A couple of months ago I heard that Jay Wile (author of the popular science textbooks for junior high and high school) had just written an elementary science text called Science in the Beginning. I immediately knew I wanted to review it since I have had so much fun teaching science in our homeschool.
My first question was, “What’s different about this book as compared to the science books written by Jeannie Fulbright?”, since those are the ones I have used for the past five years.
Here is Jay’s answer:
1. The course is laid out in daily lessons. You know where to start and where to stop each day.
2. EVERY lesson has a hands-on experiment or activity. The activities and experiments use only simple, household items and generally are very easy to set up and do.
3. EVERY lesson has three levels of review (youngest students, older students, and oldest students) so you can truly use it for ALL elementary ages.
4. The courses are not immersion. Rather than concentrating on a particular topic each year, the courses cover science in a historical framework. This book deals with the beginning of history – creation. The student learns the science of what was created each day, so by the end of the year, all scientific areas have been touched on. The next books use history to guide the discussion, starting with the ancient Greeks and moving forward chronologically. The student learns science as we discovered it, so once again, every year touches on most areas of science.
5. There are tests for the oldest students, but they are optional. Use them only if you think your student needs testing to get ready for junior high science.
Back to me:
There are 90 lessons in the book–15 lessons for each Day of Creation. Twelve are normal lessons and 3 are challenge (optional) lessons. If you do a lesson every other day, it will take you through a typical 180-day school year. Or you can do just 2 science lessons a week and skip all challenge lessons. All elementary aged kids can do science together with this book. There are about 3 pages of reading per lesson.
One of the things I like about the book is that it gives you a “heads-up” highlighted in yellow, to get prepared for the next day or for any other special notes you might need to know.
Each day’s lesson has a simple project or experiment to help understand the lesson better. They are usually fun and very easy–AND use easily found items! Here are a couple of ideas–experimenting how light reacts off different colored papers or through a plastic bottle; watching solutions react by putting Mentos into Diet Coke (we did that one!); observing what’s “in” rocks by smashing them with a hammer; sprouting beans; and rolling out toilet paper to see how far the planets are from each other. See–fun and easy! There is usually a photograph to help you understand how to do each experiment/project as well.
I also loved many of the photographs scattered throughout the text. See below of a photo of the lights shining throughout the world. There are also great photos of animals, the planets, etc.
The end of each lesson has 3 separate types of wrap-up activities for the kids. The youngest kids usually answer 2 questions out loud. The older and oldest kids have a note booking/journaling/drawing activity to do. It’s all specifically for each kids’ age level.
I love the idea of spending a year getting a whole perspective on science. The next books in the series really sound interesting to me as well because they are combining history with science!
(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the science text and teacher book from the publishers in order to write this honest review.)