Showing posts with label unit studies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unit studies. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts

Picture Books Clarify Science and Math Concepts 

Big, small, tall, fast, heavy, old -- what do these words mean? Maybe each person has a different idea about them. Author and artist Robert E. Wells wrote a series of books, The Wells of Knowledge Science Series, that illustrates these concepts. Although they seem to be about math, math is so tied to science that readers will learn a lot of science as they grapple with math concepts. Even though these are picture books designed for children, I confess I also learned a lot from them. 

Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts

What's Smaller Than  Pygmy Shrew?

Reviews of Picture Books that Help Children Grasp Difficult Math and Science Concepts

What does the word "small" suggest to you? A marble? A bee? Robert Wells introduces his world of the small with a pygmy shrew, which is three inches long. He then challenges readers to think of what's smaller. He contrasts the shrew with an elephant, which in comparison makes the shrew look very small indeed. He then contrasts the shrew with the ladybug, which is smaller yet. 

Then he introduces the creatures that can only be seen under a microscope -- the ones you might find in a drop of water. He explains what cells are and then shows us the animals with only one cell -- the paramecia and amoebas which are both protozoa. Wells' imaginative drawings will bring them to life for you and younger readers. Before Wells is through, he has explained and drawn bacteria, molecules, atoms and their parts, and has challenged readers to guess how many atoms are in a pygmy shrew. There is a small glossary at the end to help children remember unfamiliar words. 


Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?

Reviews of Picture Books that Help Children Grasp Difficult Math and Science Concepts

In this book, Robert Wells explains to all ages the relative sizes of large from a blue whale all the way to the whole universe. The opening picture shows an elephant, horse, and lion standing on a pier watching the tail of a blue whale that is larger than all of them combined. Then he shows the same animals looking at a jar that contains 100 blue whales. He then puts two such jars on a platform with the animals between them. 

With the animals still standing on the bottom platform, Wells draws a stack of platforms ten high and then on the next page puts them on top of Mount Everest to show how small they are in comparison. By this time the animals are no longer visible. Wells goes on and on until he reaches the universe itself, having introduced numbers in the millions and billions along the way. Even adults will find this book, and others in this series fascinating.

What's Faster than a Speeding Cheetah? 

`Reviews of Picture Books that Help Children Grasp Difficult Math and Science Concepts
This book explores speed from that of the ostrich and cheetah to the speed of light. I love the illustrations which show the race between some children, an ostrich, a cheetah, a swooping peregrine falcon, and a propeller plane. Soon the children, ostrich, and cheetah are in the plane with a frustrated falcon trying to catch up. The falcon then lands on the tail of a jet and passes them. 

Readers then learn about the speed of sound and space travel as all the characters get into a rocket ship. Just as we see a meteoroid whizzing by, we learn that all of us have something that's even faster – something we can hold in our hands. The book concludes with is a chart comparing how long it would take at all the speeds from runner's feet to light to get from the earth to the moon.

These Books Are Great for Unit Studies in Home Schools


The Wells Knowledge of Science Series is Ideal for Unit Studies


When I was homeschooling, I was always on the lookout for engaging books that targeted visual learners. These books fit into that category. Jason understood what he could see better than what he only read or heard. He was a hands-on kind of child. He also loved animals, and all three of these books have some animal characters.

 One of more of these books could fit into a unit study about light, sound, astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics or transportation. Instead of just reading a definition for a word like protozoa, a child will see a large illustration showing its relationship to other objects it is part of, as well as things that are part of it.

See all the books in The Wells of Knowledge Science Series, which are recommended for ages 7-10. I believe they are good also for those over ten who want to understand these science concepts. The pictures are imaginative and fun and keep science from being dull. I suggest you get a physical edition rather than a Kindle edition because your children will want to pour over these books. I wish I'd had these for my own children, but they weren't written yet back then.

Find more of my reviews for picture books at Books to Remember.

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Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts







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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. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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