Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: K-2 (Bernard Nebel)

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  • Reviewed on Wednesday, March 21, 2012
  • Grades Used: K, 1st, 2nd
  • Dates used: 2010-2012
Excellent Science Curriculum!!!!!!!!!!!

So much elementary level "science" curricula is a smattering of disjointed factoids and "science experiments" that are just a list of things to do, watch, be entertained, move on and not know why anything happened.

This curriculum gives you a strong, scientific and comprehensive FOUNDATION in scientific ideas and thinking.

It's all hands on and lends itself to living and flowing discussions. The girls really concretely understand the theories and Big Ideas underlying each lesson. Their questions are sometimes lessons in themselves. It is ALIVE and INSPIRED.

The lessons are fully contained information pages. Ideas at the end of what to do with your children. I've come up with an easy way to use and prepare the lessons so that I don't miss anything I want to hit upon but am not continuously reading the book.

The lesson information is comprehensive without being "quantity" to "prove quality."

We LOVE this curriculum.

PS. and have subsequently found that the yahoo group is lively, helpful and Dr. Nebel is always involved. He's helpful, humble and hands-on. We're starting his fan club soon (:


  • Reviewed on Sunday, September 18, 2011
  • Grades Used: In planning stage
  • Dates used: Read intro and parts of chapters
I love the approach of this book. It teaches solid science principles using everyday materials and occurrences. It is very affordable. However it is more of a teacher's manual and not well formatted at that. You have to read several pages and remember or make notes of it to be able to teach. It is not a book your child can use alone or with you. It does meet national science standards which are listed in the back of each chapter. I think I may still use it because I like the gentle approach and the meat of it and I only plan on doing science weekly. I just wish the chapters were more user friendly for parent and child.

go wahoos

  • Reviewed on Friday, March 4, 2011
  • Grades Used: K-2
  • Dates used: 2010-present
I am thoroughly impressed with this science curriculum. My husband and I both have careers in a science field, so this subject is important to us. We want our kids to have a good foundation in science, and I am very happy to have found this. I have not encountered many others who use this program which is why I am writing a review.

Others have written a complete summary of how Nebel has laid out the program into four threads (The Nature of Matter, Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth and Space Science). You can read these on the Amazon website, so I won't repeat those myself. I will say that I have not seen a program that is as dedicated to teaching real science principles to small children in a thorough and systematic method. The instructions help me teach the lessons in a simple way to my elementary age children, yet what they are learning are the beginnings of higher level science courses.

It takes a little effort to read the introductory chapters of the book to understand how the course is supposed to be taught, but once I got started I found that it only takes a minimal amount of time each week to prepare the lessons. The experiments are simple and require almost nothing in addition to what we already have around the house.

For example, one lesson included having the kids use a straw to blow bubbles in a cup of water and blowing up some balloons. This showed how air is matter and takes up space. Another experiment involved stretching different sizes of rubber bands and plucking them to test the various pitches produced. Through this activity we learned about how sound is caused by vibrations, and also about tone, pitch, amplitude, and frequency. Even though the experiments are simple, the kids heartily enjoy them. What kid doesn't like playing with balloons and rubber bands or blowing bubbles in his drink?

I particulary value this program because it is systematic in coverage of science principles, and each lesson builds on the ones before. Prior to doing a new lesson, I review with my children the principles we have learned from the previous weeks. During a new lesson, we have a discussion about the ideas being taught and do some simple experiments to illustrate the points. On a different day, I have each child write the main principles from the new lesson in their spiral "science notebooks" and draw a picture of the experiements we did. They really enjoy having their science notebooks and seeing it being filled up with their own writings. With each lesson is a list of supplemental books one could read to reinforce the points.

My kids have surprised me because they can remember almost all of the principles we have studied so far. For instance, we were outside talking about the snow and ended up in a discussion about which form of matter it was. Recently I asked them if they could remember the four types of energy we learned. My son immediately listed off the four things, which were light energy, heat energy, movement energy, and electrical energy. As you can see, the Nebel uses simple terms to describe the complex ideas they will learn more about in the future.

Other science books we have tried were either too boring (mostly text that didn't hold the kids' interest), or else they were comprised of random, fun-type of experiments where the science concept was lost in the midst of the messy adventure (i.e. making slime).

I am very excited to have started this course with my kids. I plan to use not only this program for K-2, but also the new program which recently came out for grades 3-5, and hopefully the one that is planned afterwards which will be for grades 6-8.

If you want something that you can just take out of a box and "do" science for 30 minutes per week to check it off of a list, this may not be your thing. However, if you are serious about teaching your kids real science, you should look into this program. I know a lot of people spend big money on fancy science experiment kits, but I would be surprised if they are learning anywhere near the amount of science that is in this $25 book.


  • Reviewed on Sunday, January 31, 2010
  • Grades Used: K
  • Dates used: 2010
I just purchased the book but haven't yet used it. I nevertheless felt compelled to add a review here. I can't say how excited I am to use this book. It is a completely new way of teaching science.

I purchased a science program for $100 this year, and while I definitely got my money's worth, I think I am getting so much more with BFSU, for a quarter of the price. (Plus it is good for 3 years.) With our previous curriculum, I looked at the teacher's manual for a few minutes ahead of time to make sure I had everything I needed. We then spent about half an hour doing an experiment, reading the text and doing a worksheet. Then we were done for the week. In BFSU, science is a part of everyday life and is an extension of everything else that is done.

There are four different sections, called "threads," including Nature of Matter, Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth and Space Science. The book then takes a spiral approach, doing the first lessons from each thread before moving one to the next ones. The lessons are not meant to stand alone. They are all woven together and build on each other. There are many ideas for activities and games that require nothing more than what you have on hand at home. There are also book lists that go along with the lessons, which you can get at your local library (although they are not a necessary component of the lessons).

My husband is a high school physics teacher, and we were really displeased with the apparent randomness of most elementary science texts. We looked at the various classical curricula, but my husband did not like that it would take 3 years before physics would be taught. BFSU has solved this dilemma for us.

The one thing I must stress, though, is the paradigm shift that is necessary to use this curriculum. We are no longer going to be doing half-hour, stand-alone lessons. We are going to be talking about science as we go about our everyday lives (e.g., categorizing things, such as solids, liquids and gases found in the bathroom, while we take a bath or brush our teeth). It is going to be a little work up front to adopt this curriculum, but I truly believe that this is the way little ones were meant to learn science.