Saturday, April 14, 2012

Christian Kids Explore Physics TOS Review


Christian Kids Explore is a science series specifically designed for homeschooling families with children in grades 4-8 from Bright Ideas Press. The series features books exploring Physics, Chemistry, Earth and Space, and Biology. I had heard of these books before, but had not had the opportunity to look at them. So I was excited about having the opportunity to review physics through the TOS Crew. It turned out that we really enjoyed our study from Christian Kids Explore Physics.

PhotobucketChristian Kids Explore Physics is a full year science curriculum with 30 lessons. Each lesson is designed to be taught two days a week. The book begins with three lessons which teach what the study of physics is and includes, measuring, and introduces famous physicists.Topic included are: Matter, Mechanics, Matter in Motion, Energy in Motion, Electricity and Magnetism. Each of these topics is a separate unit and are covered in 5-7 lessons. At the beginning of the unit is a vocabulary list, unit objectives, and materials list.

The information of each lesson is found under the heading of "teaching time", a scripture verse, vocabulary, discussion, review, and an activity. Additional reading is also encouraged.

For the first days lesson the lesson plans suggest using the "teaching time", the review questions, working through the vocabulary words and bible verse, and coloring the page for the unit. On the second day the hands on activity(a puzzle or experiment) is scheduled along with reviewing the vocabulary, and doing additional/supplemental reading.

The text is formatted to include sidebars. These sidebars contain the vocabulary words and definitions, interesting facts, and a Scripture reference. The vocabulary words are also highlighted in the text.

As would be expected by the title, the authors study science in the context of Christian faith. The first page of each lesson features a scripture verse which the lesson plans suggest having the student memorize. Many of the lessons include references to God creation as it relates to physics.

Another feature of the physics curriculum are coloring pages. These are mosaic images related to the study of physics or the upcoming unit. As an example, the coloring page for the unit on mechanics features line drawings of people skydiving, sledding, snowboarding, and bungee jump. In general the style of the coloring pages is very similar to the colored picture on the book cover.

Also a part of the Christian Kids Explore curriculum is a resource CD. This CD is loaded with lesson plans for each lesson, materials lists, a bibliography,glossary pages, and a literature study guide, and all the reproducibles found in the book. These reproducibles include the coloring pages, activity pages, unit reviews, follow up questions, and activity pages.

Christian Kids Explore Physics sells for $39.95. This is for the new 2nd edition.  The resource CD is also available as a download for $12.95. The information provided says the CD is compatible with both the 1st and 2nd editions. I received  pdf copies of the physics book and resource CD.

In addition to this science series, Bright Ideas Press also publishes history, geography,and literature curriculums. They have additional resources in these subjects available as well. I have also had the opportunity to use and review the Wonder Maps program from Bright Ideas Press.

My Thoughts

I used Christian Kids Explore Physics with both my 7 and 11 year old together as science is one of the subjects we do together. I simply tweak it for their levels, usually adding requirements for my oldest. We began with the three introductory lessons and then skipped to the section on mechanics as it was a topic we had not recently studied and my children were interested in. We were able to make this jump fairly easily. The lessons do not build upon each other in a way which requires using them in numerical order.

Overall, this was a very easy program for me to implement with my children and we all enjoyed using it.  However, I do feel it is quite lightweight for my 11 year old. As we used it I had her do additional reading and will continue to have her do more in depth research and activities as we continue. I definitely would not use it for any higher levels than she is now. I think it could work well for mid-elementary levels.

Additionally, I did encounter a couple of challenges. The biggest challenge I encountered was because the course was a pdf file and due to finances I was not able to print everything we used. Therefore, we worked through the course by reading it off the computer. The print of the text is fairly small and it can't be enlarged. The other challenge with the pdf format is the physical book is often referenced and used as part of the experiments and hands on activities. In the lesson on measuring, the book is one of the items measured and listed in the predesigned chart. It is also used for the friction activity. Additionally, the text also refers to the book in numerous places. Thus it was necessary to change the text I was reading in several places. Substituting a book was not difficult, but it is something of which to be aware.Personally I would prefer a hard copy book. Having a hard copy book would make it easier to involve my children in reading the text as well as letting them refer to it at other times. It would also be easier to have a book in hand for many of the activities.

Despite the difficulty having of having the textbook in electronic form, I loved having all the printables in this form. It is so easy to access them and print only what I wish to use. The resource lists are great. I plan to print these out and put them in my planner to refer to as we continue to use the course. That way I can easily look ahead several weeks and make sure I have what I need.

The resource pdf file (which is the material on the cd) also includes a literature study guide for a book about Ben Franklin. The study contains vocabulary, comprehension questions, as well as questions requiring deeper thought. It looks like a through study, but I have not been able to use it as I can not get a hold of the book.

I can not say enough how delighted I was to have all the printable resources all in one resources. It made prep work so much easier.

Neither of my children like to write so I did not have them write out the review questions or unit summaries. I simply read the questions and they took turns answering them. The questions are short enough this was not a problem.

When it came to the religious aspect of the curriculum I left out or added to some of the references to make them more compatible with Lutheran beliefs. I also used the included references as an opportunity to explain differences in religions. 

I like how it is designed to be used two days a week. As we generally work on science two days a week, this worked well with our schedule.Using a program designed the way we work really simplified planning for me. Also having all the printables separate from the text makes them so much easier to print and use.

The coloring pictures are absolutely lovely, even in black and white.  There is so much information presented in the pictures. If my children liked to color I would definitely print them out for them. I have thought about printing them for myself, but I know I wouldn't have the time to sit and color.

TOS Crew members had the opportunity to review other books in the Christian Kids Explore series. Read what they had to say at the Crew Blog.


Disclaimer: I received  gratis download copies of the book and CD for the purpose of writing this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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