When your kids ask to play on the computer and then ask you to help them get to the science website? That is a win for Surfing the Net: Science. We have been reviewing this book from The Critical Thinking Co. for the past few weeks and I think more science learning has been done in free time than in their planned science time. Why? It is fun!
Now, I won’t go so far as to say they are writing it down on the answer pages from the book. The girls are, however, enjoying the activities that go along with some of the units we have been working on. And they truly have asked me to bookmark some of the pages so that they can use them for their game time on the computer.
I imagine you are asking what is this resource that has the girls begging to do science? Surfing the Net: Science. It is an inquiry based program. What that means is that there are prompts on the workbook pages that have the girls researching on the computer. There are several ways that the program has them using the Internet. One is by key-word search. Another is clicking through on carefully selected links to sites that contain some specific information.
There was a good video and tutorial on using key-word searches that we started off with. We also talked about (reviewed) internet safety before they got started. Our computer is in the common area of our home so it is visible by us to monitor. We also use KidRex as the search engine for the kids. It is a Google product and is the best kid-safe search engine we have found so far. For these reasons, we were not concerned about the kids using the internet with an inquiry based program.
One of the girls is studying a unit on Geology. The other one working with this program is studying Ecosystems and Habitats. Both of these have a similar set up in that there are several lessons in the unit. Each lesson has a focus. For example, one in Geology was Tectonic Plates and one in Ecosystems and Habitats was Forests.
Within the lesson, there is are questions to answer using a key word search. Those questions are answered in writing on the workbook pages. It might be a written answer; it might be a chart filled in; it might be a picture drawn. One was even a creative writing assignment. (Check out A Day in the Life of a Worm.) There is a wide variety of ways they have the students answer.
There are also questions or charts to be completed using links that are pre-selected and linked from The Critical Thinking site. You have to have a special link to get to that page (included in the book) but each of the links needed for the curriculum is found there and all the student has to do is click on the one needed. This page is updated with new links sometimes that don’t exactly match the one in the book because, as well all know, links change often in cyberspace. They seem to be doing a great job keeping it fairly up-to-date and the updated links are marked. That makes it easy for the kiddos to find what they are looking for.
This is definitely a favorite curriculum and I foresee us going through all of the units in this book. Just today, one of the girls remarked “I have learned more in these few weeks of science than I think I have ever learned.” Now, that may be a bit of an overstatement but the fact remains: she feels like she is learning and she is having fun with it. That is a big deal!
While this is marketed more for the 3rd to 6th grade range, we are using it with our first grader also. Several of the activities are games and she can play those games and learn from them. Also, there are quite a few videos. She can watch the videos and learn a lot. We have had her draw a picture about something she learned from the videos or do a summary for us of something she learned. This is working quite well and she is getting a lot out of it, as well.
As with other products from The Critical Thinking Co. that we have used in the past, the copyright on this is very generous. You have permission to copy the book for use within your family or classroom. (You cannot copy it for an entire grade level in a school but you can copy for your classroom.) This means that all three of the girls in our family will be able to complete all of the units at some point with the use of this one book. What an amazingly generous copyright the Critical Thinking Company has and that is one of the many reasons I often recommend them to other parents looking for quality resources.
We will be benefitting from Surfing the Net: Science for a long time to come, I think. This is one book I think every family will benefit from.