Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Schoolhouse Review: Funtastic Unit Studies #hsreviews

Funtastic Unit Studies Review
One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the opportunity we have to personalize the learning experience and make it work best for each child.  I have the flexibility to customize each subject in order to gain the maximum benefit for my family.  A great example of this is our recent use of the book Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers by Funtastic Unit Studies.  Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers is a twenty chapter book (201 pages) designed to share ideas for teaching science that will capture your student's attention and allow them to have fun as they study and learn.  It was written specifically for homeschoolers by homeschooling veteran (and biology major) Susan Kilbride and truly does make learning science fun.

The first 10 chapters of the book are written especially for students in the 4 - 7 age range and the last 10 chapters of the book are written especially for students in the 10 - 13 age range, but don't let that stop you from using all of the book with all of your children.  I was able to use the entire book with children who have finished K4 - 5th grade with the unique twist that my 9th and 11th graders served as "teachers" during an art- and science-based day camp this summer.  I have found that allowing learners to become teachers is a great way to develop better learners.  My plan with this review was to turn it over to the Princess and Eagle Scout and allow them to plan, organize, and carry out the lessons from the book.  This was the perfect way for me to see how the entire book worked together as I served in an overseer capacity.  I was able to easily surmise whether it was written in such a way that high school students can develop a usable plan through its pages.  I am pleased to report that it most definitely is..

Using {mostly} common household items, students learn the basics of science through a hands-on curriculum of experiments, activities, and projects.  Coloring pages, worksheets, and quizzes are found throughout each of the chapters as students learn about their senses, the human body, animals, stars and planets, health, weather, plants, and more.  Although it is recommended that the individual unit studies be used in the order given, it is not necessary to do so.  Families can certainly change the order to best suit their needs and interests.  For our purposes, we chose to mix and match several units throughout our week long day camp.

Each chapter can serve as a stand-alone unit of science to be thoroughly studied over a week or longer -- depending on the interest level of your students.  You can even re-visit the pages of each unit for more in-depth study later and include different activities each time.  Since we only had one week to introduce as many different scientific concepts as possible, my teachers wanted to share what they considered the most exciting projects from the book.  They felt like introducing a large variety of things would serve to intrigue the campers and have them more excited about science than ever before.  We included additional friends (both middle schoolers and high schoolers) to serve as Crew Leaders to insure that the week flowed smoothly.

I understand that you would most likely be using this resource at home with your family, but it could certainly be used as the backbone of a co-op, as well.  There were 23 campers at Camp ShadyRest and they were divided into four different Crews -- Blue Crew, Yellow Swarm, Red Rumble, and Green Machine.  Each Crew had a round table that served as their home base.  Teaching was done from the center of the room while campers sat at their crew tables.  Crew Leaders then assisted with the hands-on project used to further explain what had been taught.

The Princess first chose to teach Chapter 7:  Stars and Planets.  She began by asking campers if they ever go outside at night to count the stars and then explained that our closest star is the Sun.  Following a brief explanation of the characteristics of the Sun (from the book), Campers created a beautiful sun by squishing yellow and red paint together under plastic wrap.   The Eagle Scout was able to teach more about the Sun using the camp spirit stick to cast shadows for a homemade sun dial.

Another favorite lesson was the Eagle Scout's teaching from Chapter 17:  Force and Motion.  The Eagle Scout began by teaching the concepts of force, friction, and gravity and explaining who Aristotle, Galileo, and Newton were and why they are important to us today.  He demonstrated how force, friction, and gravity work following the examples in the book and then led the campers in a painting activity using gravity to pull the paint into a beautiful design.

Completed Gravity Art Projects

And then there was the flubber.  In all actuality, it's a "chemical reaction that creates a rubber-like polymer" from Chapter 5:  Chemistry Fun! but the kids know it as flubber.  Definitely the highlight of the week was playing with this gooey mess -- even the big kids got in on the action of this one.

Green Machine

Blue Crew

Yellow Swarm

Red Rumble
Seriously, have you ever seen such delight?

THIS is what it's all about!
My kids are excited about this book.  It is straightforward, but fun and the lessons were easy to implement.  We had a great time at Camp ShadyRest and the campers enjoyed what they were taught -- embracing the excitement of science.  We've already received permission to lead a monthly science lab for a local kindergarten class this year as part of the Community Outreach aspect for our FTC Robotics team and will be using Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers as our curriculum.  For a group of self-professed teenage nerds, this is a big deal.

Kids having fun as they teach each other.

You can download two free units from the book and see how it will work in your home.  While you are there, make sure to check out these science and history freebies as well as the Our America book series.  I'm pretty sure you are going to like what you see.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Funtastic Unit Studies as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Funtastic Unit Studies Review
Pin It Now!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your heart with me!