  However, younger students would be able to complete these experiments with adult supervision and gain basic understanding of the concepts being presented.

The Think About It section asks questions to engage the student in thinking about what happened when they completed the activity.  Engaging students in critical thinking is excellent!  So many students want to simply look up the answer without having to really consider why something occurs and how it applies to the world around them.

A Unit is comprised of five or more lessons.  You can see the Table of Contents here.  At the end of each Unit, the student is asked to Show What You Know.  Accumulative quizzes are a good way to refresh the students memory about all concepts covered and to encourage the student to review any ideas that are still unclear.  I like this idea; however, I would have preferred that these also be fill-in-the-blank as the multiple choice format doesn’t force the student to think critically as much as it does allows them to pick the best answer.  This is just a personal preference, however.

I mentioned earlier that each section includes vocabulary.  In the sciences, and especially with younger children, understanding difficult vocabulary is critical to understanding the concepts being covered.  Having students keep vocabulary cards and later cards for each of the elements is a great hand's-on way to involve them in the text and expand their understanding of scientific terms.

Finally, A Piece of the Mountain by Janice McPherson is incorporated into weeks 26 and 27.  I LOVE literature, as you know.  Additionally, using historical literature to teach concepts is a great way for students to understand the lives of the people they learn about - in this case, Pascal.  The accompanying study guide is very thorough.  I haven't had the chance to do with my kids, but the idea is excellent! 
I wish I had known about the Christian Kids Explore series when my boys were younger.  These books are great for upper elementary and lower middle school.  They provide strong content, abstract concepts and application all on a level that kids can understand.  To see more examples of the text – click here.  
To see reviews from other TOS Homeschool Crew members for this and the other Christian Kids Explore Science texts – click here.

Disclaimer:  I received this resource free of charge as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent review! You really shared a lot of detail and did a very thorough job. Great work here! I love the use of photos to really see what you are saying.

    Thanks so much!



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