I was sad and happy at the same time when our homeschool science teacher retired at the end of last year. We’d been in her class for nine years! As a homeschool mom herself (her children had all graduated by the time we joined her class), she put together a series of multi-level unit studies, designed for whole families, complete with labs, field trips, homework, accountability, Bible and character studies, and a wealth of information about God’s marvelous Creation.
While I was glad for Mrs. S., I wasn’t happy for us! It meant that after having science planned out for me (basically, my job was to be there at class, to go through the assigned work at home with the girls, attend the field trips), now I had to go through the choices available and find another science class, or curriculum we could do at home.
Timing is everything! When the TOS Crew was offered the opportunity to choose among AIMS Educational Foundation materials, I checked out the website. There’s a wealth of resources here for both math and science, and not just books, but materials, manipulatives, and equipment.
Our family reviewed the Earth Book, which suited our needs with its multi-level, hands-on approach. This 446-page book is aimed at students in grades 6-9 and covers topics in earth science in a systematic way, dealing with the atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere. With 48 activities, this book could provide enough science lessons for an entire year of learning, or (with 2 activities a week) you could turn it into a semester course.
As a matter of fact, we’d covered the topics in this book in earlier science units, so much of the material was review for us. Still, the presentation was interesting, and the hands-on projects are doable without a lot of extra equipment.
Earth Science is written from a secular standpoint, with an emphasis on processes that reflect an evolutionary approach. (Reminds me of a line from the Creationist song, “The Answer’s in Genesis” — “a little bit of water and a long, long time…”) We’re not afraid to explore evolutionary theory, though of course the girls know it’s only a theory. They encounter it out in the world all the time, and familiarity with the theory helps them to discuss their studies with intelligence.
When you read the teacher’s instructions, you’ll note this is obviously a book intended for a classroom. (This makes it a great resource for a co-op class, by the way.) It’s not too hard to adapt the activities for individual family use.
There are discussion questions, research prompts, little books for each student to put together (“rubber band books”), graphic organizers, and experiments. Each lesson is well-organized for the teacher’s convenience. For each lesson, there’s a “teacher’s help page” with a stated topic, key question answered in the unit, materials list, learning processes and national standards addressed, and background information. Lessons are laid out step-by-step, with reproducible pages for students to record their findings. Discussion questions are designed to help the students process their observations and draw conclusions based on the evidence resulting from their experiments.
The Earth Book is available from the publisher’s website as a downloadable e-book, or a physical softcover book with CD for $49.95. You can see a PDF preview of the book here, including the Table of Contents, lists of national educational standards in science and math, an explanation of the AIMS teaching methodology, a page on how to put the included “rubber band books” together, and a couple of sample units.
To read more TOS Crew reviews of AIMS products, click here.
Disclaimer: Our family received a free physical copy of Earth Science for review purposes. No other compensation was involved.