Showing posts with label teaching materials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teaching materials. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: That's Weird! Awesome Science Mysteries

Science Mysteries Motivate Kids to Learn!


I will confess that when I was in school, I didn't like science. I hated memorizing science voabulary, scientific facts, names of scientists, and dates of inventions. I hated experiments, dissecting dead creatures, and watching test tubes. I was more interested in plants and how they grew, but not so much in listing and memorizing the names of their parts. I wish my teachers in middle school or high school had been using That's Weird! Awesome Science Mysteries as a teaching resource instead of tiresome textbooks. I've always liked trying to solve mysteries!

Book Review: That's Weird! Awesome Science Mysteries
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay. Text added on PicMonkey


Science Doesn't Have All the Answers Yet


Author Kendall Haven states in his introduction to this book that "science is the process of turning mystery into knowledge." This is done through observations in the field and in laboratory experiments. Scientists form hypotheses from these observations and then test them as theories until time finally gives these tested theories the status of facts.

But not all theories have been proven yet. There are still some mysteries science hasn't been able to explain and the theories surrounding them haven't been verified. Instead these mysteries feed our imaginations and inspire fiction and movies. That's Weird! motivates and helps students in middle school and above use science research to explore sixteen of these mysteries:

  • The Sunken City of Atlantis
  • The Bermuda Triangle
  • Black Holes
  • What Really Killed the Dinosaurs
  • Easter Island and its Stone Giants
  • Surviving Firewalks and Beds of Nails
  • Ghosts: Real or Not
  • Lightening: Killer or Resource
  • Lock Ness Nessie: Real or Myth
  • Life on Mars or Not
  • The Birth of the Universe
  • Sea Serpents
  • The Origin and Mystery of Stonehenge
  • Will We Ever Travel Through Time?
  • What Exactly Are UFO's?
  • Will Humans Ever Be Able to Travel Faster than Light?



How That's Weird! Is Organized


Each mystery in this book is presented in seven different parts

  1. At a Glance: This creates a historical context for the mystery by introducing major players and historical events that play an important part in the story. Information in this section is as factually reliable as it can be, as far as it goes. 
  2. The Mystery: This is an actual story that engages the reader by drawing him into a scenario related to the mystery. I'm much older than the target age and I still very much enjoyed the stories. The subjects were all ones I've often wondered about. Some of the events in the stories actually happened, but many have not been verified. The author has given many his own interpretations based on known facts and tells you that up front. 
  3. About this Story: The author deals with the likelihood of whether the story may be true or not.
  4. The Science: Since this book was designed to help science teachers hook their students on science through mysteries, he explains any known evidence, hypothesis, or theory scientists use to evaluate the truth of the mystery. He explores some of the controversies that surround the subject of the story. 
  5. Fact or Fiction: A presentation of the evidence for and against the truth of the mystery. Students will see the conclusions scientists have drawn from their current knowledge. 
  6. Follow-up Questions to Explore: These interesting questions help students explore the science concepts that relate to the mystery and encourage them to see how the opinions they've formed stack up against the known evidence. They are much more fun than the questions at the end of science textbook chapters I had to write out answers for when I was a student.
  7. Follow on Activities: These activities help bring the themes of the stories to life with discussions and demonstrations. They serve as starting points for teachers to run with. There is also a list of references for further reading related to the mystery. 

Who Would Find this Book Useful?


It is recommended for for students in grades four and up. I would say that it's more appropriate for teaching classes of gifted students at that age. For regular classes I'd not introduce this until grade six or seven. Homeschooling parents should also find this a wonderful resource they can use in a number of ways. Once they read it, they can determine when and how to use it with their own children. I'm guessing if it's left around where children can see it, older children will pick it up on their own. 

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book even though science has never been my favorite subject. The stories really grabbed my attention and made me want to read the evidence for and against their being true. I considered it recreational reading. I think anyone who enjoys mysteries might enjoy reading this book. 





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Teach Your Child to Spell: A Review of The Natural Speller



What Do You Need to Teach Spelling?


If you are homeschooling your children, you don't need new graded workbooks every year. You need sensible teaching materials that help students at any level learn exactly what they need to know at their own pace.



For some of us, spelling came easily because we read a lot while growing up and were used to seeing words spelled properly all the time. We just knew, when proofreading, if a word looked wrong. This also worked for us on standardized multiple choice tests where we had to pick out the one word that was misspelled. If you are one of those people and are now faced with teaching a subject you almost absorbed yourself by osmosis, the book reviewed below is bound to help you plan your lessons.




If spelling was a tough subject for you, maybe you don't feel confident enough to teach your children. You may need a reference book that will bring you up to speed by helping you learn words that are especially hard for you -- the ones that never stuck after years of weekly spelling tests that simply confirmed you did not know them. One book that will help in each case above is Kathryn Stout's, The Natural Speller

Teach Your Child to Spell: A Review of The Natural Speller

About Kathryn Stout


I  first met Kathryn when we were both on the homeschool convention conference circuit. We were vendors, and during the dead times when the exhibit hall was almost empty, I walked around to try to discover new books to add to my inventory. I was impressed with Kathryn and the books she had written since they were perfect for those using a unit study approach, an approach I used when homeschooling my own children. She understood what in each subject was really important so that people could design a homeschool curriculum that did not leave out anything essential as they combined subjects in a unit study.  

Kathryn had taught in public schools for eight years before retiring to teach her own children. She already knew how many books were out there to help teachers, but she wanted to compile all that information into single subject resource to help other homeschooling parents get to the heart of their subjects. The Natural Speller is the go-to book for spelling. While many textbooks have some and gone, The Natural Speller is still popular after over twenty years. That's because it has everything people need to know about learning to spell in one handy book.

What's In The Natural Speller?


This is a comprehensive tool for the spelling teacher to use for any grade level. It has word lists for all grades through eighth, and they are arranged phonetically. It teaches the teacher how to teach spelling, and suggests activities to help students practice the words, use the words to help develop dictionary and grammar skills and build vocabulary. Writing activities to go with the spelling lists are included. After all, writing is where one uses spelling.

The Natural Speller also has a section devoted to special word lists: abbreviations, calendar and number words, colors, measurements, contractions, homophones, homographs, irregular verbs, foreign words, and Latin and Greek roots. Another section contains spelling rules. Lastly, there are hints on punctuation and capitalization; models for writing letters; and activities for using prefixes and suffixes. Just about anything related to spelling is in this book.

Another great feature of this book is that it assists the teacher in designing a completely individualized spelling program for each student without buying another book. Whether your child has learning disabilities and needs to go at a slower pace or whether your child is far above average in spelling, and only needs a reference when proofreading,  get the Natural Speller. It will be all you need. Older students will probably only need it for reference unless they haven't mastered the spelling words designated to be learned by grade nine.


Don't let your children grow up to be like this person below. If you're already this person, the book will help you, too.

For more reviews of books to help homeschool families and others who want to enrich their children's education, see Books to Remember: A World of Reading Choices.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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