Living Learning Books Science

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339homeschool

  • Reviewed on Wednesday, June 11, 2008
  • Grades Used: 1st and 3rd
  • Dates used: 2007-2008
I agree completely with the previous review. The curriculum was much too basic and we were quickly bored. The format was the same for each science topic, mostly consisting of coloring pages I found on the internet and reading a few simple books.

I was annoyed when I had to order the coloring pages as a download file. It wouldn't download correctly on my computer. Despite several requests for help via email, I was ignored and out the extra $10 for the coloring pages and had to download ones I found online.

We moved to Real Science 4 Kids and couldn't be happier!

aepetit

  • Reviewed on Sunday, September 30, 2007
  • Grades Used: k-1st
  • Dates used: 2007
I decided to try the living learning science because I thought the other science curriculum's would be too difficult for my 6 year old.
BUT, I have been VERY disappointed with the Living Learning Science. Save your money, the limited resources she gives, you can easily find on the internet yourself.

This is not a lesson plan or a spine text at all, I wouldnt really call it a curriculum. It is a list of limited resources by subject. The activity pages (sold separately) aren't bad, but alot of the coloring sheets and diagrams are blurry.

I would recommend Apologia or God's design science if looking for a complete and thorough curriculum.

momgenn

  • Reviewed on Thursday, April 19, 2007
  • Grades Used: 3rd-4th
  • Dates used: 2006-present
We are just finishing Living Learning Books Chemistry with my 2 daughters, ages 9 and 7. We really enjoyed this! Basically, you read the information provided in the student pack (each child will need their own). Then, there is an experiment almost every day where you explore the new concepts. The experiments are easy to do and understand. They do not require any "exotic" materials, although you will have to look ahead and purchase them from the supermarket as needed. After completing the experiment, the children record it on the included pages. The pages have a space for "What we Used", "What We Did", "What Happened", and "What I Learned"--basically a simplified scientific method. Then the children draw a picture to illustrate the experiment. There are some days without experiments where you are reading about a specific scientist or completing some type of puzzle or worksheet in order to review the concepts. We will be taking all of the pages to Staples and I will have each girl's book comb-bound so they will have a completed "Chemistry Book" of everything we learned this year. I have never taken a chemistry course, and I found this program really easy to use and understand. It is written for grades 3-6 and I would say that is is pretty much right on for those ages. The idea is that when they approach chemistry again, at more advanced levels, the kids won't be freaked out because they have had a fun first exposure to these concepts. My only gripe with this program was that there were some "typos" in the student pages and in the teacher manual (correct answers were not supplied or different supplies were given for the same experiment in different places) This was not horrible, just something to be aware of when correcting student work or getting ready for an experiment. Also, the student pages are $8.00 each and the teacher's guide was $30.00. Considering the cost of similar materials I have seen, I really felt that this was a bargain. I really hope that they release a program for Physics at this level--I wouldn't hesitate to use it!

thebucknams

  • Reviewed on Thursday, September 7, 2006
  • Grades Used: 1st Grade
  • Dates used: 2006
We actually spent quite some time searching for a science program for our first grader. We follow the classical learning style (http://welltrainedmind.com/) so were trying to find a good introductory life science program (the suggested starting place of a typical four year classical science cycle).

Some background - our daughter started first grade course work over the summer (2006), our son has just turned three and gets read to a lot and has quite an incredible knowledge and collection of dinosaurs, but we probably won’t consider any ‘formal’ schooling until some time next year, after he turns four. Anyway, his older sister is a very good teacher. We used K12 as a kindergarten curriculum for our daughter, which has a nice general introduction to science with a balanced mix of life science, earth science, chemistry and physics.

We wanted a change from K12 (for reasons too lengthy to detail) and fortuitously found Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise’s book “The Well Trained Mind.” We found the classical learning style to be very much to our liking.

This brings us back to the Living Learning Books ‘Life Science’ curriculum (found at http://www.livinglearningbooks.com). Susan Bauer’s suggestion is to work with various early grade encyclopedias (the Usborne “Natural World” for example – part of the Learning Books lit pack, actually) and to create weekly study units from these books. We didn’t really want to have to dedicate that much time to the science curriculum. Also we wanted a little broader coverage of science (and a product that was teacher friendly).

It is hard to find a grade one science program – you’ll often find that science is left out until third or fourth grade. We just don’t agree with that. Science has been a wonderful experience for us this year. The Living Learning Books ‘Level One’ Science (life science) is divided into ‘Animal Units,’ ‘Human Body Units,’ and ‘Plant Units’ and is designed for a 36 week course of study (which doesn’t really fit well into the typical longer home schooling year, but easily adaptable to make the course longer). The animal units are designed to span two weeks and the author, Sandi Strenkowski, offers great reading suggestions, projects, and interesting Internet links related to the animal being studied. We are just now finishing the animal units and ready to start the human body units. We will post a follow-up review at the complete end of the course.

Sandi Strenkowski has taken a lot of the leg work out of the preparation needed for a fun successful science program. I think she knows something about the classical learning style too, as each week there is a narration exercise, a very important classical learning element. You do need to typically spend an hour or so a week ahead of your unit of study to inter-office any library books you’ll need and see if you need to purchase any supplies for the projects (most supplies are typical household items or very inexpensive). Sandi’s book recommendations are great, but don’t let them be a definitive list. Some books we couldn’t find or get inter-officed to our library so we just searched for other age appropriate choices on the subject.

Living Learning Books is very reasonably priced – even with the recommended optional lit pack titles added. The teacher’s manual is currently $24 and can now be downloaded as a PDF E-Book and the Student Pages are $8 and can also be downloaded as an E-Book (however, I suggest getting the student pages sent to you as printed pages – the print outs are just beautiful, even though they are black and white – there is simply a nice deep black and the coloring pages are for the most part gorgeous – printing these from your home printer won’t be the same). What is nice about this product is that it can easily be adapted for older students, grade 4 to 6, and you’ll find appropriate lit pack offerings on the Learning Books web site for older grades. The lit packs can be from around $30 to over $70, but these titles make invaluable additions to your home school library and are well worth the investment. Any younger student following along will only need to have an $8 investment in the student pages, so this is a nice inexpensive program for large home school families.

The only negative comment we would make is that perhaps Sandi should suggest two or three reading recommendations per unit that could be considered ‘challenging’ for those students who perhaps have a strong interest in the current unit of study and you know are capable of more difficult texts. We would also like to see more diversity in the animal choices for study with at least one animal representative from the major animal kingdom phyla.

With our daughter we debated introducing the animal kingdom divisions as ‘too tough’ for her age, but we did it. Please don’t hesitate to do the same and please don’t ever think your child is incapable of grasping the concept of classification or the difficult words involving the animal phyla divisions. Children have an amazing memory capacity and any new word or term to them is simply a new word just like any other. Cnidarian doesn’t faze them any more then the word bicycle did when they first understood what the word meant. We introduced perhaps five to ten vocabulary words over the two week unit and we never really made it a formal approach. If you use the vocabulary words regularly over the two weeks and surreptitiously entice your child to describe the animal using the new vocabulary words, the retention will become automatic.

We adapted (and rather easily we should add) the animal units to get broader coverage of the animal kingdom – some of the most interesting animals the Learning Book didn’t cover, for example jellyfish (cnidarians) and worms and leeches (annelids). So we added them following Sandi’s format – this will probably take a couple of hours, but take good notes and keep track of the books you used (so for your younger children you won’t have to do the work again). Any program that allows for such easy adaptation, all home schooling parents would probably tell you, is a major plus for the program.

A word about the narration and a suggestion we have – try pretending you are a scientist from a distant place or planet and you know absolutely nothing about the animal that has been studied that week – put on a funny accent and start asking narration questions. Our daughter loves it and it makes narration one of the highpoints of her week. She won’t even let us get out of character when we slip and try to offer a hint over something she’s forgotten.