Have you ever been intimidated by the thought of teaching science to your students? Put those thoughts aside and get ready for some fun! Over the past six weeks we’ve been using Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers by Funtastic Unit Studies, and I can tell you that this book is FILLED with science ideas for teachers!
I originally came across this book about 3 years ago and started working through some of the content. Kallista was still too young to understand (she was 2), but Tristan enjoyed the units on Dinosaurs and Our Senses. We put the book aside and I was happy to get reacquainted with it this review.
This is a physical book, which is always great in our ‘books’! I do enjoy making notes in the margins about what the kids enjoy and which activities I’d like to come back to again in the future. It’s divided into two main age categories: 4-7 and 8-13. At the moment both of my children fit nicely into the lower age group, so we’ve been focussing on these activities. In fact, the children enjoyed the projects so much we’ve completed 3 chapters already.
The chapters each focus on one scientific topic. At the beginning of each chapter you’ll find a handy list of all of the supplies you’ll need to complete the projects. This can look a little intimidating with such a long list, but the majority of things you’ll already have around the house! This is important for frugal families like us! And if you don’t have all of the items you don’t have to do the project that requires it. When we did the health chapter there were a couple of things we didn’t do because of food allergies. However, there are plenty of projects in each chapter to do instead.
The first chapter we explored was Health. This was divided into 6 parts:
- Healthy Eating
- Things to Avoid
I won’t go over every activity as that would spoil the book for you, but I’ll share some of our favourite projects with you.
Tristan recently lost his first tooth, and he has a second loose, so learning about teeth was very relevant to him. First he and Kallista tried an experiment that had them observing an egg in vinegar (I also put an egg in water so they could compare outcomes). The egg in the right-hand jar was in the vinegar.
After two days in vinegar, the eggshell in the vinegar had almost dissolved. That egg was soft and Tristan was a bit grossed out by the feel of it!
The children watched the dentist make a mould of my teeth in May, so they thought it was fun to make their own tooth sculptures. I think they did an excellent job of it!
I’ve been trying to explain the concept of germs to the children, and how they can travel between people and objects. Using glitter to demonstrate this concept was just right.
Then they discovered how well they must wash their hands in order to wash the germs down the drain and not just wipe them off on the towel for the next person to pick up.
Fun With Magnets
The second chapter we examined was about magnets. These are the sections:
- The Power of Magnets
- Push and Pull
- Magnetic Fields
Of course, this was lots of fun! How many paper clips can one magnet pick up? I think we need more paper clips!
Crossing over between magnets and healthy eating, is an activity where the children tried to attract the iron in their cereal onto their magnets.
We tend to learn more about animals in the summer as we’re out more in nature, so we also worked on this chapter. I was able to work in some of the vocabulary last week when we went rock pooling at the shore. Animal Ecology contains these parts:
- Habitats and Biomes
- Predators and Pets
- Food Chains and Food Webs
- Animal Defenses
One morning Kallista woke up and one of her stuffed animals had disappeared in the night! When she went to gather the mail later in the morning, she found a letter there for her and Tristan! It was from her animal, and described where it was, who it was making friends with, and some adventures.
A new letter arrived every couple of days until the stuffed animal arrived back one night. We followed the adventures and found the locations in our atlas, then looked up more information on the biomes, and read books about the area if we had them.
Kallista didn’t know whether she was excited about learning and getting letters, or sad that her stuffed animal was away! In the end, the adventure won out.
Our Final Thoughts
There are a total of 20 chapters in this book, which provide lots of Funtastic science ideas for teachers and homeschoolers. The age ranges are appropriate, and the activities are easy to adjust for different abilities. As we have done, it’s easy to do a few activities one year and then come back in the future and do different activities from the chapters so that our children continue to learn but don’t become bored with the same experiments.
There isn’t a lot of prep involved in the projects, and if you have willing children, you could complete a few smaller projects in a day for intensive learning when they’re excited about a topic, or you can do just one a week. The choice is up to you.
I love the ease of the projects, and the children love the fun of them, and we all love to learn!
We’ve been using this book for three years, and there’s no doubt we’ll come back to it again in a couple of years to work on the activities for the 8-13 age group. But first, we’ll be learning about insects – the perfect science topic to compliment the biodiversity summer school we’ll be attending this week.
If you’d like to get a closer look at what’s included in this book, you can access a free unit on plants for ages 4-7, as well as a unit on Atoms and Molecules for ages 8-13 by clicking though to this page.
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