Monday, April 16, 2012

Earth Rocks!


Earlier this year I had the privilege of reviewing a math workbook published by AIMS Education Foundation and it was a hit at my house due to its total hands-on approach.  AIMS is the place "where science and math are made fun" and we've recently been reviewing another excellent AIMS workbook -- a science book full of fun activities.

Earth Rocks! is written specifically for 4th and 5th grade students, but my 7th grader enjoyed many of the activities, too.  Within its 336 pages, students take an in-depth look at the Earth -- exploring rocks, soil and water in a multitude of ways.  The 7 major concepts covered in the workbook are:
  • Rocks

  • Minerals

  • Soil

  • Water

  • Earth Changes

  • Resources and

  • Pollution

Chock-full of mini books -- called "Rubberband Books" because you hold them together with a rubberband --  and hands-on activities and journals, Earth Rocks! takes to heart the Chinese proverb that says:

     I hear and I forget,

           I see and I remember,

                    I DO and I understand.

This approach gives extra reinforcement in learning because students truly DO UNDERSTAND the material presented once they've completed the myriad of activities included with each concept.  For example, while studying Rocks students use Rock Information Cards to answer questions.  They list the type of rock being studied, describe the  texture and color of the specified rock, give information on where the rock forms, AND share fascinating facts and potential uses for each rock.  These Rock Information Cards make for a very thorough mini-resource center for your child.

One of our favorite activities from Earth Rocks! was baking cookies to study the metamorphic process.  I'll bet you didn't know that you could observe metamorphosis in your own kitchen.  We had a great time making cookies with the yummy recipe included and then playing with our food.  {Yes, you read that correctly! We were instructed to playwith our food -- and we did!} When else do you have permission to squash cookies with your hands, put them on the floor and step on them and iron over them with a clothes iron on your ironing board?  NEVER!  Unless you are studying science the AIMS Education Foundation way, of course.

Filled with delightful illustrations, Earth Rocks! offers "connecting learning" opportunities at the end of each lesson where students are encouraged to use a basic Scientific Method to reinforce what they've just been taught.  In this section, before they move on to studying another concept, students are taught how to connect the pieces of  what they have been learning. Students are led to
  1. Think about what they've learned

  2. Observe what they've studied-- sketch it and write it out

  3. Experiment -- touch, scratch, pick up, taste AND

  4. Discover!

We found another fun activity while studying the Earth Changes Concept.  The Princess and the Boy Scout worked together to complete a model of a streambed -- complete with a muskrat tunnel and den -- and used it to simulate a washout to demonstrate how plants and animals are affected by erosion. {Although the workbook suggestion was to make the streambed in an 11 x 13 pan, my kiddos decided to make it a little larger. They said it was much more exciting to spend some time outside in the sand.} Who doesn't love playing with sand and water during school?

There are a  few other activities that have made our Must-Do list.  As we continue our study of Earth Rocks!, there are ice glaciers to be made {after all, it is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic!} and there's a geology lesson using peanut butter, jelly, raisins and different types of bread that is seriously calling our name.

It's nice to look forward to science time in school and it's even nicer not to have to worry about the theology behind what we're studying.  I was delighted to find that Earth Rocks! does not assume or teach that "millions of years" have passed in the history of the Earth.  When discussing rock or glacier formation, the book simply states that these things took place over time.  This fit perfectly with our beliefs and made it a good fit for our family.

GOD has called us to be good stewards of the beautiful planet we call home and the final two units help remind us of our role here on earth.  In discussing renewable and non-renewable resources, Earth Rocks! reminds students to make wise choices and directs them to think of ways they can lower pollution levels.  That's something we can all work together to accomplish.

Another bonus was that each section briefly reviews the concepts presented in the section before it.  This comprehensive review works well to cement discovery-based learning and encourages students to excel.  Earth Rocks! has been quite an enjoyable addition to our studies.  The Princess has enjoyed getting her hands (and feet) dirty -- all for the love of science!

This most excellent resource comes with duplication rights for your family and includes a cd with printable PDF files of all activities, journals, Rubberband books, games and lab sheets.  You simply can't go wrong with that.  You can purchase Earth Rocks! from Aims Education Foundation for $29.95.  There are so many fun activities to choose from, I know you'll be pleased.

For a close up look at Earth Rocks!, I recommend you spend some time looking over the 32-page PREVIEW online. You can also stop by and say hello to AIMS on FaceBook and then make sure you check out the Crew Review and read about some of the other great products my friends reviewed from AIMS.


~~Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to use and review Earth Rocks! as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.  The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  I received the AIMS Education Foundation curriculum Earth Rocks! in exchange for my honest review. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew thought of  the different AIMS Education Foundation curriculums HERE.~~

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