Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Surfing the Net: Science–A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

 I really think God has a sense of humor!
If you were at my house and listened in on our homeschool for any length of time you would know that Science is not at the top of my list for favorite subjects to teach. There have been a few good years of Science instruction but there have been several bad years of science instruction. What seemed to work with my oldest doesn’t work at all with my two youngest. I have been floundering to find a good science program to use with them. Then . . . POOF . . . God sent us several Science curriculums to us through The Schoolhouse Review Crew this year. The latest one is Surfing the Net: Science from The Critical Thinking Co.
We have used several things from The Critical Thinking Co. over the years and have always been pleased. They tread that fine line of making kids think (critically think) while making the learning fun and they do a good job of treading that line. Surfing the Net: Science is designed for 3-6 grade students but I have found that my kids are actually learning things that I never learned until at least seventh or eighth grade and they are having fun doing it! So far they have dissected a frog and a fish, helped a species of hawk migrate, and learned about poison dart frogs just to name a few things and they have done it all on the computer. And this was all in just the first unit of this book.
So, what in the world am I talking about? Let me go into more detail about Surfing the Net Science.
Have you ever wanted to harness all of the knowledge, good knowledge of course, that is on the internet but didn’t know how? I mean there is a ton of good things to be learned on the world wide web. Kids could really benefit from the information, but how do you start teaching them? There are so many ways to go? Can there be a rhyme to the reason? YES! There can! At least in the area of science.
You see, Surfing the Net: Science is not an ordinary textbook. It is actually a book that teaches you how to surf the internet to learn all about science. In fact, the subtitle of the book is “Inquiry-based worksheets for free Internet videos, articles, and games”. It actually contains worksheets for you to fill out along with links to online games and experiments that help your students learn about a specific topic.
Each chapter begins with a keyword search where the student is to use keywords in the questions to do an internet search and look up the answers. For example, in the Amphibians chapter of the Animals Section, we found out what ectothermic meant and how habitats affect ectothermic animals; we learned about metamorphosis; we learned about the three main groups of amphibians; we learned about a couple of specific amphibians and what makes them so unique; and we learned about animal adaptations. And that was all in just the two page, seven question, keyword section. If you aren’t sure how to do key word searches, you are not to worry. The book even teaches you as a parent how to teach your kids how to do keyword searches.
The keyword searches were fun, but the next couple of sections were even more fun! In the last half of the amphibian chapter we learned about the life cycle of a frog and were encouraged to draw and label the lifecycle; then we watched a video on the “Water Holding Frog”; and, finally, we actually dissected a frog . . . virtually on the internet of course! For the videos, games and experiments, Surfing The Net: Science gives actual website addresses to type in and find them.
My boys have loved it! Although Jacob is younger than the third-sixth grade suggested age group, science is one of his big interests, the only problem is he is not at that reading level. Joshua on the other hand could read it and may be able to do the key word search, but he has a very literal mind and many of the things I knew would have to be explained to him. So, I decided to do it with both boys at once. I would read the questions, ask them what key words they thought we would need to use to find the answers, then I would type everything in and read the articles to them. Then, we would answer all of the questions together. For the online games and experiments, like the dissection, I would let them each have turns. We have learned so much!
There are seven science sections in Surfing the Net: Science:
  • Animals
  • Atmosphere
  • Ecosystems and Habitats
  • Energy
  • Geology
  • Plants
  • Space
Each section has six-eight chapters in each. For example, the Animals section included:
  • Amphibians
  • Animal Cells
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Insects
  • Invertebrates
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles
As I have said, we have really enjoyed this book. There have been times when it was difficult to find the right websites after typing in the keywords, but as we have worked through it it has gotten easier since we have learned what to look for. It also helps that all of the answers are found in the back of the book, so if you aren’t sure if you have found quite the right information, just peak at the answers. I also appreciate how the author is doing her best to keep everything up to date for us which can be difficult when the internet is constantly changing and new things are added. At the beginning of Surfing the Net: Science there is a website listed where you can go and check on updated information for each chapter. Surfing the Net: Science is a keeper for us!
To find out more about Surfing the Net: Science or about The Critical Thinking Co. click on any one of the highlighted links above. To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have to say about this book and other books by The Critical Thinking Company click on the banner below. Happy homeschooling!
The Critical Thinking Company Review
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